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


Matt

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to Nanjing (China) about a year ago.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked in Bangkok for 2 years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I just felt that there was not much opportunity. I felt serious about teaching and wanted to get a job at a good international school and just felt it would be very difficult as I was not a qualified teacher. Although since moving a few of my friends have found good jobs to show it is possible.

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

Now I am working in an IB school with a much better salary and benefits. For example I now get free accommodation and flights every year. I have actually also found my Chinese co-workers to be very helpful.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss the ease of life. In China the police are a lot more strict to the point that I actually can't buy a gas bike without major problems and expense. I also miss the food and the ability to get to the beach.

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

I think it is up to people what they want to do. For younger teachers looking to make a career, I would suggest a few years in Thailand and then move on. However if you get a job that has good long term prospects maybe there is no need to move on. For me if you are living pay check to pay check you are playing with fire. What happens if you get sick etc?

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I will come back for holidays, but to work is unlikely. I feel that it is like an ex-girlfriend. You broke up for a reason, so why go back? If an ideal job came about and I had no commitments I would consider it for sure, but at the moment I would like to continue in China.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

My only advice to people is to stop kidding yourselves. In my experience many teachers complained about low wages, but then made no effort to get qualified and get a better job. I also saw teachers who were running out of waivers and had to leave, how could you not see that coming? If you have time check out this website to learn more about qualifications you can do whilst teaching- www.thelaoshi.com


Andrew

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Saudi Arabia, August 2015

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I taught for 6 months in what supposed to be one of the best language centers in Bangkok. However, it was one of the worst experiences of my 11 year teaching career.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

To be frank, teaching in Bangkok was, and will always be, an absolute farce. I knew it wasn't good going in but I really had no idea how bad it was.

For starters, the salary is an absolute joke that isn't even fit for a pension. I was earning 65,000 baht and saving roughly 15,000 a month. As a well educated adult with eleven years of professional experience and proper teaching credentials from a developed country that is an absolute shame. There is no way I could ever have retired saving less than $500 a month, even if I had planned on retiring in Thailand. I suddenly understood why so many foreigners commit suicide in Thailand. I too would rather die than live at the poverty level in Thailand.

But the real joke is that so many teachers agree to work for a poverty level wage. This is in fact a form of suicide, although it is much slower and much more painful. The wage issue is exacerbated by the fact that many schools employ unqualified people to be teachers.

You really have to ask yourself, what kind of person thinks they can teach without proper teacher training? Why would you want to screw up someone's chance at an education? The foolishness and selfishness of it baffles the mind. Would you hire an electrician who wasn't certified, or worse, refused to become certified?

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

I'm paid well, nearly 4 times what I was paid in Thailand and double what I was paid in Vietnam. I also earn more than I could at home as an EFL teacher. I also have excellent healthcare for myself and my wife. I also have 3 months off each summer in addition to semester breaks. In short, I receive a pay and benefits package on par with the rest of the professional world.

I'm also able to teach vocational subjects that I have previous work experience and graduate certificates in, particularly IT and programming. This leads to a more enjoyable teaching experience, as well as increased compensation without having to teach extra classes in a McDonald's in my spare time.

Other benefits include paid housing, in fact I earn a monthly bonus for staying in a serviced apartment provided by the school. I could choose to live elsewhere and have a driver but I don't like commuting.

The lack of commuting and the ability to work a normal day, 8 - 4, allows me time to get to the gym 5 times a week, cook regularly and still have time for studying in the evening and on weekends. Also, the benefit of not being around alcohol is quite remarkable for a person's physical and mental health.

Another great advantage is being treated as a professional and a competent adult, not a marketing gimmick or a 'service provider'. Furthermore, students are treated as students and not coddled and entertained in exchange for tuition fees. When they fail they fail, they don't pass.

Also, student performance is the responsibility of the student, not the teacher, which is normal but worth pointing out as Thailand seems to have it backwards.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Very little. Thailand is a great place for an adventure, especially if you can get yourself away from the sexpat traps and instead head north or to the more remote islands, although that is increasingly difficult and increasingly costly.

However, daily life in Bangkok is an absolute nightmare. From the incessant heat to the traffic to the over crowding to the rise of totalitarianism to the rapidly declining quality of life to the dumbing down and pacification of the population to the awful expats with substance abuse problems and mental health issues, there is very little of interest in Bangkok.

