Q1. Where did you move to and when?
I moved to Shanghai, China just over two years ago.
Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?
A couple of years. I think I did four terms in total.
Q3. What was your main reason for moving?
I wanted to stay in Asia and I wanted to continue teaching but I just felt like I needed a change of scenery. Working in Bangkok was starting to get stale and I really started to lack energy and motivation. I also felt that my health was suffering so I swapped one polluted city for another you might say.
Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?
I earn over double the salary that I made in Thailand (but probably have to work harder for it) and you don't have the hassles here with getting visas and work permits. And don't get me started on that ridiculous 90-day reporting. The school I work at has better facilities and resources than I was used to in Thailand and the students are much keener to learn English. My school also provides comprehensive health insurance and free housing.
Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?
I miss shopping at the markets, where the food was always dirt cheap (I used to enjoy cooking at home) and I miss playing golf on a lovely sunny day.
Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?
I'm not sure I would advise a new teacher to start with Thailand. I just think China is a better option and from what I've heard, places like Vietnam are overtaking Thailand as a TEFL destination. I think Thailand's glory days are rapidly disappearing. Salaries at most schools have increased very little in the last couple of decades but in a city like Bangkok, the cost of living has skyrocketed, especially if you embrace a Western lifestyle. However, I think the main reason I would advise against Thailand is that teachers just aren't valued or respected enough by the schools. The school I worked at had a perpetual revolving door and no one seemed to care when good teachers left, even though they weren't always easy to replace.
Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?
It's difficult to forecast how things will shape up for SE Asian countries when and if we ever get back to some sort of normality. I really can't see the lure of Thailand at the moment and from what I glean from social media and various discussion forums, it appears that plenty of long-termers have had enough and are looking to move on. I still keep in touch with several teachers I worked with and they would all move to pastures new if the right opportunity came along.
Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?
Thailand is an amazing place for a holiday (or was in pre-Covid times) but working there can push you to your limits. Unless you can get a good job at a proper international school, you'll struggle to save for any kind of decent retirement. For the average Joe teacher on 30-50K, what's going to happen when you hit sixty and you haven't got a pot to piddle in and employers are looking for a younger model?