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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Martin

Working in Bangkok

Monthly Earnings 115,000 baht

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

I work in an international school which pays me 115,000 baht a month, of course up to 18,000 of this goes in tax each month. On top of that my son gets a free place at the school plus we get all the other bits and pieces such as healthcare, two-year visas, etc.

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

I give myself a target of 30K every month, which is a very realistic target and could probably be higher.

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

I pay 17000 baht a month for a three-bedroomed house, which does seem a little on the steep side but is by far and away the nicest area of Bangkok I’ve ever lived in.

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

Transportation

Around 4000 to 5000

Utility bills

Electricity averages at 2000 per month, TV 1200, Internet 650, water 150, Muubaan fees 450, Phone 150, in total about 4500 a month.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I get free lunch at work so most of my cravings for western food are satisfied there. My wife and I tend to cook at home so I’d be surprised if we spend more than 8000 baht a month on food.

Nightlife and drinking

Around 5000 baht a month

Books, computers

Books and computing equipment are such rare purchases that the answer has to be just a few hundred baht a month, if that.

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

I’m a lucky man.

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

Taxis and maids.

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

In Bangkok, I think a couple with children and only one wage-earner would not want to be taking home less than 50000 a month long term. Having said that, it’s amazing how one’s lifestyle can creep up as one’s income increases. I spent the whole of 2004 working in the south of Thailand for 22500 baht a month and felt that I had a good lifestyle.

Phil's analysis and comment

It's not often we get a proper international school teacher earning a proper international school salary venture in to the ajarn cost of living section. What is there to say? Martin earns a small fortune by Thailand teacher standards. He's obviously got a lovely house. There's a maid somewhere in the equation and he also pays 'moobarn fees', which is probably a monthly payment that goes towards the upkeep of Martin's housing estate and compound security. Sounds nice doesn't it? And that's the kind of lifestyle that a salary in excess of 100K can get you. Personally though, I would be looking to save considerably more than 30,000 a month out of such a whopping salary, but even 30,000 baht a month will get you a couple of very nice holidays abroad every year.  


Anthony

Working in Samut Prakarn

Monthly Earnings 45,000+

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

I work in a government school and earn 45k per month. I do you have a couple of private students who I teach at my home, which edges it up towards 50k some months.

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

I give myself a target of 20K every month. To be honest that is a very realistic target with my outgoings, but I find there is always something that crops up and it involves spending money. The term just gone I managed to bank 10k per month, but next term by hook or by crook I will bank 20k each pay day for a rainy day.

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

I pay 5k for a modern two floored town house in a quiet area. It has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a front and back garden. I used to rent a 10k serviced apartment, but with utilities it was too much. Only downside to a house here is the unwanted creatures that tend to stroll in uninvited of an evening. Everything else about renting a house is positive for me.

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

Transportation

Very little. I have a scooter and commute back and for to work on that. I am literally around 7 minutes away on the bike from the school and I spend around 500baht on fuel per month.

Utility bills

My electric is around 900-1,0000 and the water is around 100baht. I do shower believe me but the water bills are great here. I spend around 400 per month on the internet. All told, around 1,500 on utilities.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

I love my food and eat both Thai and Western food. Obviously if I eat more Thai food I am able to save the pennies. Sometimes though I crave the Western cuisine. Roughly around 5,000-10,000 per month. It varies from month to month.

Nightlife and drinking

Not a heavy drinker. Will have the odd bottle of beer or glass or red wine at home now and again. Maybe 1,000 A month.

Books, computers

I do enjoy a good book. Although it's rare these days that I'll go out and buy one. It's more like a yearly purchase than a monthly. So the answer is 0.

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

Well, my standard of living is of a very decent standard indeed and if it wasn't I wouldn't be here.

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

Pretty much anything you need can be bought in the right place for a bargain. With cars being the exception. Off the top of my head clothes, Thai food and dvds.

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

In a nutshell I wouldn't be here for less than 35k, but everyone is different and peoples needs are different. Some Thais manage surviving on 8k per month and some even lower. The key word is surviving, they are simply just surviving. For a Westerner to sustain a fairly decent standard of living anything under 35k in my eyes would be a struggle. 35k minimum.

Phil's analysis and comment

Anthony seems a level-headed kind of guy and I like his figures. He's a man who lives within his means. I think that he should easily be saving 10-20K from a salary of 50K in Samut Prakarn, but Anthony knows that already. His outgoings are not that high. I did laugh about all the unwelcome visitors you get when you rent a house. I've been there! I once rented a house for 8,000 baht a month in Bangkok that was being literally eaten alive. It's a tough job keeping those termites at bay and once they've developed an appetite for your plaster-board walls, there's very little you can do.


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.  


Showing 5 Cost of Living surveys out of 384 total

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