Broke In Thailand Living On $300 Per Month

I came across an interesting and wacky story of one traveler who somehow ended up in Thailand with only a few hundred dollars to his name living on $300 per month.

I recently did an interview with him (he’s a poker player), and here it is.

Hey mate, could you tell us about your situation right now?

I worked in the UK in a job I hated, and decided it was time for a change.

I managed to get a different job, but the start date wasn’t until September 2016, which left me a little over a year to play around.

I decided I’d go abroad traveling, using the money I’d saved while at work, which was only like $4,500 or so.

I went to Thailand first since my Thai girlfriend was there, and went traveling round Thailand to Hua Hin, Nakhon Phanom, Nong Khai etc.

I decided to hit up China, but I pretty much hated the country on sight. The pollution is awful, the crowds and the food is bad too.

So I booked a flight back to Bangkok, but the travel agency screwed up the flight details. I ended up having to buy a ticket at the airport (very expensive).

Because of this, I ended up with only $750 left (I also had $300 in an 888 poker account, but I wasn’t planning on funding myself by playing poker in Thailand until I ran into the misfortune with the airline).

How would you rate your quality of life at the moment?

It’s OK.

I’ve got a great Thai women and a very low cost of living.

I’ve got plenty of time to focus on my poker and really try and take it seriously. I’d much prefer to be living Bangkok apartment with air-con place, a pool and a bed, but I get by okay sleeping on the floor.

In my travels before I was sleeping in hostels, and prior to that I was living in shared accommodation with strangers in the UK. It’s not like I’m used to living the high life.

With that said, I’m not sure it’d suit Thai expats. The toilet flushes using a bucket, there’s only cold water for a shower, there’s no bed, just a roll-up mattress on the floor, and there’s no real kitchen.

$90 room Bangkok

What’s it like living in your place, what’s the best and worst thing about it?

The best thing is the excellent food that is right next door!

There’s so much choice since there’s quite a large community of Thai people where I am. None of them speak English but they’ve come to know what sort of food I like, so when I show up they know what to cook.

The worst things are the lack of air-con and lack of decent Internet. The Internet is fine for working since it rarely disconnects, but the 128kbps speed is too slow to watch any YouTube videos, and even stuff like going on Facebook takes a while for all the pictures to load.

toilet no flush

The no air-con you sort of get used to after a while (though there are certainly days it really sucks), but not having access to YouTube, streaming is a pain.

Where abouts are you in Bangkok?

I’m around 15 minutes walk from Wongwian Yai BTS station. There’s not many foreigners around this area, but the locals are friendly enough, though they don’t speak much English.

How many hours of poker do you play per week, and what is your currently hourly?

I’ve been hitting the study hard recently, so haven’t been playing as much but reading up on the game.

However, I’ve finished Applications of NL Holdem now (a poker book), so will just be working full-time from now on.

On a typical work day, I’ll start between 8am-10am, and finish between 3pm-5pm (if I start later, I finish later).

I average 4,000 hands a day during the weekdays, less at the weekends though because the girlfriend gets angry when I’m working while she’s at home.

I’m aiming to bump this up to 5,000 hands a day, and run an 8am-5pm schedule. I need to build my endurance up for it…prior to the last month I’d generally only play 2,000 hands a day maximum.

Currently hourly at 10nl is $3.50 (no really, this isn’t some ‘about three fiddy’ joke, I really earn $3.50 per hour).

I’m a 6bb/100 (this means for every 100 hands, he wins 60 cents on average, which is actually pretty good) winner at the stake currently.

I’ve not really played enough hands to know my ‘true’ win-rate there since I’ve only played 80,000 hands of 10nl in my lifetime.

Note: 10NL means the buy-in for the game is $10 maximum.

Could you give us a breakdown of your costs per month?

  • $120 for food.
  • Visa costs around $50 (this is an average, some months it’s zero, but other months it’s $100).
  • My share of rent+bills: $45 (my girlfriend pays half)
  • Other random stuff (toiletries, the occasional beer from 7/11, transport if I’m going somewhere etc) – around $60.
  • Internet on phone: $7

It ends up coming to around $300 a month altogether.

kitchen

What does your girlfriend think about all this, does she care?

