Every new arrival wants to know if they can survive or live well in Thailand on X thousand baht a month?

It's a difficult question because each person has different needs. However, the following surveys and figures are from teachers actually working here! How much do they earn and what do they spend their money on?. And after each case study, I've added comments of my own.

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Approximate Thai Baht (฿) conversion rates as of 27th September 2022

฿38 to one US Dollar
฿41 to one Pound Sterling
฿36 to one Euro
฿25 to one Australian Dollar
฿0.64 THB to one Philippine Peso

Hazel

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 110,000

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

I make around 97K after tax and while we have been working online, I've taken some extra online tutoring and also tutoring one student at home.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I put around 13K in a retirement investment each month, and I also try to put away between 30K and 40K each month into a Thai savings account.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

I share a condo with my partner. The rent is 22K per month but I pay 15K of that amount.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

Transportation

I recently bought a secondhand car, but I'm not doing much driving, so maybe 1,000 baht per month.

Utility bills

My internet (399), water (120) and phone bill (375) and electric (2000ish) usually come to around 3,000 baht depending on how much I'm running the air con.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

8,000 baht, could be less but I love a takeaway, especially during lockdown!

Nightlife and drinking

None existent recently, maybe 1,000 baht on a box of Big C wine! Before lockdown, it would be more like 5K per month.

Books, computers

I have a friend who shares kindle books with me online, so no costs at all. However, a huge cost for me is my online spending habit (Lazada, Ali express and Shien) Maybe 10,000 a month on online spending.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

I think my standard of living is really good. I've been in Bangkok for around 7 years and I really love it. I live in a great area, have lots of great friends and even in lockdown, there's always something to do in Bangkok.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Food! Not just Thai street food but I use Happy Grocer on Grab Mart and you can get a whole weeks worth of vegetables for 300 Baht in their surplus box. It's all packaged in recycled materials and plastic free, and more than two people can eat in a week.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

I think Bangkok is a city where you can live on as little or as much as you like. Saying that I think anything less than 50K would be a struggle and wouldn't allow you to save for your future.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you Hazel. I'm guessing you must work at a fairly good international school to pull in such a decent salary. That's a good idea to put some money away in a retirement fund. You might want to look around at some Thai investments as well with that 30-40K you have spare each month. There are some great Thai investments out there (mutual funds, etc) if you can latch on to someone who knows what they're doing and will look after your money with minimal risk. I'm hopeless at this sort of thing but fortunately I'm married to someone who's a bit of a financial wizard and she's done OK with what money I've given her to invest. This year has been fantastic - north of 10-15% in fact.  


Sean

Working in Lopburi

Monthly Earnings 36,500 baht

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

My full-time salary per month is 37,000 baht but after tax it comes to 36,500.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I started this job in September 2020 and at first, I didn’t really save too much, maybe 5,000 baht a month until February 2021 - and if I had any other money left over that was a bonus. From February to now, I have been able to save 15,000 - 20,000 baht a month, which is a big difference.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

Accommodation is 3,300 baht a month and with water and electric it works out to no more than 4,200 a month including using the AC. The room is basic, I have a bathroom, a large balcony and a lovely view of the school when I open my door. I live in an apartment opposite school so it's easy to walk to.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

Transportation

Transport here is so cheap. if I venture into the old town, it costs me 8 baht using the songthaew. I don’t have a scooter but it would help so much as the public transport in Lopburi seems to stop running after 7-8pm but you still see the odd songthaew driving around so you can flag them down. Motorbike taxis from the old town back to my room cost about 50-60 baht.

Utility bills

Electric and water come to around 900 baht, phone, AIS unlimited internet with fast speeds adds another 450 baht. I use my hot spot mostly as the wifi is very poor at the apartment. A True premier league package is another 299 baht per month and it’s great watching the football in HD. I use Netflix but that payment comes from my English bank account so not sure about the price - maybe 500 baht a month.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Food is cheap here like most places in Thailand but sometimes it’s so easy to buy Western food using delivery services like Food Panda. I live on krapow, which costs 55 baht and Thai tea. I don’t really eat much and that’s surprising as most people like to spend a lot of money on food. Supermarkets are the same, I don’t really buy a lot of things. I try to do a 'big shop' after every pay day and if I see anything else I need I will buy it. I think I could spend about 5,000-6,000 a month on both restaurant food and supermarket shopping.

