My Cost of Living on 37K

By February 2013, I was merrily working away at my numerous jobs and hobbies, and making a good salary by Chiang Mai standards. Generally, the salaries here are lower than Bangkok, and as Chiang Mai is becoming more and more popular, the good teaching jobs are becoming more and more sneaky. Employers will pay you less because they know you've already fallen for the city, and before you know it you'll be speeding along the superhighway four times a day just to earn that elusive 30k. (FYI, that little rap was entirely unintentional.)

So, I'm going jump right in and totally expose myself here by breaking down my work and money situation at that time (everything's quoted in Thai Baht, and is half the full price because I'm half of a couple):

Cost of Living in Chiang Mai
Rent: 2,750
Bills: 50 for water
300 - 600 for electricity (this depends mainly on air-conditioner usage)
250 for internet
Eating out: Street food or dinners from our local place add up to about 100 a week 
Eating out at restaurants on the weekend cost anywhere between 300 - 500 a week
Groceries: 100 a week at our local fresh market 
100-200 a week at supermarkets
Entertainment: 1,000 or more a week goes on drinks with friends, movies, or in my case, buying clothes. Oh dear. It's much cheaper to have a picnic at a waterfall or take a walk on a mountain – who would've guessed?
Petrol: 300 a week
Airtime: 200 a month. I don't use my phone that much over here - as teachers we've got more than enough time to make plans on Facebook.
Laundry: 20 - 40 a week
Other: 500 - 1,000 a month for picking up a bottle of vitamins, going to the dentist, or taking the occasional yoga class
Monthly total: 12,000 minimum - 14,000 maximum

My various teaching jobs in Chiang Mai
Kindergarten Job: 3 hours a day, 4 days a week
Pay: 400 an hour
Total: 19,200 a month (this is a very good salary for a part-time job)
Language School #1 Hours: on average, 4 hours a week
Pay: 250 an hour
Total: 4,000 a month
Language School #2 Hours: on average, 2 hours a week
Pay: 280 an hour
Total: 2,240
Private Students Hours: 1, 2, or 3 hours a day, 5 days a week
Pay: 300 an hour
Total: 12,000
English Camps Hours: infrequent, as they are hard to fit into busy schedules. One camp could last anywhere from a few days to a week or more.
Pay: 1,000 a day, as well as paid transport there and back, accommodation, and food
Total: depends
Monthly total: 37,440 (not including English camps)

I'm sure many Chiang Mai grumpalumps will try and dispute my claims above, as I've seen endless bickering on forums over salaries and available jobs in the city. Many tend to believe you can't earn more than ฿25,000 here, or that it is impossible to make a living teaching privately or part-time (which is apparently a common teaching option in Bangkok). I've had my own experiences teaching on both sides of the coin, and I have to say I'm a firm supporter of private teaching, and building up your own hours to make your own salary.

It's difficult to detail everything about this particular topic in a blog post, but feel free to email me if you have questions about building up a private network, and where to look for jobs that aren't your typical 9 - 5.

Here are some photos of my various teaching jobs:

Gorgeous little munchkins from my kindergarten. These particular ones are all around 5 years old.
Crazy bunch!
A whole lot of grumpy K3's.
K2's rawrring at me, yikes!
K1, you are so small. Why is this?
More K1's, about to go swimming.
Myself and a class of awesome K2's.
This little guy's the cheeky one.
I love this kid. He regularly told me, "I lub you, Teacher Adrian."
Beautiful little girls.
I love their poses!
Hello sunshine!
A little playground.
A random samlor in an unused corner of my kindergarten.
My Turkish students, and also some of the best people I've ever met.
My Turkish students put together a makeshift farewell party.
Learning a traditional Turkish dance.
The lovely Beyza showing me a traditional dance.


  1. The pictures of those little munchkins are adorable!

  2. I like the info on what you get for money. most of us find out like you did, the hard way. Oh, the little one's are cute, not so sure about the noise levels though: they don't look quiet.

  3. i like the variety of jobs in teaching you can put together: interesting

  4. Awesome! Went there last December. Can't wait to go back again:)

  5. Gimme a gift gurrl.