Are you a teacher who once taught in Thailand but decided to seek out pastures new? Has the grass been greener on the other side? Maybe you swapped Thailand for the financial lure of Japan or Korea? Read about those who have left Thailand, and their reasons for moving...

Submit your own Great Escape


William

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to Busan in South Korea about six months ago.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked in Thailand for five years. Most of that time was spent at a large government school in the south but I also worked in Bangkok for a couple of years at several private language schools. They were very different experiences but I enjoyed them both.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I needed to make more money and I suppose I was looking for something with a more defined career path. Thailand was great but it was very much a year-to-year existence. Very often it felt like I was going nowhere and when I hit 30 years of age, I had a moment of clarity and realized Thailand just wasn't a long-term option. I also split up with my Thai partner of several years and that made the decision to move to Busan even easier.

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

Much like anywhere else in the TEFL world, there are good schools and bad schools in Korea but I've managed to land myself a position with an institute that really looks after its teachers. Things aren't great at the moment with the coronavirus but we look to be over the worse here now and during the months of downtime, while my school has been closed and we've had no students, teachers have still received a basic pay package that has been more than enough to live on. Hopefully it won't be long before life gets back to normal.

I had been to Seoul a couple of times on my travels and really liked it but I decided to give Busan a try and it's a great city. Yes. it's mainly known for its industrial port but it has excellent parks and places to go hiking. The subway system is very good and it has a vibrant nightlife and plenty of Western food options.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Although I'm enjoying Korea (or I was until the virus struck), Thailand will always have a special place in my heart. I love the simplicity of life there and how some days you can manage quite easily on a couple of hundred baht. If you are willing to move out of Bangkok, the pace of life can almost be too relaxing.

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

I think Thailand makes a great first TEFL destination. It's not too demanding on new teachers and you'll gain plenty of great experience before perhaps moving on to something better.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I'm not sure whether I could work there full-time anymore. Looking way ahead into the future, when perhaps I've got enough money saved up, a lifestyle of semi-retirement with a part-time teaching gig might appeal to me.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Only what many others have said in this great escape section - don't get stuck in a rut in Thailand for too long. Before you know it, you might be a 50-year old teacher that despite years of service, your employer no longer wants. I think it's very easy to get 'too attached' to Thailand and feed yourself with too many reasons for not facing up to the reality and moving on. But as a place to teach for a couple of years (three at a push) Thailand would be hard to beat!


Rick Sanchez

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Cambodia in late 2019. Sue S'dai!

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

11 years! I taught in Trang, Phuket, Pattaya, Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Hat Yai. You could say I got around a bit.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

The visa bullshit. After 11 years, it just wore me down. Also the nagging feeling they simply don't want Westerners there anymore. TM30 anyone?

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

A far more lubricated and welcoming immigration system. Khmer folk are even more chilled than Thais - something I wouldn't have thought possible.
$0.50 beer. That's 15 baht for a beer. $0.25 for cigarettes. That's 7 baht for a pack of 20. Let those prices sink in. For the health-conscious, the gym is 10 baht.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

The roads. Beautifully engineered roads with tarmac extending to the sidewalks. Cambodia is dusty as a result of the poor roads.
I also miss the lingo because I could speak, read and write Thai. I can already read Khmer but speaking it is a different ball game. Thai is easier.

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

Thailand's best days are behind it. 1997 to 2013 were the golden years but not so much now. Get yourself a bit of coin in Saudi or China and then go to Thailand on holiday if you must.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Nah. After three months here, I'm loving it. It's like Thailand was back in the 90s. I'll be happy if I never see another Thai immigration officer in my life. I sure am glad I never got married or invested in anything there.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

I used to love watching Thai footy. However, I never got to see an actual Thai Premier League game the whole time I was there.


Jardel

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to South Korea in March of 2018.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I'd say 2.5 years. Two years in a government school in Bangkok and one semester in Esaan.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I was living paycheck to paycheck. I wasn't saving any money and even if I wanted to stay, the visa laws we're getting stricter and more annoying. I was also getting tired of having to wear a shirt and tie in the heat on my way to work fighting traffic. What a drag that was.

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

A number of things. My salary is twice as much and that doesn't include the free housing. I get flight allowance, start up allowance and a completion bonus among other benefits.

Korea is more developed too. The buses are clean and on time. Their subway system is quick and efficient. It's easier to travel from city to city too with no delays or need for a domestic flight like you'd need in Thailand if you want to get around on time.

The visa laws are also not as strict. I don't need to check in every 90 days for my whereabouts. I also don't need to pay for a reentry stamp if I make a visit to a neighboring country.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss the easy lifestyle. It kept the stress level low. I miss the food and cheap beer. Although I didn't like the heat I'm no fan of winter so I do miss the weather for the most part. Lastly I guess the dating possibilities as Korean girls don't put out as easily as in Thailand. It also doesn't help that the xenophobia is higher here than in Thailand.

