If you’re planning to teach English in Thailand you probably have one burning question: ‘How much money do you need to live in Thailand?’.
The basic TEFL wage for new teachers in Thailand is usually around 30,000 Baht per month, with those experienced able to earn much more than this, but it’s hard to find a higher wage if you have less than a year or 2 of experience.
Now when it come to how much you’ll need to live on you are likely to here a variety of figures, from as little as 20,000 Baht per month, up to and beyond 50,000 Baht per month. The truth is, it all depends on the lifestyle you are looking for.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the possible bills and expenditures you’ll find in Thailand (bearing in mind that the exchange rate in the early part of 2013 was 44 Baht to £1 UK, and 28 Baht to $1 US).
Prices for basic, no frills studio apartments can be as little as 3000 Baht per month. More realistically, if you are looking for a comfortable studio in a nicer part of town, or a one-bedroom house or condo in a friendly suburb or rural location, you’re looking at around 5,000 to 10,000 Baht per month.
Once you start looking at 10,000 to 15,000 Baht per month you are allowing for a far more modern and comfortable house or apartment, and anything beyond that you are heading into the realms of luxury.
Utility bills are generally cheap in Thailand, you may have to pay a little towards water, and if you have to pay for your own WIFI you are looking at anything from 200 to 600 Baht per month for a fast connection.
The most significant utility bill you’ll need to pay will be for electricity. This can vary greatly depending on how you live. I know TEFL in Thailand teachers who spend very little time at home, just watching a little TV before bed, and using their laptop and charging their phone, while sleeping under the constant blow of their fan, adding up to an electric bill around 500 Baht per month, sometimes even less. On the other hand I know some expats who spend a lot of time at home, playing with the latest gadgets, spending hours on the internet, and most significantly, leaving the air conditioning on for hours on end, including overnight while they sleep. Living like this you can easily rack up an electric bill close to 3000 Baht per month.
Food and Drink
Thai food is inexpensive in Thailand, whether you are constantly eating out or cooking at home most of the time, you don’t need to spend much at all to eat well. Street meals can cost anything from 30 to 60 Baht per meal, while a small banquet at a Thai restaurant will still set you back little more than a couple of 100 Baht. Many food markets and popular supermarkets such as Big C and Tesco Lotus also make food shopping very affordable.
The big expenses come with eating western food and drinking alcohol. If you like to buy imported goods you’re food shopping bill will soon rise, and if you crave lots of home cooked western meals and pub grub you can expect to pay at least double what you would for a local meal.
Alcohol will soon get your budget soaring with a bottle of beer costing around 70 to 100 Baht in a bar aimed at westerners, and if you are looking to enjoy the anything-goes nightlife of Thailand you can soon find yourself racking up bills of 2000 Baht and up on a good night out.
Clothes & Shopping
Thailand has an amazing market culture, here you’ll find everything from the latest boutique fashion and knock off DVDs/CDs, to art, decor, and electronics. If you stick market shopping you can quite easily keep adding to your wardrobe without drastically affecting your monthly budget. However, if you crave the latest gadgets and brand name shopping Thailand has some uber modern mall experiences, but expect to pay as much as you would back home (if not more).
It’s quite possible to live comfortable on 30,000 Baht per month. Don’t expect to create much in the way of saving, but do expect to have clean, modest accommodation, be able to eat well (sticking mainly to local food), and having a fairly active social life. However, if you are looking to live in a little more luxury, indulge in Thailand’s wild nightlife, or spending your weekends and holidays travelling around the country, you can easily see your monthly outgoings rising to 50,000 Baht per month and beyond.
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