Is $2,000 a month a livable salary in Bangkok, Thailand?

Is $2,000 a month a livable salary in Bangkok, Thailand?

Lately, I have been seeing  this question popping up on websites that are focused on Thailand —  “Is $2,000 a month a livable salary in Bangkok, Thailand?”

Now I have no idea why $2,000 a month would even be a question in Bangkok, as most salaries are paid in Thai baht, even for multi-national corporations based here.

It could be, however, that people are calculating what a Thai salary offer is in U.S. dollars, or they are indeed being offered a salary in dollars.

Either way, $2,000 is the amount popping up more and more, so I thought I would take a look at the question — “Is $2,000 a month a livable salary in Bangkok?”, and what would your standard of living be like if you made that?

How much is $2,000 USD in Thai baht? 

At today’s exchange rate (January 4th, 2020), if you were to make a salary of $2,000 in Bangkok, you would be making around 60,000 baht a month.

Is that a livable salary in Bangkok?

If you are single, can I say, “Hell, yes”. And if you are married, I’ll answer “Probably”.

But this is what you need to look at when you think about a livable salary in Bangkok. The average Thai salary is less than 20,000 baht a month, and most Thais manage to survive on that quite well.

Yes, they will often be sharing an apartment or a house with family or friends, but they do live a reasonably comfortable lifestyle.

Would I want to live on less than 20,000 baht a month in Bangkok? Not a chance.

So what would 60,000 baht a month buy you in Bangkok?

If you are single, here is pretty much an average lifestyle in Bangkok for a single western person. But you can do it much cheaper than this if you try.

Rent — A nice one-bedroom or two-bedroom apartment can be rented in Bangkok for 20,000 baht a month or less in most areas of the city. I have been living in northern Bangkok near Central Ladprao mall for 14 years and my rent is only 10,000 a month for a very large one-bedroom in a serviced apartment. That rent has also not increased in 14 years.

Utilities — Electricity is not particularly cheap in Bangkok but I don’t know anyone that pays more than 4,000 baht a month. My electricity bill is around 3,000 baht per month, and that is in a serviced apartment where the rate per unit is more expensive than the regular government rate, and where I work at home so have the air-con on a bit more than most. Yours would probably be less.

Transportation — With taxis, buses, underground, skytrain and motorbike taxis, you are not likely to spend more than 3,000 baht a month, if that. My usual transportation bill per month is about 2,000 baht and I take a fair number of taxis for that.

FoodGrocery shopping is cheap in Bangkok, and especially if you restrict the amount of western food you buy and stick to Thai food and Thai brands instead.

I spend around 4,000 to 4,500 baht per month on groceries and I eat well. Throw in an extra 1,000 baht if you like your occasional western treat, (I pick up American peanut butter and Italian pasta sauce at Gourmet Market occasionally) and you will find you can eat all the food you like without breaking the bank.

Eating out — An average meal in an average (read ‘nice’) restaurant in Bangkok is between 150 and 300 baht per person. You can spend a lot more than that, you can spend a lot less. Especially if you eat out at food courts where you can get a meal for 40 baht.

Budget 5,000 a month for eating out, and you are going to be going to some fairly nice restaurants three or four times a week.

Entertainment — Entertainment is where you can spend a lot of money in Bangkok, but you can also entertain yourself cheaply. A movie ticket and a drink is less than 250 baht, a coffee at a typical Thai coffee shop is 45-70 baht, going bowling, ice skating, buying a book or DVD is a few hundred baht. Let’s say 3,000 baht on average.

Of course,, if you drink a lot of alcohol, your cost of living will be much higher. But let’s pretend you don’t, just so we can get an idea of the average amount you would spend every month just living in Bangkok.

Sundries — Under this heading, let’s throw in toiletries, basic medicines, socks, a clothing item here and there and basic household supplies, and 3,000 baht a month should easily cover it.

Total amount you will spend in a month

With this typical standard of living in Bangkok, at the end of the month without any alcohol and not being extravagant anywhere (except in your flat rent, as most westerners in Bangkok pay less than 20,000 baht for rent), you would have spent 42,500 baht.

Leaving you 17,500 baht over (currently around $580) for saving, traveling or anything else you want to do with it. Want to have more? Cut your rent down below 16,000 baht a month (easily doable, even in Bangkok).

Related: Cost of living for a couple living in Bangkok (it’s an older article, but prices really have not changed)

And, let me add, this budget is FAR MORE than many westerners spend living in Bangkok and they still have comfortable lifestyles.

My budget, for instance, is around 36,000 baht a month as I choose to save more. But I still live in a serviced apartment with air-con and weekly maid service, eat out several times a week, take taxis, go out with friends a few nights a month, see an occasional movie, and always have a full fridge.

I travel on the weekends in Thailand sometimes as well. So, yes, I classify my lifestyle as ‘nice and comfortable’.

So, to answer the question, can you live on $2,000 USD a month in Bangkok. Yes, I would say you can.