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 18th May 2024

฿36 to one US Dollar
฿46 to one Pound Sterling
฿39 to one Euro
฿24 to one Australian Dollar
฿0.63 THB to one Philippine Peso

Niall

Working in North-east Thailand

Monthly Earnings Up to 40,000 baht a month

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

35K a month, including end of year bonus for my current teaching post at a rural government school. This includes private health care. I also sometimes teach at my local village community hall at weekends for between 300-600 baht an hour.

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

I put aside 10-15,000 baht a month to pay off some UK bills.

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

Nothing. I live in a bungalow that we designed and built last year on my wife's property. We laid the foundations 7 years ago and it cost us £10k in materials for the build. I have a Thai brother-in-law in the trade.

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

Transportation

I bought a new car so pay petrol at 2,000 baht a month Commute is 50-minutes each way. The car costs me 6,000 baht a month.

Utility bills

Electric is about 800-1000 baht per month. Internet is 750 baht. As for water, we have our own well.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Probably 800-1,000 baht a week for house food from Macro/Tesco Lotus. We save a lot on rice and fresh produce from our own farm. Don't go out to eat because my wife is the best cook in town ;)

Nightlife and drinking

Don't drink much and don't dig the nightlife. About 500 baht in the odd month on a crate of Leo is about the extent of my nightlife and drinking.

Books, computers

Mostly kindle books and I have a very good PC I brought over from the UK. I read a lot so spend about 500 -1,000 baht a month on books

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

Rich in lifestyle, stress-free job, zero mortgage.

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

Has to be the food. Also the fuel prices have dropped considerably of late. I also enjoy some of the free transport Thailand has to offer. I would also say some of the clothing is pretty well-priced if you know what to look for.

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

I've only been in Thailand for six months and it appears 30,000 baht is the average for teaching. It really depends on the lifestyle you wish to lead. My wife and I are not very materialistic here. As a foreigner you have to be able to adapt and just go with the flow here in Thailand.

Phil's analysis and comment

Niall, I'm surprised that you spend up to a thousand baht a month on books. I thought you would have made your own board games out of bits of wood and played them by candlelight.

I'm pulling your leg Niall. I genuinely like what I read here. A bungalow built on your own land. Water drawn from the well. Fruit and veggies fresh from your own farm. There's something wonderfully uncomplicated and 'wholesome' about your lifestyle.

You sound like one of those guys who dropped out of the rat race to be 'close to the land'. There ain't nothing wrong with that! The idea even appeals to me more and more as I get older.

I don't know about 40,000 baht a month, it sounds like you could live on a lot less. What are you going to do with all that extra cash once the UK loans and the car are paid off? :) 


Rob

Working in Greater Bangkok

Monthly Earnings Up to 77,000 baht a month.

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

I earn 52K a month as a teacher (some of it paid as bonus 6 monthly), plus another 5k a month on average from private students. Also get health care, a free gym and sports hall on site. My girlfriend earns roughly the same as my salary. I have business side projects which bring in anywhere between 5k and 20k a month and are fun but could work out long term.

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

Not a lot with a baby. Maybe 10k a month. I have a house in the UK that is rented out and pays the mortgage off which I see as my pension. My girlfriend likes to save for us as a family.

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

I have a 4-bedroom house in a nice village with a pool for 18,000THB a month. Costs are shared with my girlfriend. We also have a maid to look after our baby and the house. She lives in and is paid 9,000B a month

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

Transportation

I have a car so I pay for gas and insurance (2,400B a month). My drive to work is about 20-minutes each way plus lots of other trips. The car costs me 9,000B a month to pay off over 4 years, after which I have an asset. I don’t go home to UK very much, maybe once every 5 years. My family come here.

Utility bills

Electric is about 800 – 1000B per month. I don’t like the AC. Water approx 250B Internet and TV another 900B

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I have no real idea. Probably 1,000B a week for house food from supermarkets which the maid cooks. Probably up to 2,000 baht some weeks. We eat out probably once or twice a week at 1,000B a go.

Nightlife and drinking

Go out probably once or twice a month to local pretty bars, cost is around 1,000B a time, 2,000 if a big night. Too old for clubbing, and I don’t like tourist areas or prices. Regular weekends away in Hua Hin, Rayong, Kanchanaburi, say once every 1- 2 months. That costs about 5,000B a time inc hotel, food and gas.

