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


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.


Steve

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Xi’an, China. Feb 2017.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked there for eight years from March 2009 to February 2017.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I was happily teaching four classes (20 hours a week) of A-level maths and physics at an international school for 53,000 baht a month. When they tagged on an extra IGCSE physics class (pushing the total of contact hours up to 25) I managed two weeks before walking.

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

1) Salary. 110k/month.
2) Accommodation. I get a luxurious, fully-furnished, two-bedroom apartment for free. This would cost about 20k/month in Bangers. It’s also walking distance to school. So no tuktuks, scooters or MRT commutes.
3) Annual return flights to the UK. All paid for by the employer.
4) Workload. I now teach 16 x 45-minute periods across two classes. It’s a foundation maths program for Australian/American universities. Basically, half the work for double the money.
5) Weather. Can’t believe I’m saying this because this was my biggest fear after 8 years in the tropics, however, I love walking miles around this city … without sweating.
6) Public Transport. Air-conditioned buses are clean, frequent and cheap (5 baht regardless of distance). A brand spanking new subway conveys you across the city for 9 baht. I forgot what decent public transport was like.
7) 630ml beer (similar to a big Leo) is 9 baht in the supermarket. Yes … you read that right…. NINE baht.
8) The treatment and support I have experienced have been incredible compared to Thailand. I was even met at the airport!

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

1) Bumguns. Thailand has this sooo right.
2) The lingo. I could read/write/speak Thai proficiently.
3) Motorbiking around the provinces.
4) The wonderfully warm Thai folk (away from the tourist traps). I think I miss them the most.

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

Thailand. It's an exotic paradise in the tropics. What’s not to like? It gave me everything during my time there. But if it’s about money, then come to China.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Probably. Although I have Mongolia, the Stans or Central America in my sights now. Got to keep this teaching adventure rolling. If I do return to teach it will be in a quiet Isaan town, far away from any tourist ghettos. Back to the 30k/month slog but I'll have a big wedge in the bank after working here so mai pben rai.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

I find the negative comments about Thailand on here disappointing. I loved my time there. I worked in both government schools (28k/month – lol) and international schools in Trang, Phuket, Pattaya, Bangkok and Chiang Mai. T'was an awesome ride.


Allen

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Moved home to Naperville...a suburb of Chicago, IL in October, 2016.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

8 years total. My original plan was for around 2 years!

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Salary. There are lots of reasons, and as much as I have to listen to people proclaim "it's not about the money" the truth is that its always about the money. I want to work hard and be compensated fairly. That doesn't happen in Thailand. I don't want to live paycheck-to-paycheck, and even the teachers that save 5-10k baht a month (I saved around 8k a month on average)...that's not much in the grand scheme of things.

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

Too many to name. Thailand is great. Honestly, it's just one big, long extended holiday. Great for visiting, but so many pitfalls if you want to try and live/work here. I am just frustrated and disappointed in myself that I stayed probably around 5 years too long. I didn't realize how big of a mistake it was, and how disconnected from reality I was until I returned to the USA.

It's a shame so many foreigners speak badly about their home countries....I never fell into this camp, but was always taken aback at the anger and frustration people talked about. Mostly, it was about being a "corporate slave" and never having any holiday time. The reality is that I work less hours for more money, and have more holiday time (4 weeks total + holidays all paid) that I never had in Thailand. Also, salary is more than triple what I was making before. My conclusion is that a lot of teachers working in Thailand have rejection or social issues back home. They know that Thailand won't judge them.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Exploring. Checking out cool hikes and trails in the North, and eating seafood in the South.

Meeting new, interesting people that were not constantly blowing their paychecks at lame nightclubs, girls, and alcohol. I worked with several teachers that would consistently stop at 7-11 near the office after work and grab a few big Leos to bring home on a regular basis....in the early afternoon!

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

Tough question. If you are young (under 30 for sure, preferably under 25) and feel that you can commit yourself to 1-2 years max, then go for it. If you have a support system, and job security back home at the end of your little adventure, then why not? I had a lot of good experiences in Thailand. It just takes courage and commitment to return home, and have a realistic plan.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Not really. The world is too big to be so fixated on one country. Also, the rising costs are getting out of control. I can find good food, nice beaches, and friendly people anywhere.

I noticed flights from Chicago to Bangkok are at an all-time low right now... around $460 r/t. That is tempting, but not tempting enough.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

It is hiring time (February) right now. I am sure there are a lot of first-timers and people considering making the move to become teachers. Perhaps they have heard all of the good, and just filtered out the bad. Confirmation bias. If you don't know what that means, look it up. Thailand can be a fun, rewarding experience. But it WILL be challenging, disappointing at times, and low-paying as well. I don't know if its true, but it sure feels like there are more bad, unqualified teachers than good. The turnover is high.

Take a step back and ask yourself, "why do I want to be a teacher in Thailand?" Hopefully you want to make a positive impact in student's lives. More likely though, it is because it is the only job that you know is easily available in Thailand, and you want to escape whatever social or personal problems you have at home. Make sure you come for the right reasons, because a lot of people don't.


Jamie

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to Scotland in November 2016.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Just shy of two and a half years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I wanted to get back into real teaching, having become tired of the lack of care and attention to students' education in Thailand. I learned the basics of teaching in the UK, and tried to apply what I knew in Thailand. With little support from my Thai colleagues and no coherent, realistic and progressive curriculum framework to work off, it was an uphill struggle teaching in Thai schools.

I'm working in pupil support in the meantime, and applied to universities to start my PGDE this upcoming August. I've been accepted to study at the University of Edinburgh to teach Secondary English, which I'm really looking forward to.

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

There is real career progression here, a progressive salary scale, pension plan, free healthcare, my family support network is close at hand, and I face challenges everyday with the freedom to teach how I want to, not how some jumped up little manager in an office wants me to teach.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Waking up at the crack of dawn and heading to the local shop for breakfast in my short and t-shirt on my motorbike. The daily sunshine, cheap living costs, warm weather year-round and the opportunities to head north or south by plane at weekends for a beach or mountain break.

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

If you want to unwind and get some experience working with young people for your career, it's easy to get a job in Thailand. I would not recommend staying for longer than two years or so, because you end up stuck in your ways trying to justify living a hand-to-mouth existence as "living in the moment." It's all well and good in your early 20s, but when you get to 30, you start thinking about your future. A job in the UK as a teacher would certainly provide the stability you need to plan for the future, so if you want a real career, train and work in the UK.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Yes, of course. My heart will always be in Thailand, that hasn't waned in the seven year I've been visiting on and off. I'm planning to purchase a holiday home there in the future.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

If you choose to work in Thailand, expect to feel frustrated with the pedagogy, staff professional relationships with you, and the constant multiple choice assessment that doesn't effectively assess knowledge and skills-building. Take it as a life lesson in how to be resourceful, flexible and innovative with the limited resources you have. Try not to become stuck in your way there, because it doesn't make sense to stay in the country for longer than necessary to the detriment of your career.

Page 1 of 41 (showing 5 Great Escapes out of 202 total)

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