How to Save Mad Cash Teaching English in Thailand
I’ve done it, and so can you!
- The cheap cost of living in Thailand is what makes this possible.
- Assumes 30 baht = $1 USD (go to xe.com to check your currency & current rates)
- $10,000 USD = approximately 300,000 baht.
- We assume a monthly salary of 35,000 baht. (This is a low-end salary.)
- In order to save 300,000 baht/year, you must save 25,000 baht/month.
- That means you must set a budget of 10,000 baht/month.
There will be a lot of people who will scream at me for writing this. The fact is those people are NOT responsible spenders. Most people don’t know how to SAVE $$$ nowadays. That’s also a fact. What you see here is WHAT I HAVE DONE. I have lived on this budget…and in no way did I feel like my life was compromised.
This table reflects responsible spending. That means drinking coffee from 7/11 instead of Starbucks. That means NOT getting McDonald’s delivered every day. The lower end ($100) reflects Thai standards, upcountry. The higher end reflects BASIC western standards:
- Eating out instead of cooking at home
- Taking taxis instead of local buses
- Drinking lots of 1 baht 1.5 liter bottles of water and not 10 baht sodas and other crap
- Drinking alcohol bought from 7/11 and not out at bars/clubs every night, etc.
I know teachers who live quite comfortably on $300/month in Bangkok. Some do it for even less. It’s really a personal choice. Remember, many upcountry Thais live on 1,000 baht/month ($33 USD). Now, I don’t recommend that, and you won’t be able to do that in Bangkok, but that does give you some perspective of the cost of living in Thailand.
Sample Monthly Budget in Thailand for Teachers
Rent + Utilities (fully furnished)
Up to You
Up to You
For 4,500 baht/month, you can get a new, furnished, clean studio condo in Downtown Bangkok (including utilities) like the photo to the right (430 sq. ft.). Obviously, the further away you are from Downtown Bangkok, the cheaper it gets. Towards the edges of the city, you can start to find 1 bedrooms for 4,500 baht/month.
I once lived in Chumporn, Thailand. Most people know it as the pit stop before going diving in Koh Tao or partying it up at the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan. While I was there, I lived in two places.
One was a BRAND NEW 4-story townhouse across from the school I worked at. I shared it with 2 other guys. We each had a whole floor to ourselves. Fully furnished, including kitchen. Cable and Internet included. Electricity and Water included. We paid 2,500 baht/month per person.
Does everyone find accommodations at these low prices? No. Most people try to live in a place that is nicer than anything they’ve ever lived in on their own. Nothing wrong with that, but that’s not how to save money teaching English in Thailand.
Want to get a great deal on an accommodation? You can use these websites in Bangkok (easyhomes.tv, thaiapartment.com, soidb.com, etc). However, we recommend:
- Find your school location.
- Stay in a cheap guesthouse nearby
- Meet with the English teaching staff (both Thai and non-Thai) and let them guide you.
- They should be able to set you up in a proper place at a proper price.
A lot of the cheaper housing, even in Bangkok, won’t be listed online. You’ll have to walk the neighborhood yourself. This is why hooking up with someone from the school is so important. If you’re friendly, there will surely be a Thai who will be eager to take you around and translate for you.
For one, most people OVEREAT!!! That’s your choice.
If you’re a serious over-eater, you’ll have to multiply the budget by 1.5 or 2. Once again, that’s your choice. This budget assumes responsible eating habits and normal caloric intake, 3 meals per day or 2 meals and a few snacks, and mostly rice/noodle dishes. If you cook your own rice/noodles, chicken, and vegetables, you can SAVE even more $$$.
Thailand is a place where it might be MORE EXPENSIVE to cook…especially if you’re living alone. The amount of time it takes to go to the market (not to mention the cost of the taxi), time spent preparing and cleaning up, food that will spoil, etc., makes eating at the food carts a BETTER option.
Yes, the food carts are plenty SAFE. With that said, if you see rats pooping in the rice, don’t eat at that one. Never seen it, but you will occasionally see a stall or food cart that looks dirty…Avoid it! Unless! Unless you see all the Thais eating there. Go where the Thais eat!
Remember, a 100 baht/day coffee habit is 3,000 baht/month is 36,000 baht/year is $1,200!!!!!!
Make your own dang coffee at home!!!
In Bangkok. People typically take motorbike taxis (10-40 baht usually), car taxis (40-80 baht usually), the BTS (aka skytrain, 15-30 baht usually) and the MRT (aka subway, 15-30 baht usually) to get around the city.
We usually take buses when traveling to outside of the city. With that said, the buses go everywhere within Bangkok, arrive frequently, and are cheap! Heck, some are even FREE. They look like the pic down below; red bus with blue message on the window.
Outside of Bangkok. Walking and bicycling? Sure, why not. However, teachers typically get around via songtaews (pictured right), motorbike taxis, and tuk tuks. Those who are slightly more adventurous either rent motorbikes (1,000-2,500 baht/month) or buy one (used available for 7-15,000 baht).
If I had to guess, I’d say most English teachers in Thailand blow their budget on renting an unnecessarily nice condo, food and ALCOHOL. Of course you should enjoy your life, but be careful not to blow your budget on any of those 3 things.
Drinking! Clubbing and excessive consumption of alcohol can be a weekly, even daily, drain on your savings.
Yes, alcohol is cheap at 7/11 and local Thai restaurants (and even at Thai clubs), but we recommend setting a monthly ‘drinking budget’. Let’s say you set it at 3,000 baht/month. That’s about 750 baht/week. That will buy you a 750-ml bottle of Absolut or Johnny Walker every week. In terms of beer, that will buy you about 17 1-Liter bottles of Chang Beer per week. If you drink more than that every week, then perhaps budgeting isn’t your problem (hint hint, alcoholism).
Cost of Typical Items in Thailand
Meal @ a local restaurant
1kg (2.2 pounds) of rice
1 hour massage
Pack of cigarettes