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

For a new teacher, or really any teacher who is qualified, avoid working in Thailand at all costs. It is well known throughout the industry that Thailand is a the place for deviants, for unqualified and incompetent teachers, and for schools with absolutely no standards. Experience in Thailand is not a plus on your CV, at best it is a curiosity and at worst it is a red flag for both your own personal qualities and your professional abilities.

I say this from my own previous experience in other countries where I assisted in hiring and CVs with more than 1 year in Thailand were generally discarded. When a teacher with experience in Thailand was hired they almost always had major issues with maintaining a work ethic, developing coherent materials and lessons, teaching basic lessons, telling students 'how to think', following curriculum and of course using any form of technology in the office and classroom. The worst quality though was the inability to receive feedback on their teaching and make improvements.

In addition, I have had interviews for jobs where my own experience in Thailand was scrutinized. Since then, I've removed it and but it down to time off. I'd rather tell a lie than say I was employed in Thailand.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Like I said earlier, Thailand can be a fun holiday. But, after 4 or 5 days it's really enough.

While my wife still lives in Bangkok we will be relocating soon. In the last two years we've only spent time in Thailand when it was necessary, such as taking care of banking (another nightmare) or legal issues at the embassy regarding visa applications. We choose to spend our downtime, and our hard earned money, in friendlier and more interesting countries like Japan, the US and Europe.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Let's be frank -- teaching in Thailand is an absolute farce. Anyone who is even remotely serious about education will be better off working in any number of other countries which not only pay better but take education seriously. Korea, Japan, Vietnam, China, the UAE, Saudi Arabia...the list is long and it even contains many countries that Thais want to study in; this should be a major red flag for a teacher.

Taking a teaching job, or nearly any job for that matter, in Thailand is an exercise in financial suicide. You will burn through whatever savings you have, savings that ironically you earned in another country -- let that sink in for a moment.

The result is that you, like so many others before you, will get stuck in Thailand and that will not only be a financial disaster but will also lead to a professional and probably a mental health crisis as well. The professional crisis is that you will most likely become deskilled and unemployable elsewhere. The mental health crisis will evolve as it slowly dawns on you that you have wasted your time and money and will have to work hard to get out.

If you're interested in Thailand, do yourself a favor, save up for a holiday and take that holiday in Thailand and love it. Then, go back to work in a country where you can save up for another holiday. That country will not be Thailand.


James

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back home to London, Ontario last year.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I started working in 2012. I spent 5 years in Thailand. I *survived* for 5 years because some days I barely got through the day. I’m one of those guys who did it all such as being called at 4.00 am to teach for peanuts in the middle of nowhere. I had a boss who was stringing me along and an English manager who did everything he could to undermine me.

I tried meet-ups, church, Thai classes, cooking classes, you name it, and I met rotten foreigners. I tried upgrading myself studying in a Thai university where I was met (again) with hostile administration staff who tried to undermine me because of envy (I assume – it’s one of those things where if you do too good, you make the other person “lose face” so they try and undermine you).

I tried just about everything and all I did was survive.

I was too young to feel this jaded and bitter. I was too young to have health issues and be so down on life. Some days, I felt like I was 60, not 25 because of chronic fatigue combined with burn-out and depression.

I ended up spending my days in shopping malls and stuck in my condo and hibernating online. That’s why I say I survived for 5 years, because I put up with a lot of rotten stuff but I seldom experienced good things or had new good experiences or life-changing friendships.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I got badly depressed. I started having health issues (depression and heart)

There were days where I was so anxious that I’d be lucky to get through the day, and then there were other days when I’d have very horrible panic attacks. My world got smaller and smaller, and I started isolating myself. I was too afraid to move and I felt trapped. I understand why foreigners find it difficult to leave Thailand. Look up “learned helplessness”

A) Deep and profound contempt for foreigners. This contempt is very subtle because you don’t experience it all at once. Thai people are gentle. Thai people are tolerant. But I never felt Thai people were that kind. Thai people are not that helpful when it comes to important things. (People get confused about this)

B) This gentleness combined with covert aggression makes it very hard to see what’s going on. Nobody yells or screams at you. Eventually, you realize that you have been undermined at work, that you have been blocked in accomplishing things and that others would rather spend 30 minutes pointing out why something can’t be done rather than looking for a way where it can be done even if this is a win-win situation.

