Stickman Readers' Submissions May 3rd, 2012

My Bangkok Budget


Long time reader, first time submitting something to your site. I thought I'd give the perspective of an expat package lifestyle. I am married with two kids and working in Bangkok. I have been here for two years and aim to stay at least three more years. My (British) wife and I are lucky to both be working in the finance sector here in Bangkok. My wife works for a local Thai bank and her take home salary after tax is 300,000 baht per month and I work in an international bank and my take home salary after tax is about the same at 290,000 baht (but I am paid in US dollars, wife in Thai baht). Because I have an expat package I get about half my rental fee paid, 90,000 baht or 3000 US dollars paid into a pension pot every month by my company (most of this pension is only accessible when I retire age 60), about 70% of school fees for my kids paid.

Here is a brief run down of our monthly expenditures:

Monthly rent is 114,000 baht for a 3 bedroom in a nice apartment complex around Sukhumvit 24. Walking distance to Emporium, BTS Phrong Pong. Great apartment with gym, very nice pool, large garden area; other tenants are all expat package families so it’s great for our kids to have lots of other children to play with in nice open areas. Water and electricity comes to around 10,000 baht per month. We have two nannies (who also do cleaning, cooking) and one driver. Their salaries are about 15,000 baht per month each if you include average over time payments (total for domestic staff is 45,000 baht per month).

The international school (what a racket this is, I’m sure there is price fixing going on) where we send our kids has annual fees of @550,000 baht per year per child, which comes to 91,000 baht per month in total.

Blue chip health insurance, subsidized by my company, is a reasonable 18,000 baht per month (this covers almost any treatment at any hospital/doctor).

For food shopping we always buy our stuff in Gourmet Market in Emporium or Villa Market and I would say the average monthly grocery bill is 17,000 baht per month. We normally eat out a few times a week including one nice restaurant in the evening per week, lunches at weekends and a nice Sunday brunch – total eating out around 20,000 per month.

Travel costs every year for vacations, including back home, comes to around 300,000 baht per year or 25,000 baht per month.

Other miscellaneous expenses including gas for our car, other entertainment items come to around 20,000 baht per month at least.

Total average monthly expenditure is about 360,000 baht per month after expat package subsidies that’s about 230,000 baht per month. This is the first time I have calculated this and it’s quite scary even for me looking at that figure!!!

What this does buy us is a very comfortable, western living style in Thailand. In terms of socializing we mostly hangout with other expat package couples, friends. We also sometimes attend what would be termed I suppose hi-so or middle class Thai events – weddings, banking receptions etc.

When I can get away from the wife I also like going to Nana or Soi Cowboy (I prefer Nana as Soi Cowboy is a bit too open and easy to see everyone, though Nana Plaza is not that much easier for being discreet!). I also prefer the more ‘Japanese’ gogo bars as they have the hottest girls; it’s a sad reflection on us westerners that the sexiest girls drift to the Japanese bars / customers (though I don’t blame them given some of the weird farangs you see walking around there, plus farangs tend to be more tight fisted I would say). I also enjoy going to Spasso in Hyatt (there is also a wine bar on the same floor as Spasso which is great for after work drinks, busy and nice atmosphere), Sukhumvit soi 11 for the Aussie Bar, Q Bar (I like the quiet upstairs balcony area for chatting and then the option to party downstairs in the club area), Climax (fun if you have had a few drinks already).

One thing I have found is that being married helps to keep you grounded in Bangkok. If I was single and on an expat package I could easily imagine being tempted to party every night and wasting a lot of money chasing models and other hot girls.

I realize how lucky I am to be working in Thailand on an expat package (it took me several years of trying to get transferred to Bangkok from the US before I was moved here); I feel like I am living a dream.

Stickman's thoughts:

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It sounds like you have a very nice lifestyle indeed and I bet there are a good number of readers who would happily exchange their life for yours!

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