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


Yeshey

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to Bhutan on 30th of September 2020 after I completed my 10-month contract with a school in Chantaburi.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked in Thailand for just the length of that 10-month contract.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

The number one reason was not being able to get a visa extension. My school couldn't come up with the necessary documentation which would have allowed me to apply for a visa extension and stay on.

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

It is difficult to get job in Bhutan. We have to go through government examinations like the preliminary examination and the main examination. Without passing these exams, we can't get a proper job. The job sector is very competitive.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss everything about Thailand. I miss my students especially and some good Thai people who treated me as one of their own. I miss the simple lifestyle over there.

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

Definitely, YES!!

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Yes, I am always planning to return to Thailand. But sadly, my application gets rejected because I am not a native English speaker. I am always praying to get an opportunity to come back to Thailand and teach.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Teaching in Thailand really gave me a purpose in life. Thai students gave me a reason to come back to Thailand and teach. Without their presence in my life, I would have definitely committed suicide. They have given me the reason to live. I want to come back to Thailand and teach and help Thai students to improve their English proficiency level.

I wish Thailand did not discriminate between native and non-native English speakers. I hope Thailand gives equal opportunity of employment to both in the future because non-native English speakers can be equally fluent in English.


Thesetat

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to China in 2015.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

About 7 years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

The Ministry of Education here refused to grant any more teaching licenses to me because the university where I studied at become unable to hold on to its accredited status and was taken off the list of accredited schools.

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

Working in China pays three times more than Thailand for foreign teachers. The Chinese students treat the foreigner teachers with respect and do their work as assigned. The Chinese staff also work together with the foreigner to create a unified teaching environment. Discipline and laziness are not issues either.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss the food and my family.

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

I would advise them to seek work in China. Although the documentation and certification takes time, you need many stamps and seals and your education and criminal background are checked thoroughly. it is worth the time and effort when you finally get to China and begin working.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I used to return to Thailand every month. Being only 4 hours flying time, it was cheap and easy to do before Covid. Now with Covid it is impossible.

Even if I returned to Thailand one day, I would still be unable to teach, and teaching is what I love to do.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Thailand is a nice place. The schools and education system though don't care or want foreigners to teach there. Foreigners are considered to be more of a selling point to Thai families with children and the foreigner is easily disposed of if the children complain about them. This happens often, especially if you are a real teacher trying to get your students to do their work and pay attention to your lessons.


Greeno

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to Australia a few years ago.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Five years I reckon. That was on and off though. It wasn't the whole five years straight.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Family reasons for one but I also got tired of the ways of so-called international schools.
I worked for two of them. Th first school hired some British nut job who took over a decent, albeit underpaying international school and took it to bits brick by brick. He bombed out all the existing staff for no good reason other than to feed his own ego. I’m a good teacher I tell you and I deserved better, so I gave another international school nearby a go. That was ok but still not to the standards I was looking for.

The second school is doing ok now from what I am told but the first school is losing students and kids - and still the mighty bird sits on his throne. The Thai staff were actually ok there. It was Chinese-owned but the boss had no interest in education or staff. This sounds like some sort of review but I'm just trying to highlight how your career can be cut down like a tree with the introduction of a rotter like I met.

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

Security and protection. Employees have rights and the Australian law is there for a good reason. I also prefer the Aussie climate because I’m a fitness freak so no more having to train in 35 degree temperatures.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss the people and much of the Thai food (but certainly not all of it). I enjoyed the nights out as well. There was no better way to spend a Friday night than on Walking Street with a tinnie.

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

Yeah, but steer clear of people like the one I worked for. There are some crazy people in the Thai education business and some of the foreigners are far worse than the Thai staff and school owners.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Sure, why not. I’m a man who’s taken more blows than most blokes my age have, so I can take most of what Thailand throws at me.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Give Thailand a try and if you don’t like it, just move on. No contract is worth a dirt out here so there's nothing keeping you there if it's not your scene.


Ronnie

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to England in late 2019. Back to my home city of Sheffield to be exact.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I was there for three years. I started off at a small private school in Chiang Mai, earning about 25,000 baht a month but just didn't find that enough to live on. Then I worked at a government school just outside Lampang and even though the pay was better (32,000) I was bored to tears within a month or so. Eventually, I found my way to Bangkok and a large government school. I lasted about 18 months there.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

On the family side, my father wasn't in the best of health and I wanted to spend some time with him while we still had the chance. In addition, my brother was starting up a business buying and selling classic cars and he asked me if I fancied joining him as a partner. That was something that really appealed to me.

