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


David

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I left Thailand for the UK in September 2017.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I just did the one semester from May to September.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

My TEFL course internship came to an end and after considering my options I concluded that I much preferred returning to the UK than remain as a teacher in Thailand.

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

Teaching English as a foreign language is not my career. I did it first in Greece for 18 months and then in Thailand as part of a career break. However, I always knew that I would probably return to the UK. I appreciate my work and life there much more now having experienced the struggle of a TEFL teacher in an economic crisis (Greece) and of what I consider to be the mental poverty of the educational environment in Thailand.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Not so much overall, but there is much to like. The happy demeanor of most people there and their humility and simplicity of life are dear to me. I miss the company of friends I made there, and the ease (when not having to work!) of my life there.

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

That of course depends on that teacher's goals and priorities. In general terms I'd say a new professional teacher, i.e one who has undergone prolonged training, should focus on finding a professional environment where he or she will learn the craft of teaching and develop solid skills. From my perspective I'd say that Thailand affords limited prospects...but I'd also advise against that teacher remaining in the UK since TEFL is better done, in my view, when the teacher has experienced living and working in a foreign culture.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

No.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

My time in Thailand was successful in that I achieved the goals I had set. I am not a good fit for the TEFL scene there in particular and the struggles I experienced were within normal expectations (as I now know!) as a mature professional educated in the UK who was looking for job satisfaction and a greater sense of purpose at work.

On the positive side, I'd say that Thailand has much to offer if you are able and willing to learn the language and adapt - not just politely tolerate at an emotional distance - to the very different ways there. If you are going to remain, you had better face them and work at accepting them. Otherwise you are likely to become one of the numerous Westerners I met there or heard about whose resistance was marked by depression, alcoholism or general bitterness.

Set specific goals and force yourself to review them periodically. Don't drift and avoid facing important stuff, such as whether you've reached the time to leave or to do something different. Good luck.


Thomas

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I returned to the UK on 31st of March of this year.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Three academic years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I only planned to stay in Thailand for two years but ended up staying one more because I was in a relationship. When that ended that was my cue to leave.

Also, it was the height of summer, and I absolutely hate the March to May period when it's horrible to spend more than about a minute outside. I was so glad to land in London on 1st April in 16 degrees celcius sunshine. Being able to spend all day outside doing activities is something I love but could only dream about in Thailand.

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

Everything. i can't think of a single disadvantage of working in the UK over Thailand. Hopefully that answers the question.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I think it would be a great place to retire, but it's no place for working age Westerners. After two years, any novelty it had more than worn off, and I was living a dreary Thai rat race existence. I can see why so many teachers there become alcoholics.

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

I think there is something wrong with any Westerner who would want to make a long-term career of teaching in Thailand's educational system. If you can get into an international school with a foreign boss then fine, but working for Thais absolutely sucks.

Thai working culture sucks horribly, especially the grovelling, corruption, laziness and blatant discrimination.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

For the occasional holiday I expect, but I want to see the rest of the world first. Later to retire perhaps, although I'd probably choose Penang, Malaysia over anywhere in Thailand.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

You can't leave your problems behind by going to work in Thailand. Same problems, different place.


Nigel

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I left Thailand for Vietnam on June 30th 2017.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I was in Thailand for almost four years. I worked at a Thai high school for seven months and a university for three years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I wanted to continue teaching young adults, and I really struggled to find work in Thailand. Opportunities came up in both China and Vietnam, and I decided to pick Vietnam.

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

I find the staff to be much more professional and driven where I am now than in Thailand. The staff here are much more supportive than those people I worked with in Thailand. The pay is much better in Vietnam than in Thailand.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

The bureaucracy (believe it or not) - although it can be a nuisance, it is much easier to navigate in Thailand than in Vietnam. I guess I am still new to Vietnam, so I haven't learnt how to deal with it.
Food - I miss the food for two reasons. I feel that Thailand has a wider range of food choices to offer, particularly Western food. Secondly, I find Thai food to be more appetizing than Vietnamese food. I haven't eaten anything yet that I would choose ahead of laab or somtam.
The people - both nations have very friendly people but Thais are more welcoming.

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

I would suggest Thailand because it would be easier for a new teacher to settle there than in Vietnam.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Definitely yes. I see Thailand as my second home. I will go there as much as I can.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

No.


