A Week of Non-Expat Living in Yangon

Last week, we found out that Refinery29 published a Money-Diaries story about a foreign worker with $4,000 monthly income, working in Myanmar. (Thanks to Baelachaung!) 

Money-Diaries is basically a person’s daily journal entry on finances. This girl is a 25-year-old with student loans, working in Yangon as a program coordinator at a nonprofit and her annual income is $52,200. The story portrayed her daily life in Yangon and kept track of the amount of money she spent in a week, including how she reheated leftovers for lunch which costed zero dollar, how she brought her cat to the vet which costed nearly 100 dollars, how she attended events and talked about feminist foreign policy, so on and so forth. 

After reading that story, we couldn’t help but feel the need to write down the version of a native Myanmar girl. Mohinga Matters is all about telling our stories in our own narratives and showing how we roll in Myanmar as locals. So here is a story about one of our friends who’d like to stay anonymous. (Starting from this point, we will follow Refinery29’s Money-Diaries format.)

Occupation:Program Officer

Industry:Nonprofit

Age:24

Location:Yangon, Myanmar

Salary:$10,200

Paycheck Amount (Monthly): $850


Monthly Expenses

Accommodation: We do not have the culture of moving out from parents so I am 24 years old and still living with parents.

Remittance: $400 since I’m living with parents, remittances are a way of paying for the rental fees, electricity and water utility bill and meal cost at house. 

Netflix: $10

Insurance: Umm, we do not believe in insurance.

Savings: $100 per month


Day One

7:00  – After snoozing for a couple of times, I finally wake up and get ready for work. Have the breakfast prepared by mother and take Grab to office. It usually takes an hour to get to office even with a taxi. $2.3

12:00 – Head over a cheap restaurant with colleagues. The food is less likely to be healthy but I find lunchtime an opportunity to bond with colleagues. $1

15:00 – Complimentary coffee provided by office to stay awake. $0

17:30 – Rush over to the class. Oh right, I’m taking diploma class in Yangon University of Economics. Classes start at 17:30 pm but luckily, school is only 10 mins walk from office. Have to buy a loaf of bread from convenience store. $0.33

19:30 – Walk to the nearest bus stop that goes to my home. It takes about 10 minutes. By the time I reach the bus stop, the traffic gets slightly better and the bus gets a little less packed. $0.13

20:30 – Get to home and have dinner that mother prepares. That’s the end of my day.

Daily total: $3.76


Day Two

7:30  – Wake up a little late since I have a workshop to attend at an office of our partner organization which is only 30 minutes’ drive. Have the breakfast that my mom prepares and take a Grab but this will later be reimbursed. $1.6

12:00 – Our organizations plan to apply a project proposal so we have intensive activities and discussions throughout the day. Lunch is provided by the host. $0

17:00 – The workshop ends at 17:00 so I take taxi to my class, hoping the traffic is not bad. $2

17:30 – I have to buy some snack at canteen so that my stomach won’t make noises during the class. $0.67

19:30 – The usual route to home. $0.13

20:30 – Get to home and have dinner with mom who waits for me. After dinner, I go online and buy kindle version of Educated by Tara Westover and give it a try since many of my friends recommend. $12

Daily total: $14.8 


Day Three

7:30 – Another half-day workshop at the organization. So yes, another cab ride to reimburse. $1.6

12:00 – No free lunch today so I have a quick lunch nearby with new networks I made. $3

12:45 – Taxi ride back to office which will be reimbursed too . $2.3

17:30 – Walk to the class and buy snacks. 0.67

19:30 – The usual route back home. I enjoy listening to podcasts since I can’t read on the bus. Today I listen to “The Spinster Episode” from Public Intellectual by Jess Crispin. It is about what it’s like to live a life that is not the cultural expectation and how independence of a woman is being translated into different variations in the pop culture. $0.13

20:30 – Back home, dinner and shower. Then, continue reading Educated. $0

Daily total: $3.8


Day Four

7:00 – Wake up at regular time to go to office. Mom prepares some mohinga for me today and I also have a free ride with father as he goes to somewhere near my office. $0

12:00 – My colleagues and decided to eat biryani for lunch but boy are biryani getting more and more expensive? $2.67

17:45 – Rush to school and do not have enough time to buy snack. A little late to class but the lecture is kind enough to let me in. $0

18:30 – have to make a quick trip to buy snack as my bowel sound is too loud that my friends can hear it. $1

19:30 – After class, classmates and I decide to discuss our group project at a restaurant near Inya Kan Baung. $4

20:30 – Have to take a taxi to go home. The taxi driver asks for higher than normal fare because it is late. $2.67

Daily total: $10.34


Day Five

6:30 – I love waking up on Fridays. The thought of not waking up early or going to class for the next two days excite me much. As usual, breakfast at home and I decide to take bus to office as I wake up a little early. I need to take two buses to get to my office and early buses are a lot less packed than rush hour ones. $0.27

12:00 – Our office has a tradition of having communal lunch on Fridays. The office cleaner is also a great chef. She cooks for us once a week. We all chip in for the meal. $1

17:30 – Head to last day of class for the week. Manage to get a quick bite at canteen. $0.67

19:30 – My friends pick me up at school to go out for a dinner and some drinks. Every once in a while, we decide to go to one of those fancy and overpriced bars just to spoil ourselves. $10

22:00 – Free ride back home. $0

Daily total: $11.94


Day Six

8:30 – Weekends are to sleep in. So I wake up a little later than usual and help my mother cook for lunch and clean up the house. Also continue reading Educated after lunch. 

15:30 – take a cab to go to Yangon Zoo as I have planned to meet my friends at Elephant museum, recently opened in the zoo. $2

16:00 – Entrance fees is $1 

17:30 – Take a cab to Kyimyindaing Night Market to thrift clothes. After learning how fast fashion is affecting the environment, I find no shame in wearing used clothes and start thrifting. As the fashion repeats, some vintage finds are even trendy now, like checkered blazers. My budget today is only $5 and I get a couple of interesting pieces. Cab fare is $2.3

19:00 – I buy some vegetables and fruits for mom at the market. $5

19:30 – After doing some shopping, I don’t feel like taking taxi so I ride two buses to get home. $0.27 

19:45 – Get back home and have dinner. $0

Daily total: $15.57


Day Seven

9:00 – Sundays are a day to stay in and recharge for a new week. I wake up late, have quick chat with parents at home for the morning.

10:30 – Do some laundry.

12:00 – Lunch together with the family is a tradition every Sunday. 

13:00 – Ironing clothes and watching Netflix. Multitasking, ha! I’ve been watching Drop Dead Diva which I find very educational as the show is based on a law firm. 

17:00 – Mother and I walk to a bakery near our house to buy some bread for breakfast. We spend around $6 but mom pays for it. 

18:30 – After helping prepare dinner, we have dinner and some fruits.

20:00 – Watch news together with father and talk about school and work stuffs.

21:30 – Decide to stay in bed and continue reading Educated.

Daily Total: $0


WEEKLY TOTAL SPENT: $60.21

A week of a normal Myanmar girl is not very fancy and eventful like the one in Refinery29. There are many locals who are more outgoing and spend more money than this girl, and there are many more who cannot afford taxi fares in their daily life. Regardless, we hope this story gives the idea of how much an ordinary Myanmar girl earns and how she chooses to spend her money. We hope readers get the realistic concept on Myanmar lifestyle and how we live in Yangon. 

2 thoughts on “A Week of Non-Expat Living in Yangon

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