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 23rd October 2021

฿33 to one US Dollar
฿46 to one Pound Sterling
฿39 to one Euro
฿25 to one Australian Dollar
฿0.66 THB to one Philippine Peso

Joe

Working in Shanghai, China

Monthly Earnings 188,000

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

I earn 94,000 a month from my full-time ESL job and another 94,000 a month from private students. I only take one day off a week and teach around 13 hours extra for private classes. The full-time job is around 15 hours a week, but requires a lot of traveling around the city to class locations. My wife’s not working at the moment, but we could add another 47k a month later on when she does.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

We save about half our income most months when we don’t have any large expenses.

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

I pay 35,000 for a two-bedroom flat in a nice area of Shanghai, which has very high property prices.

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

Transportation

Nothing. I get transport cards from my school and that covers all my subway fees.

Utility bills

About 4,700 a month including mobile and WiFi.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

1,400 on food. Mainly order food from supermarkets online. A mix of home cooking and restaurant deliveries.

Nightlife and drinking

Only beer and wine at home.

Books, computers

A new phone, or iPad every few years.

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

My wife and I have a really good standard of living. We don’t travel enough though, but we're quite satisfied.

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

Anything online! It is China after all.

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

In Shanghai, as a single person you need at least 70,000 baht a month for a basic lifestyle.

Phil's analysis and comment

There's good money to be made in China by the sound of it, Joe but you work hard for it. Apart from the travelling around the city doing your full-time job, you've got 50+ hours of private lessons to organise and prepare for.  I'm guessing the 1,400 baht on food was a typo. Should that perhaps be 14,000?   


Stefan

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 90,000 + other sidelines

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

After taxes I earn 90,000 baht per month as a full-time science teacher at an international school. I also am an active Forex Trader and I do private tutoring which pays around 1,000 baht per hour. My wife earns around 40,000 per month. So in good months, we have a combined income of over 150,000.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Normally I would save at least 30,000, but it depends on the month. As I am still young, I am not really saving for retirement yet.

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

I share a nice house and garden with some friends and we share the rent. I pay around 13,000.

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

Transportation

I drive my car or motorbike most of the time so I guess around 3,000 baht on gasoline per month with the odd taxi drive.

Utility bills

Around 4,000 per month. which includes optic fiber Internet with 1Gbit.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

This very much depends on my mood. I can spend between 10,000 and 30,000 depending on what foods I am craving and what the wife wants to eat.

Nightlife and drinking

As I never drink cheap local beers, I might spend up to 15,000 per month on craft beers. But then again, some months I might spend close to nothing if I stay at home a lot.

Books, computers

I use my MacBook Pro, an iPad Air and an android phone which are already paid for. I might spend up to 2,000 baht per month on videogames.

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

I feel like I am living to a very high standard, but I am also earning more in Thailand than I would earn in the West.

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

Eating out in Thailand is dirt cheap compared to my home country, Germany. Also the cost of high speed internet is unbelievably cheap here.

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

I would say 50,000 would be enough to live decently as a single person in Bangkok. However in order to be able to save and not to worry about the future as much, I would not want to earn less than 80,000 as a single person.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Stefan. You and your wife have a nice standard of living there. I'm guessing that you don't have costly children either. It's just you and your partner to look after. 

Even without the private tutoring and the Forex trading, you have a nice income but sometimes it's all about having fingers in several different pies. 

I've thought about dabbling in that Forex trading myself a few times. I've got several friends who are enthusiasts and they all seem to do well with it. 


Please send us your cost of living surveys. We would love to hear from you! This is one of the most popular parts of the Ajarn website and these surveys help and inspire a lot of other teachers. Just click the link at the top of the page where it says 'Submit your own Cost of Living survey' or click here.       


Bob

Working in Cambodia

Monthly Earnings 50,000 baht (equivalent)

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

I earn 38,750 for my full-time job. Then I make an extra 2,000 from private lessons (90 minutes a week and charged per number of students) Online stuff nets me another 8,000 or so.

Coronavirus has meant my salary has been cut to 20,000. I've been on 50% pay since March but that will hopefully rise to 70% in September. It wasn't too bad as I was essentially being paid to do nothing. The private lessons and online work kept going (although with fewer students and less online stuff)

My wife works for the state and her exact income is a mystery to me, but I guess it's around 10,000 baht.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Not much at all because we have two kids. Probably 6,000 - 7,000 if I'm lucky.

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

I was lucky enough to get a mortgage loan some years ago and we built a property. By working extra hours, I was able to pay the mortgage off in a few years, so now at least we have a decent roof over our heads (100 square metres with a garden) We have also bought several plots of land with low interest rate loans and they amount to around 6,500 a month.

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

Transportation

I own several motorbikes so use those for transport. Work is not too far away and I rarely venture further than the local market. Maybe 300-500 baht on gas, which is cheap here at the moment.

Utility bills

Electricity can cost up to 2,000 baht a month. We run one air-con unit for the kids at night and also run the washing machine and electric oven quite a lot. Water costs about 150 baht.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I eat breakfast every morning which is 62 baht, plus I'll have a Western coffee once or twice a day, That adds another 80 baht.

I buy cheese, sausage, etc online and that's usually around 1,500 a month, then the odd Chinese or Indian meal for 600-700. We had to cut back on 'extras' due to the Coronavirus, but generally spend 200-300 baht a day on meat and vegetables from the local market to feed a family of four.

Fresh milk is a big expense and costs up to 1,000 a month. Baby formula is even more expensive at way over 3,000.

This lot adds up to around 20,000 each month.