C) Other foreigners being incredibly judgmental and undermining other foreigners. I was genuinely surprised at how many times somebody negatively judged me in Thailand. None of these guys were top of the cream snobby expats who were here on assignment who’d look down at me. Most of these men were men who faced exactly the same issues as me. Instead of (God forbid) empathy, I felt OTHER foreigners got meaner and meaner and meaner towards each other.

All of this creates a vicious circle of foreigners hating on other foreigners. You end up meeting the same jerk whether he’s from Canada, India, Australia, New Zealand or the UK. Thais blocking and undermining foreigners. Foreigners having resentment towards Thai who block them or developing serious health issues for burying all of this contempt and anger inside (you learn how to censor yourself very quickly here).

Foreigners becoming jaded, depressed, and getting addicted to all sorts of things because they start isolating themselves (and rightfully so) from other foreigners. Men tip-toeing instead of being assertive (as if that was a crime) around those in power.

In the end, you can’t win by being too assertive (or “too confident” as my Thai friend puts it). You can’t win by giving up because you’re a loser. Catch-22.

The trick is that you have been conned into thinking you were in some sort of tropical paradise.

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

I can actually have conversations with people who treat me like I’m a human being. Chances to try something new career-wise and actually have opportunities, living in an environment where it’s not a crime wanting to improve yourself. Empathy and compassion. Fair employers. Finding hope and purpose to live life again.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Thailand is a country to take a short vacation in during winter. Peace of mind on occasion. Going to the movies is cheap and can be a great experience. Eating out, as well

In everyday life, most Thai people are gentle and patient. They can be helpful (with very small day-to-day things like helping you get the door or giving you a nice smile or helping your when you drop something)

Thailand has very good selection of food in supermarkets. Thailand has good and reliable and fast internet. Private health-care and dentistry are great and affordable (IF you know exactly what you need) Oh and it's sunny.

Renting a condominium (with a lot of work and research) can be top class and affordable. Pool, gym, concierge, the view. Bangkok has an underground (MRT), skytrain (BTS), boat and buses

Taxis are affordable. Massage is affordable. Stores are open almost every day, and 24/7

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

Hell no. Thailand is a “no-can’t-do” land. People will spend 40 minutes explaining why something can’t be done. You’ll hear NO so often (it just won’t be said directly and fairly and in time) that you’ll become bitter. So much disappointment. So much contempt leads to self-loathing. You don't deserve this..

Expats living in Thailand are blocked professionally or personally while they support the local economy. The majority of foreigners living here fail and maybe a couple of percent succeed. Are those odds you’re willing to take?

If you are desperate and have no other options, alright.

Remember that even if you get a good job, other people (expats/foreigners) you’re going to meet here are going to be mean and judgmental. Why would you want to interact with people who keep putting you down?

Forget about making good friends. If you want to stay in your condo with your internet and air-conditioning nine out of twelve months and you think that is *life*? Then go right ahead.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

None.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

It’s not you.

People will try to convince you that it’s your fault for not trying too hard, etc, etc but you never had a fair chance to begin with.

If you’re reading this, know that you’re not alone and that you can do and feel better than this. You don’t have to live like a rat in a box, hiding and surviving day by day. You CAN move to a better place where you will be treated better and where you’ll be healthier and more able to treat and support people better.

It’s not normal losing touch with your assertion and masculinity because assertion threatens other people.

It’s not normal going to the toilet (shopping mall) and having some dodgy gay guy follow you in and just hang around (I’m not a homophobe, I’m just a normal person who has boundaries)

It’s not normal renting an apartment and not getting your deposit back.

It’s not normal having your internet censored and then seeing prostitution wherever you go.

It’s not normal slowly getting sick from living in polluted cities like Bangkok. It’s not normal seeing that dirty river and smell of sewers. It’s not normal being miserable and sweaty 9 out of 12 months in a year.

It’s not normal having a partner own 51 percent of a house or a company by law.

It’s not normal seeing people so uptight and then acting holier than thou.

It’s not normal living in a shanty town.

It’s not normal having your deposit stolen after renting an apartment.

It’s not normal accepting “misteerrrrr, where you come from? what you do here? how long you stay here? as normal and satisfying human interaction.

It’s not normal (or logical) being held back by so many people wanting (both Thai and fellow expats) to keep you out like you were stealing their jobs (as if there was anything close to a fair opportunity in Thailand) when all foreigners do is boost Thai economy and get little in return.

It doesn’t make any sense that people who are so familiar with ‘saving face’ try and humiliate you when you attempt to follow visa rules, etc.