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

It's a good starting point in my opinion, if you have little to no teaching experience. It's also a fun place to be if your main priority is the experience of the country and not the salary/benefits.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Yes, I go every now and then. It's only 4-5 hours from Korea and I've realized I get much more satisfaction going there as a tourist than I every did when I lived there.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Do your research before going there. Don't get taken advantage of for being misinformed whether it's being forced to teach Thai teachers or parents for free or being dual priced on the street.

Also find a way to progress or find an exit strategy when the time is right.


Sonny

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to China in 2018.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

For 10 years, mainly at an international school in Chonburi

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

The cost of living, stagnant wages, the attitude from the Thais that we will never be truly welcome. Noise levels and unlawfulness are a big thing for me having children. Overall, no security.

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

It's clean, crime-free, quiet, cheap, convenient and safe.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

The lifestyle before things started to go downhill. I like China but it's kind of dull. Same old, same old everywhere you turn. The food is pretty bland too (in my area) and the people, although pretty quiet in comparison to Thais, are ill-mannered. They spit and smoke everywhere and push in queues etc.

In Thailand, life is always exciting. There's something happening all the time and life just ticks along. I love(d) the street life with the vendors, colours and smells. The personalities and characters also. That is becoming a thing of the past though so I have to accept that side of my Thai experience has gone.

I miss being able to travel around to beautiful beaches and so on. I miss the people of the North-East but not any of the others, especially Chonburi.

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

Yeah, have a few years there. Consider getting qualified to cover yourself and get a decent job. Avoid language academies and government schools. China has jobs everywhere but most are awful so choose wisely. You're every bit a necessary evil here as in Thailand.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Holiday yes, to live no. Never say never, but Thailand has had its day and the natives are destroying it. The people in charge don't deserve such a naturally beautiful place. Financially they're destroying it.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Don't jump at the first job that hooks you. Don't think that high salaries equate to a great job. Research, question and take your time. Also avoid agencies at all costs.


James

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan several months ago. Taiwan to me is the real China, not that much bigger communist place over the sea that effectively became part of the USSR a few decades ago.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I was there for three years, working in a shopping mall language school.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I took several holidays to Taiwan during my three years of work in Thailand and I preferred absolutely everything about it. The only reason I stayed in Thailand beyond the first year was a clingy Thai girlfriend who managed to keep me there far longer than I enjoyed it for.

Taiwan feels like a mostly developed island nation whereas Thailand feels like a backward xenophobic corrupt banana republic. Taiwan has high speed trains and an MRT system in its first second and third city (soon to open in its third city Taichung)

It has sea breezes pretty much anywhere in the country, awesome accessible mountains that stretch from north to south and can be easily hiked on well developed and marked out trails from any city in the country with no stupid national park entrance fees, cooler weather than Thailand for two thirds of the year which makes spending all day outdoors a pleasure (the south and west of Taiwan is mostly dry and sunny for most of the year whereas the north and east is mostly cloudy, so you can choose which you prefer and even switch between them within 90 minutes by using the awesome THSR train)

You get 90-day visa exemptions on arrival and my Taiwanese girlfriend can visit my country in Europe without a visa.

Prices are barely any higher than Thailand for almost everything and cheaper for such things such as cans and bottles of beer (65 baht for a can of Guinness anyone?) free ATMs (no stupid 200 baht fees for foreign cards).

Even the 7-elevens and family marts here are far better, with eat-in areas, outdoor eating areas, toilet facilities etc. The roads are far safer and less clogged, the buses are new and clean, the whole place is clean modern and well-built, the people more educated, interesting and worldly, and the food is healthier.

The Thais I know who have visited me here have all said that they wish Thailand could be more like Taiwan, in every way.

About the only thing better in Thailand is ease of prostitution, although I'm only a very short cheap flight away from Angeles if I need that.

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

Professionalism, and that's very important to me. Thais never seem to grow up, and working with people in their 30s and 40s who behave like infants quickly gets tedious.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Nothing. I've no reason to return there other than obligations (see below).

If I feel like a break from Taiwan I nip to Okinawa, Hong Kong or the Philippines, all of which are an hour or so away.

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

Definitely Taiwan. I regret ever setting foot in Thailand for anything other than a holiday.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I'm in Thailand now for a few days to attend a friend's wedding tomorrow. I would never have set foot here again if not for attending it.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Wise up and give Thailand a miss. It's too hot, too dirty and too corrupt. The people are charming, but if you have a brain that's simply not enough.


Showing 5 Great Escapes out of 258 total

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