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 21st September 2020

฿31 to one US Dollar
฿40 to one Pound Sterling
฿37 to one Euro
฿23 to one Australian Dollar
฿0.64 THB to one Philippine Peso

Andre

Working in Mae Sot

Monthly Earnings 35,000

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

I work in the English Program at a Thai School and earn 35k a month. There are no deductions so I put 35k in my pocket. Some months I make an extra 2-3k on the side selling a teak cutting board or teaching extra maths.

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

Realistically I can’t save anything. If I have money, I go out. Maesot has a lot of interesting places with beautiful woman and it would be a crying shame to sit at home to save money. When I moved here I got myself a lovely teak house, cable and internet, but I rarely spent my evenings at home using it. Actually, I use it from the twentieth of the month onwards.

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

3.5k a month for a large teakwood house with a garden in a quiet suburb. The house is on stilts which give me covered parking for my car. It’s cheap, because it’s about 10km out of town – it’s right on the border, so I don’t have to compete with NGO’s for rental space. It’s far away enough from school that I don’t bump into those little angels all the time, but I often have to commute back to town at night if I’m tired of my local watering hole.

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

Transportation

2-3k a month. What I save on rent I spend on transport. But I prefer to stay away from school. I have a car and bike, so that money goes for petrol and maintenance.

Utility bills

300baht for cable, 690 baht for internet, +/-120 baht for water and around 400 baht for electricity. I have air-con, but I only used it April and May. I prefer the fan, it’s cheaper and keeps the mosquitoes away.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

The local Tesco doesn’t stock western food, so I only buy dog food there. I never cook for myself, only when I have people over. Asian women really love it when you cook for them. I eat four times a day so food costs me on average 150 baht a day. Times that by 30 – 4500baht

Nightlife and drinking

Whatever money is leftover in my bank account, which is really not that much! But not much more than 5000baht.

Books, computers

Very little: It’s just not available here.

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

10,000 baht short of absolutely fantastic.

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

Tailored clothes, rent, the nightlife, and a Burmese maid at 80 baht a day.

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

There’s a number of volunteers here surviving on 3 000 baht a month (they get food and accommodation). I honestly can’t see how you can live here on less than 20 000 baht a month without becoming clinically depressed.

Phil's analysis and comment

Andre has kind of summed it up for me already - he's 10,000 baht short of a fantastic lifestyle. That said, he doesn't seem to be doing too badly earning 35K in what's a pretty remote area of Thailand. He's got a nice drum, a Burmese maid, a few mod cons. Sometimes you have to take a step back and say 'would I be able to fund this kind of lifestyle back home?' and the answer is probably no in many cases. He's in a nice part of the world doing what he enjoys. You can't really add to that.


Nicholas

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 35-45,000 baht a month

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

I get a 35,000 baht salary from the agency I work for and they employ me to do a full-time job at a Thai secondary school. Fortunately the schedule is quite light so I'm able to bump up my monthly gross with private students.

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

Very little. I'm lucky to stash 5,000 baht away.

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

I live in an apartment with my Thai partner. It costs about 8,000 baht a month with bills.

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

Transportation

1,000 baht

Utility bills

Between 2-3,000

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

We don't eat out much but we do bring a lot of streetfood home. I guess about 6,000 baht a month all in.

Nightlife and drinking

About 3,000.

Books, computers

I use the internet at school and I'm not much of a reader so this expense is virtually zero.

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

The 10,000 baht a month I make from privates is the difference between a good month and an OK month. I don't want for anything on the kind of salary I earn but I know I can't go on like this forever. I can't afford a holiday back home for a start.

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

Food and transportation, although taxis are getting noticeably more expensive.

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

In Bangkok, anything under 40,000 baht a month is a bit of a struggle. I would love to live in a better apartment but you can't have rent eating up a third of your salary.

