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


Sylvia

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to teach in Croatia in August 2022.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I was there for about two years and loved every minute, but I did work at a very well-managed school that valued its foreign teachers. Other foreign teachers I befriended in our small southern Thai town were not so lucky.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I just fancied a change of scenery and to immerse myself in a bit of European culture again. I'm a woman in my late 50s and feel I need to grab every life experience I can while there's still town. A good friend had been teaching in Croatia for a year and absolutely loved it. I thought why not give it a try.

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

I don't think there are really any advantages...it's just a different environment. I earn about 25% more than I was earning in Thailand and the cost of living doesn't seem to be that much higher so I probably have slightly more spending power. Accommodation would probably be my biggest expense here but my employer provides a free apartment and pays for the utilities. Actually had that not been part of the deal, I wouldn't have come here anyway and probably stayed in Thailand. Oh, I should probably add that I'm enjoying the fresh air and the nature trail walks without dripping in sweat after a few hundred metres.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Thai food! I don't think I ate a western meal in the two years I was there. And I miss the friends I made at the school.

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

I haven't really been in Croatia long enough to offer advice. But as for Thailand, I think it's a great place to teach English for a 20-something who doesn't perhaps have many prospects. It's a glorious chance to spend a few years enjoying life and getting some international experience. It is also a great place for those changing careers into teaching later in life.

However Thailand doesn't offer a large number of opportunities for those seeking advancement and a professional career. I am not saying professional “success” cannot be found in Thailand, but there are limited opportunities for foreigners, at least as far as paid work goes for those wanting a career outside of being an English teacher. Thailand is what it is and has the opportunities it has. If this fits your career plans and opportunities, then it is a great place to live.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I'm certainly eyeing up Thailand as a potential retirement destination but I can't see that being for another ten years or so. God willing.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Working in Thailand was a great experience and I'm never sure it makes much sense to compare one place with another. Instead it is better to enjoy what each country has to offer. My advice is to take all advice, including mine, with a pinch of salt and realize the “right” place to work is an individual matter based on personal preferences, opportunities and career plans.


Seb

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Well, it was my intention to move back to the UK last June but I got rather sidetracked and have spent the last three months in Turkey.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I was there for about three years. I worked at a boys school in Bangkok, then moved to work at a secondary school in Ayuthaya and finally, I did a year at a school in Kanchanaburi. I certainly moved around in search of those 40K salaries.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I got bored of teaching. Every day started to become a battle to motivate myself and I could feel teaching just sucking the life out of me. There just comes a point when you've had enough of standing up in front of classes where not one single student really wants to be there...and what use is English to them anyway? Plus of course the general back-biting that goes on between Thai staff and foreign staff and don't even get me started on late salary payments.

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

I'm doing some part-time work at a pal's travel and tour company in Turkey. It doesn't pay a great deal (just enough to cover rent and food and a few drinks at the weekend) but at least I feel appreciated.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Outside of the classroom and the general school environment, I absolutely loved Thailand. There is an unbelievable amount of stuff I miss, from riding a scooter along dirt roads skirted by mile after mile of rice fields to late night drinks at some Thai cowboy bar on the dangerous side of town. Every day is an adventure when you live in Thailand.

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

Yes, I think it's a great place to gain teaching experience and gain confidence standing in front of large groups. Let's face it, if you can keep a class of 30-40 bored teenagers entertained, then not a lot is going to faze you. Also, the barrier to entry is pretty low. As long as you turn up on time, wai when you're supposed to and keep the parent complaints to a minimum, you'll become the star of the show.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I would certainly come back for an extended holiday because I had always planned to tour South Thailand but never quite made it. As for ever teaching there again? No chance!

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

I'm dreading going back to the UK. The more I read about how things seem to be going rapidly downhill, the more I wonder if it might be worth giving TEFL in SE Asia another crack. Just not Thailand again.


Steve

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to the USA in 2013.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I moved to Thailand in 2004 after completing university in Australia, where I also happened to meet the perfect Thai woman, with whom I am married. I taught English and Information Technology at a public secondary institution with an English program for eight years, so I was in Thailand for almost a decade.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

My wife and I had two boys in Thailand and after an arduous 8 years, I took a long hard look at my finances, my immigration status and the state of education that was awaiting our children. I hardly had any property or savings to show for my 8 years; I wasn’t anywhere near getting permanent residency in Thailand and I didn’t want to subject my kids to 21+ subjects a semester in school. I wanted them to have the childhood I never had.

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

I moved to the US with just $1,000 in my pocket — that’s all I had saved up for 8 years! Granted, I had family in The States, I was finally able to build credit, and within a year I had a car to get around in. I’ve never owned a vehicle before. Within three years I was able to get my family over from Thailand, and we got a house in Florida. I had landed a place in the insurance industry — a good place for a crash course into the corporate culture of America; that provides a 401k, profit-shares and other benefits.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Life in Thailand is simple and care-free. Sure, I enjoy the benefits of my home country, but one day, eventually, I will have to retire — and nothing beats retirement in a country where your dollars can go further; and where good, proper healthcare is more readily accessible.

