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 19th July 2024

฿36 to one US Dollar
฿47 to one Pound Sterling
฿39 to one Euro
฿24 to one Australian Dollar
฿0.62 THB to one Philippine Peso

Wilf

Working in Pathum Thani, near Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 30,000 - 50,000

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

I'm a retired UK school teacher in my late 50s and I've earned the reputation as a 'Mr Reliable'. I'm on the books of several language schools, I do a bit of part-time work at a nearby college and I have several online students. Frankly speaking I don't need the money but I take on enough work to keep me fairly busy and to keep the old grey matter ticking over.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I don't really consider it. As long as I can earn between 30-50K because that's about how much it costs me to live here, it means I never have to dip into my nest egg.

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 several years ago so don't have any rent to pay. I knew from a friend that there was plenty of teaching work in this area (which there is) so I always make sure I don't have to go very far for a job.

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

Transportation

I use the BTS and subway systems quite often so it probably amounts to around 2,000 a month.

Utility bills

About 4,000 a month. I have the air-con on all the time when I'm at home.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I do like my western food but I try to mix it 50/50 with Thai. I never cook at home and always eat out. This is probably about 10,000 a month. I could get that figure considerably lower if I just ate at my regular Thai place where it's 50 baht a dish but I find I can't do that for more than two days running and get the craving for a burger and fries. I do think western food is quite pricey in Thailand though.

Nightlife and drinking

Almost zero. I have the odd beer at home but rarely go out in the evening. It's never really been my thing. I get asked to go out on social evenings quite often but I make it clear to people that I generally prefer my own company. Eventually they get the message and stop asking.

Books, computers

I love my technology. I've always got to have the latest laptop and mobile phone. I bet most of my money goes in this area but difficult to put a figure on it. Let's just say I can afford it.

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

Wonderful. I'm lucky to have a decent retirement fund so the money I earn from teaching here is just icing on a very lovely cake. I don't live a lavish lifestyle though nor am I interested in one. I've always been a 'saver' rather than a 'spender'.

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

I don't think there are that many real bargains anymore but the cost of staying in hotels outside of Bangkok can be very reasonable for what you get.

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

In my opinion, Bangkok has become as expensive as most other capital cities in the world. The days of living here are cheaply are gone (and I've been coming here on and off for almost three decades) I don't know how anyone could survive on less than 50K and if you wanted the full package (pension plan, travel, etc) you would need closer to 80-100K as an absolute minimum.

Phil's analysis and comment

I love this survey, Wilf. There's just so much common sense and reality in those words of yours! Firstly, you're in an ideal situation aren't you? You've made your money elsewhere and teaching is a nice way to cover your Bangkok living expenses without dipping into savings. As you say, it also keeps the mind active of course and I always think that's important as you get older. Well done sir!


Daemon

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 141,000 (Including wife's income)

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

I did a cost of living survey back in April. Back then I was making 64K teaching full-time at large Thai private primary/secondary school and had to send about 20K back home to my wife every month. Since then, I managed to get a great job in an international school and things have improved considerably. My full-time salary is now 98K. My wife finally finished her B.Ed, moved here permanently, and quickly found a teaching job where she makes 43K a month. So put together, our total income is 141,000 per month. I decided to send this new survey because I thought it would be interesting to compare my lifestyle then and now.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

We have been able to save around 60-65K every month.

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

We pay 18K a month for a very comfortable 1-bedroom apartment in the center of Bangkok, right outside an MRT station. It's way more than our old 7K-a-month studio apartment, but we love the new place. Our quality of life there has vastly improved (big kitchen, nice living room, bedroom, and bathroom). All things considered, we're spending only 13% of our income on housing, which is not bad at all.

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

Transportation

My wife and I each take a taxi to work in the morning and then we both take the BTS/MRT back home. We each spend about 4K a month on transportation, so 8K in total. We could save more by taking the MRT/BTS to go to work in the morning, but a taxi is faster and more convenient/less hassle.