Phil's analysis and comment

Nicholas has really said it all for me. You're only 'surviving' on 35-45'000 baht a month in Bangkok. It's going to be great for a few years, but not something you can do forever. What about the trips home when the folks get ill? Or are you going to rely on Auntie Doreen to look after her favorite nephew and send you the cost of an air ticket? Surely you can't live like that when you are in your thirties and forties - a slave to family handouts. I don't know the exact ins and outs of Nick's situation but perhaps by being employed directly and not through an agency, he could add 5-10,000 baht a month to his salary. And all that money he could relistically save. 


Gareth

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 35-55,000 Baht per month

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

I generally earn in the region of 45K per month working for a private language school. Sometimes in a busy month, I can earn in excess of 50K and having been teaching for almost two years I feel confident enough to teach privately which has brought in an additional 7K or so per month recently. Of course, this ebbs and flows. The language school I work in has been relatively quiet these past few months and this is apparently an industry-wide problem at present, though I can see it picking up in April.

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

Realistically, if I earnt 45-50K I could save 10K a month comfortably. However I do like to make the odd purchase with a view to improving my standard of living or satisfying my urges for new electronics.

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

I pay 10K a month for a nice, clean studio apartment with a gym and a pool, a ten minute walk from an MRT station that's neither too near nor too far from the expensive and err...less salubrious ex-pat areas. I am looking to move to a one bedroom apartment even nearer to the MRT before long though. I think, after a while, you can become a little sick of having just the one room. I'd also like to be able to offer private classes in my apartment

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

Transportation

Very little really. A motorcycle taxi to work is 20 Baht with a brisk and sweaty walk home most days. This is because I chose an apartment 'after' securing a job which has, in my mind, been a key decision. Sometimes I'll have to take the MRT and/or the BTS as well as an occasional post-midnight 100 baht taxi home as well. I'd say altogether 2-3K per month.

Utility bills

I rarely use my aircon favouring a fan and a continually open window on the top floor of a low-rise apartment. This keeps my electricity bills down to between 350 and 500 baht per month. In addition to that I pay 600 baht for internet as well as, for reasons that continually escape me, 1600 baht for a True cable television package with which I have access to a load of too oft repeated old films that you saw by downloading them or buying them two years previously for 80 baht and are now gathering dust

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I can't cook, so, with the very rare exception of the odd tin of beans or microwaveable ready-meal, I eat out. To make this affordable you do, of course, have to forego a 100% diet of western fare which is fine by me and my waistline. If you can find a few local Thai restaurants that are reliable and maintain a good quality in their food and ingredients you're laughing. I have two such cafes/restaurants in my apartment...village....thing...On average a meal will cost me 50-70 baht for a rice or noodle meal.

Nightlife and drinking

It very much depends on what kind of nightlife you're looking for. If you and three of your friends want to head to one of the Thai clubbing areas and are happy to share a bottle of whiskey or two and mixers then an enjoyable and rather civilised evening can be had for 1000-1500K. On the other hand if you want to drink bottled beer in western style pubs followed by trips into the seedy belly of Bangkok's more wanton districts then you can double or even triple that depending on how raucous your inebriation

Books, computers

Pretty much nothing. I'll buy a textbook now and then, but just about everything I need is supplied by my company and I have a good circle of friends with which I can share literature of the recreational variety.

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

Comfortably semi-western and fun.

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

Food and taxis but above all else it's accommodation. In Bangkok there's absolutely no need to scrimp on an apartment. Stick yourself in a 4K sweatbox a couple of kilometres down a soi and you'll spend what you're saving on a decent apa

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

I think someone with a 7K apartment and low bills could subsist quite easily on 25K per month as that would equate to a daily budget of 500 baht. It wouldn't be a great deal of fun though. I think to really make a life here and to be able to save somewhat as a single person you need to 'regularly' earn in excess of 40K per month.