I was finding it too difficult to settle in Thailand and find a place to lay my hat and call home. Chiang Mai didn't really do it for me. I struggled to make any real friends and the air pollution for several months of the year was truly horrible ( I suffer from mild asthma) Lampang was too quiet and then of course, Bangkok was like going from one extreme to the other. Even though I come from one of the biggest cities in the UK, I found Bangkok just too overwhelming and not really much fun. It's an expensive city as well if you have no interest in living like a Thai and slumming it on 35,000 baht a month.

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

The North of England is my home, I just didn't truly realise it. It's where my family and good friends are. It's been nice to settle back into daily life here and business is going fairly well. I don't feel 'alone' here like I often did in Thailand.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I don't miss any one thing in particular. It's a pretty laid-back lifestyle but you can get too comfortable and just drift from day to day. If I had to choose three things though, I would go for buying food from night markets (I always enjoyed that) secondly, the chance to travel to other provinces because Thailand does have some amazing scenery and natural beauty and finally, some of my wonderful students (I still keep in touch with a few of them on social media) But I left Thailand without ever making a true friend if I'm honest. I've been back in England for almost a year and it sometimes feels as if Thailand never happened and maybe I just dreamed it.

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

I worked with many foreign teachers over the course of three years. Some teachers take to Thailand like a duck to water, embrace every aspect of the culture and never seem to have a bad day, whilst others spend their every waking moment moaning and groaning and make you wonder what the hell they are doing there! Whether you like Thailand or not will all boil down to your personality at the end of the day.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I think South East Asia is a fantastic part of the world, but not sure I would want to work out there again. Holiday, yes, work, probably not. If I ever ventured out that way again for a month or so, I don't think Thailand would be top of my list.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Thailand's constantly changing visa rules and requirements was the one thing that really wore me down. Even though all the schools I worked at looked after me with visa assistance and work permits, etc, I never ever felt secure. You are only ever a guest there and Thailand constantly reminds you of your status. Someone who has been there 20 years (even with a wife and family) is just as much of a guest as someone who's just stepped off the plane. That's the way it seemed to me and it felt very unfair.


Baron

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

In February 2020, I moved to southern China.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked in Thailand for 3.5 years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I think it came down to wanting to try a different country to teach. I also wanted to travel more in China. Of course, covid has slowed down travel everywhere.

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

The pay is definitely higher. My base salary is nearly three times what I was making in Thailand. Private tutoring rates are much higher as well. I am also treated more as an equal to my co-teachers. Management is more respectful, so far.

In Thailand, I felt I was the "token" English teacher that was hired purely to make money for the school. In China, I feel more a part of the school community and team and I actually found it easier to adjust to life in China than in Thailand. It is easier to find goods and services in China on a consistent basis than in Thailand.

In Thailand, I felt like an ATM because so many people had their hands out for money. In China, at least where I am, they have their own money. It may sound crazy but I have students that are picked in a Bentley (no lie). The school said something to one mom because she picked up her TWO children in a Lamborghini (2-seater)! Mercedes, Audi, Maserati, and Porsche are common. Many Teslas running around too. Yes, I am in China!

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Mostly the beaches. I enjoyed the food, but there is good food here as well. The cost living was lower, but so were the salaries. The lifestyle in Thailand is more laid-back.

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

It is a nice starting point. I shouldn't have stayed 3.5 years though. Looking back, I should have left after a couple of years because China prefers teachers with at least two years of teaching experience. It is all too easy to get lulled into Thailand's chill surroundings and forget that it won't last forever.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I will return annually to hit the beaches. They are beautiful.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Thailand is a nice place to start ESL teaching. It helps a new teacher get their feet wet. That being said, it is not a good long term place to be (unless you are nearing retirement). Thailand doesn't pay well enough to live, travel, and plan for retirement comfortably. In China, my base salary is triple my Thailand salary and I have a free apartment. My annual bonus is basically one month's salary and I get a free round trip ticket home every year, as well as real insurance, including life insurance. Private tutoring wise, the rate is twice that in Thailand or more. I currently receive $100 an hour for groups of 4-6 students. In Thailand, I was lucky to get $50 an hour for 8 students.


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