Utility bills

Electricity: 1,700
Water: 350
Wifi: 750
Mobile internet: 800

The electricity bill is almost double now in our new place, but it's still much cheaper than in our home country.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

This is our biggest expense: Around 25K a month. We are not big fans of Thai food so we cook during the week and buying western ingredients can be expensive in Bangkok. We also like to treat ourselves on the weekends (Indian food, Mexican, Italian, pizza etc).

Nightlife and drinking

We don't like to party and we drink very little. It's usually a beer or two on the weekends and a couple of bottles of wine every month. All in all, not more than a thousand baht.

Books, computers

We love staying in and watching movies and TV shows, so we spend about 1,200 on streaming services. We also enjoy going to the cinema and probably spend another 1,000 a month there.

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

Very comfortable. We live in a spacious, comfortable, well-located apartment, eat well, travel, and save a large chunk of our incomes. My wife and I both worked very hard and sacrificed a lot to achieve our professional goals, including being apart for almost three years during the pandemic, while she finished her undergraduate degree and teaching qualification in our home country. During that time, I also studied towards a higher-level qualification while teaching full-time here in Thailand. But it all worked out in the end. We are both teaching abroad and enjoying a quality of life that would be virtually impossible for teachers in our home country.

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

I continue to find rent here very affordable. Here, it's only 13% of our income. Back home it's usually 40-50%, if not more. Transportation here is also a bargain, taxis, MRT/BTS, buses, they're all affordable.

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

To live a relatively comfortable life in Bangkok, I'm still convinced that a single person needs at least 50K a month (after taxes). If you're not into partying and drinking too much and don't mind eating Thai food or cooking during the week, you can find a decent apartment, travel, and save a bit every month on that income. For surviving only (no savings, not much traveling, just making ends meet) I'd say 30-35K.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Daemon. That sounds like a great success story you have there. An extra 34,000 baht a month is always going to make a hell of a difference but you throw your wife's 40K+ into the mix and your standard of living has obviously skyrocketed. As you say, you and your wife sacrificed a lot and are now deservedly reaping the rewards. Well done!  


TJ

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 60-65K

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

I make 52K from my basic salary working in a nice private school in Ladpro and up to 7K for after school classes plus approximately 5,600 baht a month with a private adult student once per week for two hours.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Realistically 10K a month. I've only just started earning this amount. If there are no cancellations from private work or the after school work, then maybe 15K. Unfortunately the after school work and private work isn't consistent and doesn't run all year round.

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

I pay 6K a month for a two-bedroom apartment in an older apartment building. It's a steal for 52 square metres and only a 5-10 minute walk from the BTS. It's one of those places that can only be found through word of mouth and if you don't mind it being a bit dated and not having amenities that you would find in a more modern condo, then it's a great deal.

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

Transportation

I walk the five minutes to work so only maybe the BTS and taxis on the weekend. I would say 500 to 1000 baht maximum.

Utility bills

Water and electricity normally sets me back 1200 to 1500 baht a month.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

Food is expensive here. A fortnightly shop for my girlfriend and I will set me back around 2K. I get free lunch at school but I do eat out in restaurants a few times a week with my girlfriend. So in total I would say 8K a month or maybe 10k at a push.

Nightlife and drinking

Once or twice a week. Probably 10-15K a month for two people.

Books, computers

I have a second hand Dell that works great that I got for 5K and I only buy second hand books when needed.

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

It's a reasonable life. I go out a fair bit and can afford to treat myself and my girlfriend from time to time. I go to a nice gym and live in a spacious condo. By the way, my girlfriend works five days a week in a salon but only has a typical thai wage. She shares the bills sometimes when we go out and uses the rest for things she needs. I've heard of Thais making loads of money selling stuff online but in my opinion it's pretty hit or miss.

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

Rent and hotels.

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

I would say 40K for a single person in Bangkok, 60K for a couple and 80-100K for a family.

