Q1. Where did you move to and when?
I moved to Doha, Qatar in 2018.
Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?
I worked in Thailand for 5 years.
Q3. What was your main reason for moving?
Money primarily. After hitting my 30s, I suddenly became aware that time was of the essence and I couldn't spend the rest of my life just breaking even every month, even if it was fun. I needed to plan for the future.
Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?
Money money money. In Qatar I make triple what I used to earn in Thailand and also have a free apartment so it's nice being able to save a big chunk of my pay every month.
Paid holidays and flight stipends. I went back to the UK twice, took trips back to Thailand, Bahrain and also Spain. In Thailand I didn't get paid during the April holidays and didn't get to travel nearly as much.
It's a lot more developed in Qatar so theres little of the third-worldy chaos of Thailand.
It's multicultural with expats of every nationality found here so you don't get stared at and there isn't the us vs them mentality of Thailand. Also the food scene is amazing.
Teachers are treated much more seriously here. We are respected as professionals rather than treated like dancing white monkeys in Thailand. Its definitely more organised and a better place to work overall.
Also, while it does get very hot, I like the lack of rain in the Middle East. I don't miss commuting to school on a scooter in the rain, drying off my soaking work shirt and shoes and freezing in an air conditioner, only to get caught in another storm coming home.
Finally, with the Covid 19 pandemic, I'm counting my blessings being in a country which has not only allowed me to build up some healthy savings but also vaccinated nearly all of the population. Hearing horror stories of teachers losing their jobs and salary for months on end with the endless lockdowns and just being left to fend for themselves by their employers has got me so grateful for what I have now.
Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?
Definitely the fun side of things, especially as a single man. Qatar has the heaviest skewn male/female ratio in the world so dating is a lot tougher. It can be kinda lonely at times.
I miss the parties and clubs of Bangkok. I miss the beaches and riding a scooter through the jungle. I miss the friendliness and laid-back vibe of Thai people. While third-worldy and chaotic, it is fun.
The heat in Doha is insane for a large chunk of the year. I love warm dry weather but even I am overwhelmed in the summer months. It approaches 50°C every day for months without a raincloud in sight. You run between air conditioned apartment, air conditioned school, air-conditioned car and air-conditioned mall. Might be something to bear in mind if you don't like the intense heat.
The culture can be quite intimidating for first time visitors but really you have most of the same freedoms you enjoy anywhere else. It can be a bit alarming that you need permission from your employer to leave the country too but I haven't met anyone who had issues.
Also, my job in Thailand was a lot more stress-free. I was pretty much left to do my own thing. Here, I have a higher workload and stricter standards to maintain generally.
Also, the students. My classes are all boys and some of them are really quite bratty. I definitely enjoyed teaching Thai kids more.
Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?
Thailand is good for getting started. Its a real fun adventure place and life is never boring. It's a great country to be young and single but I wouldn't want to be an aging teacher there with little savings and uncertainty about what happens when you pass 60. Go for a couple of years, enjoy it, but it's wise to have an exit plan.
It is quite a competitive market in the Middle East, where you need higher credentials or a couple of years experience so earn your stripes in Thailand, then make the move to where the money's at.
Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?
Definitely. I took Christmas vacations in Thailand in 2018 and 2019 before all this kicked off and it's definitely more fun to enjoy as a tourist with money in your pocket than as a resident breaking even every month. I will take a holiday there again as soon as it all blows over.
Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?
Nothing is certain in this world and you aren't young forever. Savings and social support networks are crucial. Always try to put aside some money every month for a crisis or just for the future.
Value your good male friends (if you're a guy). Girlfriends come and go but good male mates are really hard to find. Don't make stupid choices over someone else.
Travel, learn and enjoy life as much as possible. Stay safe.