Q1. Where did you move to and when?
I left Thailand in November of 2019, spent a year in the Philippines with my wife (who is Filipina) and moved back to my home country of the U.S. in November of 2020.
Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?
I did a 120-hour TESOL course in Phuket back in 2013 and aside from a year in China I was in Thailand for pretty much the whole time from 2013 to 2019. So roughly six years.
Q3. What was your main reason for moving?
My wife and I left Thailand back in 2019, which was during the height of the TM-30 episode for those of you who remember. Back then we were living in Nakhon Nayok and the immigration office there was one of many in rural Thailand that decided to make life very difficult for Filipinos. My wife had been living with me in Korat for years and we never had any issues, but as soon as we moved to Nakhon Nayok, things started getting bad. That immigration office made our lives hell that year, so I think we both just really needed a chance to take a break and recharge our batteries. We also wanted to start pursuing a visa for her so that she could come to the U.S. if we ever decided to move back.
Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?
I never thought I’d say this, but America is actually a pretty great place to be right now. When I left in 2013 things were pretty bleak and I was much better off in Thailand. In Thailand I usually made about 70-100k a month as a TEFL teacher by combining bricks-and-mortar teaching with online work. Living in places like Korat on 70K a month affords a very nice standard of living, so I never thought I’d leave. When I was living in Korat I started an M.A. TESOL course and graduated a while back, so being back in the U.S. with a Master’s degree has put me in a very good position. I’m making more money than ever, but the cost of living here is much higher. Also I don’t have to deal with the Thai immigration system right now, which is very nice.
Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?
I miss pretty much everything about life in Thailand except dealing with immigration. I miss the food, the cheap vacations to Koh Chang, the ease of travel and the friends I made there. This might sound odd to say, but I really miss government school teaching. Now that I have an M.A. TESOL I can get better paying jobs, but honestly the decision to move from government school teaching to upper-end private school teaching was probably one of the worst moves I’ve ever made. I really wish government schools paid more because they can be amazing places to work if you find yourself at a good one. (Of course, they can be terrible, as well)
Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?
I absolutely recommend teaching in Thailand, especially for new teachers. Living in Thailand isn’t as easy to adapt to as you might think, but if you give it time and have some patience, you might find that Thailand has a lot to offer. Even if it’s not for you, I guarantee you’ll pick up some good stories.
Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?
I would absolutely love to come back to Thailand one day. I doubt it’ll be any time in the near future, but I could definitely see myself heading back that way if I found the right job.
Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?
Thailand can be an amazing place, but it can also be a stress factory. Believe me when I say that teaching 24+ classes a week for under 40k baht can get old really fast. If you really want to enjoy Thailand long-term, you’re going to need more than those 30-40k government school salaries unless you’ve got other streams of revenue. A good way to make sure you don’t get stuck at a bad school or with a low salary is to get qualified before you make the move.