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


Allen

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Moved home to Naperville...a suburb of Chicago, IL in October, 2016.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

8 years total. My original plan was for around 2 years!

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Salary. There are lots of reasons, and as much as I have to listen to people proclaim "it's not about the money" the truth is that its always about the money. I want to work hard and be compensated fairly. That doesn't happen in Thailand. I don't want to live paycheck-to-paycheck, and even the teachers that save 5-10k baht a month (I saved around 8k a month on average)...that's not much in the grand scheme of things.

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

Too many to name. Thailand is great. Honestly, it's just one big, long extended holiday. Great for visiting, but so many pitfalls if you want to try and live/work here. I am just frustrated and disappointed in myself that I stayed probably around 5 years too long. I didn't realize how big of a mistake it was, and how disconnected from reality I was until I returned to the USA.

It's a shame so many foreigners speak badly about their home countries....I never fell into this camp, but was always taken aback at the anger and frustration people talked about. Mostly, it was about being a "corporate slave" and never having any holiday time. The reality is that I work less hours for more money, and have more holiday time (4 weeks total + holidays all paid) that I never had in Thailand. Also, salary is more than triple what I was making before. My conclusion is that a lot of teachers working in Thailand have rejection or social issues back home. They know that Thailand won't judge them.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Exploring. Checking out cool hikes and trails in the North, and eating seafood in the South.

Meeting new, interesting people that were not constantly blowing their paychecks at lame nightclubs, girls, and alcohol. I worked with several teachers that would consistently stop at 7-11 near the office after work and grab a few big Leos to bring home on a regular basis....in the early afternoon!

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

Tough question. If you are young (under 30 for sure, preferably under 25) and feel that you can commit yourself to 1-2 years max, then go for it. If you have a support system, and job security back home at the end of your little adventure, then why not? I had a lot of good experiences in Thailand. It just takes courage and commitment to return home, and have a realistic plan.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Not really. The world is too big to be so fixated on one country. Also, the rising costs are getting out of control. I can find good food, nice beaches, and friendly people anywhere.

I noticed flights from Chicago to Bangkok are at an all-time low right now... around $460 r/t. That is tempting, but not tempting enough.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

It is hiring time (February) right now. I am sure there are a lot of first-timers and people considering making the move to become teachers. Perhaps they have heard all of the good, and just filtered out the bad. Confirmation bias. If you don't know what that means, look it up. Thailand can be a fun, rewarding experience. But it WILL be challenging, disappointing at times, and low-paying as well. I don't know if its true, but it sure feels like there are more bad, unqualified teachers than good. The turnover is high.

Take a step back and ask yourself, "why do I want to be a teacher in Thailand?" Hopefully you want to make a positive impact in student's lives. More likely though, it is because it is the only job that you know is easily available in Thailand, and you want to escape whatever social or personal problems you have at home. Make sure you come for the right reasons, because a lot of people don't.


Jamie

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to Scotland in November 2016.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Just shy of two and a half years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I wanted to get back into real teaching, having become tired of the lack of care and attention to students' education in Thailand. I learned the basics of teaching in the UK, and tried to apply what I knew in Thailand. With little support from my Thai colleagues and no coherent, realistic and progressive curriculum framework to work off, it was an uphill struggle teaching in Thai schools.

I'm working in pupil support in the meantime, and applied to universities to start my PGDE this upcoming August. I've been accepted to study at the University of Edinburgh to teach Secondary English, which I'm really looking forward to.

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

There is real career progression here, a progressive salary scale, pension plan, free healthcare, my family support network is close at hand, and I face challenges everyday with the freedom to teach how I want to, not how some jumped up little manager in an office wants me to teach.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Waking up at the crack of dawn and heading to the local shop for breakfast in my short and t-shirt on my motorbike. The daily sunshine, cheap living costs, warm weather year-round and the opportunities to head north or south by plane at weekends for a beach or mountain break.

