Cost of Living in Thailand

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Wide range of lifestyles
The cost of living in Thailand varies tremendously. Bangkok is the most expensive of all the cities; however, the cost of living in Thailand will depend on your salary and the lifestyle you choose. Many multinational corporate executives earn several hundred thousand baht per month and many English teachers earn as little as between 25,000-30,000 baht per month.

Income and Benefits Vary
An English teacher with a few years of experience under her belt should command about 45,000 baht per month, where if your university degree is in Education, at a private school you could earn 55,000-60,000 baht per month. Many teachers tutor on the side and that brings in several thousand baht per month more. A qualified teacher working in a reputable international school can expect to earn in excess of 100,000 baht per month plus benefits.

Many of you will be fortunate enough to receive accommodation benefits as part of your employment package. However, many more of you will need to pay for accommodation out of your salary which will likely be your largest expense. If you work for a multinational company, your employer will likely give you a generous living expense and your flat, house or condo can run up to 80,000 baht in rent or more, but it will be well within your budget. More about the cost of accommodation is outlined in Chapter 5, Settling In.

Food Costs
How you eat will also determine your monthly expenses. You can eat from the street vendors or buy food to go at your local outdoor market and a meal will cost between 20-40 baht. Snacks are around 10-15 baht. This is the cheapest way to eat and this is how I ate during my work week - cheap and simple.

Restaurants will vary widely in expense. A basic Thai restaurant will likely be less than 120 baht per person, but there are also fancier Thai restaurants and prices will go up from there, much more if alcoholic beverages are part of the meal. Restaurants offering western fare usually cost about 250-400 baht per person and the really nice restaurants you are likely to spend a minimum of 1,000 baht per person.

The Bangkok Skyline at Dusk
Many expat families hire a maid whose duties include cooking for them, so eating out is not an issue and is likely more cost effective and healthier than dining in restaurants every day.

Bottom Line
Overall, you will live OK, if a bit frugally, if your minimum salary is 40,000 baht per month (less is OK if your employer pays your housing) don't eat at nice restaurants every day and take the bus often. As an example, a few years ago, I was last making 45,000 plus 2,500 for housing expenses and was able to save about 20,000 per month. I went to movies regularly, had beauty treatments, went out to eat at decent restaurants every weekend and traveled outside Bangkok every chance I got. My lifestyle was excellent compared to how I was living in my home country.

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