Q1. Where did you move to and when?
Saudi Arabia, via a summer in Vietnam. Arrived here late August.
Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?
About 3 and a half years. I spent the last 2 years of my time on Koh Samui. Before that, I was in Chanthaburi and Isaan.
During those years I worked at public schools, international schools, language centers, 5-star hotels and ended my time in Samui by working at a college.
Q3. What was your main reason for moving?
I needed to advance my career, teach at a higher level and earn more money. Most ESL teaching jobs in Thailand are in the 30K to 50K range and that's fine to live comfortably and maybe save a bit for holidays within the country or an annual flight home, but not to save big ticket items like further education, a deposit on a home or retirement.
Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?
The salary, free housing on a teacher's compound, not having to pay utility bills, being able to travel to new destinations in the Middle East, Europe, Africa and the Indian sub-continent, and being able to save about 2/3 to 3/4 of my paycheck.
Also, I'm fortunate enough to have found a company where everything is well established and organized meaning very little admin outside of teaching and testing days.
It is also nice that there are real opportunities to advance to higher responsibility positions, something that was not an option at a number of the places I taught at in Thailand.
Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?
The food, the people, the weather, the beaches and the ability to just get on a bike and drive anywhere. I miss living in Koh Samui the most because island life suits me. There's nothing like laying in a hammock at a small beach bar, chatting with a friend, watching the sunset and sipping on an ice cold beer.
Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?
For sure! Just do a year or 2 to get a feel for teaching. If you think it is something you'd like to pursue for the medium to longer term, get a CELTA then head out to somewhere like Vietnam, Korea or Japan. Schools in those countries value teachers a lot more than in Thailand and the potential for saving is much higher.
While the minimum amount of experience needed for most ESL jobs in Saudi seems to be about 2 years, I would say only come here if you are mentally prepared to give up more than the obvious (alcohol and pork). It takes someone with a lot of patience and an open mind to come here and be successful.
Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?
Coming back to Thailand in January! Looking forward to it! Other than that, I would only consider coming back to Thailand to work if I was a certified teacher at an international school.
Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?
Enjoy Thailand for what it is, a great holiday destination, somewhere to get into teaching ESL and a base to develop personally and think about what you want to get out of your time.