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


Vicky

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I returned to my home town of Hastings in the UK in March 2020.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I was there for just under two years, working at a private school in Bangkok.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I just had the feeling that life was going nowhere and teaching was not really what I wanted to do. I mean, it was something I wanted to try while I was still in my twenties so I basically stuck a pin in a map of Asia and thought 'Bangkok, why not?. Perhaps things may have turned out differently had I gone for somewhere like Japan or China.

I had a real love / hate relationship with Bangkok. There would be days when I'd be on a boat going down the Chao Phrya River with the wind in my hair and thinking wow! this is such a great city, but this would be negated by standing at the side of a busy road in the rainy season, soaking wet, and trying to flag down a taxi. I think Bangkok is a wonderful place to spend part of your vacation but as for working there, I'm still not sure how I managed two years.

I never seemed to have any money either. I used to get paid 40,000 baht a month but could never budget properly and often ran out of cash before the month's end. I made a circle of girlfriends who all earned considerably more than I did and it was difficult to keep up with the Joneses. As for the dating scene, don't get me started. It felt hopeless for Western women.

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

Well, with the Covid situation, work hasn't been that easy to come by, especially in a sparrow fart town like Hastings, which relies heavily on seasonal tourism. I've done some office temping and bar work (I've even done some cycle courier work to stay fit) but it's all been zero hours contract stuff. I suppose like many other young people in the same situation, I'm waiting for the world to get back to some sort of normality.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Not much at all. It would be far easier to write a list of what I don't miss. The Thai people are nice I guess in a non-confrontational way but I generally found Thai friends very hard to make. There was just too much of a culture gap there. I guess I miss the warm weather but certainly not the rainy season!

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

I worked with teachers who had been there ten years or more and absolutely loved it. Thailand will either suit you or it won't. I noticed that the happiest foreigners I worked with were those who never let things get them down; the positive, go-with-the-flow folks. That's never been my personality and I probably let too many minor issues affect me.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

No. If I returned to that part of the world to look for teaching work (and that's very doubtful) I would probably try Japan, although I would do a lot more research before taking the plunge.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

I didn't find Bangkok that cheap at all. As I said earlier, a 40K salary wasn't really sufficient to last a month and I was only paying 10K of that for rent. I would say you need double that salary amount for a decent lifestyle, especially if you like your evenings out. I'm sure other parts of Thailand, in the smaller towns and cities, are much cheaper though and 40K would be plenty.


Marcello

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in August 2019

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I spent four years in Thailand in the Chonburi/Pattaya area from 2013 to 2017. After Thailand, I spent some time in Spain and Italy before a stint in my hometown of Manchester, England then I came here to Vietnam at the end of last summer.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

A multitude of reasons. Firstly was the poor salaries and shocking standard of the workplaces in Thailand. Secondly, the ever worsening visa requirements. It seems every day, the Thai government is looking for some hair-brained, tin pot way of keeping farangs out.

Thirdly, I was not a fan of the creepy nationalism and ever increasing xenophobia in Thailand. I couldn't be doing with living and working in a place I felt so unwelcome.

Finally, there was the lack of security. Passing the age of 30 made me realise I'm not getting any younger and I need to think about my future. As much as I loved Pattaya, breaking even every month with no savings or safety nets isn't really feasible in future.

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

The biggest one is money and work. I earn nearly double what I made in Thailand and work significantly less for it, leaving me more free time to enjoy my hobbies and work on other things. I feel more valued as a teacher here and it feels like I can grow in my profession, rather than being a dancing white clown with no career growth in Thailand.

Cost of living is lower in Vietnam too so I can save a good portion of my wages every month and still live a decent lifestyle.

The visa is far easier in Vietnam and with a 2 year TRC, you are able to travel in and out of the country without a re-entry stamp. No 90-day check-ins or any of that BS.

The people seem better too. While there's definitely uneducated yokels and hi-so snobs here too, I find it easier to meet locals here than Thailand where it's very much us vs them. In my 3 years in Thailand, I never made Thai friends and that wasn't without trying. Have an accident in Vietnam, people will stop and help you while Thais would just step over your dead body or get their camera phones out. I feel far more welcomed here. A Vietnamese stereotype of Thailand is a land of arrogant lying nationalists. I wonder why. Also, I've never encountered the 2-tier pricing and double standards here that pass off every day in Thailand unquestioned.

Many of the expats here also seem to be better. There seems to be more career teachers here than backpackers and miserable old drunks.

Vietnamese language is written in Latin script so it's easier to read things without learning weird alphabets. While English ability here is equally weak as there, shop assistants or restaurant servers will be more likely to attempt English than scowl at you.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Thailand is far more fun, at least as a single man. While Saigon has entertainment districts, the nightlife is far more provincial than Pattaya and it doesn't even compare with Bangkok. Bui Vien is inferior to its Walking St and Khao San Road equivalents, Places tend to close earlier and the nightlife scene is much more tame.

Many 'Thailand heads' will complain that Vietnam is boring. While it's not Saudi Arabia, it isn't Pattaya either and I can see where they're coming from.

Following on from that, I miss the women in Thailand. As a single guy, Thailand is the easiest and possibly the best place in the world to meet women, either online, in the street or even mongering.