She considers this game to be akin to the simplistic games like Farmville or Candy Crush that she plays on her phone!

Which is why she gets super angry when I work at weekends or evenings. Which kind of sucks because as we all know, those are the best times to play poker as it’s when the fish play.

With that said, she doesn’t care that I spend my day working playing poker rather than a ‘real job’.

I’ve known her a while now, and at no point in our relationship have either of us had that much money, so she’s used to staying at home, not going to all the fancy Bangkok places etc.

What would you suggest to anyone else in Thailand who was in your shoes?

It’s going to sound pretty obvious – but hard work, hard work, and more hard work to make money in Thailand.

If you can make money by playing poker, it really is just about getting in as much volume (playing as many hands) as you can.

Some days I don’t feel like playing, and at other times when halfway through the session I start to get bored or tired.

But I force myself to sit there until the daily quota of hands is reached.

This probably goes against what a lot of people say, as many believe you should only play poker when you feel ‘up for it’ – but when you don’t any money to your name, you don’t have the luxury of not doing anything.

Treat it like a full-time job – i.e. you still have to ‘go in’ even if you don’t particularly want to that day.

Oh yeah, and needless to say, don’t go spending all your money on non-essential stuff. Drink your beer from 7/11, not in Nana Plaza.

Go to the cinema on Wednesdays where there are discounted tickets. Don’t buy a McDonalds too often since you could eat for a whole day on what you spend there if you eat Thai food instead.

Why don’t you go and ask your family for help/extra money?

If the worst came to the worst, I’m sure they’d send me the money for a plane ticket home, but I really don’t want to have to live with family for a year until my new job starts.

Ideally I’d like to stay here with my girlfriend where I have a degree of independence.  Plus I really don’t want to have to get them to bail me out – this year, if all goes well, might see me develop as a poker player and climb the stakes.

I know that wouldn’t happen back home since there’s not the same motivation to grind.

Harvie’s Thoughts

The guys got a lot of moxy, and I respect that.

I would usually advise people like him to go home ASAP and get a job. But he has one, it just doesn’t start until 2016.

He seems happy living in his cheap Bangkok apartment but there is no way I could live like that, although there’s lots of blog articles where people do it for $500 and sometimes even less than that. For a more realstic cost of living in Thailand, Ajarn.com has probably the best cost of living in Thailand archive full of teachers listing their monthly spendings.

I don’t know what the future holds for a western people living in Bangkok for $300 a month, but I wish you the best of luck.  Will be sending him my book on how to become an online freelancer for sure.

What are your thoughts?

37 thoughts on “Broke In Thailand Living On $300 Per Month

  1. 20 October, 2015 at 6:14 pm

    I understand the feeling of not wanting to work 9-5 and live in Thailand instead,

    But where are you really without money and the security it provides? especially if you are getting on in years
    I guess this guy is quite young?

    What really happens to these guys in the long term? some make it, many dont I suspect.

    We want the freedom but need money to fund it. I have accepted I have to work hard to make good money and I can plan for the future. To financially be able to retire and live a comfortable live and have a passive income

    This is what the young need to aim for, there are no shortcuts, not for most

    1. 21 October, 2015 at 4:02 am

      Good points. I would have trouble sleeping if I only had $1000 to my name in another country.

      1. Gena
        6 November, 2015 at 2:38 pm

        Bah! Try being in Thailand with only about $400 USD to your name! A $1000 sounds rich. And yeah, I’m having trouble sleeping at night.

  2. Pat
    21 October, 2015 at 2:38 am

    Let’s be honest, the situation is quite awful. It’s easy to say you prefer it this way, eating cheap food, living in a piss poor place etc, but It’ll wear thin very fast unless something comes up for you.
    I’m even surprised that any booze is in your budget, unless of course what you mean is that you’re drinking your life away hoping for some miracle to come up.
    The odds of coming up lucky when you’re lucks out just don’t bear thinking about

    1. 21 October, 2015 at 4:20 am

      But at least he has moxy….right? 😀

      1. Pat
        21 October, 2015 at 6:03 am

        ^^That doesn’t keep you fed and happy and living in a 25th floor condo

    2. jesus lopez
      27 October, 2015 at 9:29 am

      Waste of a life-no 2 ways about it. @ least he sees it and is doing something about it. But why does he have to wait till 2016. Go back now n deliver pizzas.