Books, computers

I seem to buy a computer once a year. If you buy cheap you get crap, and I do. 10,000B. I stream sport which costs about 250B a month. I will pick up books when I find them, but I’m busy with my projects and my baby.

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

I have a beautiful partner, a lovely child, a nice house with a maid and pool, a great job with no stress and fun side projects, eat great food and get flirted with all the time by beautiful women.

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

Fun is very cheap. Thais love fun. Nights out, football, massages and much more all great value. Rent & especially water. My house in the UK would probably cost 5 times as much. Tax too, 7% feels fair for the services provided, whereas in the UK tax felt like a rip off. Petrol and Gas are very cheap here as not taxed at 70% Cornettos, Coca Cola and some other Western staples are way below the same product in the West. Of course Thai food is amazing value to, but a Cornetto for 20B always amazes me. Coke 12B

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

I’ve never made less than 50k here and that has always given me a nice life. When single I could spend lots on fun, but if I was the only breadwinner it wouldn’t be enough for this lifestyle. I find you spend what you make by and large. I had a friend who lived in the sticks who lived a comfortable life on about 15k, - he couldn’t find ways to spend the rest.

Phil's analysis and comment

Rob also had this to say on the topic of 'how much money does one need to survive here?'

The common mistake is trying to live by Western standards, on Sukhumvit, paying city prices and tourist rates. If you cannot survive without Starbucks, Fishbowls and Western Food, then 30k isn't enough.
I find it insulting to the genuinely poor Thai people who are actually trying to survive and support a family in the village where they are from to use the word "survive". Westerners in Thailand don't know the meaning of the word. My maid sees her son 3 days a year for example. How does that rate on a survival index?

Fair point Rob. 

But to get back to Rob's actual survey, can I quote one of his answers?  - "I have a beautiful partner, a lovely child, a nice house with a maid and pool, a great job with no stress and fun side projects, eat great food and get flirted with all the time by beautiful women"

There's no arguing with that is there? When I read that Rob lives in an 18,000 baht house, has a live-in maid, drives a car and enjoys a regular night out and a trip to the seaside, I had to check several times to make sure I had typed in his correct monthly earnings.

It just goes to show how far the money can stretch once you give up on the nightlife :) Well done sir! 


Mark

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings Around 60,000 baht

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

I earn 40K a month as a primary school teacher. Plus another 13-14K a month from corporate gigs and 7-8,000 from private students (who thankfully cancel quite often)

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

Not much at the moment! Maybe 20,000 baht a month. Things will get better this year when the car is paid off. Right now gas prices are really low, so that's a big monthly saving for me.

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

I designed and built a large house in the country and borrowed some money from a Thai bank to do it. The mortgage is 9,800 baht a month.

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

Transportation

This is the big one - car payment, gas and insurance about 15,000 baht a month. Sounds like a lot, but I travel a lot for work. The commute to my school is 500 kilometres a week! My other jobs require trips to Bangkok (I live in Ratchaburi.)

Utility bills

Electric, internet, and others add up to about 5,000 a month. This figure also includes street lighting, pool maintenance, water and security.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Another big one, but entirely discretionary. About 5,000 a month. I have a nice kitchen and I cook a lot.

Nightlife and drinking

I never go out and I don't drink.

Books, computers

I'm a gadget nut and I love computers so that accounts for my 'fun stuff/hobby' spending. Difficult to say how much but probably 100,000 baht a year.

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

Perfect, I work at a reasonable pace and make a reasonable living. If I was in the UK/US I would have to work a lot harder and I would still never get what I have here in Thailand. I keep waiting for the dream to end and someone to tell me to wake up and sod off back to England. Life couldn't be better.

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

Property prices. Prostitutes... so I've been told.

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

It varies and this question is impossible to answer. Some people can live very happily on half what I make and others would struggle to pay their bills. I'm smack dab in the middle, I think. If you are looking to move to Thailand, you should aim to be making at least 40,000 baht a month within a year of being here. 50,000 baht within three years. When I lived in Bangkok I earned more money, but I hated every second of it.

Phil's analysis and comment

Although Mark has put down 60K as his monthly income, I guess it's probably closer to 50K in a lot of months when those private students or corporate gigs start cancelling (December is probably a prime example) But as I've said many times before, private students, and to a certain extent corporate contracts, are the icing on the cake. Never ever factor them in as 'guaranteed monthly income' but enjoy the extra disposal income in a month when it all comes together and no one cancels.

