ESL Life: Can you save money in Thailand?

2018-06-06 11.50.40

I once heard a story while teaching in Korea about a teacher whose only prior teaching experience was in Thailand. His school in Korea paid him less because of it. Like, less than if he had never taught before. In the immortal words of Fred Willard, “Wha?” What were Thai schools like, I wondered?

I only have one school to base it on, and indeed the kids are naughtier and the classes are bigger. There’s also more paperwork and teaching kindy is added to the list of weekly grief, but it’s pretty much the same job.

The perks here in Lopburi aren’t much. There’s the ubiquitous school lunch, but no severance and flights aren’t paid for. Thailand indeed has a low cost of living, but it’s not any less than Myanmar and Vietnam and those countries pay close to double what Thailand does. Myanmar and Vietnam also feature pretty much everything that Thailand does–street food, night markets, beaches, historic ruins, etc.

So the question is why would anyone teach in Thailand?

I’m not sure. But that’s not really what the question is. If you choose Thailand over other Asian countries, the question is: can you save money? Secondly, assuming yes, how much can you save?



This varies. You can make more in Bangkok but obviously expenses are higher and there is more to spend your money on.

English & I

  • 32000 first two months
  • 37,500 after that.
  • around +4000 more/month for Afterschool Classes

So after two months, assuming you’re teaching two after school classes a week, it’s total of 1260 USD per month, teaching 6 or 7 classes a day. It’s half of what you’d make in Korea or Japan, but they have higher costs of living. It’s also half of what you’d make in Myanmar or Vietnam, which have similar low prices and similar perks.

Is it enough to save? Well here’s a look at my expenses.

Some Random Daily Expenses

  • Water (refill station) 1 baht per liter
  • Water (7-11) 13 baht for 1.5 liters
  • Americano 45 baht
  • Bag of Fruit 30 baht
  • Songthaw Ride 8 baht
  • Grilled Bananas 20 baht
  • Laundry 30 baht
  • Bag of snap peas 20 baht

Monthly Expenses

  • Rent     5000 baht / 150 USD
  • Bills     2500 (ish) baht / 75 USD
  • Phone 500 baht / 15 USD
  • Commute 320 baht / 10 USD
  • Food/Entertainment/etc 8000 baht / 240 USD


16,320 baht / 495 USD

Now I could spend less. There are cheaper places to live. I could use my aircon less. I could also buy less food and if I wasn’t vegan I could eat school lunch rather than making mine the night before. But I don’t drink, don’t have a scooter, and don’t go out to eat very often.

At the end of the year I can save at least 5000 USD. It’s not nearly what it would be in Eastern Asia or even other South East asian countries but it’s still enough to live in Thailand for an additional 10 months! Or enough to spend a year in India. Or, say 3-4 days in Norway.

So yeah you can save some cash. Even in Thailand.

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