We’re discriminated against for just trying to get by.

Nobody is making it big over here. People survive and that’s about it. God knows that tons of young and naïve “digital nomads” are funding the economy by living in Chiang-Mai and just renting Thai condos, shopping for Thai food without any opportunities to grow personally or professionally.


Badar

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to the USA in 2013.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

10 years including three years in an elementary school and five years at a university.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Low salaries (no increases since 1990), increased stress, decreasing sanuk factor, increasing uptightness, and the fact that it's far better to be a classy hustler and bum in The USA than a stand-up tool pretending to be a teacher. Oh yes, and the suffocating heat that really hits a farang once they're not a young buck anymore. 35 years old usually.

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

Easy. Live in your car, shower at fitness centers, do all these odd jobs for wealthy people that are easy, work in easy short term service jobs, save all your money, go to Thailand whenever you want. You can have lots of dates easily in the USA using dating apps. Of course, you'll have to have a bullshit story because women are all hustlers there too, but heavens if you haven't learned to hustle as an English teacher in Thailand for 10 years.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

420 is very strong and cheap but this is offset by anti-human laws and a general alcoholic culture that glorifies stupidity. Thai girlfriends? I have a smoking hot Thai wife (who's cool as hell) and a large brood of leuk-kreung kids to look after. I go back and see them whenever I have money by hopping a China airlines barge - which as a bum in a wealthy area is quite often! I actually spend more time with my kids on Skype in the states than I did working seven days a week as a token western-looking face.

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

Do you have any self respect? Go be a teacher in Japan, Korea, Siberia, or just get an education degree and be a real teacher at home. Real teachers get paid well! Go anywhere but Thailand!

If you're a middle age victim of TEFL, suck it up and go live in a van in USA or Europe. Do odd jobs, work, make hundreds of dollars a day instead of tens. Enjoy a cool decent climate - it's easier to turn on heat than air-conditioning. You really want to make tens of dollars a day kissing arse to some cheap Thai boss? Also, its boring and stiflingly hot - unless you have a nice house in the country with a swimming pool to chill in.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

For holidays, of course. If one has a military pension, stay in Thailand forever but for god's sake, don't work there! It will suck your soul. You will become anemic and pathetic if you stay here as a long term farang (my opinion) and it's a fact that numerous teachers literally drop dead here from heart attacks. There are sixty-year olds who've lived here their whole lives and suddenly have no money, can't go home, and end up offing themselves

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Thailand was a promising country back in 2002, but there are serious political/social problems. To me it appears that this area has been designated as a cheap human labor zone by the international bankers who run this planet.


Terrance

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Moved back to the USA (San Jose, CA) in October, 2016

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Just shy of 4 years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Salary of course. Also, I am 33 years old and don't want to be an English teacher my entire life. It was never the long-term plan, but the years were tacking on one-by-one and I had to break the cycle. Regardless of several bargains, there is no denying that teacher salaries have barely budged in Thailand in the last 20 years, yet the cost of living is increasing everywhere.

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

Contrary to what a lot of foreigners complained about when they talked about "back home" and being tied down to a job they don't like, I actually have more flexibility with work, less overall hours, and a shorter commute, despite being in Southern California.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Meeting new people, especially Thai friends. I never understood my co-corkers who went to the British pubs on weekends to "get away and relax." If I wanted to be around the familiar sights of home, I would have just stayed in the USA initially.

I miss the cheap massages, street food, and exploring new places.

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

Have an exit plan and stick to it. I can't stress that enough. It was a lot harder to leave than I thought it would be initially, but once I committed to it and followed through with it, my quality of life has improved significantly.

Don't become a farang statistic in Thailand. Learn to speak Thai while you are in Thailand - It isn't too hard to learn if you practice. Make friends, but try to make more Thai friends instead of just surrounding yourself with fellow Westerners. Expect a low salary, and if you accept a position, don't whine and complain about the long hours, low pay, etc. It is what you signed up for!

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Maybe. I would want to come again and visit new places and experience new things. Maybe scuba diving or rock climbing, or some new motorbiking routes. It would be pointless to keep revisiting the same country to visit the same places and do the same things over and over. It's a big world.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

If you want to be an English teacher in Thailand, be committed. You need to have at least a little interest/passion in actually being a teacher and improving the lives of children. Too many teachers I worked with in Thailand just wanted to "live the dream" and became teachers because it was the only job available. So sad.


Showing 5 Great Escapes out of 246 total

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