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

I have learned a lot in my travels. Although one gains a privileged vantage point of life, growing up overseas — this can be a bittersweet predicament at times. Living the simple life overseas will open your eyes to the pitfalls of your own country, and you may never see your fellow countrymen in the same light. With that said, there are so many back in my home country that would benefit from such an experience.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Absolutely — before I retire, I plan on visiting every now and then to map out where I will eventually settle. Currently working on how to build a home in Thailand that has the same conveniences as the ones here in the US.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Back here in America, the people who have had the most profound and meaningful contributions to a discussion were almost always those who have travelled outside the bubble of security and comfort most Americans relegate themselves to. Thailand remains an engagingly provocative and memorable destination for me.


Paul

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to my hometown in Texas in December 2021.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I was there for about four years at the same secondary school in Bangkok.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I just woke up one morning and thought 'enough was enough'. I'd had by and large a fantastic four years but I was about to hit thirty years old and I wasn't confident that teaching in Thailand was something I wanted to do into middle age and beyond. You never really know which direction the country is going in either and living from annual visa extension to extension, you never feel truly settled or that you belong or that you're wanted. It just felt like time to move on.

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

Well, I'm earning four times the salary here that I did in Thailand (with more benefits) but the cost of living is more expensive of course. I've just moved into my own apartment after living back with my parents for several months and suddenly being on my own is taking some getting used to. I'm also working crazy hours at the moment because the company have so much work on. You have to put a lot more organisation and thought into your life over here compared to Thailand.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

What I really loved about teaching in Thailand was at 4.00 pm when you finished that last lesson of the day, you didn't have to give your work another moment's thought until the first class the following day. You could completely switch off and enjoy what was left of the day. And with being at the school for four years, I had pretty much fine-tuned my schedule to no weekend work and out of the door at 4.00 pm on weekdays. It was a pretty cushy number if I'm honest. There was no pressure on me at all.

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

Oh absolutely. Thailand is a great place to gain experience in the classroom. As long as you look the part, turn up on time and be polite to everyone, you'll lead a comfortable life. If you're one of those teachers who likes to rock the boat and question every decision and crazy idea the school has, then you won't last long. You've got to just go with the flow, that's the secret of enjoying life in Thailand.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Not at the moment but if things don't work out here or I start to experience the dreaded burnout, who knows?

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Thailand can be a wonderful and addictive place to live for a few years, but if you feel that things are getting a bit stale (as I did) don't stay doing the same thing for the sake of it. Perhaps it's time for a move...and there's no shame in feeling that way.


Chris

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I returned to England last month (May 2022)

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I was there for one year, working in a Thai government high school just outside Bangkok (but within easy reach if you needed to go into the big, bad city). I arranged this job through an agency while I was still in the UK.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Thailand, or rather Bangkok, just didn't do it for me. I'd had enough of teaching after one year and I guess it just isn't for everybody. I found the heat and humidity, day in and day out, hard to deal with and started to miss the four distinct seasons. Although I liked the school I worked at, and the agency was very good to us, there's a lot of backstabbing, jealousy and bitterness between foreign and Thai teaching staff. That was certainly another factor.

Living in Bangkok also cost a lot more than I thought it would. A salary of 40,000 baht leaves you with barely a thousand a day once you've paid your rent. You cut your cloth accordingly and somehow you survive, but there's always a feeling that you're going without when you peer over the fence and see how other expats (non-teachers) are living.

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

I'm still contemplating my next move and actually haven't started another job yet. There seems to be plenty of opportunities around though.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I certainly miss the social aspect of life over there. We had a good group of about 10-15 foreign teachers who generally got on well with each other and would play football together as well as socialising on the odd Friday or Saturday night. Unfortunately, due to an ever increasing workload, I got little chance to see what Thailand has to offer outside of the capital (I went to Pattaya several times and I did a long weekend down in Hua Hin) I think that could be my biggest regret.

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

Thailand is a TEFL destination that you could certainly stick for a year or two but unless you're pulling in the big bucks at an international school, then life is sure to become more of a struggle as you get older and perhaps less desirable in the eyes of employers. I saw with my own eyes a number of older teachers who had stuck around too long without a plan B and were now effectively in a trap of their own making.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Not at this stage of my life. If you asked me to summarize Thailand in a sentence, I would say 'a country that for me didn't quite live up to the hype'

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

As I've already mentioned, I didn't find the time or make the time to travel extensively outside of Bangkok. Perhaps my opinion of Thailand might have been different if I'd experienced some of the islands or travelled around the north or north east.


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