Are you a teacher who once taught in Thailand but decided to seek out pastures new? Has the grass been greener on the other side? Maybe you swapped Thailand for the financial lure of Japan or Korea? Read about those who have left Thailand, and their reasons for moving...

Submit your own Great Escape


Daniel

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I returned to Texas, in the U.S.A.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I was there for 5+ years at AUA.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

My mother was getting on in years. I was also worried about continuing to build a pension.

Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?

Currently I've been looking for work in the IT field but have found it difficult to get in to. I'm still looking.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

The simpler lifestyle. The lack of stress.

Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?

Yes. It's an experience worth anyone's time.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

If I can't find work in the next month or two, then yes.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

If you're abroad and thinking of returning home, think on it a bit more. The grass isn't always greener on the other side. Plus there is such a thing as reverse culture shock. Even now I'm trying to figure out why we live the way we do in The USA. The high cost of living, high insurance premiums, the need to drive a car, and worst of all the high price of Thai food.


Isaac

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back home to Seattle, Washington in January 2017

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

About a year and a half in two different secondary schools.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Two reasons. Firstly, as the months passed, I realized from everyone back home all the weddings, funerals, parties and graduations I had missed in just under two years. I wasn't homesick in any way because I did like the life I was living in Thailand but I felt like I was missing out on moments that I will never get back.

Secondly, I thought about the future. I'm still in my twenties but I'm not saving anything worth bragging about. I don't get a pension and I can't own land? No sir.

Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?

Its very different. I only see two advantages. First being I'm contributing to my pension and social security again. That was one of my main concerns upon leaving. Secondly, I'm working in the field I studied in to begin with.

Other than that the work is harder and the expenses in The U.S are much higher.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss the weather and just the simple life in general. I miss the currency. It was weird using US dollars again. I also miss the hospitality. You're not 'special' once you return home if you know what I mean.

Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?

It would depend on the situation. We don't all live the same life.

If you're a qualified teacher sure, but if you're a potential ESL teacher like I was, then know when to stop.

Set other goals for yourself and don't get stuck. I met many older English and Americans, particularly in Northern Thailand, living from paycheck to paycheck, some with marital problems with their Thai spouses, others fighting with the mother of their children on who gets what. Seriously, who would want that?

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Yes, I've always said the next time I return to Thailand it'll be as a tourist. There are still many places I haven't been to and I wouldn't have been able to go to to begin with given the salary I was getting.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

I enjoyed my time in both Esaan and Bangkok while I was there. I accept the experience for what it was but it's not a place I would ever stay long term. Some find their niche and make it work while others just get stuck in a rut.

There's lots to do in Thailand but work-wise there are better options elsewhere and you gotta know when to tell yourself it's time.


Trevor

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to Macclesfield, England in April 2017.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I was there for about a year, working at a large secondary school in Khorat.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

My parents are getting on in years and both beginning to suffer from serious ill health. I felt more than a little guilty that the responsibility of looking after them was falling on my sister's shoulders. She already has a full-time job to hold down and three kids to take care of. Me lazing around on a beach and living the life of Riley in Thailand just didn't seem fair with my sister having so much on her plate so I made the decision to return home.

Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?

Well, I haven't actively looked around for any work yet. I'm kind of taking things day by day and seeing how things unfold. I'm living rent-free with my parents at the moment and my needs are few. I can't carry on like this indefinitely though.

In my early twenties, I used to do evening and weekend bar work. I wonder if history might repeat itself?

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Is there anything I don't miss? I dream about Thailand and being back there every night.

I was very lucky to work for a great school and they really looked after me. There were only three foreign teachers including me. The students were great and I didn't do all that many classroom hours to make a 32,000 baht salary (which was enough to live on in Khorat)

Life outside Bangkok is not for everyone but I really enjoyed it. After several months, a foreign teacher in a rural town becomes something of a celebrity. I enjoyed that aspect of things if truth be told. I met some great Thai people during my time there and I can't bear the thought of never seeing them again. We will meet again one day!

