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


Emma

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I went back to the UK in September 2018

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

18 months.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Thailand just wasn’t right for me. I worked in both Thai and international schools and what I saw in the Thai school has scarred me for life! I found the general ‘sabai sabai’ attitude stressful; however, the final straw came when my boyfriend was sent on two visa runs by his school, each time with incorrect paperwork. We figured that one more mistake could see him stranded at a border and it just wasn't worth the risk.

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

The structure and organization of schools in England is just so much more familiar to me. There are fewer cultural barriers to overcome and I can do my own photocopying without requesting it four days in advance!

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

My friends! I miss some of the touristy activities and drinking on a work night. I miss cheap taxis and spontaneous nights/days out. I miss the weather (sometimes- I do not miss 40 degree heat or my soi being flooded to my knees though!)

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

Depends on what they want. Teaching in England is a totally different experience and I would only recommend it for those who truly want it.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Only for holidays! Several holidays hopefully.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Nope :)


Will

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Back to the UK in October 2018

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

14 months (this time!) This is the third time I have worked as an ESL teacher in Thailand.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Family reasons really. We needed to get back to the UK to register our daughter for primary school and also my wife never really settled back to life in Thailand.

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

Pay is far better, with real benefits. There are also policies and procedures to follow, including protection for minority groups and an equal opportunity to succeed. People generally get jobs based on their ability, rather than their appearance or who they are in with. Lets also not forget free and comprehensive healthcare, free and better education for children, a vote and generally a lot more freedom to speak your mind on any subject!

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

If I am honest, pretty much everything. People, weather, food, learning a language etc. Everyday things like popping down the local market on the motorbike, watching the local football team with a beer in my hand or getting a Thai massage. Being in a foreign country, every day feels like a bit of an adventure. Its such a diverse place with something for everyone. It's also generally cheaper and more accessible to do most fun activities.

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

If you are serious about being a career teacher, get certified at home and possibly consider teaching elsewhere. Teaching in Thailand can be fun, but the pay is low and so are the standards. Look at it as a working holiday really, unless you have the qualifications and can get a job in an international school.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Of course! I love the place and it really is my second home. I will be back for regular holidays until I can work out another plan to live there again. Probably when my daughter has finished secondary school and flown the nest.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

I met so many teachers in Thailand who have no confidence getting a good job back home and therefore felt trapped. If you want to go back, look at your transferable skills and sell yourself to employers. You may not get a great job immediately, but good things can happen in the long run!


John

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to Australia in 2012.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked for about two years in an international private school. I rented an apartment nearby and used to ride to and from school in-between classes to eat at home and swim in my pool.

Great days! though I must admit I didn't like teaching classes of 40 children that couldn't behave and had no real English skills.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Before working in Thailand, I taught in Tokyo, Berlin and back home in Australia, so I have always had a taste for living abroad and teaching. I left Thailand for the same reasons many other teachers do: you have to be serious about the future. It's not a place most will ever make the kind of money needed to cover things like superannuation for a pension or cover much more than living there. There is no future. It is just a great place to have a party. Even if I didn't worry about my own future, I don't want my child to grow up there in that system.

Also the visa stuff was really annoying and they were always coming up with more hoops to jump through that often had to be paid for out of our own pockets.

I don't mind being the foreigner all the time but I do dislike some people's attitude to darker skinned Thais though. Yes, Thais are also sometimes racist and are often very superficial (lots of lovely people too though!)

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

I'm working in Australia in ESL at a university. I have been doing this for roughly 15 years on and off. Teaching adults is by far the most rewarding and financially it is the best life. The ESL industry is one of the biggest service industries here, and it was booming when I started with a bit of a dip, I think around the time of GFC, but it has survived.

I have seen so much change in my time and learnt so much doing what I love. Living in your home country where you can buy stuff that you keep is so good after living out of suit cases. I have lived abroad almost 5 years and it is always the same thing: should I buy this thing or that thing to be happier and more settled... but always knowing that you can't take it with you if you suddenly decide to leave.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

It has to be the right time of your life. I broke up with a long-term girl friend and went there a couple of times on holidays to mend my heart. I loved it so much I quit my job and went to continue the party.

I miss relaxed rules like smoking and drinking anywhere, living by the sea, riding my bmx bike everywhere because Pattaya is so flat. Also having my apartment with wifi and pool was all I needed and could jump on my bike and travel around town quickly.

Let's not forget the beautiful women, the food, and living with the other foreigners from all parts of the world that I wouldn't tend to meet back home in Australia. Living in Japan and Germany was similar.

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

Much like what I have already said above. Everyone has different reasons to work abroad in different places.

I chose Japan and Germany for the particular culture I wanted to explore. I wasn't able to save money anywhere I have lived. I have always dipped into savings to travel and get set up. I would not personally recommend living permanently anywhere in Thailand for anyone but know many who do.

