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.

Submit your own Cost of Living survey

Approximate Thai Baht (฿) conversion rates as of 22nd February 2024

฿36 to one US Dollar
฿45 to one Pound Sterling
฿39 to one Euro
฿23 to one Australian Dollar
฿0.64 THB to one Philippine Peso

Patrick

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 70,000-80,000

Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?

70,000 – 80,000 baht a month at a good Thai university. My wife earns another 70,000 – 120,000 baht a month at the same university

Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?

Until last year, around 120,000 – 150,000 a month. We have been saving for more than 10 years, so at this point compound interest is definitely our friend, and accounts for some of the savings. We just started building a new house though, so we are drawing down on our savings now.

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

We bought a very small 2-bedroom Chinese row-house in the suburbs, and renovated it (new bathroom, modern kitchen, aircon, and high speed internet), all for a bit more than 1 million baht – 12 years ago. Since then, nothing. Though again we just started building a new house, and once we run out of cash, we will take a loan for the rest. That will be 35,000 a month or so.

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

Transportation

We bought a basic car back in 2008, it is paid for now. We bought a second, nicer car (used) a couple of months ago, we pay 24,000 a month for it, with a year and half of payments to go. We also take taxis a fair amount, to avoid driving/parking hassles when necessary, and use the expressway to cut down on commute times. So 24,000 + gas/tolls + taxis is around 30,000-35,000

Utility bills

5,000 a month or so, for 2 phones, A/C, internet, true, etc. I don’t skimp on A/C.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Both restaurants and supermarket shopping, around 25,000 a month. We often bring market food back home, which is very cheap, but sometimes I cook, or we go to a nice restaurant by suburb standards. Basically, we are price-indifferent at this point – convenience is our only concern.

Nightlife and drinking

Part of the restaurant expenses. My wife doesn’t drink but I do.

Books, computers

We spend 15,000 baht a month on a live-in nurse for my wife’s parents. We buy phones, computers, books, stuff as we need it (and we will soon be buying more furniture) – it totals around 25,000 a month.

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

One sentence, hell I can do it in one word - blessed. O.K. seriously, I have a very good standard of living. I have a career (not a job or a “gig”, a career – they are different) that I enjoy, which pays me reasonably well. I have a wife who often earns more than me - and plenty of savings. Things are not perfect but they are as close as any reasonable person could want or expect.

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

Anything involving labor, be it cleaning, gardening, laundry, handymen, etc. Also taxis, street food, mid-level suburban restaurants, some clothing, taxes, and nice wood furniture if you shop smart. Cars are very expensive, electronics a bit so, housing is cheap to rent but not to buy. You can get twice the house if you build it yourself instead of getting one in a development, but it is a lot of work in its own way if you do that, and you better know your contractor.

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

Well, I said 30,000 baht a month when I first did the survey 10 years ago. I am not sure I could do it on less than 40,000 baht a month and I would not want to try. If my wife and I no longer worked, a lot of our expenses would go down, but still.

Phil's analysis and comment

Here we have two very good wage-earners living in the same household and with 160-200K baht a month coming in, you are always going to enjoy a nice lifestyle, especially if there are no children to look after. I think this is the first survey where we've featured costs for looking after elderly parents, which is interesting. I also think that's the highest transportation bill that we've ever had :)

You are very welcome to submit your own cost of living survey for this section of the ajarn website and I have created an online survey to hopefully make it a little easier.

However, I am getting a number of surveys where the teacher hasn't really taken much time and effort over it - and it shows. Sorry I can't think of another way to put that. As a result, the survey just becomes a list of figures. I think if you look back at the last half a dozen surveys or so, you get an idea of what we're looking for. Cheers.


John

Working in Nonthaburi

Monthly Earnings 81,000

Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?

I work at a small international school and my salary is 81,000 baht after tax. This also includes a small housing allowance.

Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?

50,000 baht a month. If I do any travelling, the money comes from that 50,000. I have a strict budget so save well

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

I pay 10,000 baht a month for a one-bedroom condo. There is a pool and small gym and it's very secure.