      1. MikeH71
        14 March, 2017 at 5:37 pm

        Agreed, then he can return with money in the bank and a job. I guess one advantage is that he is learning Thai however aside from making communication easier it doesn’t help much in on the job in Thailand and pretty much useless outside of Thailand.
        Toot said” living with Thais makes money Thai easier. Disagree unless your at least a solid A2 speaker level B1 would is recommended.
        Most people lack the time and patience to actually teach you their language also many people get annoyed or just don’t want to bother slowing down or modifying their speech to try and speak at your level.
        Immersion especially if you have no background language actually make the experience much as it results in a mental overload.

  3. Ray
    21 October, 2015 at 4:15 am

    For westerners it’s difficult to understand but all you really need is a small space to live, a big mattress and a walk-in shower (like everywhere in Thailand) to be happy. Lovely people, safety, always sunny, great food…I don’t want my former life back, oh no way. I’d rather have a small room with a mattress on the floor.

  4. aaron
    21 October, 2015 at 5:36 am

    He’s young, has a job lined up, and has parents to bail him out if he needs it. Might as well enjoy this time. Someday, he will have a job, a family and financial stability, and he will look back on this time as the best time of his life. I wish I were still young enough to believe I could be a professional poker player. It’s great head space I think. I once believed I could be a professional writer. I came pretty close. Check out my book on Amazon. It’s called Thailand Calling.

    1. Capo
      22 October, 2015 at 4:16 am

      Aaron, I totally agree with you. Nothing in this guy’s story makes me feel bad for him -he seems to be enjoying what he does. Yes, not having a/c can be a bitch in Bangkok, but he’s even getting used to that. If you don’t live this kind of experiences when you’re young and resilient, you might regret it when you’re old and weak.
      Btw, I read the first pages of your book on Amazon and it made me want to read the whole thing. If you’re published and sell, you are a professional writer. So what’s next?

    2. Alex
      10 November, 2015 at 12:06 am

      Where can I contact you?

  5. james
    21 October, 2015 at 6:53 am

    I think it kinda depends on how old he is. If early 20s no problem to rough out for a bit.

    1. Pat
      22 October, 2015 at 5:26 am

      I had to rough it for 6 days in Paris when I fucked up my ticket home, 2009. 5 days & nights I walked those Parisian streets, hardly any cash, and I was damned if I was gonna call up anyone.

      BUT, I saw more of Paris than I ever thought, and I ate a pizza from a trash can. It was rough at the time but it was summer, I slept on subway trains & spent my meagre cash (a few euros) on bread, shoplifted sardines…..

      Looking back now, it was a bloody great experience.

      Anyway my point is, maybe you gotta slum it before you work up to the rick pickings

      1. 22 October, 2015 at 5:35 am

        I once locked myself out my apartment and had to sleep in the lobby until the receptionist came in the morning. Does this count? 🙂

  6. alex
    21 October, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    I guess no matter how old are you 20, or 60, or even 85, if you enjoy this life style, just live as you like. What a problem to buy an airplane ticket, flight to the country of your dream, get a not boring job for $500-700 through the internet? Some guys travels without money at all. Anyway much better when you have a deposit which allows you to stay alive in closest 3-6 months.

  7. Pat
    21 October, 2015 at 10:11 pm

    Well whatvever I said earlier, the bottom line is the guy must have something up his sleeve otherwise I think he’d take his current position bit more seriously.

    Fast forward a year and we may well have an article here telling us the virtues of playing poker online and making a good living from it!

  8. 22 October, 2015 at 4:22 am

    Great article but I think this would only work when you are in your early 20s. Been there done that and oh boy, its just a temporary high.

