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


Samui Sean

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Saudi Arabia, via a summer in Vietnam. Arrived here late August.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

About 3 and a half years. I spent the last 2 years of my time on Koh Samui. Before that, I was in Chanthaburi and Isaan.

During those years I worked at public schools, international schools, language centers, 5-star hotels and ended my time in Samui by working at a college.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I needed to advance my career, teach at a higher level and earn more money. Most ESL teaching jobs in Thailand are in the 30K to 50K range and that's fine to live comfortably and maybe save a bit for holidays within the country or an annual flight home, but not to save big ticket items like further education, a deposit on a home or retirement.

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

The salary, free housing on a teacher's compound, not having to pay utility bills, being able to travel to new destinations in the Middle East, Europe, Africa and the Indian sub-continent, and being able to save about 2/3 to 3/4 of my paycheck.

Also, I'm fortunate enough to have found a company where everything is well established and organized meaning very little admin outside of teaching and testing days.

It is also nice that there are real opportunities to advance to higher responsibility positions, something that was not an option at a number of the places I taught at in Thailand.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

The food, the people, the weather, the beaches and the ability to just get on a bike and drive anywhere. I miss living in Koh Samui the most because island life suits me. There's nothing like laying in a hammock at a small beach bar, chatting with a friend, watching the sunset and sipping on an ice cold beer.

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

For sure! Just do a year or 2 to get a feel for teaching. If you think it is something you'd like to pursue for the medium to longer term, get a CELTA then head out to somewhere like Vietnam, Korea or Japan. Schools in those countries value teachers a lot more than in Thailand and the potential for saving is much higher.

While the minimum amount of experience needed for most ESL jobs in Saudi seems to be about 2 years, I would say only come here if you are mentally prepared to give up more than the obvious (alcohol and pork). It takes someone with a lot of patience and an open mind to come here and be successful.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Coming back to Thailand in January! Looking forward to it! Other than that, I would only consider coming back to Thailand to work if I was a certified teacher at an international school.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Enjoy Thailand for what it is, a great holiday destination, somewhere to get into teaching ESL and a base to develop personally and think about what you want to get out of your time.


Antony

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to New Zealand in April 2019.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Three years. one year at a parking lot university and two years at a high school in Nakhon Pathom, it was a great experience and I met some cool and weird people. At the high school, EVERYONE in the department was gay or transgender LOL, except for me. So that was entertaining.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Where do I start? In Nakhon Pathom there was pollution, the inability to travel independently, the heat, the smell, garbage, loud sounds/speakers everywhere, congestion, the dogs breeding on the street. You can't do anything outdoors. Honestly, Thailand is VERY overrated. Oh and I needed to start living a healthy life again. Can't do that in Thailand really and I have a family now so we are much happier in New Zealand.

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

Actually, I prefer teaching in Thailand than in NZ. I'll be going into aircraft engineering shortly so I'm changing careers. At least in Thailand I could just joke with my students in class the whole time and get away with it, because seriously, who actually takes teaching in Thailand seriously (or teaching for that matter). It's a joke but I went along with it successfully.
But in NZ its even more of a joke because the students here pay a shitload of money to study and really it's just a big business scam. They pay to sit in a class and the teacher teaches them English - same s**t, different location. I feel sorry for them to be honest. They don't need any teacher to teach them English. They can learn everything by themselves.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Most of all, the non-PC culture was so refreshing. You can say anything and no one takes your words literally, they know that you are joking and then they laugh. It was great.

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

Yeah sure, just do it for a couple or a few years. What annoys me about this 'great escape' section is that the Westerners in particular who spent 5, 7, or over 10 years teaching with no purpose finally say 'Man, I wish I had left for China/Vietnam several years ago because I take my career seriously and deserve a better salary.' Really huh? It took you over half a decade to figure out that your 'teaching career' in Thailand is a joke?? Frauds, These people need an IQ test.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Yes, of course. but just for a week as I need to get more of my stuff that I stored there. But seriously, Thailand is so overrated as a holiday destination, There are far better places to go.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Give Thailand a try. You might not like it but just do it for fun and see how it goes. I highly recommend teaching in the rural areas, where it's much more peaceful


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.


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