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


Ricky

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to Seoul in South Korea in March 2019. A teaching colleague had moved over there a year earlier to teach at a public school and we had kept in touch. He seemed to be enjoying life immensely and I needed to earn a better salary than I was getting in Thailand so I thought why not give it a go?

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked in Bangkok for almost four years at two different government schools (two years at each)

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

The significant pay increase was too good to turn down. The school offered me some decent benefits as well.

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

I just feel a bit more valued as a teacher and the school has really looked after me since the day I arrived. They organised my work visa in no time at all. They paid for my flight over from Thailand. They organised a very nice studio apartment just a few minutes walk away. I get a decent health insurance package and the option to pay into a pension scheme. I get a decent allowance for sick days and holidays and teachers also get free meals at the school (and they are good quality too!)

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

It can sometimes perhaps be misconstrued as laziness but I miss the laid-back attitude of the Thais and their love of fun. Things are a lot more serious here and to be honest, it took a bit of getting used to after four years in Thailand.

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

I think it's a great country to start out as a teacher because there's no real pressure on you. You don't have to be an amazing teacher to progress. As long as you turn up on time and don't rub Thai staff up the wrong way, you'll do fine. Look on it as a TEFL stepping stone. You can gain good classroom experience there and perhaps move on to somewhere else and a better-paying job when you feel more confident. Thailand can be a hard act to follow though.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I'm not sure at this stage. I'll certainly come back for a holiday some time in 2020. I'd love to do some travelling around the north on a motorcycle. It was always an ambition of mine but I somehow never found the time when I was working there and constantly had a full teaching schedule.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

If you are willing to put in the effort in Thailand, then you will be rewarded. Go out of your way and be nice to people (and I'm talking mainly about the Thai staff and your Thai colleagues) then they will turn out to be some of the most kind and helpful people on earth.


Niall

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

We are a boyfriend and girlfriend couple from Ireland and we moved to Japan several months ago to work for a large English language school in Tokyo.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

We worked in Thailand for just over two years, firstly at a large government school in the north (that was for about 18 months) and then we both found jobs at a corporate training company in Bangkok, but by then we had pretty much decided we were going to move on sooner rather than later.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

It was all about the money - and probably a change of scenery as well. Coming from Ireland, we longed to experience the changing of the seasons or at least something that resembled it.
In terms of earning potential, we were both earning around 45,000 at the government school so a combined 90,000 a month allowed us to live a decent lifestyle in the north. When we moved to Bangkok, we made a good hourly rate with the corporate training but there just wasn't enough of it. It was feat or famine! You didn't know from one month to the next how much you would be making and it became irritating rather than stressful.

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

We love how organised Tokyo is compared to Bangkok. Everything runs to a schedule and runs on time. I know a lot of teachers prefer the organised chaos of Thailand and we did at first, but it began to wear off after a couple of years. We are also earning three times what we were making in Thailand and let's not forget that's the main reason we're here. Yes, the cost of living is more expensive but we are still left with more disposable income at the end of each month - and our monthly salary is at least guaranteed.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I would say the people. The Thais are a lot easier to make friends with and to get to know. They can be extremely helpful whenever you have a a problem. We also miss those wonderful cheap massages, cheap haircuts and buying fruit at a local market. Our apartment building in Bangkok was great too and how we would love a swimming pool and gym here in Tokyo but alas they are too expensive for our pockets.

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

I think if we had our time again, we would have come to Japan first, made some money and then moved on to Thailand to enjoy a more laid-back, albeit less well-paid lifestyle. I think Thailand and Japan both have their pros and cons but we probably haven't been in Tokyo long enough to make a full comparison.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

We haven't really decided. Much depends on how well things go here. We keep an eye on how things are panning out in Thailand and at the moment it doesn't seem like the country is becoming more attractive as a TEFL destination. But of course there are plenty of other options in SE Asia if we decide that Japan isn't for the long-term.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

My partner speaks very decent conversational Japanese and this has helped us gain a lot more respect. I'm not sure learning Japanese is essential but it has certainly opened a few doors for us.


Murrzinho

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved from Bangkok to Shanghai this Summer, 2019.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

8 years

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I don't want to sound too negative but Bangkok has lost a lot of its charm and the standard of living in Thailand has seriously regressed in the last 4 or 5 years. I do realise that all cities change and nothing remains the same but the indie music scene is as dead as a dodo, street food has been eradicated, curfews have been imposed and many close friends have moved on. To add to this, the cost of living has gone up exponentially, visa regulations are becoming more time-consuming and infuriating and most schools treat their employees like dirt.

In a nutshell, i was just getting sick and tired of these things. I think many people are so I started to look at other options. I was then offered a great job in Shanghai on far more money with housing, etc in the middle of the city and it was too good to turn down. A no-brainer at this stage in my career.

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

The salary is much better, the students are more keen to learn, there is less bullshit from the middle management and things get done efficiently, effectively and on time. People tend to lie less here also.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss so much about Thailand. The people of Thailand are more generous and friendly than here and the cost of living in Bangkok is still considerably cheaper than in Shanghai. The weather and the food are much better in Thailand also and there is a more fun and relaxed atmosphere in daily life. Being close to the beach is great too. I really miss that.