While Vietnamese girls are equally or even more beautiful than Thais, it's a far more conservative country. Women are harder to meet, harder to date and far more flakey, unreliable or likely to bring a chaperone/need to be home by 9pm. No sex before marriage, while practically unheard of in Thailand outside the smallest villages is quite a common thing with Viets. There's also less of an interest or general awareness in dating farangs and most women here would rather marry a Vietnamese guy when they're 21 and settle down for the family life. Plus the P4P scene, while present, is far inferior to Thailand. Something to keep in mind for single men out there.

The food scene overall is inferior to Thailand's. Thai food is better than Vietnamese food, plus Thailand has more international fare, especially in Pattaya or Bangkok. While Saigon has plenty of international food too, it just doesn't cut it compared to Thailand. Outside Saigon and Hanoi, it can definitely be a difficult place for picky eaters like me.

Apartments are also worse here. The modern style condominiums with pools/gyms/shops on site and gated communities of western style houses that are abundant in Thailand are uncommon here and cost more than the Thai equivalent. Most Vietnamese are happy living in their concrete box apartments with bars on the windows and noisy neighbours. Accommodation is definitely not the best point here.

The Vietnamese language is harder. While Thai has weird scripts, it's a lot easier to understand speaking and listening in Thai. Vietnamese sounds alien. And as a country less geared towards foreigners, there's less written in English too.

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

Definitely go for it, Thailand is an amazing place and a real experience. But do it young, try to save some money and have an escape plan for when it passes it's expiry date. It's easy to get stuck in the comfy life in Thailand and wonder where the time went while you're still no richer or higher up the career ladder.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Definitely. I really miss it. As soon as Covid passes and international borders open again, I want to take a trip back to Koh Samet and the beloved bars of Walking Street again.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

While Thailand is great, it isn't the be all and end all. There are plenty of good moneymaking alternatives without even needing to go to freezing cold Korea or the boring Middle East to get a few dollars.

Vietnam still has the same laid back vibe of Thailand, the same tropical climate and similar lifestyle but without the BS and with better pay. Come and give it a try (after Covid). You might love it too!


Mo

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I'm not sure if this qualifies as a 'great escape' since I am still in Thailand, but I definitely escaped the Thai education system so I think that counts.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Two and a half years as a foreign teacher. That included one year at a public school in Lampang and one and a half years at a private school in Rayong.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I spent those two and a half years living a somewhat double life: by day a foreign teacher, and by night doing freelance projects. I eventually got to the point where I could no longer juggle both, and I am now self-employed and only doing the online gigs.

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

I earn about three times my teaching salary, but only working ten hours per week on average. So having my own income for a fraction of the time commitment is a massive advantage. I now have more free time to pursue other interests, which I never seemed to have while I was a teacher.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss my students. That's about it. I definitely won't miss the politics, Thai staff, long office hours, and mountain of paperwork.

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

Yes, as a sandbox to gain valuable teaching experience. Expectations are pretty low so it's ideal for graduates or gap year students.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Obviously this is not applicable to me because I'm still here.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Almost every teaching job in Thailand comes with long office hours, but also plenty of dead hours too. Use that time wisely. Look for side gigs or any other potential online income and use the time to build your own reputation and client base. Having an independent income is worth it.


Yeshey

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to Bhutan on 30th of September 2020 after I completed my 10-month contract with a school in Chantaburi.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked in Thailand for just the length of that 10-month contract.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

The number one reason was not being able to get a visa extension. My school couldn't come up with the necessary documentation which would have allowed me to apply for a visa extension and stay on.

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

It is difficult to get job in Bhutan. We have to go through government examinations like the preliminary examination and the main examination. Without passing these exams, we can't get a proper job. The job sector is very competitive.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss everything about Thailand. I miss my students especially and some good Thai people who treated me as one of their own. I miss the simple lifestyle over there.

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

Definitely, YES!!

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Yes, I am always planning to return to Thailand. But sadly, my application gets rejected because I am not a native English speaker. I am always praying to get an opportunity to come back to Thailand and teach.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Teaching in Thailand really gave me a purpose in life. Thai students gave me a reason to come back to Thailand and teach. Without their presence in my life, I would have definitely committed suicide. They have given me the reason to live. I want to come back to Thailand and teach and help Thai students to improve their English proficiency level.

I wish Thailand did not discriminate between native and non-native English speakers. I hope Thailand gives equal opportunity of employment to both in the future because non-native English speakers can be equally fluent in English.


Thesetat

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to China in 2015.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

About 7 years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

The Ministry of Education here refused to grant any more teaching licenses to me because the university where I studied at become unable to hold on to its accredited status and was taken off the list of accredited schools.

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

Working in China pays three times more than Thailand for foreign teachers. The Chinese students treat the foreigner teachers with respect and do their work as assigned. The Chinese staff also work together with the foreigner to create a unified teaching environment. Discipline and laziness are not issues either.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss the food and my family.

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

I would advise them to seek work in China. Although the documentation and certification takes time, you need many stamps and seals and your education and criminal background are checked thoroughly. it is worth the time and effort when you finally get to China and begin working.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I used to return to Thailand every month. Being only 4 hours flying time, it was cheap and easy to do before Covid. Now with Covid it is impossible.

Even if I returned to Thailand one day, I would still be unable to teach, and teaching is what I love to do.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Thailand is a nice place. The schools and education system though don't care or want foreigners to teach there. Foreigners are considered to be more of a selling point to Thai families with children and the foreigner is easily disposed of if the children complain about them. This happens often, especially if you are a real teacher trying to get your students to do their work and pay attention to your lessons.


Showing 5 Great Escapes out of 270 total

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