Q1. Where did you move to and when?
I left Thailand (Bangkok) in 2009. I initially went home but ended up working in international schools for several years in the Middle East and now I am back in Asia.
Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?
Around 5 years. At least a year too long when I look back on it.
Q3. What was your main reason for moving?
Many reasons. Money was a big factor. I turned 30 in Thailand and had absolutely nothing saved for retirement or otherwise. As you might imagine, I had a good time in Thailand and SE Asia in my 20s, but teaching in Thailand (especially unqualified, which I was at the time) is a short term thing. I had also absolutely had it with Thai work culture.
Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?
As I now work at an international school on an expat package, the salary and benefits are obviously much better. I sometimes look on Ajarn for laughs and I can't believe the salaries in Thailand have been static since I left over 13 years ago. I also don't need to interact with Thais in positions of power (or token puppet Westerners installed as "directors"), which is a huge relief.
Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?
The convenience, food, and probably most of all the free and easy vibe of the place though I have my doubts that this exists any more.
The ability to get decent and cheap apartments easily.
Having expat friends from around the world of all ages. I've found expats in other countries are much more cliquey from some reason.
The travel opportunities from Bangkok were incredible.
Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?
A TEFLer would have zero chance to get where I am now.
If you are fully qualified and licensed, there are still more opportunities elsewhere in Asia where you will be paid more and actually valued as an expat employee. Show me someone who says Thailand values expats, and I will show you a liar.
Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?
Oh I used to visit on a regular basis. This fell off a bit, and I have not been post-covid as there is no way I am going to do a bunch of tests and possible quarantine just to visit even though it is a short trip for me. I'll visit again when all restrictions and test-and-go are dropped.
I'll never work in Thailand again.
Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?
Don't sell yourself short as a working expat. Thailand (I'm talking both employers and the government) thinks it can treat working expats like trash or factory workers because there will be more expats coming in anytime someone leaves. My advice would be to go where you are treated well - and this will not be Thailand.