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 20th 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

Steve

Working in Trang

Monthly Earnings 30,000

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

30,000bt. 1 job. Maths Teacher, Government School, Trang. Could do more but too lazy, I value my free time too much.

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

10,000bt saved every month

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

2,000bt small fan room with a shower/toilet, TV (8 Thai channels) and a nice jungle view.

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

Transportation

1000bt on fuel for the 'chopper' I bought last month for 57,000bt (from savings from this job). (1000bt = 1000km enough for big cruises)

Utility bills

100bt (water + elec) only

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

3000-5000bt

Nightlife and drinking

12,000-14,000bt for all my entertainment.

Books, computers

Nowt, swap books. School has internet.

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

My standard of living is excellent - way better than it was in the NE of England. I read a lot during school nights when I'm not chilling out in Trang's bars. I do what I like at weekends/holidays. I often go on long motorbike cruises through the beautiful countryside so rural Thais can stare at me. I like to chill out in Krabi (beaches) and Phuket (birds) now and then since Trang has no "Hellllooooooo hansum man" phenomena.

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

Food, Beer and cigarettes. You can sit in a Mama n Papa shop with your mates and drink big bottles of Archa beer @ 33bt. 300bt will give you a 2 day hangover (that's the cheapest way unless you like LaoCao). Regular bars are about 70bt big Leo. However, spending a lot of time in Samui/Phuket etc will blow your 30K/month within minutes (Ao Nang, Krabi = small Tiger 100bt WTF?).

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

15000bt and you would lead an OK life here although you probably would wind up a single dude even if you looked like Tom Cruise.

Phil's analysis and comment

Steve seems happy enough. I bet when he's out on the open road on his chopper, with the wind in his hair, looking for the next watering hole, he must think he's died and gone to Heaven. Can you keep that kind of lifestyle going forever? I doubt it. The small fan room for 2,000 baht a month sends shivers down my spine. I don't care how glorious your view of the jungle is, surely you can't live like that for more than a year or two. I think eventually you'll crave more in the way of creature comforts. But for the time being, Steve's probably a young man on one big adventure. Why not go for it? I always appreciate a man who values his spare time above work.


Joshua

Working in Pattaya

Monthly Earnings 24,000

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

24000 Baht per month for about 24 hours per week with no overtime or outside work

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

Nothing.

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

2500 for a one bedroom apartment (no air-con, no hot showers

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

Transportation

I own a reliable motorbike (28000B) so about 350B/month of gas

Utility bills

1000 for cable, power and water

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Almost all Thai food from the local market with some McDonalds/Pizza binges about 500-600B/week or around 2000-3000B month

Nightlife and drinking

Beer (2500B/month) and a movie or 2 (500B/month) and a girlfriend with a money loving mama and baby (4000B-5000B)

Books, computers

300B/month on second hand books with trade-ins. 400B/month on Net access

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

Thai style with a few perks here and there, I can't keep staying like this but it can be fun at times.

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

Rent and Beer

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

30000B in Pattaya would be a comfortable living, other than that I would say at least 20000B and that is a steal for a school hiring a degree holding native with a TEFL cert.

Phil's analysis and comment

30000B in Pattaya would be a comfortable living, other than that I would say at least 20000B and that is a steal for a school hiring a degree holding native with a TEFL cert.


Dan

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 34,000

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

34,000

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

3,000 (but I rarely do)

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

I pay 5,500 baht for a two bedroom, two story house near the On-Nut BTS.

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

Transportation

300

Utility bills

400

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

7,000

Nightlife and drinking

2,000

Books, computers

1,500

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

Not bad, but buying a fridge or similar appliance finishes my monthly “petty cash”

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

DVD Rental- 5 films for seven nights all for only a 100 baht. Amazing Thailand!

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

For a farang? At least 20,000 baht

Phil's analysis and comment

In my opinion 30-35,000 baht a month is the absolute minimum you can survive on in Bangkok so Dan is a nice case study to start off with. He works in the capital and earns 34,000 a month.
He's certainly got things sorted out in the housing department, paying only 5,500 for a house in a great location. I'm guessing that because his utility bill is so low the house either doesn't have air-conditioning or he very rarely switches it on. For me a house without air-con blasting away (at least in one room) is no fun at all. That said, Dan doesn't skimp on his grub, and he's obviously something of a 'taxi man'. With the average cost of a taxi journey being about 80 baht, he must take plenty of cabs. I'm with him all the way on the bus thing. While 500 baht a week spent on nightlife hardly puts him in the Peter Stringfellow category, 3,000 baht a month going into the savings account is a bit worrying. I'm sure Dan would like to build up more of a savings 'cushion' if he could.