John

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to China in August.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked in Thailand for almost 7 years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

New opportunities popped up. I was also struggling to make ends meet , and even though I was making an OK salary for Thailand by English teacher standards, it just wasn't enough. I was in debt, and that's a terrible position to be in in Thailand unless you are working at the best paying schools. Plus I have been working on a masters degree and felt like it was time to progress in my career.

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

The money and career progression are certainly some major advantages of where I am now, as is the change. I feel like it's good to shake things up from time to time. It builds character.

I can't think of a ton of advantages to working in Thailand in terms of career. Price-wise, daily expenses don't seem to be vastly different where I am now, but I suppose some of that depends on what you do. I certainly feel like the access to entertainment is better and more varied in Thailand, and cheaper, depending again on what you do.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I do miss Thailand. I miss the nightlife, of course. I miss the general pace and ease of life, and when you live in a place for a long time you start to feel much more rooted there.

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

Like a lot of people on The Great Escape say, that kind of depends. I think if you are dead set on working in Thailand and won't have it any other way, go for it. I was like that and don't regret anything. But I think you will eventually find that unless you get into the right niche, you just won't make enough money, and I do think your future career options could be affected.

Plus, it sounds like a no-brainer, but it's easy to put on the rose-colored glasses and think working in Thailand will be like vacationing there long-term. Obviously it won't be. But Thailand is also very addictive for a lot of people. I think the feeling of ease and that sort of thing has the potential to backfire on you eventually, especially if you aren't in the best job or doing something to further yourself.

Also, be warned, regulations have gotten much more stringent and Thailand is not the best place for casual work anymore.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

For sure. I already plan to head back for Chinese New Year.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Thailand is changing, and it's not exactly the same place I began working in back in 2010. I guess everything changes eventually.

It is also not as cheap as it used to be. It's still a great place, and I'd go back in a heartbeat to work there again if the right opportunity came my way. Otherwise, I think it's a good idea to think a little bit about your future and maybe save Thailand for holidays. Just my thoughts.


James

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Shanghai

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Eight years

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

There were 3 main reasons.

1. Finance - being married with a young son, I was very concerned about saving. I'd been in Thailand 8 years and had nothing in the bank. On a good month I could save 10-15,000 baht but our annual Xmas trip to England would use all of that. Bills, paying a mortgage, car repairs...it all mounts up and Thailand is getting more expensive too. Now I'm on a salary similar to what the best international schools in Thailand pay with all the benefits.

2. Living conditions - after 8 years in Thailand I came to the conclusion that the climate is not for me, swelteringly hot all year round. Having to wait until 5.00pm to go outdoors is not for me. I'm a Londoner, we walk to many places, but Thailand took that away from me.

3. Career progression - I worked at a fairly good school just outside Bangkok but couldn't break into the international school circuit, well not the decent ones anyway, and that's with a PGCEi. Now I'm at a good international school and really feel I'm developing as a teacher. It has been a big step up and I am enjoying it.

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

The school
Professionalism and organisation far beyond what I experienced in Thailand.
The salary and benefits package.
The students' English levels.
Being appreciated by school leaders and management.

Shanghai itself
All encompassing metro system.
Tree lined streets.
Pavements.
New and interesting food.
Things running on time.
Not being refused by taxi drivers.
Parks.
Beer selection at Family Mart.
Cashless payments.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Beaches, which I rarely got to enjoy. In fact, we'll probably visit the southern beaches of Thailand more now than when we used to live there! I also miss some good friends.

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

If you're a new teacher and qualified go there only if you get into a top 10 international school making at least 100,000 baht a month. You will have a fantastic time and be able to save for your future.

I wouldn't go like how I did, with a TESOL and making 30-40K a month for my first two years there. It is easy to get stuck in Thailand and before you know it will be 5+ years in with very little future proofing.

If you have a family go somewhere where the money is good and there are things to do for everyone. Like Shanghai, Seoul or another Northern Asian city. Oh and one with four seasons!

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

We have a house there which we rent out so it's possible, but right now there's no plan to return. Except perhaps for Chinese New Year in February.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

I used to read this section and think most of the teachers sounded bitter that they had left or of course they'd say the new place is way better. But I can honestly tell you that leaving Thailand was the right decision for my family and I.

Page 2 of 45 (showing 5 Great Escapes out of 224 total)

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