Nightlife and drinking

I don't really go out but do like a drink (too much if truth be told). Beer in cans is cheap here and the cans have 'winning ring-pulls'. For every 370 baht spent on a case of 24 beers, you can get anywhere between 5-24 free cans depending on luck. I probably spend about 2,000 a month on beer. The ale flows pretty freely with guests and neighbors in both directions, and in the good days before Coronavirus, I'd also do 600 baht on a box of wine and maybe 400 baht on a good bottle of brandy every month.

I gave up smoking but foolishly got addicted to vaping (which is not strictly legal in Cambodia) The e-cigs set me back about 3,000 a month.

Books, computers

I miss books!

The internet is pretty good just using a mobile data plan. Special packages mean I pay less than 150 a month and can stream, do my internet work and listen to the radio all day everyday, without ever needing a router.

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

It's not luxurious but we're surviving. Kids cost money! That much I do know.

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

Hard to give a definition of 'bargain' here as salaries are much lower than in Thailand and Vietnam. Also, most things are imported from outside so more expensive than the country of origin. Beer is certainly cheaper than in Thailand (but not Vietnam).

Compared to my own country, it's certainly cheaper to buy land and build a modest home in Cambodia.

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

Average salaries for Westerners here start at 20,000 baht and go up to around 70,000, depending on your qualifications, but those kind of pay packets are rare. I'd say 30,000 baht is the bare minimum. I've been here a long time and earned a lot less and a lot more than 30K in those years.

Frankly, I'm happy to work for less money and live away from the capital in order to keep the costs down.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks a lot Bob. We haven't received surveys from many teachers in Cambodia but a pleasure to do so. I think you are doing well supporting a family on 60,000 baht a month (taking into account your wife's income) and you've managed to build a house and invest in some land at the same time. It's not a luxurious lifestyle as you readily admit, but I'm sure the family is the most important thing to you and you sound very well settled.  


Lisa

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 50,000

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

My full-time salary from a private school is 47,000 and I make 3,000 a month teaching a private student once a week.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I save around 15,000 each month.

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

Rent is 9,500 per month. I live in a 26 sqm condo that has a swimming pool, gym, sauna and a basketball court in the complex.

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

Transportation

Around 500 baht per month, if not less. I usually walk to work as it's only around a 10-minute walk. Alternatively, I take a songteaw or if I'm running late, a motorcycle taxi.

Utility bills

Water and electricity costs me around 1,500 each month.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

My job serves really good food - morning snacks, a variety of meals at lunch and if I truly can't have anything on offer, the salad bar is my friend. My monthly groceries total to around 2,000 and I usually eat takeouts on the weekends, which can cost up to 4,000.

Nightlife and drinking

I only go out once a month. Drinks are expensive here and on a typical night out I end up blowing 2,000 on drinks and maybe another 1,000 on entry fees and taxis.

Books, computers

I spend 500 on Netflix and 500 for the wifi connection in my condo. English books are pricey here and I usually get books to keep from people passing through.

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

My standard of living is great, but that is primarily due to the benefits of my job.

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

The food is cheap and filling! It also tastes amazing.

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

It depends on your lifestyle, I live a pretty basic lifestyle where I'm not out partying all the time so I could "survive" on less, maybe 35,000.

Phil's analysis and comment

I was going to say Lisa, you sound like someone who lives a 30K a month lifestyle and yet earns 50,000. You are living within your means and that's what it's all about. 


Christopher

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 38,000

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

My job income after tax is about 36,600 baht. I also have savings (made in the USA over the years) and other alternative (digital) investments

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

Since I:
- am not a materialist (don't buy stuff)
- don't care about other people's opinions
- am not much for night life (night clubs, rooftop bars, etc.)
- don't care about the high-life (been there, done that)
- don't travel much (but still go to pattaya, hua hin for bi-monthly trips)
- walk a lot
I can actually save at least 10,000 baht per month. If you have self-discipline and think smart, it is possible. Furthermore, I don't have kids and my Thai girlfriend is pretty low maintenance.

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

12,000 baht per month for a decent condo with a clothes washer, small kitchen, a/c, smart tv, internet included, utility bills included,a private little backyard and garden.

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

Transportation

Under 2,000 baht per month (lots of walking, which is great for exercise purposes and economic benefits, etc.)

Utility bills

Included in the rent

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

8,000-10,000 baht per month. I don't ever cook home.

Nightlife and drinking

Zero

Books, computers

Computers purchased before arriving to Thailand

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

Since I am not a needy person I have a lot of Power. The more you need out of life and other people, the less power you have. I really don't need a "high" standard of living.

Food quality is important. If you are smart you can get quality on the street if you look for it (ex. quality barbecue chicken at good prices, stay away from the rice and noodles, target foods dense with protein content). Also, I don't smoke, drink or do any drugs.

When I visit Pattaya, etc. I take the bus for 120 baht vs a taxi for over 1,000 baht. I stay at decent hotels/resorts but nothing over the top. I am pretty simple, so a decent meal(s) on the weekend at a good restaurant is enough for me to be content. Materialism and "fancy" experiences do nothing for me. On Sundays, I walk to JJ market for exercise and kebabs.

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

Food is cheap. Walking is cheaper.

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

That depends on the individual. I can do just fine but I realize that I am different. However, I would say that my salary is the minimum requirement to get by on and have basic needs met and have a little entertainment money for a single "no strings attached" person.

Phil's analysis and comment

It sounds like you really enjoy walking. Me too. It's just a shame that Bangkok must be one of the worst cities in the world to indulge in that pastime. 


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 369 total

Page 7 of 74


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