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 2020

฿32 to one US Dollar
฿40 to one Pound Sterling
฿37 to one Euro
฿22 to one Australian Dollar
฿0.65 THB to one Philippine Peso

Mike

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 69,000

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

69.000 after tax – I work at an international school in Bangkok (Mon to Fri, 8 am to 4 pm) + 1.500 - 3.000 internet income (spouse's income is a separate "thing")

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

15,000 baht goes into my off-shore retirement fund; 5,000 baht into my Thailand 3-year savings account, and 10,000 baht into my Thailand money-for-travel account.

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

6,500 baht – a 20-something year mortgage on a one-bedroom condo.

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

Transportation

2.000 baht / month in gas for my car + 100 baht / month in petrol for my Honda Wave

Utility bills

1.200 internet, 100 water, about 1,000 for electricity

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

both restaurants and supermarket shopping 100 baht / day for weekday food and drinks + 2.000 baht / month for weekend meals + 1.000 baht / month for "fridge food" – I rarely cook at home.

Nightlife and drinking

No time for such things: I keep myself busy with sports and hobbies

Books, computers

1,000 baht / month

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

Comfortable with few worries.

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

Cost of food.

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

I earned less than 30.000 teaching in the provinces (8 years ago) and less than 35.000 teaching in Bangkok (6 years ago) and was able to live decently. I reckon that one could do that with the same amount in the provinces and 45.000 for Bangkok.

Phil's analysis and comment

Look up the word 'organized' in the dictionary and there won't be a definition; there will just be a photo of Mike. He's got a mortgage on a condo as a nice investment. He stashes a bit of money off-shore. He runs a car and a motorcycle. And he puts 10,000 baht a month into a travel fund. 120,000 baht a year should certainly get you a very nice annual holiday somewhere. On top of all that, the fleshpots of sin city might be winking and beckoning, but Mike's not the sort to be tempted. He's got better things to spend his hard-earned cash on. Let's be under no illusion though - 69,000 baht a month is a very decent salary for a teacher. I'm sure Mike appreciates it but he knows what it's like to survive on much less.


David

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 57,000

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

57,000 from work at a kindergarten Monday to Friday and some private and Saturday work. My wife also earns 20,000 baht a month so her money is hers and mine is mine.

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

20,000. If nothing pops up. (trip away etc etc.)

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

7,000 baht including bills. I live in a 38 square metre condo in central Bangkok.

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

Transportation

About 800b per week for gas in my CB400. Including a long Sunday roadtrip

Utility bills

1,300, on top of 5,700b rent. For electricity, water, and internet.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

About 3,000 to 4,000 baht per week. We usually cook nice food that will do for a few days twice a week or so. Nice, clean Thai restaurants for lunch at 60 baht. I generally eat well.

Nightlife and drinking

Usually stay at home with some scotch or box of wine as opposed to going out. About 1,500b per month. Maybe a few pints to watch the football at the weekend once or twice a month. Add 1000b

Books, computers

Books, maybe 500 baht per month. Download everything I want from my computer for free.

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

A happy one.

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

Massages. Both nice and naughty.

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

Depends on the definition of survive. I don't want for anything but I live a quiet life. I don't like sacrifice. I'm also not happy if I'm not putting money away every month. With everything set up - rental deposit, motorbike, clothes etc. a living wage of 35,000 might cut it, but there'd be no money put away and no feeling of security. I need both of these.

Phil's analysis and comment

Worth adding that Dave is only 30 years old. He went on to tell me that in the future, inherited property will earn him similar to what he's earning now, so he generally doesn't have to worry about security in his 60s. Dave sees retirement as living in rural Thailand helping to run small family businesses. By which time he will hopefully have bought his own property with cash saved. As for now, a 77,000 baht joint income is not too bad for a couple with presumably no kids. He spends 16,000 baht a month on food. He certainly eats well. No doubt about that.


Marcin

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 80,000+

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

My school pays me 80,000 BHT/month (including taxes). I also make about 10,000 bht/month teaching extra classes, substitutions etc. So let's say my monthly income is about 90,000bht/month.

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

Nothing really. My wife, a Thai teacher, lives in another province, where we own a house. I therefore have to pay for a house there (mortgage), my condo in Bangkok and I'm also studying for a Masters degree at ABAC. Too many expenses - no saving really at this moment. It will hopefully change once I graduate some time next year.

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

In Bangkok it is about 8,000 Baht with all the utility bills (studio), my house in the province is about 12,000 with all the utilities.

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

Transportation

6000 - 7000 BHT / month (petrol, tolls)

Utility bills

Not much, electricity bill is about 2000 (condo + house), water is something like a 100 (again, for both), phone bills about 1500, internet about 1200 (condo + house).

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Not much, I started cooking myself, so probably something about 8000 BHT

Nightlife and drinking

I stopped going out in Bangkok because I got bored. I go out sometimes with the wife. Not more than 2000 BHT/month, but it used to be much, much more!

Books, computers

Nothing really, a few hundred baht.

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

Very, very comfortable

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

Transportation and food

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

I would say 50,000 in Bangkok and 40,000 in the provinces.