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

Transportation

Almost nothing as the school is walking distance from home and I only go into Bangkok once a week by taxi.

Utility bills

I spend around 2,800 baht for my phone, internet and cable TV and then probably another 1,000 baht on electricity and water.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

The first year I was here I spent about 8,000 baht a month on food and supermarket shopping as I ate like a local. But this second year, I order western food through a delivery service so now spend around 12,000 baht per month on this. it's worth the extra cost though. I couldn't handle eating like a local anymore, it's a nice luxury to have.

Nightlife and drinking

I rarely go out, maybe once a month if I'm lucky. If I do go out I wouldn't spend any more than 2,000 baht per month

Books, computers

Nothing.

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

Very comfortable. I set a budget which helps me save nearly 70% of my salary but I never feel like I'm missing out. I get my weekly massage, eat well and go out drinking when I like. I have been able to travel a lot using some of the money I have saved. Living in Thailand is great.

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

Any service that the local people provide is an absolute bargain. I can get a massage for 150 baht (it would be at least 10 times more expensive back home in Australia). I can get my condo cleaned by two people for 500 baht (it would be triple that back home). Taxis are so cheap as well and I really like that. Plus if you buy food from the local markets or off the street, it is incredibly cheap. Flying in Thailand and going to surrounding countries is relatively cheap as well.

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

Hmm, well I budget 30,000 for the month but that leaves no money for travel or extra fun, but you could survive off that. Truthfully though, I think you have to earn at least 50,000 per month (if you are living in and around Bangkok) to live a comfortable life with some travel thrown in.

Phil's analysis and comment

John is a saver, no doubt about that. But he saves for a purpose and that usually seems to be travel.

81,000 baht in Nonthaburi is always going to leave you with plenty of cash to spare because Nonthaburi certainly doesn't have the temptations of Central Bangkok. John is obviously not a 'bright lights' person anyway.

I was only ever lucky enough to have one job where I was able to walk to work each day - but what a godsend that is! It's not really about how much you are saving on transportation (although that should be factored in) but you know you can leave your digs at exactly the same time each morning and not give a fiddler's about how bad the traffic is. I'm sure John would agree.


Henry

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 37,000

Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?

I get a 35K salary from my high school in Bangkok and now and again I add a couple of thousand baht to that from doing evening classes.

Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?

About 15,000 a month.

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

I pay 8,000 baht a month for an apartment including bills

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

Transportation

Not stated

Utility bills

Not stated

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I like to eat well and have a small kitchen so often cook for myself. I like to shop at the sometimes more pricey Tops and Villa supermarkets so i spend quite a lot on food (but figure not stated)

Nightlife and drinking

Not stated

Books, computers

Not stated

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

Quite comfortable but i always feel conscious when I use my air-conditioning of how much electricity I am using. I use public transport whenever possible and try to avoid taxis but sometimes it's too late in the night or just too hot outside to take a bus. But overall I would say I have a comfortable life but occasionally feel the pinch of a low salary

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

Local buses

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

I would say 40,000 baht a month in Central Bangkok.

Phil's analysis and comment

Henry didn't really go into much detail here, but if you do the maths, he earns 37K in a good month, saves 15,000 baht of that and lives in an 8,000 baht apartment. That means he's surviving in Bangkok on a grand total of 14,000 (and that's without knowing the figure for food spending) It's less than 500 baht a day! That can't be much fun.


Michelle

Working in Chiang Mai

Monthly Earnings 30,000

Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?

I'm a volunteer at a primary school / kindergarten so I don't necessarily have a salary. However I have several friends and people from my church who help support me. On average, I probably receive about 30,000 baht a month but this varies. Some months I will receive hardly anything and other months it's a lot.

Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?

On average, I spend about 17,000 baht a month, so that would mean I save about 13,000 baht each month.

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

I live with two friends in a small house and we pay 4,000 baht a month for rent (split three ways)

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

Transportation

I have my own motorcycle and I spend about 55 baht a week on gas.

