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


Barkut

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to Kampot in Cambodia in May 2017 so about 4 months ago.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked in four different cities over a 13-year period.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Just too hard. 13 years experience in schools and still expected to spend money to prove my abilities. Sick and tired of seeing newbies come in and constantly get ripped off. Those wanting to stay long term are seen as the problem for the directors. Also sick of seeing the waste of all those special days that even the locals pretend to respect.

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

I am online now so although it is taking a long time to get the salary up to a reasonable level, the cost of living in Cambodia is really low. I never got married so life is fairly cushy. No kids to worry about either. Th only concern is the dog.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Not much actually. I should have moved years ago.

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

Do not work in Cambodian schools. They are worse than Thailand. For online teaching it is great place to start you business. Internet speed of 25mbs and I live on about 25 USD a day. Food in Kampot is much better than Thailand as well. Thai food is like eating plastic food now with all of the chemical based farming practices. The food here seems much more like real food. Also the Western foods are prepared by Westerners and not a Thai who thinks pretty is more important than healthy.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

At the moment nope

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

No.


LT

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

My plane departed Swampy two weeks ago on Sunday, September 20, 2017. I arrived here in China to make the transition to a first tier international school.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I spent over a decade teaching in Bangkok and Chonburi.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

It just doesn't make sense to remain in a country that doesn't value your contribution or work in a profitable way. I have a family to support, and my son is now four years old. I need to provide him with a proper education and make some progress in my career.

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

Isn't it always about money? Quality of life. If you include schooling and the 7 hours of private teaching I am doing at 500 CNY (2,500 THB) per hour, the total package given to me comes to over 285,000 baht per month. That's a six-figure package in dollars. Do the math. I just arrived here and made more money in a week and a half than my monthly salary as an academic manager in Thailand.

Time off is a big factor. I have 181 working days per year. The rest is for my family.

Education here is far better, and it will provide more opportunities for my little boy.

Beer is half the price! Everything else is comparable, except for rent. My school handles that though for my 2 bedroom, 101 square meter apartment.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss being able to speak the language. Everything seemed more relaxed there. I miss the internet. The Great Firewall is no joke!

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

If you want to make money and gain valuable experience, come to China and get to work. Thailand is just a big holiday and seen as somewhat of a joke. Don't stay as long as I did ....

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Every chance I get, but not in the capacity of an educator. I will return to build my retirement house and every holiday I get. My wife is Thai.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Do your homework ....


James

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to the South East of England in August 2016 (one year ago)

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

10 years

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I wanted to give England another chance and bring my kids up here.

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

Workers rights. No corrupt people in authority ruining your every move and all the nonsense that goes with it. Not feeling like an alien all the time. The climate. The driving. No mosquitoes.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

The quality of life for what you earn. The cool and rainy seasons. Watching a football match in the pub with my friends. Freedom. Eating out when I am too lazy to cook. The attitude of ESL teachers compared to the "qualified" teachers here. Spontaneity

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

Get yourself qualified here first. Get it out of the way because once you've experienced life abroad coming back is a nightmare, literally. Going the other way will feel great.

Then go and seek out the schools abroad. Start in a standard Thai school (not a government one though) and learn the culture before moving to an international school. If you go straight into international school work, you'll miss out on a large chunk of life there.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Very soon. I have been here a year now and I hate it. It's becoming impossible to save any money and life in the cities (outside of London) is becoming harder and harder. I am on less money than I was 20 years ago yet the price of everything has doubled.

Add to that the yob culture of kids and the lack of parenting going on and it creates a huge dark cloud that follows me wherever I go.

Thailand isn't perfect by a long way but at least you have a life. This country has hit rock bottom for me. I look around and feel so down at the state it has become.

The lack of hope, the closed businesses, the dirty run down houses and gardens, the complete lack of pride that young people have in themselves.....basically the money has been wasted and spent in all the wrong places. I no longer feel proud to be British, I honestly don't.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Yes - create a chat group where people such as myself and others who struggle to resettle can meet and discuss things because you feel completely isolated at times and unless you talk to someone who has experienced the same, you just feel like everyday is a struggle.


Jamie

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to Scotland last year to apply for a PGDE (the Scottish equivalent of a PGCE) at various universities.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked in north Bangkok for three years, near the Ratchayothin intersection.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I felt I was stagnating at school with no career mobility, no pension plan and indifferent colleagues. I decided to move back home to qualify as a teacher to increase my ability to progress up the career ladder and have more flexibility; teaching in Thailand for a few years convinced me teaching was THE career for me.

I applied to various universities in Scotland, and was accepted by the University of Edinburgh to start teacher training, the best bit of news I had all year.

Unfortunately, living in the UK is difficult, particularly with the negative mindset of Britons around me dragging me down. As another Great Escape contributor mentioned, it's difficult to get a stable job and income. I'm currently working as a life attendant in a sports centre with a fixed part-time wage but that will end soon because I'm starting university in August and have to put my career training first.

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

Pension plans, workers rights, the ability to challenge your superiors when warranted, sick leave and paid holidays. There's also career progression here, and once qualified, my salary will far exceed anything I could get as a TEFL teacher in Thailand.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Being able to afford a large and comfortable place to live in, fresh and plentiful street food that costs next to nothing, having my own motorcycle to zoom around the country, and the ability to afford a flight and hotel stay every month in the north or south of Thailand. Those were the best things around to help me cope with the realities of adult life.

