Q1. Where did you move to and when?
I moved to Saudi Arabia in 2019. I work for a British company, still teaching English, and live on a compound with a very Western culture. I’m also 45 minutes from Bahrain for weekends away and live events like F1 and concerts.
Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?
I did my CELTA in Chiang Mai in 2009 and after recovering from dengue fever after the course, I moved to Cambodia for two years. I then spent six years in Vietnam at a Western university. I always wanted to come back to Thailand to teach so after working at a university in the UK, I moved back and worked for two years in Bangkok.
I worked for three different language schools at the same time doing corporate work. Some of the contracts were brutal, working 6 days a week preparing Thai teachers for Cambridge exams. Other contracts were three hours a week in large multinationals, so it was a mixed bag, which I liked. Also the brutal contracts paid really well as everything was billed by the hour. I also liked the flexibility of choosing when I worked.
Q3. What was your main reason for moving?
I joined teaching later in life, giving up a good career in London to follow my dream of living abroad. You get to a stage in life though where retirement plans seem to fill more and more of your thinking. I was never going to retire early if I stayed in Thailand. I now make in a month what I was making in six months teaching in Thailand. Immigration was never an issue when I lived there as we had a great “fixer” at one of the schools I worked at.
Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?
As mentioned above, the money. I have a great two-bedroom apartment, which is free and I don’t pay any utilities or tax. My working day is finished by lunchtime so I have loads of free time. Also, you are trusted and just left to get on with the job with very few meetings and appraisals.
Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?
I miss the social side. Leaving work and popping into a local bar with colleagues for a pint was great fun that often carried on with dinner (I really miss the food) and more drinking. Thailand is such a great location to get away at weekends and during holidays, either within the country or neighbouring countries.
Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?
If a person just wants to dabble in TEFL for a year or so then yes, 100%. Thailand is a great place to do that although I much preferred the teaching in Vietnam and developed professionally much more than my time in Thailand. In Bangkok it just seemed to be about hours and keeping the customer happy. Institutions I worked for in other countries had much more focus on professional development. My job in Saudi isn’t available anymore due to strict labour laws. When I leave I’ll be replaced by a local with IELTS 7.
Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?
I’m writing this on my balcony in Phuket. The great thing about my job is I get lots of time off and a long holiday for Ramadan. The test and go programme was a breeze. I landed at 7am and was drinking in one of my favourite haunts with old colleagues by 4pm. I’m retiring in 2 years and I’ll always find time to come back here as I’ll be living in either Vietnam or the Philippines. That is because of immigration bureaucracy!
Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?
I fell in love with Thailand back in 1999 on my first visit and got the teaching idea whilst here. The salary back then was around 30,000 for a teacher with no experience when I looked into it!