  9. JLR
    22 October, 2015 at 6:11 am

    He’s not causing trouble or dealing drugs for money and he wants to give his dream a shot. Nothing wrong with that.

    Best of luck to him.

    1. Pat
      22 October, 2015 at 6:08 pm

      ^^Plenty sleeping rough in Pattaya

  10. David
    22 October, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    Ah! Luxury!

    I’m sorry and I know it’s a cheap shot but I couldn’t resist the temptation to post this:

    Monty Python – Four Yorkshiremen:

    http://youtu.be/Xe1a1wHxTyo

  11. Jennie
    22 October, 2015 at 6:10 pm

    Poor Farang Guy; living so poorly. Pshhhhhhh!

    Seriously, people abroad are so used to ‘modern’ luxuries, and a higher standard of living that living any other way is an inconvenience. I grew up in the middle class, and I have family who live on the seriously luxurious side of the spectrum, and this side of the spectrum. My family who live like this, just finally finished paying off the one room apartment, they roll up the ‘beds’ on the floor and put them to the side during the day, eat food on a little table, or sometimes from the plates on the floor. No water heater, little ‘kitchen’ area on the ‘balcony’; and they are the happiest people on the planet. They never stop smiling. This is a step up from what they had, and they are grateful.

    It’s different standards of living, and different ways of life. There are foriengers who live that way and are absolutely content.

  12. thibault
    23 October, 2015 at 2:22 am

    you know what? i almost envy him. he proves the point another time. comfort is secondary.
    1. thais live like that all year long, all their lives. last time i checked, they were more or less like us. some even say we are from the same species. must be possible. hint: in africa its even worse, they survive.
    2. pattaya s tramps. they prefer sleeping on the beach rather than go home. admittedly, most cant, but there was forcibly a moment it was possible, and they more or less voluntarily let it slip.booze and women dont explain everything. nobody wants to go back to the cold.
    3. unemployment benefit. almost 500 euros in my country. using a loophole, you can declare a false adress here and spend it there. just need to come back when social workers do a check on you. maybe once per year. i know a lot of men do it. you just got to forgo any hope of comibg back in society…. not a big deal. you can work illegally on the side.
    4. being unemployed atm, i was forced to live with my family. i found myself in a summer house during october. n9 heating ,interior temperature was 9 celsius. this summer i was in the city. temperature was hotter than in bkk. no aircon of course, not worth it, its only hot one month per year. my friend came back from thailand in june, he said its horrible here, same feeling as when he came back in december and freezed. all of this permits to relativize living without aircon. at least in bkk temperature is the same year round.
    5. and, last but not least, dont forget the number one reason for expatriation. sex. i mean, the guy has a girlfriend. i dont. and if all go sour ,he knows he can find another relatively quickly. i struggle horribly. what will he find for an overweight whale back home? what kind of shitty attitude will he face? and even then, if eveything goes right…i live with my mom presently. i cant bring a woman home. there aint short time hotels here. or anywhere cheap i can go with a girl. 60 euros a cheap hotel room. hell, i cant even spend a night out without thinking about my bank account. where do i take a girl? restaurant? 30 euro per person.i can afford it once or twice per month. do i take a taxi? 50 euro to go home. i rather drink and drive. can i rent a small flat? 700 euro on a 3 year contract. well, nothing new. you know this. you need 1500 euros to live thexsame life you can afford in thailand for 500. fact is, you perhaps wont earn that much given the poor job availabilty here, a full time job seems like the holy grail here. and you ll live alone.
    i m saving now in the hope of living with 500 euro per month in thailand. seems like a better deal than staying here. its a dream life to live a miserable life. so, yes, he is definitely right.

    1. Maxi
      10 November, 2015 at 3:25 pm

      Yes you arte right! I came to live in Thailand this way 2 years ago at the age of 56….will see what happens….

  13. 23 October, 2015 at 8:01 am

    Interesting article Harvie. Like the pics (especially the packs of wotsits on the floor – and the bars on the window definitely indicate a fine apartment complex).

    No entertainment budget, I couldn’t last even a week without going out in Thailand!

