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


Robert

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Actually I haven't left Thailand's shores yet. I'm in the process of packing up my things, tieing up a few loose ends and hoping to be out of here before Songkran in the middle of next month.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I've been here for two years, working at a large primary school on the outskirts of Bangkok. My first year was through an agency for 40,000 baht a month but in the second year, the school hired me directly and my salary went up to 50,000 plus a few small benefits like free school meals and better health insurance.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

It's been a really tough decision, but I'm hitting my late 20s and just feel ready for a change of scenery. If I was to continue with a teaching career in Thailand, I would want to return here with better qualifications and try and get a job at an international school (and that's still a route I might take, who knows?) I don't want to stay here year on year earning slightly above 'survival wages' until I'm so set in my ways that moving on no longer seems like a viable option. I've worked with so many older teachers who to me look 'stuck' here, and I don't want to become one of them.

The decision also means splitting up with my Thai partner of almost one year and while I hate to break a young girl's heart, it feels like there isn't any choice. We explored the option of me dragging her around Europe or wherever I end up, but at the end of the day, it's just not logistically or financially viable. Better she stays here in the country that's her home.

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

Obviously this question doesn't apply to me but my options at the moment are either to go straight back home to England and try to pick up a job in retail management (which I did in the past) however, retail is on its arse at the moment in the UK. Alternatively, I have a few old friends and good contacts in some of the Spanish and Greek beach resorts. With the Summer holiday season about to kick off, I might just give a season in the sun a final go. I briefly worked in the tourism industry in Spain when I was in my early 20s and had a blast.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

What will I miss? The basic simplicity of day-to-day life, a job that had little to no pressure or stress, and not having to worry about sky-high utility bills.

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

Oh definitely! Thailand is a fabulous experience and the Thai people have been fantastic to me. Sure you will make more money teaching in other Asian countries but I bet you won't have half the fun.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

My future life feels like a book full of blank pages at the moment and I'm both apprehensive and excited to see what the next chapter is going to look like. I think my parents would like me to come back home and get a proper 9-5 job but they have that classic old school mindset and the world doesn't work that way anymore.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

My number one piece of advice to anyone thinking of being a TEFLer in Thailand is 'be a likeable person'. Don't be the foreigner who moans all the time and is critical of Thai culture just because it's different and sometimes extremely frustrating. Be the foreigner who is always smiling and friendly because when Thais, especially your Thai work colleagues, warm to you, then they'll go to great lengths to help you out if you have a problem.


Melissa

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I went to work in Shanghai, China in October 2023.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I was there for three years. I did a year in Bangkok mixing a full-time job at a Thai school with language centre work in the evenings. When the workload stressed me out, I moved way down south to Songkhla and did two years at a private college.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I just felt that my time in Thailand had run its course and perhaps I needed a new challenge. A couple of foreign teaching colleagues from my time in Songkhla had recently gone to work for a school in China and they were giving me glowing reports so I thought why not give it a try.

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

Teachers have access to training programs, workshops, and networking events that can really enhance your teaching skills and advance your career, whereas in Thailand you were pretty much left to your own devices. As long as the students weren't moaning and passing their exams, you were deemed to be doing a good job.

Shanghai seems to have a larger and friendlier expatriate community, which has been helpful for a young female teacher who is new to the city. I've had the opportunity to meet other expats, make new friends and build a support network.

English teachers here get competitive salaries and benefits, including health insurance, housing allowances and even flight allowances. You just feel financially more stable than you do in Thailand, especially teaching at the lower end of the TEFL ladder.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss the little things that make a big difference - the bag of snacks left on my desk by one of the students, the cheery waves from local shopkeepers as I passed by on my way to school, and how Thai teaching colleagues would go out of their way to help if ever I had a problem with the house I was renting and maybe something needed fixing or cleaning.

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

Thailand is a great country to get valuable teaching experience under your belt, and there is little or no pressure from the school management. Unfortnately that can mean getting too comfortable and finding yourself just drifting from day to day without really improving as a teacher. I want to make a long career out of TEFL if I can and just felt that Thailand wasn't going to provide me with a clear path. I'm grateful for my three years there though.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Not at the moment. I want to make China my home for the forseeable future and hopefully beyond.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Having a solid plan is crucial. Whether it involves returning to your home country, seeking opportunities elsewhere, or securing a well-paying international position if you intend to remain abroad. Being a TEFLer at schools in Thailand can often lead you up a dead-end. Witnessing numerous individuals in the business, well into their middle age, earning 35K a month with no clear plan, savings, or assets to fall back on in their home country was a sobering experience that made me reconsider my own future there. It's essential to continuously be investing in yourself and striving for personal growth.


