If you want to move abroad and live a great lifestyle, move to Phuket. By Western standards you won’t get rich but living here you can earn more than you need. I’ve spent the last six months learning to program and build iOS apps. By the time we go home my second app should be on the app store.
You can work 10 hours a week and live cheap or work more and live extremely well. Here’s a link to our cost of living guide.
The easiest money here is made teaching. If you’re a native English speaker, the lowest paying teaching jobs here pay 30,000 baht a month. Those jobs can be gold because they often have only 2-3 contact hours per day. You can then spend the rest of your time working on your own projects; it’s an entrepreneurs dream job.
There are literally hundreds of jobs that pay more though. If you’re looking for more money and less free time, get a job at a private school and make 40,000-55,000 baht a month.
Language School Tutoring
School is out by 3:30 or 4:00. If your goal is to work hard and save money then you can pick up classes for 350-400/hr after school or on the weekend for extra cash. You can easily pick up another 10+ weekly hours. If you teach 10 weekly hours that’s 14,000/month ($470 USD) extra.
Rent here can be as cheap as 5,000-6,000 baht and two daily meals at 50 baht each is 3,000 baht a month. Do the math and you’ll realize that just by teaching you’ll have the money to:
- live luxuriously
- save a lot
- or just tutor occasionally and have lots of free time.
Do Freelance Work
Either from home or from a teaching job with lots of free time, many people do freelance work. If you know how to program, do graphic design, build websites, or tutor in math/science then you can freelance from Thailand.
I know people who do freelance work for web companies in London. I know people who tutor students in math and science for $20/hr (check out InstaEdu.com). Another guy I know, who speaks several languages, does translation work for a company based somewhere in Europe. I just started tutoring people in English through the iOS app Tandem.
Work as a Movie Extra
In our year here we’ve already been in Swedish film, French film, and three Hollywood movies. Western movies often film here because it’s cheaper but they need Western looking extras! Working as an extra can be fun and they feed you!
The pay is generally 2,000-4,000 baht a day. Some movies they’ll only need you for a day, others you can get a week’s worth of work. Get your name on a few agent’s lists and you can make easy extra cash when a movie rolls into Phuket to film.
Work as an Actor or Extra Full Time
On set I’ve met Westerners who act full time and live in Phuket/Bangkok. Movies have extras and featured-extras. Featured extras speak or have an on-going minor roll.
If you were an extra living in Hollywood and hoping for a role with lines, it’d be extremely unlikely you’d succeed. In Phuket though, you’ve got the upper hand. Directors don’t want to pay small time actors for flights and accommodation just for minor speaking roles, so they hire the people who live here.
A featured extra makes 12,000-15,000 baht per day. If you’re good looking, black, or speak several languages then those can help you compete and land niche rolls. I imagine offering your agent a higher commission might also increase the number of calls you get.
Ad work apparently pays even more per day, although the jobs are harder to come by. A single day shoot can pay up to 25,000-30,000 baht (those jobs are usually in Bangkok).
Start a Business
Some people buy a couple scooters and rent them to tourists. Some people buy a car and rent it. Lots of older Europeans start restaurants. To be legal you have to have a Thai partner on the documents, but usually they are a silent partner and happy to have the extra cash.
Start a Tutoring Business
You can also simply freelance tutor full time. Great gigs are hard to come by but they’re very profitable once they’re setup. People who do this make great hourly earnings by teaching groups. The story of great tutoring gigs is always the same:
The person meets the parents through a school and is asked to come to their house for tutoring and teach one or two kids for 250 baht per hour each (500 total). Then the neighbor sees and asks if their child can join. Before long the teacher is teaching 4-6 kids and making 800-1,000 per hour. We even met one person who eventually just turned her growing class into a full-on school.
The Good Life
Living here is not necessarily the ‘easy’ life, because you have to put in the legwork. Yet, it can seem easy because the work is more fun than sitting in an office. No, you won’t get rich by Western standards, but by anyone judging wealth by quality of life, you’ll be a millionaire.