I loved the simplicity of life in Thailand. OK, the visa and red tape stuff can be a pain, but it's like all you have to worry about most of the time is having a roof over your head and food in your belly. I've been back in the UK only a matter of weeks but life seems so much more complicated - and far less fun. I realise that my current situation is contributing to that though.

Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?

Oh absolutely! Don't hesitate. Go with a positive mindset, don't let the small stuff irritate you, and you'll have a blast.

Had my parents not fallen ill, I could have seen myself staying for three or four years at least. I feel like I only scratched the surface and Thailand has now become 'unfinished business' to me.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I would go back tomorrow.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

As much as I loved Thailand as a place to live and teach, I wouldn't consider it a long-term gig. I met with several teachers from other schools who had been there for between five and ten years and I got the impression most if not all of them felt 'trapped'. They had burned their bridges back home wherever they came from and it was almost like they had no option to return. I wouldn't want to ever be in that situation. That said, I think if you go with the intention of making Thailand your home for one or two years, you won't go far wrong.


Jim

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

At the end of my contract last year (2016), I moved to Dubai, UAE.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

From 2013 to 2016.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

There's this myth about Bangkok that it's a crazy party city. It's not true. It's a big city. It's a crowded city. It's a polluted city. But I never found it to be exciting. Rather, I felt that it was boring and that I had no energy.

When it's not hot and humid, it's rainy and humid and this ends up draining you.

Thai people are passive-aggressive. Not all, but those who work in education & immigration sure are.

I was jealous at a lot of people but I always had a fair-play attitude towards the whole thing and thought how I needed to improve myself, and not tear my (Thai or foreign) colleague down. Just saying.

It was time for me to face bigger challenges knowing that I'll have a chance of accomplishing something -- whereas in Thailand, we are all very limited in terms of progress. I'd even say that we have zero chance of accomplishing something new.

Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?

This is a tough question. Weather is hellish, but I find I can save much more than when I was in Thailand.

The expat community here is much more varied and there are people from all over the world.

I can save more money and earn more money. My life in Dubai is by no means perfect but at least I feel my life is going somewhere compared to all those days and nights in Thailand where every day was the same, I'd suffer working with rotten Thai staff and foreign teachers, and barely got paid.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Thai people are a little uptight. At the same time, there's this respectful distance that allows for both people to "save face". Live and let live attitude. You do what you want with your life, and I'll do the same. Tolerance. It's nice when people are gentle and patient. In Thailand, I learned that happiness comes within. This sounds cheesy, but Thailand will always have a special place in my heart because of memories I made there, and friends and just moments where I had a peace of mind.

Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?

No, not in Thailand. When a newbie is looking to start teaching, it's only right that they start with something where they feel accomplished and not disappointed at every turn. If you start teaching in Thailand, you'll get disappointed a lot, and that will lead to depression. I wouldn't want another human being to get depressed because people and culture around him (or her) are "can't do".

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I'm in Thailand visiting my girlfriend so I don't see why not.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

My biggest disappointment was the expat community in Bangkok. At one point, I accepted that Thai people working in education and immigration are jaded and that they will make your life miserable because they are miserable but I was hoping that expats would be nicer. Nothing could be further from the truth.

So I'd like to add: How about we stop making lives miserable for each other? If you see a fellow teacher struggling but you can't or don't want to help, how about you say nothing at all?

Finding flaws in other people makes us feel better with our lives better because that means we did something right with our life (compared to the other guy)

Men have it so hard in Thailand. Guys in general have so much pressure because we're not allowed to vent or have a hard time, and we're supposed to be a good provider, rich, strong, invulnerable and never ask for any help. That's not right.

Men, if you can't say something nice about your fellow teacher, don't spread gossip, play office politics and try to take down your fellow expat who's probably suffering just like you did at some point. Nothing to be jealous of. Nobody's driving a Porsche here. Show some humanity.