Phil's analysis and comment

TJ's survey brings up a very important point that I've made before but haven't mentioned for a while. Never consider private students as part of your monthly income when you are doing any financial planning or budgeting. It's your regulary salary that counts; the income from private students is only ever the icing on the cake, and icing that isn't always there. December is a prime example of a month when many students cancel to go travelling or attend functions, etc, and by and large a teacher is just left with their basic salary.  


Cody

Working in Lampang

Monthly Earnings Approx 110K (35K from teaching)

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

I earn 35K teaching at a local government school. It's a basic type full-time job, only teaching about 15 hours per week at a very laid back school.
I also earn approximately 75K per month doing contract work remotely as a software developer. That figure could be more if I wanted to put more time into it.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

About 50-60K per month, after paying for all expenses including full healthcare and retirement annuities.

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

I live in a small house with a spacious back garden and that costs 9,000 baht per month.

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

Transportation

I have a scooter and a car and spend about 500-1,000 baht per month on petrol depending on how much I use the car.

Utility bills

Electricity, internet, water and all the other smaller things like laundromat amount to probably 2,500 per month

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

This can vary from month to month, but anywhere from 4,000 to 15,000 depending how active/adventurous I am during a given month if that makes sense.

Nightlife and drinking

Some months almost nothing, other months quite a bit more. I'd say on average around 2,000.

Books, computers

Mostly my 800 baht internet bill covers all that, like playing the odd computer game or reading an e-book.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living?

Okay so here comes a long answer, and I'm gonna go off on a big tangent here but bear with me!

8 years ago, I had my first teaching job in Thailand at a standard government school earning a modest 35K salary and mostly loving it, except I soon started realizing I would never be able to save enough to properly set myself up for the future, such as having savings for long distance travel, savings for retirement, full cover health insurance or buying bigger things like a car or perhaps even property some day.

Another thing that really irked me was, though I'm a South African who comes from an English-speaking household and went to English schools, higher-paying positions wouldn't always include my nationality as 'native English speaking'. So I did something kind of crazy and went to work on a farm in Ireland. I was lucky to get in contact with a farm who went through the trouble of getting me a work permit. I stuck it out for five years and got Irish citizenship. Now I am seen as 'native English speaker' in Thailand lol! Also, during those 5 years I did night classes in software development. This qualification now allows me to work remotely in a higher paying profession.

Coming back to Thailand, my first intention was to get that lucrative private school gig with my new 'native-English speaking' passport (coupled with my prior teaching experience). But with my new coding skills, I decided to go the familiar and comfortable route of teaching at an easy-going government school, more so for the love of it, and then use all my 'free/non-teaching time' during the day to do my software development / contract-work.

Now my standard of living is great. I came back to Thailand with $25K and kitted my house out with everything I needed to make life comfortable, like a year's rent up front, a car, a bike, etc. I teach more for the love and social aspect of it. My coding job covers all the bigger expenses I couldn't otherwise afford.

I've been wanting to share this little journey of mine for a while so thanks for sticking it out and reading up to this point!

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

Literally everything. Europe is crazy expensive compared to SE Asia. Rent, food, transport, the lot. I am now doing what I hear some people call 'geo-arbitraging', i.e bringing money I earn in Europe via my coding job into Thailand. Now almost everything is a bargain :)

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

My first stint in Thailand got me 35K per month. I quickly found out that wasn't good enough and I needed to hatch another plan asap. I went through very obscure ways to end up where I am and making my 100k+ per month, but now I can finally say I hit the sweet spot. I could honsetly live in Thailand on 50K a month but I knew 100K was the goal I needed to set for myself.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Cody. What a great life story! We don't get that many teachers doing these surveys who have come up with a completely different sideline to teaching that actually ends up earning them more than their teaching gig...but you've managed it. Well done! Not really much I can add other than to say thank you for sharing your journey with us.   