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

It really depends on what stage of their career they are at. If you are looking for fun and are not too concerned about saving money or working with serious people, then by all means go to Bangkok and enjoy yourself. I think Thailand is a good place to retire once you have made money; just don't go there expecting to take over the world. On the other hand, if you are looking to take the next step in your professional and personal development, earn and save more money in a more global environment, then Shanghai is a tremendous place to do that.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I'm returning for a holiday this week and to pick up my guitars and the rest of my belongings.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Bangkok I love you, but you are bringing me down.


Brian H

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Moved back to Phoenix, Arizona in March of 2018.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Worked in Bangkok for one year at a private school near Rama 2 teaching two classes of each grade, grades 2nd-6th. Worked doing English camps and commercial extra gigs for about 6 months, also in Bangkok. Lastly, a little more than one year teaching business English to hotels on Koh Samui island. I was in Thailand for 2 years and 6 months altogether.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

While living in Koh Samui, I met a girl, we got married and had a baby boy. Together we decided we would like to raise our child in USA.

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

I make a lot more money, and it's not very expensive here. We have a very nice home in Arizona, the weather in AZ, other than the summer time is better than Thailand. My job here is much easier also than teaching children, however I do miss teaching at hotels because it was fun. In AZ I audit insurance companies, and reviewing files is not fun, but easier than delivering a good class to young students. At times I felt like a clown in Thailand when teaching, as English was just for fun at my Bangkok school, and I was cool with that but on days when I was hungover, it got old.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss the food and the daily fruit shakes. Thailand parties are great and just making adventures out of everything. I never stayed home while I was there, I always had a ghetto apartment in Bangkok within walking distance to Siam Square. I was all about going out and hanging around with people. I made many friends from Bangkok International college on Ekamai and between the 10-20 people I knew from there, I was always able to go out and socialize.

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

For sure if you like having fun. If you think you are going there to mold the minds of your students, you will need to be lucky with the school you land or program they have going. A lot of schools are not serious about English and for me I could appreciate it, but at times got frustrated. For sure there are plenty of good jobs out there though where the experience would be very different. Mine was an expensive private school and fun came first there. Teaching in Thailand is the best because you can land a job very easily if you have a bachelor degree, and you can travel all around using Bangkok as your hub, with cheap flights to many countries.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Yes, I still go every year in the summer when it's hot here in AZ. We typically visit Nakhon Si Thammarat (wife's hometown) and Koh Samui (our old haunt). So yes I plan to do that forever.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Thailand is the best. I really love that country. I look forward to my retirement and spending six months in USA and six months in Thailand. I will rent a place there and that should give me the freedom to travel around Thailand and SE Asia.


Caitlin

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I took a pay cut and joined the US Peace Corps in 2016. I served in Malawi and just finished three years of service where I taught two years in a village school and one year training teachers in a refugee camp. I've accepted a fellowship run by the US State department and will be moving to Burkina Faso in September to teach at a university for 10 months.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

My first job was fresh out of university in 2007 and I worked one term and left. I came back in 2012, worked at a secondary school in Mukdahan for three years and a university in Bangkok for one.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

It was a culmination of reasons. I was just finishing up my Masters and wanted a new challenge. I was tired of Bangkok and felt that the jobs in Thailand didn't have much career progression, plus having a Master's degree didn't seem to make much of a difference. I applied to Peace Corps on a whim, got in so decided to try it.

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

The students in Malawi were some of the most motivated students I have ever taught. Life is definitely easier in Thailand but I enjoyed working with my students. Also even though Peace Corps is volunteer work and you definitely don't get as much of a monthly allowance, the readjustment allowance I received after three years is more than I was able to save in Thailand after 4 years.

It has also opened up a network of career opportunities. I found out about my fellowship through the returned peace corps network and I feel like I am more aware of different opportunities and directions I can take my career into. It has also been a great professional development opportunity. I'm definitely a more confident teacher after my service.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

The food! Malawian food is bland, their main seasoning is salt. So I definitely missed flavorful food and fruits.
My friends.
Riding my motorcycle around is also something I missed as I didn't have much freedom of movement as a volunteer.

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

I think Thailand is a great place for a new teacher IF they don't have debt they need to pay and are just looking for a new experience. It's a good place to get a start teaching, get some experience under your belt then move on to greener pastures. But if you have to pay off loans or are intimidated by looking for a job on the ground (and figuring out visa stuff on your own) then China and S. Korea are probably better places for that.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Well, I'm here on vacation now so yes, I love Thailand and I've been coming here since I was a teenager. However, to live and work again, the job would have to be worth it. I'd prefer to live outside Bangkok but jobs that pay are in the city. I don't expect too much as a teacher but to be able to save a little something for the future would be nice.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

I've taught in five countries now in different capacities. I think no matter where you decide to teach you should go in with little to no expectations.

Definitely remember that being able to go abroad and teach is a privilege we have as native speakers and just being aware of that while searching, interviewing and working for different employers is something I think a lot people overlook in the moment. Appreciate it!


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