Brian

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 43,500

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

43,500 baht (after taxes, 40,000 baht) I teach at a private language school in the heart of Bangkok. I’m considered the “head teacher,” although my salary doesn’t reflect that!

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

Approximately 25,000 baht.

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

I live in a small two story, two bedroom house in the Sathorn area. My rent is 6,130 baht/month.

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

Transportation

1,500

Utility bills

500

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

3,500

Nightlife and drinking

700

Books, computers

Virtually nothing. I have many books at home. I also borrow books from friends). I have a computer, but I don’t have internet access, nor do I play games, buy software, etc. I very, very rarely buy a DVD.

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

My standard of living, for me, is very good. It is also higher than it was back home, breaking my spirit under high rents, lack of well-paying work, and expensive necessities.

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

Food, clothing, holidays outside of Bangkok…

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

To survive? 20,000 baht/month. In order to have a reasonable standard of living one should earn at least 40,000 baht/month.

Phil's analysis and comment

Everyone has their own priorities and I take my hat off to Brian for managing to save well over 50% of his salary, but there are very few teachers in the 35-50,000 earning bracket who follow his example.
If my maths is correct, then Brian is living on 15,000 baht a month and the cost of his house is coming out of that relatively small amount. There's no doubt that Brian does 'go without' on occasion. He has no internet access, his food bill is the lowest so far, and his utility bill of just 500 baht would suggest he survives without air-conditioning. His standard of living seems to be a lot lower than what I would settle for but sacrifices do have to be made if you're looking to save 25,000 baht a month.


Matthew

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 38,000

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

I make 38k (after taxes) teaching prathom and another 20k at a language school across the street. My Thai wife is also a teacher and she adds another 15k or so all told (I suppose we should count that as it all goes into the same pot). Over the last few years I've held various combinations of jobs...sometimes making more (up to 100k), sometimes less (down to 35k), but basically maintained the salary level I'm at now

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

These days about 12-19k, most of which goes into a special file labeled 'dowery dosh' (we're hitched but've not had the bash, or sale, depending on your perspective).

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

We've got a one-bedroom condo on Ram for 7,600. It ain't flashy, but we find it roomy enough and I like being one of only a handful of foreigners around (not including my African brothers, who make a pretty good showing themselves). It's only a 7-12 baht 10 minute bus ride to work, which is good and saves cash

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

Transportation

a few thousand baht. When out for pleasure, I don't blink at taking taxis.

Utility bills

Maybe 2,600.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Probably 6,000, maybe more. Off to Greyhound tonight. You know.

Nightlife and drinking

4,000. sometimes twice that if I'm feeling the thirst for the carbonated depressant more than usual.

Books, computers

2000. (An addiction to the New Yorker (weekly) magazine doesn't come cheap. We also send money to my wife's mom every month since she covered the cost of a surgery a couple years back, and spend regular money on things like short trips to Amphawa or new glasses or whatever comes up. It's very different than the early days when all I did was teach, sleep, and wander around the urban circus of Bangkok stopping occasionally to spend 5 bucks here or there.

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

I'd say I (we) live pretty well. We both work a lot but find time to do cultural stuff, get out of Bangkok for weekends every now and then, go out with friends, and fill the fridge with tasty food

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

Foot massage, clothing for the missus, high-speed internet, and food. Also DVDs on the street, travelling by air (usually), and taxis. Taxis are almost always a good value if I can't take a bus or BTS or whatnot.

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

30k. But that's just 'survive'. For his soul to survive, add at least 10k. A guy needs a proper riceless feast, a brand new hardcover book, and a decent hotel on travels every once in a while. Then there's tickets to a show, a talk, entrance to a club. At a certain point the (free) fascination of Bangkok street life loses it's power to please the mind. It also all changes when you make the transition from travelling teacher to local foreign teacher.

Phil's analysis and comment

To use one of my grandmother's favorite expressions - here's a bloke with his head screwed on. Matthew knows his numbers and he's got a very set idea on the kind of lifestyle he wants to lead and the kind of lifestyle he deserves. When you work as much as Matthew does, you're entitled to treat yourself in the odd snazzy restaurant and escape to the beaches for the occasional weekend. Why the hell not? However much Matthew is earning, he knows that the potential is there to earn 100K a month. How does he know? Because he's already done it. It's all about juggling around a combination of jobs. But reading between the lines - it doesn't sound as if Matt is into 'killing himself' any more with those punishing schedules that he took on when he was a younger man.


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 337 total

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