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

Considering how competitive the teaching courses are here, I would advise you to get a couple of years' experience in Thailand then come back and do some classroom volunteering at your local school to maximise your chance of getting a place. In the long term, qualifying here will be the best thing you ever did.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Yes, I plan to buy a holiday home in Thailand in the future.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

If you're in Thailand and plan to come back to the uk, make some plans for what to do to progress yourself here, otherwise you'll end up in a miserable rut with no prospects for the future. Also, seek mental health counselling if you feel dragged down by those around you. It helps. Seriously.


Ricky

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to the UK a couple of years ago and I live with my parents on the outskirts of Leeds.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I was there for three years at the same Thai secondary school in a very quiet and peaceful town, about an hour's minivan ride from Bangkok.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I just got bored of life in Thailand. Simple as that. I loved my first year there and the school always treated me well and I always felt like part of the family. But by the end of the second year, I could feel the malaise setting in. And I just ghosted through the third and final year.

The school begged me to sign another contract because even though I had fallen out of love with Thailand, my performances in the classroom hadn't suffered. But I knew deep down it was time to move on. And that was probably the biggest mistake I've ever made in life.

Like other 'Great Escapes' I've read on the Ajarn site, I never had a long-term plan or ever bemoaned the fact that I never had one eye on the future. I genuinely went into the TEFL business in the hope of making it a career because teaching was all I ever wanted to do. Thailand seemed like a perfect place to start and my attitude was always 'let's see where this leads'. I thought maybe once I had got enough teaching experience under my belt, I could become an academic director or head teacher and move steadily up the TEFL ladder, perhaps even move on to a country like Japan or China where the pay would be better.

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

I love this Great Escape section of the website but I wanted to wait until I had been back in England for at least a year or two until I was in a position to hopefully make sense of the situation and analyze the direction I have gone in since I left Thailand.

What's life like for a guy in his mid to late twenties living back in the UK with his parents? I honestly don't know where to start. Even on the sunniest of days, it's like living your life under a perpetual black cloud. I could genuinely weep for the majority of young, single people here because I don't see a future for them at all. I think many young, single people have given up already. It's like there isn't even a small ray of hope.

The gap between the haves and the have-nots has never been so wide. I see countless single mothers pushing prams around Poundland and trying to put a meal together out of tins and stuff off the out-of-date shelf. Or they go the numerous charity food banks that seem to be springing up everywhere. I see lonely, elderly men sipping cheap pints of beer as slowly as possible at ten in the morning rather than go home and have to turn the heating on in some pokey little council flat.

Everything is bought 'on tick'. It's rare to meet someone (certainly in the circles that I move in) that doesn't have credit card debts spiraling out of control. All those young guys you see driving flashy cars can only ever afford them on some back-street lease agreement. The whole thing is an illusion.

Many young people are working on zero hour contracts. The employer says we'll pay you when we're busy but if we're quiet, we'll send you home with no wages or don't even bother coming in. As I said, how can anyone plan or budget for a future based around such a flimsy and unpredictable system.

I would go out and drown my sorrows, but I'm scared of accidently walking into a Sharia law 'neighbourhood watch area' with my girlfriend and having some hate preacher unleash his venom at her for wearing a skirt above the knee.

I could go on.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

How does the old saying go? - "you don't know what you miss until you don't have it anymore" Something like that.

Everything I grew to dislike about Thailand - the terrible driving, the insect bites, the floods, the occasional bouts of food poisoning, the unbearably humid weather at certain times of year - I now realize that I should have just shrugged my shoulders and laughed them off. They are part and parcel of living in a foreign clime.

Now sat on the family sofa at home with my Mother screaming at the TV because the judges on 'Britain Hasn't Got Talent' are being way too harsh, the air thick and sickly from my Father's flatulence, and the family poodle trying to have it off with my leg, all those things I moaned about seem so trivial. They actually feel exciting and exotic.

Sometimes I let my mind drift away and I'm relaxing on a Thai beach, sipping at a young coconut and hypnotized by the calming ebb and flow of the tide. Then Mother asks me to put the kettle on, Dad lets another one rip - and I'm back in the real world of Simon Cowell's golden buzzer and TV ads for high-interest loan sharks and yet another MFI clearance sale.

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

I'm not going to answer this question with a straight yes or no but let me just say this. When you've experienced life back in England as I have for a couple of years, suddenly the idea of earning 30-40,000 baht a month as a teacher in Thailand doesn't seem that bad at all. I know which lifestyle I would rather have.

30-40,000 baht a month isn't a fortune we know (it's about the amount I earned when I worked there) but you've got your own apartment, your own personal space. It might not be a mansion on the hill but it's YOUR place. You can watch all the football for free on your computer (TV packages cost a fortune in the UK) You are eating good, healthy food two or three times a day. You've got money in your pocket for the odd nice weekend away. Last but certainly not least, if you fancy a bit of company in the evenings (wink! wink!) well, it isn't too hard to find. You DO live like a king when all things are considered.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

As you've no doubt guessed, I would pack my suitcase and catch the first flight out tomorrow morning. I really have no idea what's holding me back. Perhaps it's the fear of just picking up where I left off and falling back into a negative mindset. But life is going nowhere here. Work-wise, I'm picking up enough bits and pieces (mostly delivery driving) to pay for my food and lodging (your 'keep' as we call it) but not putting enough away for a safety buffer to have another crack at teaching in Asia.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Not really. Eastenders is is just starting.

Page 2 of 44 (showing 5 Great Escapes out of 218 total)

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