I always had a love/hate relationship with private students. I used to teach a teenage brother and sister every Sunday for a couple of hours in the afternoon. Oh man, they were just the dullest students you could imagine. I think I only agreed to accept the job because I got on well with their father.

However, on the very rare occasion they used to cancel, I would punch the air and literally dance a jig around the living room. I didn't like losing the income but not having to give up my Sunday afternoons to teach those two deadbeats was more than adequate compensation.

Going back to Mark's survey, hats off to him for making his money go a long way. He's built his own house in the country. He runs a car. And he clearly enjoys life. You can't say fairer than that.    


Trevor

Working in Lamphun

Monthly Earnings 28,000

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

28,000

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

Two to three thousand baht to cover unexpected bills.

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

I live in a house.

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

Transportation

1,000 baht

Utility bills

700 baht

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

15,000 baht

Nightlife and drinking

2,000 baht

Books, computers

Nothing

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

Comfortable

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

Utility costs, food and dining out

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

To have a reasonable standard of living I would say that you need to be earning 25,000 to 30,000 if you live out of Bangkok and double that if you live in Bangkok.

Phil's analysis and comment

Not really anything to get my teeth into there, although 15,000 baht on food when you earn 28K a month doesn't seem quite right. Er....Lamphun is quite nice so I've heard. Is it?


Sebastian

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 65,000

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

My salary after tax is around 65.000 baht a month. I work for a very large and prestigious secondary school in Bangkok and although the wage is decent, they expect you to maintain a high level of performance. There are no slackers here!

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

Some months I spend more than others so difficult to put a figure on it. I try to save at least 20,000 baht a month I guess.

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

I live with my Thai partner in a brand new condo development. Our one-bedroom apartment costs us about 25K a month but it's very nice and the condo facilities (gym and pool, etc) are excellent. I should add at this point that my Thai partner earns more than I do. She brings home about 80K a month from her job with an international auditing company.

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

Transportation

About 2,000 baht a month. I use public transport from Monday to Friday. My partner has a car so we drive everywhere at weekends. I've toyed with the idea of buying my own car but so far resisted the temptation.

Utility bills

We use the air-conditioning a lot when we are at home in the evenings and weekends and with water and phone, the monthly bills are about 5,000 - 6,000 baht.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

We will eat out twice a week on Saturdays and Sundays and usually somewhere mid-range or better. rarely do we drop less than 1,000 baht on a meal. From Monday to Friday, I cook at home and my partner will grab something on the way home from work. I guess about 20,000 baht a month. We don't skimp on food at all.

Nightlife and drinking

We don't really go out. The very occasional evening at the movie theatre and that's about it.

Books, computers

I enjoy browsing in second-hand bookshops (but don't seem to get enough free time to read) and my partner and I both have laptops, which we replace every couple of years. But this is not a significant amount of money each month.

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

Far better than I ever had back in England. I live in a nice place and we don't go short of anything. My partner has been offered an opportunity with her company to work in Vietnam or Cambodia and we're chewing it over. It would only be a 12-month contract but it would mean quitting my job and renting the apartment out. But it would be a fantastic opportunity to taste life in another country.

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

I wouldn't class anything as truly unaffordable but as others have said in this cost of living section, Bangkok is definitely becoming more and more expensive.

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

Once you've been earning over 60,000 baht a month, you can't ever imagine going back to live on 30K, but I did for several years and survived perfectly well. But in Bangkok, I'm not sure I would fancy living on less than 40K these days.

Phil's analysis and comment

Almost 150,000 baht a month coming into the drum and no kids to worry about. That's always going to get you a nice standard of living. There's a price to be paid though and it's an all too familiar one. Sebastian also said that he and his partner are like ships in the night during the week. His partner especially works long hours and often returns home very late at night.

I've been in this situation myself and wondered whether the hard work is all worth it when you have little or no time to spend with your significant other. Oh well, that's modern life I suppose.

Funny enough, my wife was in the same situation as Seb's partner as regards re-locating to another country. Her bosses started talking about needing someone to transfer to Tokyo for a year or two. My wife was apprehensive about approaching the subject with me but I said "Tokyo! For 12-months in a serviced apartment with all the trimmings? Where's my suitcase?"

Truth is I would have loved the opportunity to spend some time in Japan but unfortunately the offer never became anything more than idle speculation.   


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 427 total

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