Readers' Submissions

How Much Is Enough?

  • Written by Anonymous
  • February 5th, 2008
  • 5 min read

Black Pagoda Patpong Bangkok

I have seen many discussions on this web site discussing how much money is needed to live (and play) in the Kingdom.

The starting point for just about all of these discussions is what is the minimum required, assuming that we are willing to give up a host of amenities and facilities we would take for granted at home. The 35 to 70K normally mentioned as being the amounts needed are of course pitiful compared to incomes in the West. 35K is € 700, well below the minimum income in Western Europe. In fact, 70K (€ 1,400) net is about the minimum income in Western Europe.

Now let’s have a look what will be needed if you are not willing to compromise to live here. I am not talking about private yachts, lots of jewelry etc., but a decent standard of living, comparable to the West. Of course, certain perks, such as maids and drivers are only affordable here.

I have been living in Thailand since 1983, running my own businesses. I am married with 2 kids. Being middle fifties I am not willing to wear flip flops, eat khao pat and ride a motorbike.

I drive a decent car (Toyota Fortuner) and so does my wife (also a Toyota). The kids go to one of the better international schools. Of course I could send them to a Thai school, which is free, but then you get what you pay for. We usually go on 2 foreign holidays a year when we go skiing in Europe and Australia. We also travel a lot of the weekends in Thailand and then stay in good hotels. We have a condo in Pattaya and a Hobi cat to go sailing there. We live in a 4 bedroom house that we bought in one of the better compounds on the edge of Bangkok, close to the new airport. We eat at home (Western and Thai) 5 times a week and outside twice a week. When eating outside we might go to a good seafood restaurant or to a buffet in the Marriot or the Intercontinental. Both my wife and me like good cheeses, smoked ham, real salami and decent to good wines. We have 2 maids, one live-in and one day time only. We do not have a full time driver but I have a freelance driver for whenever I go out on the piss.

All put together, we do have a very good live but nothing outrageous.

Now what does a live like this cost?

Here is a rough breakdown of my expenses, all on a yearly basis. Take note that if you want to include pension cost the total will be quite a lot higher, depending on your present age and your later requirements. I do not include it as I think that by now I have saved sufficient capital.

# Item Cost per year
1 School 1,400,000
2 Cars' depreciation 300,000
3 Health insurance 180,000
4 Foreign holidays 1,500,000
5 Local trips 180,000
6 In laws 120,000
7 House 720,000
8 Electricity bill 100,000
9 Maids 220,000
10 Eating out 234,000
11 Household money 600,000
12 Memberships 90,000
13 Entertainment (me) 520,000
14 Entertainment (Family) 250,000
15 Toys (cameras etc) 400,000
16 Miscellaneous 1,000,000
Total 7,814,000
Cost per month 651,167

1) The school cost is not only tuition fees but also includes the various ECA activities, uniforms, lunches and (foreign) school trips. For example, my oldest has so far this school year gone to Shanghai, K.L. (twice) and Djakarta. This coming half term break he will spend a week in Vietnam for a business study trip. Easter break will be in Switzerland on a school ski trip. The younger one had a few less but is not far behind.
7) The house cost is based on if I would rent it instead of having bought it. In the end it is the same for otherwise I would have had the interest income on the capital now spent.
8) Includes 1 month bonus per year plus medical cost (6 day work week plus they also each have 3 weeks paid holiday per year).
12) Includes sick buffalos, funerals and monthly transfers
13) Includes me going on the piss by myself once or twice a week plus 1 or 2 “massages” per week.
15) Toys include cameras and lenses (my hobby), computers and upgrades, LCD TVs etc.

Of course this is a very rough estimate but it is quit realistic. I know I spent at least this much and probably a bit more. This is the equivalent of about € 13,000 per month net.

Now let us compare this to Europe. For this amount you can have a very comfortable life in the West but in my opinion it would not be the same quality of life.

In Europe you cannot afford to have maids, unless you are truly mega rich. Yes, in Europe you do have quality medical care. However, when I had a herniated disk recently I went to the BNH in the morning, saw the specialist within 30 minutes, had a scan within the hour and was operated upon the same evening. By comparison, when I told my sister she informed me that a colleague of hers has the same problem and although the pain is excruciating she has been waiting now for over 3 months to await her turn for the operation. To illustrate the point further she also told me that she herself had a bladder infection a while ago and had to wait 12 weeks before she could see an urologist, due to the long waiting lists.

Driving through Europe this last Christmas holiday I received 5 speeding tickets, all of them for less than 10km over the speed limit. One of them was actually 2km too fast. There was no arguing as there was no one to argue with. It was all automated. Give me the boys in brown any day.

My brother’s gross income is way more than mine. However, when we look at real spending power after taxes he comes nowhere near. After paying the usual 60+% over the top of his income he also pays 20% VAT on everything he buys and pays € 1.30 for a liter of gasoline. A decent meal in a reasonable restaurant with his family of 4 will set him back at least €200 and he is supposed to tip for the ill-tempered service.

All in all, it ain’t so bad here. As I have been saying for a long time, my last smoke will be in the local temple.


Quite happy in Thailand.

Stickman's thoughts:

That's the stuff that dreams are made of.

A friend once told me his monthly spend was about 500,000 baht. I rolled my eyes and he did similar to you, taking time to explain that school alone was well over half a million a year and two trips back home per year ran a similar cost to yours.