Q1. Where did you move to and when?
We are a boyfriend and girlfriend couple from Ireland and we moved to Japan several months ago to work for a large English language school in Tokyo.
Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?
We worked in Thailand for just over two years, firstly at a large government school in the north (that was for about 18 months) and then we both found jobs at a corporate training company in Bangkok, but by then we had pretty much decided we were going to move on sooner rather than later.
Q3. What was your main reason for moving?
It was all about the money - and probably a change of scenery as well. Coming from Ireland, we longed to experience the changing of the seasons or at least something that resembled it.
In terms of earning potential, we were both earning around 45,000 at the government school so a combined 90,000 a month allowed us to live a decent lifestyle in the north. When we moved to Bangkok, we made a good hourly rate with the corporate training but there just wasn't enough of it. It was feat or famine! You didn't know from one month to the next how much you would be making and it became irritating rather than stressful.
Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?
We love how organised Tokyo is compared to Bangkok. Everything runs to a schedule and runs on time. I know a lot of teachers prefer the organised chaos of Thailand and we did at first, but it began to wear off after a couple of years. We are also earning three times what we were making in Thailand and let's not forget that's the main reason we're here. Yes, the cost of living is more expensive but we are still left with more disposable income at the end of each month - and our monthly salary is at least guaranteed.
Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?
I would say the people. The Thais are a lot easier to make friends with and to get to know. They can be extremely helpful whenever you have a a problem. We also miss those wonderful cheap massages, cheap haircuts and buying fruit at a local market. Our apartment building in Bangkok was great too and how we would love a swimming pool and gym here in Tokyo but alas they are too expensive for our pockets.
Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?
I think if we had our time again, we would have come to Japan first, made some money and then moved on to Thailand to enjoy a more laid-back, albeit less well-paid lifestyle. I think Thailand and Japan both have their pros and cons but we probably haven't been in Tokyo long enough to make a full comparison.
Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?
We haven't really decided. Much depends on how well things go here. We keep an eye on how things are panning out in Thailand and at the moment it doesn't seem like the country is becoming more attractive as a TEFL destination. But of course there are plenty of other options in SE Asia if we decide that Japan isn't for the long-term.
Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?
My partner speaks very decent conversational Japanese and this has helped us gain a lot more respect. I'm not sure learning Japanese is essential but it has certainly opened a few doors for us.