Nightlife and drinking

If I could add up all the money I have spent on beer and whiskey since being here, I could cry. In Lopburi there weren't many places to drink even before Covid came along and most places are hard to reach if you don’t have a motorbike or car. It’s easy to go to 7/11 and Big C to buy beers and while the price is cheap, it adds up fast. I like to drink beer so I don’t mind spending money on it but I always know when to stop. Since Covid, everywhere is closed so I have managed to save so much money and slowly starting to ease off on the drinking sessions - but I don’t mind drinking in my room while watching a TV series or playing on the PlayStation.

Books, computers

I don’t pay for either. I brought my laptop and an iPad from home. I don’t use books much, only the books I get from school to write lesson plans.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

My life is good in Lopburi. I never have to worry about money each month as I am good at saving and since Covid, I have saved a lot for when the country slowly opens again.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Food and public transport

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

I see this question a lot but I don’t think there is a correct answer because it depends on your lifestyle. I would like more money as would everyone else, but I think in this province, 36,000 is enough to live a good life.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thank you Sean. It's always good to hear from teachers living and working in rural towns and cities, where according to many, money goes much further than it would in a big city like Bangkok. It certainly sounds like you do OK on 36,000 a month and manage to save a reasonable amount as well. Living opposite the school saves you money and more importantly, time. Are there any downsides to living so close though?   


Steve

Working in Phitsanaloke

Monthly Earnings 35,000

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

I work at a large government school in Phitsanaloke (which for those who have never heard of it, is about 5 hours north of Bangkok) My full-time salary is 35K and there is little chance to earn anything above that so 35K is what I need to survive on and budget for.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I try to put away at least 5-10,000 baht a month, which in pre-Covid times was very doable. It hasn't happened for a number of months though.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

Accommodation here can be very cheap and I live in a 3,500 baht a month studio apartment. The building owner is connected to the school I believe so it was the school who recommended this place to me when I arrived in Thailand several years ago. It's nothing special but it has hot water and the air-con is decent. The building itself is very old though and starting to crumble in places.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

Transportation

I bought my own second-hand motorcycle a couple of years ago so I spend just a few hundred baht a month on gas and maintenance. You need a motorcycle to get around in these rural Thai towns. Only a fool or someone with plenty of time on their hands, relies on the public transport system. Unless you live next door to the school of course. Having your own motorcycle makes life so much easier.

Utility bills

Never much more than a thousand baht for water, electricity and internet. I only turn on the AC for half an hour in the morning and a couple of hours in the evening to take the humidity out of the room.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I budget for around 300 baht a day on food and I find with that amount I can eat out twice a day ad make breakfast in the apartment. So let's call that 9-10K.

Nightlife and drinking

This is a quiet town and most of the nightlife is what I would call a Thai scene. That's not to say I don't go out with Thai staff from time to time (I'm only one of three foreign teachers at the school) but we all split the bill when we go out for a meal and a few drinks. My share never comes to more than about 700 baht so if I go out once a week, then that's 3,000 a month I guess.

Books, computers

Almost nothing. Although I did just buy a new desktop computer for around 30,000. This category tends to be the odd large purchase so difficult to give it a monthly figure.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

I work through an agency and have a sort of misguided loyalty towards them because they found me this job and I love the school. However, I'm still waiting for last term's bonus and my 35K isn't always paid as promptly as it should be. I live a very month-to-month existence and it's not an idea situation. When my rent is due on the second of each month, and my salary gets paid into the bank a week late, I'm relying on savings to cover the rent.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Most things to be honest. I live a very Thai lifestyle and there are not that many Western temptations up here.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

As ridiculous as it sounds, you could survive on 10,000 baht and not go hungry. That doesn't mean I would like to try it though.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Steve. Yes, I've known a few teachers in the same boat as you, where they stay loyal to a particular agent who found them a decent job. But at the end of the day, the employer has a responsibilty to make sure your well-earned paycheck goes into the bank on the same day every month. OK, sometimes one or two days late is acceptable but it shouldn't happen very often. I hope you manage to sort things out. 


