Is the average teaching salary in Chiang Mai enough to live on?
Just about every teacher I know in Thailand has at one time or another wanted to teach in Chiang Mai. Some of them have even done it. For most who decide to stay in Bangkok, however, the main reason they figured teaching in Thailand’s second biggest city wasn’t such a good idea were the salaries being offered.
If you’re thinking of teaching in Chiang Mai, or are at least looking into it before moving up there, what is the average teaching salary in Chiang Mai and is it enough to live on?
You might be surprised.
Average teaching salaries in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai does have a plethora of teaching opportunities, with everything from government schools, private schools, language schools and universities and even some companies needing corporate teachers. Unfortunately, however, almost every opportunity in Chiang Mai offers a salary so low few teachers I know in Bangkok would even consider accepting it.
Teaching salaries at government schools and language schools in Chiang Mai, and even a couple of universities, begin as low as 20,000 baht a month. Yes, you read that correctly. That’s $634 a month.
As for the highest salaries in Chiang Mai for western teachers, they rarely go above 30,000 baht for most teaching positions, which is $952 at the current exchange rate of 31.5 baht to the US dollar.
Considering Chiang Mai isn’t much cheaper than Bangkok (some teachers living there will tell you it is, but sorry, except for a few minor things it’s just not), and the average teaching salary in Bangkok is 35,000 to 45,000, with plenty of jobs offering 50,000 baht and higher, you can imagine how much better your lifestyle will be if you teach in Bangkok instead.
Yes, Chiang Mai is lovely. In fact, it’s my favorite city in Thailand. But, with absolute basic living expenses of 15,000 to 18,000 baht a month, you need to be sure you can live on 20,000 baht or a little bit more if you move there. Or be willing to get a second job or teach a lot of private students.
Salaries for western teachers have not increased in Thailand in more than 15 years, but the cost of living is up more than 20 percent. Chiang Mai is also much more expensive than it was when I visited for the first time more than a decade ago, yet there’s even more to see, do and, yes, buy. With a low salary, you won’t be able to do much of that.
Western teachers do live in Chiang Mai for years, and many love it. Just be aware of what the average teaching salary in Chiang Mai will be before you go, and how it will impact your standard of living, however, before you make the leap and do so yourself. Then you won’t suddenly find yourself destitute, or teaching 20 hours of private lessons a week on top of your full-time teaching schedule, just to pay the bills and have a little money left over.