This disappointed me much more than Thai people ever did. How about we give each other a break? We're all ashamed. We all messed up at some point in our lives. We don't have to judge each other and be jerks to each other.


Aaron

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to the United States after completion of my contract in April, 2016. After such, I started teaching in a public school in sunny Florida in August, 2016.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked there twice. Once for a one-year stint in 2010 - 2011, and more recently from 2013 - 2016.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I had been working at furthering my qualifications, and I was somewhat worried about the limitations of what I would be able to do in Thailand with such. As part of this, I had attained my teaching license and wanted to get some home experience, both for my CV as well as to see what it really was like (both the good and bad!).

Also, as someone in his thirties, pension, healthcare, and buying a home are all things that have been on my mind for some time. Prices of quality housing for foreigners was especially a concern for me in Thailand, as we only have an option to purchase condos at exorbitant prices.

Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?

To be honest this is a rather difficult section to write. I will say that I am loving owning a car and rolling around town. Also, the weather out here feels very much like Thailand so I'm not losing much there. While the savings per month isn't as good, I am happy to contribute to my social security (assuming it survives to my retirement) and pension funds.

In regards to my school setting, working in a public school in America is a much more formal affair in many ways than what I experienced in Thailand. It's also amazing that in my current position (teaching migrant students) I can practice Spanish and I feel encouraged in my progress in this. Finally, while we don't have union protections I do feel a bit more secure in contracts and continued employment than I did in Thailand. (This isn't a criticism of my last school in Thailand, as I felt they took very good care of teachers there).

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

To be honest very much, and there were many times throughout this school year I thought of returning.

As a guy, c'mon let's be honest it's always nice to see the lovely ladies in Thailand. They have a beauty and a charm to them but I think we all know that.

The laid-back lifestyle was nice in Thailand, and while Bangkok could be hectic, dirty, and smelly at times the city has a charm to it. Also, I felt less stressed both in my life and work there. I also have to admit that I do miss my colleagues there, as they were professional and fun folks. Also my school in Bangkok did well for its teachers while I was there.

Eating out was something I became very accustomed to while working abroad, and Thailand had plenty of variety in the department. One could get fed well on a budget in Bangkok, or if one wanted to splurge for farang food. Either way, there was always something great to eat which kept this fat boy happy.

Also, nights out with the lads was always fun and it simply isn't the same here. More often people socialize at home it feels and while that's fine it's not the same atmosphere as found there.

Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?

Well, I'm of two thoughts on this.

For an ESL teacher? Absolutely it's worthwhile to do! It's a fun place, you'll meet interesting people, and regardless of what others say (and I certainly didn't mean imply such) there are good teaching opportunities in Thailand.

Oh, and for folks who are working there without pursuing qualifications. If you're a young fella go on and sort those out. I'm of the opinion having a variety of great options is never bad and getting those will help.

I think for licensed teachers it's much more difficult to start abroad and then come home to teach (as I did). One constantly finds themselves thinking about what they're leaving behind, and to be quite frank I felt that teaching in Thailand was for the most part easier than what we do here. It's much easier to get toughened up by the teaching environment in the states and then go to Thailand. Also, having experience and success here is nigh on a necessity for moving into international school positions.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

For vacations I could absolutely see (and plan) on returning for. It's a great place and I do miss many of the people I know there, such as teaching colleagues and personal acquaintances.

For a job? I could see it happening once I've gotten some more experience here. Of course I may end up sinking my roots in too deep at my age in the states, but if a tasty position is available in an international school or high paying private school in Thailand, I could see teaching there once more.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

For me, the decision to move on was difficult and I can't honestly say I am better or worse off for it. While I am building a pension and having career enhancing opportunities here, I feel that quality of life in Thailand was better in many ways.

My thinking was (and continues to be) that there will always be good teaching jobs in Thailand and other countries so don't be too fussed about moving on, as many people told me "Thailand will always be there".

Also thanks to ajarn.com, as it has always been a great site and even being here I still like to keep up with the teaching situation in Thailand.

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