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Thomas

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to England in April of this year.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I was there for six years, mainly at large Thai government schools or wherever the agents sent me. I did a year in Chiang Mai but couldn't really settle there (it didn't feel like the Thailand I was looking for) I did a couple of years in Chonburi (liked it at first but got bored) followed by 12 months in Ayutthaya (nice place to live but horrible school) and finished with two years in Bangkok.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I'm in my late 50s and have started to suffer from ill health. I made the decision to go back to England and chance my luck with the good old NHS rather than start long and protracted courses of treatment at a Thai hospital and stressing over whether my modest Thai health insurance will cover it or not.

Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?

I'm not working so can't really answer this. I've moved in with my younger sister and have spent most of the last three months pottering around in the garden, doing odd jobs around the bungalow for her, and lying on the sofa watching sport. And of course I've been setting up doctor and hospital appointments, etc.

It's not an ideal situation because my sister and I have never really got along (we argued about which way the toilet roll should go a couple of days ago) however credit where it's due, she came to the rescue in my hour of need. There was no way I could afford the £800+ monthly rents they are asking in these parts of leafy Middle England. I'm hoping to get back into working as soon as I feel fit enough, and even get my own place, but the vast majority of jobs seem to be caring for the elderly.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Provided you meet the visa requirements, it's a country that's relatively easy to survive in, even when funds are low. When you are TEFLer in his fifties, with no real formal qualifications other than a well-creased TEFL certificate, you're under no illusions that you are constantly at the bottom of the pecking order. You're the bloke that the school employs when there is absolutely no other option. So you put up with agents paying salaries late and schools taking advantage and messing you about on a daily basis.

And of course you're up against schools who insist their foreign teachers be no older than 35 or 40 or whatever they decide is the age when a teacher becomes old and decrepit and incapable of teaching. Your marketability plummets with each passing year. But as I said, you can survive here on just a modest income. Survival in England is going to be a real slog, at least for the forseeable future.

Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?

Teaching in Thailand is a young person's game unless you're qualified enough to work at one of the better schools and build a career. At least when you're young, if things don't work out and your Thailand adventure goes pear-shaped, it's not to late to start again. Every young person I met in Thailand seems to be working online anyway.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

No, I think that ship has well and truly sailed. I need to sort my life and health out here first.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Not really, other than make sure you have a decent health insurance policy, because you never know what's around the corner.

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