Q1. Where did you move to and when?
I moved to the UAE in 2021. I spend most of my time working in Abu Dhabi, with a few days a week in Dubai.
Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?
I lived in Thailand for just over 10 years. Three in Chiang Mai and seven in Bangkok.
Q3. What was your main reason for moving?
I had moved for financial reasons and to be closer to home. I can work fewer hours here for a lot more money and my standard of living is comparable. I can also be back to the UK in 7 hours. I also have a young family and was growing tired of trying to teach my kids to ride a bike and have a kick about in central Bangkok.
Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?
I was honestly quite judgemental about moving to the UAE. I had assumed the whole place was a shopping mall in the desert and was devoid of character - we would make some money for a few years and head on somewhere else. To be fair, some areas are like this, but once you start to know the place there is a huge amount of charm and culture. It is definitely better to raise kids here than the dog and car filled sois of Bangkok - loads of parks, activities and all very safe.
There are annoying groups of people here - Dubai especially - but idiots are everywhere. Influencers and life coaches and dodgy financial advisors here, cryptobros and digital nomads and dodgy financial advisors back in Thailand.
The opportunity for work here is large and progression is a real possibility. Teaching is always said to be valued highly socially in Thailand, but here it is valued economically and professionally also. Regulations and requirements for work permits here are quite rigorous, but this allows for the profession to be protected somewhat from those that may fall into positions and impact the reputation of foreign teachers. People are direct here and you know where you stand. I didn't realise how refreshing this would be.
Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?
I miss the beer scene. Pints are expensive here, which is fine I guess, but the plastic stool and bottle of Leo with mates is something I do miss a lot. Bangkok has a charm that nowhere else has, it's hard to describe, but it's certainly missed. Of course the food and travel opportunities of Thailand are a huge miss too.
Routine is a hard thing to move on from. I miss my local haunts, my favourite food delivery, getting a motosai to places, but I guess this will all go with time.
Whilst it sounds strange, I quite miss some of the randoms you'd meet in the pubs there. Old boys who are there with nowhere else to go telling stories that are probably untrue, but highly entertaining none the less. I'm not saying I miss the grumbling 'romantic retirees' berating snowflakes and a 10 baht increase in the cost of their full English, but there is something to be said for the wide range of people you can meet in Bangkok.
Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?
It really depends. If it was a 'time passer' for someone for a little while then definitely, but someone trying to forge a lifelong career then I'm not so sure. Bangkok has a very high concentration of international schools - a lot of them decent - and this can be an advantage that other cities don't have. This benefitted me. Really though, I probably would advise a young teacher to do it for a year or two and move on. The progression of the field that is occurring globally just doesn't seem to be applying to Thailand. Although the changes in China may have a knock-on effect to the region in a year or two.
Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?
It's a charming country where I have friends and memories, but it often doesn't make things very easy for international visitors. My wife isn't Thai and a lot of my friends there are already beginning to move on also. I think post-covid Thailand may struggle to re-achieve its tourist numbers. It pains me to say, but why would I pick Thailand over Vietnam, Turkey or India for a week or two? I'm not interested in the 'nightlife' that lots of tourists/expats are and I can go to fantastic places that are cheaper and easier. That all sounds a bit glum but I'll probably return purely because it'll always feel a little bit like home.
Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?
I sounded a bit negative there but I loved my time in Thailand!