Brian

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to England in early January 2024

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I was there for about a year and a half and worked for three different agencies at three different schools in Bangkok or just outside Bangkok. It all just blends into one big city really.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I couldn't make teaching in Thailand work for me, not on 35-40K a month. I got tired of being messed around by teaching agencies and their empty promises and their inability to take care of their teachers. I was pretty much left to sink or swim at every school I worked at, and sort out the numerous problems myself. It wore me down until I decided enough was enough. And all the while, you're working out daily budgets to survive and to try and keep your sanity. I'm happy back in England but I bet my mental health took a battering over there.

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

England is home! I just needed the Thailand experience to help me realise it. I'm amongst family and friends here. I'm earning a wage that I can live comfortably on.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I really miss the Thai friends I made at a couple of the schools. These were people who really did do their best to help me out whever I encountered a bad situation. Most of what Thailand offers a low-paid foreign teacher, I just tolerated.

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

Difficult to answer because although teaching in Thailand didn't suit me, it may well suit others. I always think it helps if you are something of a free spirit and have no real family ties back home.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I might come back for a holiday but I'm not exactly aching to return.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

I'm sure there are some excellent teaching agencies out there but I never found one. I guess the more questionable companies prey on teachers like me who are short on qualifications but brimming with enthusiasm (at least in the early stages) Choose wisely who you work for if you go the agency route. Look for any reviews on-line and see if you can spot any red flags.

Anyone considering teaching in Thailand should not be fooled by its appeal, which can be experienced on a vacation there. The obvious beauty of the country makes a vacationing teacher imagine living there. But living and working there is a whole different ball game, as I imagine is the rule for anywhere abroad.


Goo

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to the UK in Feb 2023. It has been a rough time re-acclimatising to the UK. I am definitely suffering reverse culture shock. I am adjusting slowly, but the UK is not the same place i left all those years ago. People are very much more insular. Maybe it's me who's changed, but I don't feel the people of the UK are very open to different ideas.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I lived and worked in Thailand for 20 years. My first job was in Lat Phrao at English First. Then I moved to a nearby school on Lat Phrao 94. I stayed there for a year and moved on. I moved on from that experience because the school was, well, a bit of a magnet of all the waifs and strays of the TEFL world. I cut my teeth in the teaching game there, so I don't regret it, but the daily comedy show of the school, mostly from management, was enough.

I then moved to a far more organised school in Lat Phrao. After that (good) experience, I moved to an international school on Lat Phrao 101. That produced the most bizarre working experience of my life. The school was run by a religious (SDA) fanatic. We were subjected to calls from Jesus on the mobile phone and all kinds of other crazy religious stuff.

After that troubled 9 months, I moved to Korea because my girlfriend at the time moved there for work. I had a great year and a half in Korea then came back to Thailand to work at a university in Bangkok. I stayed at that university for 15 years until moving back to the UK.

Alongside all this teaching work, I also did quite a lot of writing work. I was a travel writer earning a decent income for a number of years. I mainly wrote about cycling in Southeast Asia and did guidebook work. My passion was cycling in the region.

I have cycled in most countries in Southeast Asia, including some quite remote places. In my time I cycled every province in Thailand, I cycled the Ho Chi Minh Trail, I found Pol Pot's resting place and got held at gunpoint in Laos, amongst other crazy, stupid things.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I moved to the UK for a number of reasons. I have a young son who I want to put into a decent(ish) education system. Also, my beloved job at the university in Bangkok was turning sour because of new management. My final reason was that Thailand really had become a little too stale for me. It had become just 'ordinary' and 'home'. There was nothing alarming in that per se, but I prefer a little challenge in my life.

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

Well, the main advantage is that everything kinda works in the UK. The UK education system is streets ahead of Thailand. The UK is a country of laws, whilst Thailand is a country of connections. I also work a 4-day week.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss just about everything about Thailand. I know that sounds a little strange, but I miss the bad stuff as well as the good stuff. I miss the people, I miss the weather, I miss the adventure. I miss the nightmare traffic in Bangkok, I miss the feeling of being out of my comfort zone.

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

Yes, definitely, go work in Thailand. It can be infuriating, it can be annoying, it can drive you insane, but it is a special place with a great many wonderful people and experiences. Just learn to ignore the crazy management of the institution you are working for.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Yes, I haven't cut ties with Thailand and own property in Bangkok and Jomtien. I will return regularly as I don't want my son to lose his Thai side. My wife is also Thai, so I think I'd end up in the divorce courts if I cut Thailand out of my life...I will return one day to work, I'm not sure when, but it will definitely happen.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

I'm a bit of a nomad, I always have been. I don't ever hate anywhere I am living, but I do like a challenge. If I can, my life would be full of challenges. That was my driver for going to Thailand in the first place. Now I am back in the UK I am starting to think of my next adventure.


Cass

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to the UK in 2018. I intended to work in education but my teaching certificate from Thailand (University of Perpetual Help, Las Pinas) did not count for anything, so I became a teaching assistant. That was a tough move as I felt like I had to bite my tongue most days. Then covid hit.