I do however recommend the same as I did; live in Pattaya if you are a single man wanting to minimise the cost of an extended party. There is no way in hell you are going to afford to have that party off the money you make though.

My 40,000 a month salary went a quarter to accommodation and then I lived off a thousand baht a day for simple food and a few drinks. Going out and having a good night every night means you need at least four times that.... and that is never going to happen.

I suggest that everyone goes there for a holiday first and give it a go where you live off 1,000 baht a day and see if you like that life style.

Also some people say once you buy your own place it gets cheaper etc... NO you lose your job at a particular place it is not that easy to find another so you would basically be stuck with your money tied up in one rotting apartment and they are constantly building new ones, so it is just not worth buying in my opinion.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I do return every couple of years as I married a Thai and have a kid.

I am accepted into Thai life up-country, but must admit I hate having to do the long drive out there. It's nice to be out near the Cambodian jungle border for a day or two. It's such a completely different culture, food and people, but I am happier when I return back down for a visit to Pattaya.

In Isaan, I even got bitten on the face by a scorpion in the outdoor toilets in the middle of the night! With the constant worry about malaria and knowing of relatives who have died from it there, I do like to stay away from that place.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

I'd like to thank Ajarn, as I found my job in Thailand on this site. It was pretty amazing when I went to Thailand for my holiday and then decided I wanted to work there. I returned to Australia, sent my resume off to various schools and in a few days later got a reply. I said I would be back in Thailand in a week and started straight away.

It was like going from a holiday idea to a reality in a week.

I have spent more time in Pattaya than any other place overseas and it really feels like I am coming home every visit I take.

There is something about the Thais and their culture that makes me feel like I belong there. I just wish I could have the job I have here in Australia and live on the pay over in Thailand.


John

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Back to the UK in April 2018

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I was in Pattaya for 3 and a half years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I left Thailand due to a number of reasons.
- the hellish visa process and bureaucracy that got worse by the year
- stagnant wages
- always being the farang
- scams, corruption and pollution
- no real growth or seeing any future in TEFL in Thailand. I'm still young but the thought of spending my life going paycheck to paycheck in a less-developed Asian country worried me.

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

The hours are a lot better. I work 10 till 6 Monday to Friday. No weekend seminars, lesson planning or extra curricular bs outside of work hours. Also the fact that Britain has actual employee rights where you can't get ruthlessly exploited like in Thailand.

Then there's life in the UK itself. As much as going on social welfare sucks, its still there. You probably won't starve to death in Britain if you lose your job. Can the same be said for Thailand? Likewise, a trip to the hospital won't bankrupt you.

The UK is so multicultural that you could probably be a 7 ft green alien and still not get stared at, unlike the "omg white person" stares and harassment in Thailand.

And its amazing to be back around all my favourite comfort foods, my good friends and with no language or culture barriers.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Despite the above, I miss a lot of things. One of my plans while in the UK is to do teacher training so I can get a better paid gig in Thailand.

I miss my beautiful, modern apartment with its gym and pool, the view from my balcony and the weekly housekeeping. I miss riding my motorbike along the beach and through jungle.

I miss the simplicity of life in Thailand. It seems like theres so many rules and jobsworths upholding them in the UK in every aspect of life.

Work was much simpler in Thailand too. I spent nearly 3 months looking for work when I came back before I found my job. It seems that TEFL in Thailand isn't worth diddly-squat to UK employers and oftentimes actually hindered me in my jobsearch ("so he's been bumming around Asia for 3 years instead of knuckling down" is often their view of it).

Most jobs in my city are painfully boring, menial and minimum wage paying. While at work in the UK, there are so many quotas to meet, boxes to tick, T's to cross and I's to dot and theres always some supervisor breathing down my neck. To think now that I'll get berated by some team leader 10 years younger than me for a typo when I used to be in such a respected position in Thailand is practically soul sucking.

I miss the weather and scenery in Thailand so much it hurts. Waking up every morning, looking at the hills and coconut trees from my balcony, never needing a jacket, the eternal heat and epic thunderstorms, always being tanned and being able to spend weekends at some random island somewhere. I miss the travel opportunities and that every day was an adventure.

And as bad as it sounds, the women. I'm a young, decent looking guy with a lot to offer but England really does suck for dating. It seems like everywhere I go, especially on nights out, the women are outnumbered 3 to 1 so they can be as picky as they want. Even my female friends notice this. Coming from Pattaya, the UK is a single man's hell.

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

I definitely recommend Thailand for a year or two or maybe even more. I only planned to stay a year and end up there for three. Its an adventure, there's so many travel opportunities and despite what UK employers might think, there's so much personal growth and development had by uprooting your life to a crazy country halfway round the world.