Utility bills

Our bills are split three ways and work out at 210 baht each for wifi and approximately 300 baht each for water and electricity.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

it's hard to say. Looking at my records, it could be anywhere from 1,000 to 4,000 baht, depending on how often I splurge at Remping or get a sandwich at Subway or go out with friends. During the week, we get a free lunch at work, so breakfast and dinner are the only meals where we're on our own. Mostly we will eat street food or cook our own food at home. Going out to eat with friends is the killer, since usually it'll be a higher class restaurant

Nightlife and drinking

I don't do nightlife as a rule but I do enjoy my coffee, however, I try to hit the lower priced coffee shops. I also splurge on horseback riding about twice a month, which costs 500 baht an hour.

Books, computers

I recently had some computer expenses that came up to about 4,000 baht.

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

I like to live as closely to the people around me as possible, and since most of my friends and coworkers are of lower income, I try not to flaunt the fact that I have more money than them. Yet I live very comfortably.

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

Food. It's so cheap!

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

If you live carefully and do it right, you could live on 16,000 baht a month after your start-up costs (motorbike, household furnishings, etc.) However, foreigners also have lots of visa expenses, travel home costs, etc.

Phil's analysis and comment

I'm not really up on how the volunteering thing works so I might pass on commenting here. I've always been under the impression that if you do volunteer work, you got a bit of pocket money, a roof over your head and perhaps 'three hots and a cot' but that clearly isn't the case where Michelle is concerned. But she seems happy enough living the simple life in Chiang Mai.


Dan

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 85,000

Q1. How much do you earn from teaching per month?

I earn 85,000 baht a month at an international school (this also includes a rent allowance)

Q2. How much of that can you realistically save per month?

In theory I could save about 20,000-30,000 baht a month but I never do. There always seems to be something I make a big expenditure on such as going on holiday, flights to the UK, new phone etc. Realistically I save 5,000 - 10,000 - and frequently nothing!

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 girlfriend, of which I pay 20,000 baht in the city centre. I know I could go cheaper but I am very comfortable and feel it is worth the money.

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

Transportation

Including travel to work and various journeys at the weekend it's around 4,000 baht.

Utility bills

Around 3,000 a month for my share of electricity, high speed internet, TV package, land line and mobile phone package.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

This expense fluctuates a lot depending on other expenditures. If I have cash to spare, I will eat well at restaurants and order food in. Anything between 10,000 - 20,000 baht a month. This is an area I could certainly cut back on - but I love eating well!

Nightlife and drinking

It ties in with food as eating out is a big part of a night out for me. I don't drink all that much anymore and have just one or two big nights (getting drunk) a month. Maybe 2,000 - 3,000 on drinking not including food covered above.

Books, computers

It's hard to put a regular amount on this. Occasional necessities such as printer ink and the odd book. I frequently go to the cinema and will occasionly buy new clothes. Anything from 1,000 - 5,000 baht a month I suppose.

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

I feel quite lucky to have my standard of living. There is no chance I could live like this as a teacher in the UK! I have not had to really worry about my spending here, which makes life very comfortable.

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

I think transport is ludicrously cheap, be it a taxi to work or a train down to the south of Thailand. In comparison to home it is extremely cheap in that regard.

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

I think in Bangkok you could survive on 30,000 baht. I've done it before - just about. I wouldn't want to do it for long though!

Phil's analysis and comment

I think one important piece of info missing from the survey above is whether or not Dan's girlfriend works and brings in a monthly salary. A working partner will always make life easier.

I can only go by the figures - and while 85K a month is a very good wage, it doesn't sound like Dan saves much money at all. His accommodation might appear expensive at first glance but it's still only 25% of his income. The other 75% goes on enjoying life!  

Keep these cost of living surveys coming guys. You're doing a great job! Apart from the jobs page, this is the most popular section of the ajarn website. People love reading this information. And don't worry if you've sent me a survey and it's not on-line yet. I have it safe. I just like to space them out a bit.

If anyone fancies doing a cost of living survey, I've now put the questions on-line to make it easier and quicker for you. Please spare half an hour if you can.


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 423 total

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