Fortunately the school I worked for saw my potential and employed me as an unqualified teacher while I completed my on-the-job training. Being in my 30's, I found some of this process very patronising considering I have taught for 8 years and studied for one.

I am now fully qualified, finally.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I moved there in 2010 and worked in Sawangdaendin, in Sakon Nakorn for 6 months. I gained a TEFL with a company called 'Teach Abroad Thailand' and 'Media Kids' who secured the Essan placement. It was lovely there but very far away from everything. I Christmassed in Bangkok with other teachers from the same company and heard about amazing places they had travelled to. I decided after 6 months, I would go to Chiang Mai and search for a.position there.

Luckily, I bumped into a friend from the company who had a position in Lamphun: there was still one opening so I went for an interview.

I successfully worked there for one year however, in the meantime, I would spend many of my weekends in Pai, Mae Hong Son. I fell in love with that place so that, after a year, I decided to move there and approach the school. I did and was successful, I volunteered for.a term before moving back to the UK for winter in 2013.

I spent the Christmas with family but had always intended to move back to Thailand, in particular Pai. I had made many friends there, who I am still friends with today, and it felt to me like home. I approached the school again and they agreed to take me on. I was only receiving 10,000 baht a month at that point!

I stayed there for a further 5 years as well as helping out the local NGO project: Kwah Dao who supports Shan children in Pai. I developed my own curricula for Kwah Dao and the high school which is very etensive and has helped me in my qualification status here in the UK.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Unfortunately, my auntie was sick with lung cancer and I couldn't know what was going on, being so far away. I decided to move back to the UK to be close to family. It was a hard decision to make.

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

Now I work in a middle school in Dorset. There are many advantages and disagvantages: pay is considerably more but the cost of living is also; no language barrier; centralised planning - this can also be seen as a disadvantage as takes away the creativity; time and extra duties- unions fight for your extra time, however, I struggle to get everything done and work long hours.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Food!! Definitely food!! English quinine is very mundane. Luckily, my partner is a chef and loves Thai food, however, it still is not the same.

I miss the mai pen rai attitude. The welcoming feeling I got from everyone. I miss not being judged and the freedom of expression.

I miss the heat of the dry season. Living in Pai, it would.get chilly in the winter time so I experienced my fair share of chilly nights by a fire, with some Scandinavian friend traipsing off into the undergrowth to obtain more.wood to burn.

I miss being able to live where you pick; being able to afford it; not being held to ransom for everything.

I miss riding a motorbike, albeit a Honda Dream, I still miss that mentality of popping to the market and squeezing everything into the basket.

I miss the people. Even though we were from different countries, there was a strong sense of acceptance and friendship and that is something I do not experience in Dorset unfortunately.

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

Both. I would recommend someone to experience a different reality and to make their own minds up about which one they prefer.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I will return to Thailand in the future, but I feel obliged to stay close to family at the present moment.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Please contact me if you have any questions: cassandra.watters@gmail.com


Showing 5 Great Escapes out of 331 total

Page 2 of 67



Featured Jobs

NES Kindergarten Homeroom Teacher

฿50,000+ / month

Bangkok


Physical & Health Ed & ELL Teacher

฿35,000+ / month

Nakhon Ratchasima


English, Science and Math Teachers

฿42,300+ / month

Thailand


Kindergarten / Primary Teacher

฿65,000+ / month

Chiang Rai


Pre-Kindergarten Homeroom Teacher

฿50,000+ / month

Bangkok


NES English Language Teachers

฿600+ / hour

Bangkok


Featured Teachers

  • Barry


    Australian, 59 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Renaud


    French, 54 years old. Currently living in France

  • Julian


    Filipino, 43 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • Mark


    Filipino, 30 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • Eric


    Ghanian, 35 years old. Currently living in Ghana

  • Grasila


    Filipino, 30 years old. Currently living in Philippines

The Hot Spot


The Region Guides

The Region Guides

Fancy working in Thailand but not in Bangkok? Our region guides are written by teachers who actually live and work in the provinces.


Will I find work in Thailand?

Will I find work in Thailand?

It's one of the most common questions we get e-mailed to us. So find out exactly where you stand.


Contributions welcome

Contributions welcome

If you like visiting ajarn.com and reading the content, why not get involved yourself and keep us up to date?


Teacher mistakes

Teacher mistakes

What are the most common mistakes that teachers make when they are about to embark on a teaching career in Thailand? We've got them all covered.


Air your views

Air your views

Got something to say on the topic of teaching, working or living in Thailand? The Ajarn Postbox is the place. Send us your letters!


The dreaded demo

The dreaded demo

Many schools ask for demo lessons before they hire. What should you the teacher be aware of?


Need Thailand insurance?

Need Thailand insurance?

Have a question about health or travel insurance in Thailand? Ricky Batten from Pacific Prime is Ajarn's resident expert.


The cost of living

The cost of living

How much money does a teacher need to earn in order to survive in Thailand? We analyze the facts.