Q1. Where did you move to and when?
I moved to Cork, Ireland in September 2017
Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?
Just over three years
Q3. What was your main reason for moving?
I simply got jaded towards Thailand, the culture, people, pollution, chaos, weird food and being an eternal farang. As I'm approaching 30, I also didn't see a real long term future and chance to better myself in Thailand. Visa bureaucracy gets worse by the year. I felt I'd be doing TEFL, making no real savings and doing 90-day reports forever there.
I also got married to a Thai woman and we both wanted to settle down in a democratic, developed western country. Ultimately, we want to return to the UK so I can train to become a real teacher but we are doing the "Surinder Singh route" in Ireland as its too difficult and bureaucratic to return directly to the UK from Thailand and find a job earning 18,600 pounds to bring my wife over.
Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?
Irish people are awesome and Cork is a great city with great craic. We've made some decent friends here just by virtue of being in an English-speaking country that's much friendlier than the UK. It's cosmopolitan but still feels small and far more laid back than England. The pubs are awesome and there's Guinness!. We're a stones throw from the UK and it's easy to pop over with my wife's Irish residence card. While a different country, there's a lot of similarities to the UK so it feels fairly homely to a Brit.
No 90-day immigration check ins, chaotic traffic, weird culture, being a "farang" and the fact that both me and my wife have equal status and can work in any job. While it is a stepping stone to the UK, we are enjoying our life here for the time being.
Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?
My wife misses her family and friends (although a good few of her friends also live in Europe with their husbands).
I miss the cheap living costs and the simplicity in Thailand. Ireland is an expensive place and even with us both working, it can be hard to earn decent money. The economy is still bad, there's a reason why so many Irish are leaving and it isn't just the weather, although about that, the climate really is dreadful here. It just seems eternally gloomy, cold and rainy (even worse than the UK!). I miss the year round heat and sunshine in Thailand. I miss the beaches and islands and randomly riding my motorbike through the jungles and coconut trees. I miss the awesome friends I met, partying and fun I had there when I was single (before I met my wife). Every day felt like an adventure there.
Thailand's a lot of things but boring it certainly isn't.
Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?
If you want to travel and explore the world and have somewhere to stop off and supplement your travel income then sure, teaching in Thailand was a great experience and I really enjoyed it. For gap year travellers and newbies looking to get into TEFL, Thailand is a great start off point.
You won't earn that much but hey, you'll get to live in a tropical country that's cheap as chips to live in, you'll meet all kinds of weird and wonderful people from around the world and hook up with awesome Asian girls (only speaking from a guy's perspective of course!). You'll whizz around on a motorbike, eat weird snacks and chill on a beach in your holidays. You might even decide to go gallivanting around Cambodia/Laos/Vietnam for a bit!
Yeah, your friends might earn triple what you earn but they'll be slaving away in a box factory or soul sucking corporate job in Slough (or some equally dull industrial park in suburban England), to go home and watch mind numbing TV, get drunk in terrible pubs or nightclubs then repeat the same next week, rewarding their hard work with a package holiday week in Spain once a year.
You'll be having the time of your life and will be the envy of your friends with your pictures of the beach, jungles or random temple somewhere.
But serious teachers, be warned. Thailand is a less developed country with a poor education system to match. Know what you're getting yourself into. If you don't think you can deal with the bad system there, look into an international school (there's some great international schools in Thailand with pay to boot) or look into Korea/Japan/Middle East
Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?
Sure. One option I'm toying with once I'm properly qualified is try for an international school in Bangkok (where my wife is from). And as soon as we have some decent regular income and are properly established in the UK we want to go back and visit every year if we don't move back.
Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?
Any UK teachers (can't speak for other nationalities) looking to return home and take your Thai wife with you, be sure to research your options wisely. Its far harder than a lot of returning Brits think.
Try to have a job earning 19k or more lined up before you go back (yeah hard I know), otherwise research the Surinder Singh route wisely, find an EU state you can stay in (you could even do TEFL there) and your Thai spouse would be OK in too. Make sure to document your stay and keep everything (your work contracts, wage slips, proof of accomodation, proof of life in that country). You'll need it when you plan to return to the UK. The longer you stay in that country and more you establish yourself, the better.
The UK Home Office are refusing more and more non-EU spouses using Surinder Singh as a circumvention of UK law! We're planning to stay in Ireland another few months more just to be safe!