Richard

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 142,823

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

This is my salary from a mid-tier international school.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

60-80K per month depending on large purchases (phone, holidays etc)

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

I live in a high-floor modern condo and got a good deal during the pandemic but the landlord based in HK keeps trying to nudge it up. Rent is 37,000 baht a month but the school gives me a 27k allowance.

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

Transportation

I rent a car for 8K a month and another 4K goes on gas. Before I had a car I was paying 8-10K on taxis just for commuting.

Utility bills

Internet 550
Electricity 3,000
Water 250
Maid 4,500

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

This varies significantly. A rough estimate would probably be around 16K a month. Eating out again just depends on the frequency and where I go, I would say roughly 6K for that.

Nightlife and drinking

I prefer the Thai style places and generally drink Singha so not usually too expensive. I could save money by drinking Leo but it's minging and dont get me started on Chang! Roughly 6.000 a month on average maybe

Books, computers

My school provides anything I need for the job so this is just my own items. So the usual big purchases every three years or so. Phones here are not cheap but TVs seem to be.

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

Outstanding. I don't know why (or how) anyone could go back to Europe / US after being here from a financial point of view. If you are hired by one of the good Tier 1/2 international schools, then it's very lucrative. Even more so if you have a partner and they work in the same standard of school too.

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

Alcohol, taxis, some foodstuffs, domestic flights (but not flights to Koh Samui)

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

I guess you cut your cloth accordingly depending on your salary but I do see lots of TEFL/TESOL jobs that pay 25-35K and I think that would be a struggle, certainly not enjoyable but survivable. 50K plus would be the tipping point for living reasonably well and 100K plus for living very comfortable with savings potential. Bangkok is a great place for the low cost of living

Phil's analysis and comment

Reading between the lines Richard, it sounds like your partner might well bring in the same sort of salary. A couple are certainly going to live well in Thailand with a joint income in excess of 250K. That's a nice benefit with the housing allowance as well. You must be living in a heck of a nice place for 37K a month!  


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 430 total

Page 7 of 86


Featured Jobs

Full-time Native French Teachers

฿45,000+ / month

Bangkok


Science Teachers

฿42,300+ / month

Thailand


Grade 4 Homeroom Teacher

฿50,000+ / month

Chiang Rai


Teacher of Sciences

฿92,000+ / month

Bangkok


English Instructor

฿40,000+ / month

Bangkok


Math, Physics, Chinese, Computer Teachers

฿35,000+ / month

Bangkok


Featured Teachers

  • Cecil


    French, 41 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Artem


    Russian, 34 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • George


    British, 39 years old. Currently living in United Kingdom

  • Graham


    Irish, 27 years old. Currently living in Vietnam

  • Chacha


    Indonesian, 25 years old. Currently living in Indonesia

  • Maudy


    Zimbabwean, 35 years old. Currently living in Zimbabwe

The Hot Spot


Need Thailand insurance?

Need Thailand insurance?

Have a question about health or travel insurance in Thailand? Ricky Batten from Pacific Prime is Ajarn's resident expert.


Teacher mistakes

Teacher mistakes

What are the most common mistakes that teachers make when they are about to embark on a teaching career in Thailand? We've got them all covered.


The Region Guides

The Region Guides

Fancy working in Thailand but not in Bangkok? Our region guides are written by teachers who actually live and work in the provinces.


The dreaded demo

The dreaded demo

Many schools ask for demo lessons before they hire. What should you the teacher be aware of?


Air your views

Air your views

Got something to say on the topic of teaching, working or living in Thailand? The Ajarn Postbox is the place. Send us your letters!


Will I find work in Thailand?

Will I find work in Thailand?

It's one of the most common questions we get e-mailed to us. So find out exactly where you stand.


The cost of living

The cost of living

How much money does a teacher need to earn in order to survive in Thailand? We analyze the facts.


Contributions welcome

Contributions welcome

If you like visiting ajarn.com and reading the content, why not get involved yourself and keep us up to date?