Q1. Where did you move to and when?
I moved to Madrid, Spain at the end of last year, so I'm coming up to a full 12 months here. I'm not a teacher anymore though.
Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?
Just over three years. One year was spent in Chiang Mai engaged in TEFL activities followed by a couple of years in Chiang Rai involved in an EP program at a government school.
Q3. What was your main reason for moving?
I didn't transition directly from Thailand to Spain. After exploring Southeast Asia sufficiently, I returned home for Christmas. My intention was to continue teaching English as a foreign language, and I was curious to see if securing a teaching position in Europe would be as straightforward as it was in Thailand. I ended up abandoning the teaching idea and went to work for a computer software company.
Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?
The pay is obviously higher, but that's expected. Living costs and demands are higher here, so it kind of balances out. If I want to put away some cash, this place beats Thailand, but since I love traveling, stretching my salary has proven to be tougher. Back in Thailand, lots of places targeted expats and tourists, which got annoying. But here, it feels more like everyone's part of the same group, with no outsider vibe.
Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?
The people, for sure. I guess I got used to being in those northern towns where there were plenty of young westerners teaching and exploring. Thailand was definitely a breeze to live in; that's what everyone says, and there's a solid reason for that. Everything else—like the food, the weather, and the relaxed pace of life—was pretty fantastic too!
Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?
For a new, probably younger teacher, I'd recommend Thailand, especially up North in places like Chiang Mai. It's more geared towards the younger crowd. However, if you're aiming for a significant career step forward, unless you're a fully qualified teacher, Thailand might not offer the best opportunities. But if your focus is on lifestyle and overall quality of life, Thailand wins hands down every time.
Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?
I'd never rule it out completely. There are plenty of other countries on my list to visit, but I can't deny how much I loved my time in Thailand. So, yes, I'd head back there to work again if a decent opportunity came along. Plus, it feels like a missed opportunity if I don't put to use what I learned during my time there.
Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?
If it's feasible, it's definitely better to acquire the proper teaching credentials from your home country before starting a teaching career abroad—unless you're absolutely certain that teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) will only be a short-term adventure lasting one to three years.