But, if you are the kind of person whose life is organised and structured to a T and who follows rules without question, Thailand will probably annoy, baffle, frustrate and possibly offend you. You'll need to leave your Western ideals at home and learn to be adaptable to be happy there.

But if you're prepared for the differences, its an amazing experience.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Definitely. Until I can get teacher qualified and get an international gig out there for good, I plan to spend my holidays there as often as possible, getting my fix of sun, sea and Walking Street.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

The big thing needed is to have a plan. Whether it's a plan upon return to your country, an escape to somewhere else or a decent paying international gig if you are planning to stay there. TEFL at the government schools in Thailand really is a dead end. The amount of lifers I saw in Pattaya on 35k a month, approaching 60 with no plan, savings, assets or anything to go back to in their country scared me of my own future there. Always build on yourself.


Jamie

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to Glasgow, Scotland in 2016.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Just over two years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I am a profoundly deaf man who wears a cochlear implant to hear. This has meant I faced many barriers in the workplace which I overcame via a variety of solutions, mostly at my own expense. I was dismissed from my first job because a parent made a complaint about having a deaf teacher in their child's classroom. Unfortunately the view held by people over there is still rather antiquated when it comes to disabilities.

The job I took after that was initially great - I had my own classroom with a fully equipped sound system which I could use both to encourage the pupils to hear each other speaking English, and to help me hear them clearly too. When this was taken away from me in the new term and I was made to move from classroom to classroom, it affected my ability to carry out my job because the lower half of the secondary school had classrooms without windows. You could hear the traffic, the noise from neighbouring classrooms, and the acoustics were terrible.

At that point, I realised that I wouldn't be able to do any meaningful teaching, and I wouldn't be able to fight for my rights because, unlike the UK, there is no equivalent to the Equality Act where I could demand that my employer make reasonable adjustment to the workplace to allow me to carry out my job. On top of that, I felt my methodology was becoming stale, and I needed professional growth to become a better teacher. I applied to do a PGDE course, and moved back to Scotland to attend interviews at the universities across Scotland which I applied to.

I went to the University of Edinburgh after being accepted thanks to my experience working in Thailand and ability to reflect on it in the interview. As of this month, I am a qualified Secondary English teacher registered with the General Teaching Council of Scotland, and am working in a new school with the responsibilities that go with it.

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

I'm happier teaching English in a British school because I am able to teach literature, creative writing, and debate techniques with pupils who are fluent in English - my undergraduate degree is in English Literature, because that's my passion, and I want to be able to share that with everyone I teach. I couldn't do that as a TEFL teacher.

I am also able to access British Sign Language interpreter support in the workplace thanks to the Access to Work programme in the UK. This means regardless of the nature of classroom activities and environment, I am able to access all auditory information.

I am also protected here under the Equality Act and British Sign Language Act (Scotland) so I'm treated with respect as a fully functioning subject expert in the school, and not as a "necessary evil" like I am in Thai schools.

Furthermore, I have access to a pension plan, free healthcare, trade union representation and CPD to grow as a teacher. It's not so bad here when you're a qualified teacher, and the salary is surprisingly decent.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss the low cost of life, the friendships I made while I was there, the beautiful neighbourhood I lived in, and the amazing dining scene. I also miss the freedom of riding a motorbike around Bangkok and the rest of Thailand.

The weather was the best part of living there - warmth all year round, with glorious sunshine. Summers are short here in Scotland. As I write this, it's August and from my seaview flat, it's looking rather cloudy and grey!

Also, the water here is too cold for me to engage in one of my favourite pastimes, diving. I'm almost certain I would freeze to death in the murky depths of the Irish Sea if I tried diving here.

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

If you're dedicated to teaching, and don't see it as a means to an end, I wouldn't recommend it. You don't gain any meaningful professional growth there, and you're treated as a necessary evil by school - merely tolerated, not respected as an educator.

I would recommend that instead, you volunteer at a local primary or high school for a few months to gain classroom experience then apply to do a PGCE/PGDE to qualify fully as a primary teacher or secondary subject teacher. That gives you far more freedom to teach wherever you like.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Yes, Thailand will always be in my heart. Every night when I sleep, I still dream about Thailand because it's my happy place. However, I am not certain I will ever work there again, unless a job opportunity comes up to be a special needs literacy teacher because that's where my passion lies as far as teaching goes. I intend to buy property there so I have somewhere to stay every time I return for the holidays.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

It's all well and good to move to a new country for work - it'll change you as a person and broaden your mind. Just don't stay there forever without a plan to sustain yourself in the future, because you're wasting your life. Foreigners don't have access to a meaningful pension fund or union representation to prevent unfair dismissal.


Showing 5 Great Escapes out of 239 total

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