Before I started my TEFL training in Thailand, I only had a vague idea what it would cost me to start up as a teacher here. Apart from the direct price of getting my TEFL certificate, the cost of my visa and a rough estimation of my monthly expenses, it was hard to oversee what other expenses I would encounter.
Now, as I have finished my TEFL course a month ago, I have made most of my investments in becoming a teacher, and I have a clearer overview. If you are considering a TEFL course in Thailand, this might be useful to prepare yourself and read through my expenses.
The costs of living in Thailand are very relative. You can rent and live for very cheap or very expensive. Some costs are unavoidable though: you will need accommodation, you will have to eat and drink, in most cases you will need your own transport, and you will probably have some fun every now and then. Also, you probably need to pay for insurance or other unavoidable expenses.
Most of my expenses have been in Thai baht, but for this article I have converted the costs to US dollars.
Expenses for becoming TEFL certified and finding a job in Thailand
Money Spent before and during my TEFL course:
- My TEFL course at SEE TEFL, Chiang Mai, Thailand, with early bird discount for booking six weeks prior to the start date of my course: $1,295.
- A two-month tourist visa purchased at the Thai Consulate in the Netherlands: $41.
- Formal teaching clothes: two dresses, two jackets and two pairs of trousers, all purchased in shopping malls and supermarkets in Chiang Mai: $35.
- Lesson materials; stationary, prints, copies: $25.
- Opening a Thai Bank Account: $16.
- 12 passport photos for my business via application: $5.
Total expenses to get my TEFL certification and preparing to teach in Thailand: USD $1,417
After my TEFL certification:
- TOEC test: An English test is mandatory for all non-native English speakers in order to obtain an eventual work permit as a teacher in Thailand: $47.
- Visiting a Thai hospital for a medical examination. A health certificate is mandatory for employment as a teacher in Thailand: $6.
Job Search Costs
- A round trip to Kampaengpet (mid Thailand) related to a job-offer: Bus ticket + two nights of accommodation (fan room at basic guesthouse): $37.
- A visa trip to Vientiane, Laos: Bus ticket: $50. Visa for visiting Laos: $36 (the fee is related to the country where your passport is issued). Application for Thai Non Immigrant B Visa: $62.
- Two nights of accommodation in Vientiane with air-con room: $30 (this can be done cheaper by staying only one night and by staying in a dorm).
Total expenses after my TEFL certification: $268.
Overall Total: USD $1,685.
Living Expenses for Thailand
As I have mentioned above, the costs of living in Thailand are highly relative, depending on your wishes and on your budget. In Chiang Mai you can find good, basic monthly accommodation for about $125. A simple meal can be found for around $1.50, and a large beer at an average bar will cost about $3.
Most of my monthly expenses can also be done cheaper. It is important for me to have a room where I feel at home, so I pay a bit extra. I also like to go out on the weekends and I sometimes eat Western food as well.
- Studio rental + one month rent as deposit: $186 + $186.
- Bicycle, monthly rental: $38 + $62 as a deposit. After two months, I regret that I didn’t buy a new bicycle when I arrived here. A new bicycle costs about the same price as two or three months bicycle rent. Because I did not know how long I would stay in Chiang Mai after finishing my TEFL course, I chose to rent a bike.
- Electricity, water, room cleaning, laundry: averages about $35 per month. I sometimes use the air conditioner. I usually hand wash my laundry in the sink.
- Food and drinks: about $200 monthly. This can be done cheaper if I drink less bubble teas and beers and stop eating cheese!
- Staying healthy and well: haircuts, massages, medicines and toiletries: averages about $20 per month.
- Occasional splurges: $35 per month.
- Health + travel insurance: $150 per month
- ATM fees, exchange rates and money transfers: estimated around $10 per transaction. I make about three or four transactions per month.
Estimated monthly total: $694.
Plus Initial deposits: $248.
Total: two of months living + initial deposits = USD $1,636.
See another example of living expenses in Chiang Mai.
See how you can get TEFL certification with online classes.
Altogether, I spent around $3,320 on living and getting ready to teach here in Chiang Mai over the last two months. More than half of my expenses have been necessary investments for becoming a teacher here. My highest living expenses are rent, drinks, food, and my medical (travel) insurance.
Meet the Author:
Laura Mayer is a writer, travel coach, and a freshly certified TEFL teacher with a huge passion for traveling. Laura has traveled extensively throughout Asia in the last five years and loves to experience the sounds and smells of the unknown. She is crazy about beaches, cats, tropical animals, and hates formalities.