Phil's analysis and comment

I know Gareth from his posts on the ajarn discussion forum and he always comes across as a level-headed kind of guy so his answers don't really surprise me. He appreciates that you need to earn in excess of 40 K for a good lifestyle and what's more - he seems to have well thought out plans and objectives. Definitely a teacher who falls into the pro-active category.  


Barry

Working in Hua Hin

Monthly Earnings 50,000

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

Just under 50,000 (employer covers all deductions) working as part of the training department in a health resort in Hua Hin. I teach mostly English classes, but also get involved with other resort training.

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

Between 20-25,000.

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

I have a studio style apartment, with maid service (100 metres from the beach) which comes with the job.

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

Transportation

1,000 for Bangkok vans and a few motorbike taxis - I work next door to my apartment!

Utility bills

1,500 for mobile - air-con, hot water, laundry, cable, net and electric covered by company

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

8,000 - eating good food is my weak point after a week of staff canteen food!

Nightlife and drinking

12,000 - I stay in BKK most weekends when I visit my girlfriend and like a few cold ones from time to time.

Books, computers

Nothing

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

I live a very good life, doing what I want, when I want - but know I could be a bit more "frugal"!

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

In general most things are a bargain, but after 5 years in Thailand I have noticed prices are not at all as competitive as they were when I first got here. You can't beat the prices of DVDs, getting around and local food.

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

I would say around 40,000 to live in a reasonable place and enough to enjoy Thailand. Scraping by with notihng left at the end of the month is not the way to do it here!

Phil's analysis and comment

I like the sound of Barry's lifestyle. He earns a decent salary and he saves a good part of it. And I can't think of a nicer place in Thailand to earn a living as a teacher than Hua Hin. Being a beach resort, there are plenty of temptations though. It doesn't surprise me one bit that Barry spends 20,000 baht a month on food and nightlife. Hua Hin certainly isn't Pattaya but there is plenty to spend your cash on. Just to clear things up, 'Bangkok vans' refers to the shuttle buses that ply the route from Hua Hin to Bangkok and back again. It's probably the fastest and most economical way to get from one to the other.


Harry

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 65,000

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

My basic salary is 58,000 but on top of that I make around 5,000 in overtime (teaching IELTS/TOEFL exam preparation) plus I have a few corporate classes every week. On average I take home between 65,000 & 75,000 (occasionally more).

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

Not as much as I should, but maybe around 10,000. I tend to blow this on annual trips back to the UK and the odd weekend in Pattaya, Phuket etc and 25,000 a year for health insurance.

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

I bought a one bedroom condo in Phra Khanong, so I only have to pay around 2,000 a month to cover the pool, gym, security, insurance etc

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

Transportation

Transportation - about 2,500 for the BTS and occasional taxis

Utility bills

1,200 for electricity, 2,155 for Truevisions Platinum, 80 for water

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

both restaurants and supermarket shopping - 6,000. I like to cook so buy plenty of expensive ingredients. Eating out is far cheaper.

Nightlife and drinking

20,000. Being a single guy, I enjoy a weekly night out drinking in the expat bars with my mates and then finding some company for the night. These things don't come cheap!

Books, computers

1,000 for broadband. I don't need to buy books.

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

I live well and enjoy my life - my lifestyle was much quieter in my first two years here as I had a lower salary and a girlfriend (my life now is less quiet and I'm spending about the same amount of money without having to use my UK savings).

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

Taxis and company (if you use your "big" head wisely).

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

At least 30,000 - but it needs to be spent wisely.

Phil's analysis and comment

Harry admits that he has savings in the UK but we don't know how much and it's none of our business anyway. If those savings are left untouched and increasing year by year, then why shouldn't a man party most nights, bring a new friend home now and again and also enjoy a bit of cooking. I picked up on the cooking part because as Harry says - cooking at home can be more expensive than eating out if you buy good ingedients. But as an ex-colleague of mine once said - you don't save money by eating at home, but you do eat better. Yes, I agree with that.


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 337 total

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