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

If you want to unwind and get some experience working with young people for your career, it's easy to get a job in Thailand. I would not recommend staying for longer than two years or so, because you end up stuck in your ways trying to justify living a hand-to-mouth existence as "living in the moment." It's all well and good in your early 20s, but when you get to 30, you start thinking about your future. A job in the UK as a teacher would certainly provide the stability you need to plan for the future, so if you want a real career, train and work in the UK.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Yes, of course. My heart will always be in Thailand, that hasn't waned in the seven year I've been visiting on and off. I'm planning to purchase a holiday home there in the future.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

If you choose to work in Thailand, expect to feel frustrated with the pedagogy, staff professional relationships with you, and the constant multiple choice assessment that doesn't effectively assess knowledge and skills-building. Take it as a life lesson in how to be resourceful, flexible and innovative with the limited resources you have. Try not to become stuck in your way there, because it doesn't make sense to stay in the country for longer than necessary to the detriment of your career.


Stephen

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to Nanjjng in 2011 after working in Bangkok from 2002-20011. I planned on getting IB teaching experience and then returning to Thailand after 3 years. In the end I worked in Nanjing for 5 1/2 years and have just returned to work in Bangkok.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Nine and a half years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Gain essential curriculum and teaching experience and save a boatload of cash.

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

The advantages were exactly what I set out to do - to get cash and marketable experience.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I missed the food, nightlife, internet, living standard, value for money of most things, weather, air quality (yes, Bangkok air is fresh compared to Nanjing), blue skies, clarity of the air, definition of clouds rather than an amorphous white haze, sparsity of rude people, lack of horrifyingly rancid breath, lack of loud people and incesssnt car horns, drilling, pounding and hammering noises.

I missed people who are not pathologically programmed to be lazy, obstructive, combative, unhelpful and unpleasant, I missed the smoking free atmosphere as well. I could add more, but my finger is tired.

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

If you seek a good paycheck and/or need to obtain legitimate curriculum experience then a stint in China is good for those goals. I saved $40,000 US a year and I spent every holiday outside China for about 13 weeks a year. If money isn't an issue and/or obtaining relevant experience isn't either then go for Thailand. I came back after my goals were accomplished.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Yes. Already done.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Not really.


Matt

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to Nanjing (China) about a year ago.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked in Bangkok for 2 years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I just felt that there was not much opportunity. I felt serious about teaching and wanted to get a job at a good international school and just felt it would be very difficult as I was not a qualified teacher. Although since moving a few of my friends have found good jobs to show it is possible.

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

Now I am working in an IB school with a much better salary and benefits. For example I now get free accommodation and flights every year. I have actually also found my Chinese co-workers to be very helpful.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss the ease of life. In China the police are a lot more strict to the point that I actually can't buy a gas bike without major problems and expense. I also miss the food and the ability to get to the beach.

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

I think it is up to people what they want to do. For younger teachers looking to make a career, I would suggest a few years in Thailand and then move on. However if you get a job that has good long term prospects maybe there is no need to move on. For me if you are living pay check to pay check you are playing with fire. What happens if you get sick etc?

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I will come back for holidays, but to work is unlikely. I feel that it is like an ex-girlfriend. You broke up for a reason, so why go back? If an ideal job came about and I had no commitments I would consider it for sure, but at the moment I would like to continue in China.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

My only advice to people is to stop kidding yourselves. In my experience many teachers complained about low wages, but then made no effort to get qualified and get a better job. I also saw teachers who were running out of waivers and had to leave, how could you not see that coming? If you have time check out this website to learn more about qualifications you can do whilst teaching- www.thelaoshi.com


Andrew

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Saudi Arabia, August 2015

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I taught for 6 months in what supposed to be one of the best language centers in Bangkok. However, it was one of the worst experiences of my 11 year teaching career.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

To be frank, teaching in Bangkok was, and will always be, an absolute farce. I knew it wasn't good going in but I really had no idea how bad it was.