    Would’ve liked to know what profession you have to wait 11 months to start, and also the age of the guy. Good luck to him anyway, sounds like he’s gonna need it. Keep the articles coming mate…

  14. Scandibro
    23 October, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    I hope he has health insurance, that’s all, otherwise good luck, got to appreciate someone from the spoiled west who can live like that. As others say, this can only be done when you’re young and healthy. A 50 year old living like this would just be sad. Otherwise no different than any other kind of backpacking or volunteering that young people do. I suspect this guy will come out on the other side much stronger than his spoiled peers, though it’s also important to not waste too many years ‘struggling’.

  15. 25 October, 2015 at 6:27 am

    Good luck to him. We are only young once ! i wonder what job he is going back to in 2016, and which keeps him waiting for a year?!!

  16. Pascal
    26 October, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    Im trying to keep this as constructive as possible and assume the guy is gonna read this…

    1. WHY the hell are you working for $3.50 an hour? I pay my philippina VA more than that and all she does is put stuff into excel files. hop on elance, odesk et al and you can start out doing 10-20 bucks an hour gigs pretty much right off the bat.

    2. WHY the hell do you let your girlfriend keep you from playing at what I understand is the best time for poker players? explain it to her and if she doesnt understand, put your foot down. Money over bitches son.

    1. 26 October, 2015 at 4:24 pm

      Well said!

    2. arandompersonfromreddit
      27 October, 2015 at 4:05 pm

      Is it really possible to earn money on elance, odesk without any skills and knowledge? I mean I want too but don’t know how to get into this shady bissness. How? I’ve registered there and they want me to upload photo (don’t have a camera) asks for my name, adress and phone (no phone) and after this just leave me without any help. Do I need to lick asses of people who hire as other “freelancers” do? Because this what it looks like from the outside. I want to work there, but it seems impossible to even get into.
      And do you need to be in specific country to work there?

      1. 27 October, 2015 at 4:24 pm

        Hey mate,

        I’ve written about it all in my eBook here: http://workthai.afarangabroad.com/

  17. Fletch
    27 October, 2015 at 7:42 am

    Been doing this for years, muchachos. Four plus. Anything from $100-500 for much of it.

    Quick guide to living <$200-500 p/m avg. in Southeast Asia (TL, Cambo, Indo) – make good friends, be positive, freelance, do cool things for free (like surfing – find a cheap board) travel cheap and bargain hunt – find a cheap room, eat cheaply, party discerningly, etc. Be proactive. Enjoy each day. Be creative. Hardly rocket science or heroism, it requires a blag here and there and a little bit werrrrrr, a little bit wayyyyy, a little bit whoosh-sh-sh-sh pew pew pew but it's hardly the stuff heroes are made of. In all honesty I couldn't count the number of people I've met who were more deserving of such an article. Deranged and rare creatures walk this continent.

    1. Chris
      3 November, 2016 at 11:56 pm

      Show me your ways! I’d do anything to move to Thailand with only $3000 to my name. I’d have no problem living out of a backpack, eating cheap food and doing free things everyday…in fact I’d love it! If I could live in SE Asia for the rest of my life I would.

  18. Toad
    1 November, 2015 at 7:33 am

    Millions of Thai people live like this as their normal life. Small rental room (often shared 2 or 3), minimum wage job, just have the basics and almost nothing extra. Welcome to the reality of much of the world. It is a good experience to have and to then understand, that you can live very simply and humbly and you are still fine. Some of my fondest memories are of travel and times where I was living on VERY little. Keeps you honed…………..

  19. Toot
    3 November, 2015 at 10:36 am

    Excellent article and replies , I lived in Thailand 15 yrs. going from a 3 bed house with a pool and jacuzzi to my own built house in Korat then into a small room ( $100 a month ) life can be great out there , learning Thai is easier when u live with Thais. This guy has a room has food and constant sex what more do u want in life. I know many people in the uk who don’t have this , especially the sex.

  20. 9 November, 2016 at 4:57 pm

    $300 a month?? Doesn’t leave much for emergencies.

    1. 10 November, 2016 at 2:34 am

      Yup, leaves none.

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