Q1. Where did you move to and when?
Just outside of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in October 2019
Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?
Three and a half years in total between Pattaya and Bangkok
Q3. What was your main reason for moving?
Stagnant wages, increasing living costs, ever worsening visa requirements and generally feeling like I had hit a pinnacle teaching in Thailand and that I needed to move on to further my career - and just an all round feeling that I'd outstayed my welcome.
Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?
Wages are a lot better in Vietnam and the cost of living is lower. The people are generally more genuine and less likely to treat you as a walking ATM. I can actually save money here whereas I simply broke even in Thailand. Local food is very cheap here, petrol and motorbikes are cheap too.
No 90-day check ins and its also a lot easier if you want to change jobs. Schools everywhere are crying out for farangs and the ESL industry really is booming here. You can literally walk into 10 ESL centres with your resume and 8 of them will have got back to you by the end of the day.
Farangs here (at least in my city) are a lot friendlier and will approach you while back in Thailand, most kept themselves to themselves. It's easier to befriend the locals here too and less of an "us vs them" mentality. Besides people who wanted free English lessons or girls who wanted a token pet farang to date, I didn't befriend a single Thai whilst I was there and it wasn't for want of trying.
Like Thailand, English ability is also low here but at least shop workers/restaurant servers will try without being rude to you. They're not as ignorant to the world as Thais can be.
While also a tonal language, there's the added benefit that Vietnamese uses the Latin alphabet so there's no need to learn weird characters when trying to read.
I find local food is better than Thai food as I don't like spicy smelly fishy things and the Vietnamese actually know how to make bread.
Schools here are far more professional and you're more of a teacher rather than a dancing white monkey. A lot of my former friends reluctantly moved on elsewhere for similar reasons.
Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?
The schools here that farangs work at tend to be language academies rather than public schools like Thailand so unsociable hours , 6 day weeks and working weekends is the norm.
The infrastructure in Vietnam is noticeably less developed than Thailand (especially Bangkok). Traffic is even more chaotic and the noise is even worse etc,
There are no 7/11s or 24-hour shops in most of the country and shopping malls are nowhere near as good as in Thailand. The only mode of transport in my city is Grab so you pretty much need your own wheels and there's not much in the way of Western food, which is much easier to find in Thailand, particularly in Bangkok and Pattaya. Only Saigon proper has easy access to good Western food. Thailand as a whole is a lot more geared towards foreigners, whether tourists or expats.
Its also much easier and more affordable to find a good quality, modern serviced apartment in Thailand. My apartments in both Bangkok and Pattaya were brand new, had gyms and pool facilities and housekeepers and cost similar to what I pay now on my older, outer city apartment in Vietnam, which has none of those. Accommodation standards here just do not compare with those in Thailand.
Only HCMC proper offers similar levels of Western comforts which are fairly easy to find in most larger Thai cities, so I tend to go there on days off.
Nightlife is also a lot more provincial compared to Pattaya or Bangkok so I have to go into Saigon to find any decent bars pubs and clubs.
The Vietnamese are a lot more conservative than Thais and dating is noticeably harder and takes more effort here too. Coming from Pattaya and Bangkok, its been a big downgrade in the "meeting women" department.
Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?
Thailand definitely has its perks. Its such a fun place and I'll always love it. If I could earn more, further my career and stay there easier, I'd move back in a heartbeat.
Its definitely great for first time TEFLers and there are great adventures are to be had. As much as it saddened me to leave and that I miss it, Thailand is really limited in its opportunities for growth for serious teachers. The stale wages and it's treatment towards foreign residents with visas, bureaucracy (now the TM30) seems to get worse by the day.
Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?
Definitely. I like visiting as often as possible. With regards to travel infrastructure, quality vacations and nightlife, I don't think anywhere can compare.
If wages went up and visa restrictions were eased, I'd move back tomorrow.
Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?