Phil's analysis and comment

Marcin sounds as if he's carefully building his future in Thailand. Responsibility has come a-knocking and he's swapped those steamy nights on the lash to mince around the kitchen with a measuring jug. You can't knock it. I'm just surprised that Marcin feels the need to add an extra 10,000 baht to what is already a good salary of 80,000. I would personally work out how I could live on that 80,000 and use the extra free time for exactly that - free time. At least until the university studies are over. But there are always those who will say make hay while the sun shines and if you're fit enough to do loads of hours, then why not go for it.  


Martin

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 115,000 baht

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

I work in an international school which pays me 115,000 baht a month, of course up to 18,000 of this goes in tax each month. On top of that my son gets a free place at the school plus we get all the other bits and pieces such as healthcare, two-year visas, etc.

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

I give myself a target of 30K every month, which is a very realistic target and could probably be higher.

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

I pay 17000 baht a month for a three-bedroomed house, which does seem a little on the steep side but is by far and away the nicest area of Bangkok I’ve ever lived in.

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

Transportation

Around 4000 to 5000

Utility bills

Electricity averages at 2000 per month, TV 1200, Internet 650, water 150, Muubaan fees 450, Phone 150, in total about 4500 a month.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I get free lunch at work so most of my cravings for western food are satisfied there. My wife and I tend to cook at home so I’d be surprised if we spend more than 8000 baht a month on food.

Nightlife and drinking

Around 5000 baht a month

Books, computers

Books and computing equipment are such rare purchases that the answer has to be just a few hundred baht a month, if that.

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

I’m a lucky man.

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

Taxis and maids.

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

In Bangkok, I think a couple with children and only one wage-earner would not want to be taking home less than 50000 a month long term. Having said that, it’s amazing how one’s lifestyle can creep up as one’s income increases. I spent the whole of 2004 working in the south of Thailand for 22500 baht a month and felt that I had a good lifestyle.

Phil's analysis and comment

It's not often we get a proper international school teacher earning a proper international school salary venture in to the ajarn cost of living section. What is there to say? Martin earns a small fortune by Thailand teacher standards. He's obviously got a lovely house. There's a maid somewhere in the equation and he also pays 'moobarn fees', which is probably a monthly payment that goes towards the upkeep of Martin's housing estate and compound security. Sounds nice doesn't it? And that's the kind of lifestyle that a salary in excess of 100K can get you. Personally though, I would be looking to save considerably more than 30,000 a month out of such a whopping salary, but even 30,000 baht a month will get you a couple of very nice holidays abroad every year.  


Anthony

Working in Samut Prakarn

Monthly Earnings 45,000+

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

I work in a government school and earn 45k per month. I do you have a couple of private students who I teach at my home, which edges it up towards 50k some months.

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

I give myself a target of 20K every month. To be honest that is a very realistic target with my outgoings, but I find there is always something that crops up and it involves spending money. The term just gone I managed to bank 10k per month, but next term by hook or by crook I will bank 20k each pay day for a rainy day.

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

I pay 5k for a modern two floored town house in a quiet area. It has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a front and back garden. I used to rent a 10k serviced apartment, but with utilities it was too much. Only downside to a house here is the unwanted creatures that tend to stroll in uninvited of an evening. Everything else about renting a house is positive for me.

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

Transportation

Very little. I have a scooter and commute back and for to work on that. I am literally around 7 minutes away on the bike from the school and I spend around 500baht on fuel per month.

Utility bills

My electric is around 900-1,0000 and the water is around 100baht. I do shower believe me but the water bills are great here. I spend around 400 per month on the internet. All told, around 1,500 on utilities.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I love my food and eat both Thai and Western food. Obviously if I eat more Thai food I am able to save the pennies. Sometimes though I crave the Western cuisine. Roughly around 5,000-10,000 per month. It varies from month to month.

Nightlife and drinking

Not a heavy drinker. Will have the odd bottle of beer or glass or red wine at home now and again. Maybe 1,000 A month.

Books, computers

I do enjoy a good book. Although it's rare these days that I'll go out and buy one. It's more like a yearly purchase than a monthly. So the answer is 0.

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

Well, my standard of living is of a very decent standard indeed and if it wasn't I wouldn't be here.

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

Pretty much anything you need can be bought in the right place for a bargain. With cars being the exception. Off the top of my head clothes, Thai food and dvds.

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

In a nutshell I wouldn't be here for less than 35k, but everyone is different and peoples needs are different. Some Thais manage surviving on 8k per month and some even lower. The key word is surviving, they are simply just surviving. For a Westerner to sustain a fairly decent standard of living anything under 35k in my eyes would be a struggle. 35k minimum.

Phil's analysis and comment

Anthony seems a level-headed kind of guy and I like his figures. He's a man who lives within his means. I think that he should easily be saving 10-20K from a salary of 50K in Samut Prakarn, but Anthony knows that already. His outgoings are not that high. I did laugh about all the unwelcome visitors you get when you rent a house. I've been there! I once rented a house for 8,000 baht a month in Bangkok that was being literally eaten alive. It's a tough job keeping those termites at bay and once they've developed an appetite for your plaster-board walls, there's very little you can do.


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 337 total

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