For starters, the salary is an absolute joke that isn't even fit for a pension. I was earning 65,000 baht and saving roughly 15,000 a month. As a well educated adult with eleven years of professional experience and proper teaching credentials from a developed country that is an absolute shame. There is no way I could ever have retired saving less than $500 a month, even if I had planned on retiring in Thailand. I suddenly understood why so many foreigners commit suicide in Thailand. I too would rather die than live at the poverty level in Thailand.

But the real joke is that so many teachers agree to work for a poverty level wage. This is in fact a form of suicide, although it is much slower and much more painful. The wage issue is exacerbated by the fact that many schools employ unqualified people to be teachers.

You really have to ask yourself, what kind of person thinks they can teach without proper teacher training? Why would you want to screw up someone's chance at an education? The foolishness and selfishness of it baffles the mind. Would you hire an electrician who wasn't certified, or worse, refused to become certified?

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

I'm paid well, nearly 4 times what I was paid in Thailand and double what I was paid in Vietnam. I also earn more than I could at home as an EFL teacher. I also have excellent healthcare for myself and my wife. I also have 3 months off each summer in addition to semester breaks. In short, I receive a pay and benefits package on par with the rest of the professional world.

I'm also able to teach vocational subjects that I have previous work experience and graduate certificates in, particularly IT and programming. This leads to a more enjoyable teaching experience, as well as increased compensation without having to teach extra classes in a McDonald's in my spare time.

Other benefits include paid housing, in fact I earn a monthly bonus for staying in a serviced apartment provided by the school. I could choose to live elsewhere and have a driver but I don't like commuting.

The lack of commuting and the ability to work a normal day, 8 - 4, allows me time to get to the gym 5 times a week, cook regularly and still have time for studying in the evening and on weekends. Also, the benefit of not being around alcohol is quite remarkable for a person's physical and mental health.

Another great advantage is being treated as a professional and a competent adult, not a marketing gimmick or a 'service provider'. Furthermore, students are treated as students and not coddled and entertained in exchange for tuition fees. When they fail they fail, they don't pass.

Also, student performance is the responsibility of the student, not the teacher, which is normal but worth pointing out as Thailand seems to have it backwards.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Very little. Thailand is a great place for an adventure, especially if you can get yourself away from the sexpat traps and instead head north or to the more remote islands, although that is increasingly difficult and increasingly costly.

However, daily life in Bangkok is an absolute nightmare. From the incessant heat to the traffic to the over crowding to the rise of totalitarianism to the rapidly declining quality of life to the dumbing down and pacification of the population to the awful expats with substance abuse problems and mental health issues, there is very little of interest in Bangkok.

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

For a new teacher, or really any teacher who is qualified, avoid working in Thailand at all costs. It is well known throughout the industry that Thailand is a the place for deviants, for unqualified and incompetent teachers, and for schools with absolutely no standards. Experience in Thailand is not a plus on your CV, at best it is a curiosity and at worst it is a red flag for both your own personal qualities and your professional abilities.

I say this from my own previous experience in other countries where I assisted in hiring and CVs with more than 1 year in Thailand were generally discarded. When a teacher with experience in Thailand was hired they almost always had major issues with maintaining a work ethic, developing coherent materials and lessons, teaching basic lessons, telling students 'how to think', following curriculum and of course using any form of technology in the office and classroom. The worst quality though was the inability to receive feedback on their teaching and make improvements.

In addition, I have had interviews for jobs where my own experience in Thailand was scrutinized. Since then, I've removed it and but it down to time off. I'd rather tell a lie than say I was employed in Thailand.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Like I said earlier, Thailand can be a fun holiday. But, after 4 or 5 days it's really enough.

While my wife still lives in Bangkok we will be relocating soon. In the last two years we've only spent time in Thailand when it was necessary, such as taking care of banking (another nightmare) or legal issues at the embassy regarding visa applications. We choose to spend our downtime, and our hard earned money, in friendlier and more interesting countries like Japan, the US and Europe.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Let's be frank -- teaching in Thailand is an absolute farce. Anyone who is even remotely serious about education will be better off working in any number of other countries which not only pay better but take education seriously. Korea, Japan, Vietnam, China, the UAE, Saudi Arabia...the list is long and it even contains many countries that Thais want to study in; this should be a major red flag for a teacher.