David

Working in Chonburi

Monthly Earnings 50,000

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

I work in a large secondary school in Chonburi and my full-time pay is about 50,000 a month after tax. Obviously with the Covid situation in this province being particularly bad, the school is closed and tuition has switched to completely online (I could rant about this for pages and pages but of course this isn't the place)

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

At the moment I'm saving about half of my salary but in normal times, that would go down to about 10K if I'm lucky. I'm not particularly good at saving.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

I live in a studio apartment in a typical 'lower-end' apartment building and pay 5,000 baht a month rent. I keep saying I'll look for something nicer but I'm going to have to spend at least double on the kind of place I want. It's quite nice only spending 10% of your income to put a roof over your head.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

Transportation

I take motorcycle taxis to and from work (they are plentiful in this neighborhood) and that's 40 baht a day - so maybe 800-1,000 a month. I've thought about buying my own bike but never taken the plunge.

Utility bills

This bill has doubled now I'm spending virtually all my time at home and now comes to around 2,000.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I've actually found that I'm eating less and spending less on food at the moment with restaurants closed and not going to school and popping into 7-11s en route for an ice cream or a chocolate bar. I've got my food spending down to around 5,000 a month and order most of my meals from a local Mom and Pop restaurant. They charge just 50 baht a dish.

Nightlife and drinking

That's been zero for months. I only drink if I socialize and there are no opportunities to do that right now. I do miss a good night out in Pattaya!

Books, computers

I buy the odd book from Amazon but it's hardly worth taking into consideration. I had to spend a few thousand on upgrading my equipment to teach online but that's just a one-off investment.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

Well at the moment, it's a 'forced way of living'. I don't like it but I've got used to it. I certainly miss seeing people and the excitement of being in a live classroom. I'm praying we don't have to live like this for too much longer.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Most things really but especially food from neighborhood hole-in-the-wall restaurants.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

50,000 is a decent amount. I'd love to earn more but with 50K I never feel I go without.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks a lot Dave. You seem to be using the lockdown and teaching online situation as an opportunity to save some money. I think there will be plenty of others who are reaching for those apps and ordering expensive food deliveries and generally buying stuff online. And of course it's up to the individual how they live their lives.  


Tim

Working in Hanoi

Monthly Earnings 150,000

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

150,000 baht equivalent is my full-time salary. I also occasionally earn free booze by playing guitar in bars.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I aim for half and always slightly underachieve it. Let's say 70K.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

My rent is 17,000 baht a month for a two-bedroom apartment.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?

Transportation

I have two motorbikes. Petrol costs 2,000 per month. I usually take taxis when trapising around some evenings, which come to about 2,000 per month. I cycle and walk a lot too.

Utility bills

About 3,000 a month for electricity, air-con and water.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Regular weekly shopping comes to about 4,000 baht a month with some convenience store pop-ins adding an extra thousand. Restaurants and/or delivery a couple nights a week add another 6,000. So that's about 11K a month I think.

Nightlife and drinking

I go out 2-3 nights a week (very light on weekdays but not on weekends) Those nights out cost about 30,000 baht monthly.

Books, computers

I have my kindle and only use free books. There are lots of free books ! I have a 3-year old personal laptop that has survived me well and a school laptop - so no cost there. Average Western book is about 500 baht and I buy 2 or 3 a month.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

It is an excellent standard of living when you work hard although you could survive here on a lot less.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Food and drink are inexpensive if you stick to local products (local beer and street food). Taxis are cheap. Normal motorbikes ( not vanity purchases) are also very good value by Western standards.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

I know some people who earn maybe 40,000 baht per month. If you are young it's fine I suppose.

Phil's analysis and comment

I'm not very familiar at all with the teaching scene in Vietnam but not sure we've had anyone in our cost of living surveys earning as much as 150,000 baht a month. Rent only costing 11-12% of your salary is always going to be a bonus. It sounds like you've got a great lifestyle out there Tim but it would be interesting to know exactly how hard you work for it though.   


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 392 total

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