Taking a teaching job, or nearly any job for that matter, in Thailand is an exercise in financial suicide. You will burn through whatever savings you have, savings that ironically you earned in another country -- let that sink in for a moment.

The result is that you, like so many others before you, will get stuck in Thailand and that will not only be a financial disaster but will also lead to a professional and probably a mental health crisis as well. The professional crisis is that you will most likely become deskilled and unemployable elsewhere. The mental health crisis will evolve as it slowly dawns on you that you have wasted your time and money and will have to work hard to get out.

If you're interested in Thailand, do yourself a favor, save up for a holiday and take that holiday in Thailand and love it. Then, go back to work in a country where you can save up for another holiday. That country will not be Thailand.

Page 6 of 45 (showing 5 Great Escapes out of 224 total)

Featured Jobs

STEM Teacher

8 hours ago

฿800+ /hour

Bangkok


NES Kindergarten Teachers

2 days, 5 hours ago

฿35,000+ /month

Bangkok


English Teacher

2 days, 9 hours ago

฿30,000+ /month

Chiang Mai


Kindergarten / Primary Teachers

2 days, 13 hours ago

฿40,000+ /month

Nonthaburi


NES Teachers

2 days, 14 hours ago

฿30,000+ /month

Pathum Thani


English Conversation Teachers

3 days, 9 hours ago

฿35,000+ /month

Bangkok


TEFL Courses & Training

Get off to a good start...

Take your course
in Thailand!

Training Directory

Featured Teachers

  • Sherie Cris


    BA

    Filipino, 24 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • Joseph


    MA

    American, 47 years old. Currently living in United States of America

  • Bennett


    Diploma

    Filipino, 43 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Jovanie


    BEd

    Filipino, 23 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • David


    BSc

    American, 61 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Eunice


    BEd

    Filipino, 23 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • Jan


    BSc

    Pole, 60 years old. Currently living in Poland

  • Simon


    BA

    Pole, 35 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Chris


    PGCE

    British, 52 years old. Currently living in United Kingdom

  • Asriel


    Diploma

    Filipino, 26 years old. Currently living in Thailand

Sponsors

Sine Education

No TEFL required.

Mediakids Academy

Top TEFL job placement provider with competitive benefits and an unforgettable experience.

English Planet

To be internationally recognized as the leader in quality English language training.

Smartys

Vacancies for in-house and corporate teachers at the finest schools in Suphanburi City

Eduplus

We get you a job! Options for school placements all over Thailand

BSI Broker

Brokers for ajarn health insurance and for all your Thailand insurance needs.

Siam Computer & Language

Competitive teacher packages with benefits and bonus incentives

Kajonkietsuksa School

First bilingual school in Phuket. Vacancies for kindergarten, primary and secondary teachers.

Kasintorn St Peter School

Progressive English program school near Bangkok employing NES and Filipino teachers

Inlingua Thailand

Premier language school with many branches and corporate training.

The Hot Spot


The dreaded demo

The dreaded demo

Many schools ask for demo lessons before they hire. What should you the teacher be aware of?


Renting an apartment?

Renting an apartment?

Before you go pounding the streets, check out our guide and know what to look out for.


Teacher mistakes

Teacher mistakes

What are the most common mistakes that teachers make when they are about to embark on a teaching career in Thailand? We've got them all covered.


Contributions welcome

Contributions welcome

If you like visiting ajarn.com and reading the content, why not get involved yourself and keep us up to date?


Will I find work in Thailand?

Will I find work in Thailand?

It's one of the most common questions we get e-mailed to us. So find out exactly where you stand.


Can you hear me OK?

Can you hear me OK?

In today's modern world, the on-line interview is becoming more and more popular. How do you prepare for it?


Air your views

Air your views

Got something to say on the topic of teaching, working or living in Thailand? The Ajarn Postbox is the place. Send us your letters!