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


Edward

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back home to Los Angeles in July of 2018, so I've been back for almost a year now.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I think it was about three years. I started off at a government school in Bangkok and did some part-time language school work on the side. Then I fancied a change of scenery and went to work for a school in Nongkahi, right up there in the far north-east. What a big mistake that was! Then I came back to Bangkok and got a job at a very good college in Nonthaburi. I had to think about all that for a moment.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I met and fell in love with a Thai girl who worked at one of the companies where I did some evening corporate work (hopefully I'm not the first guy that's happened to) and to cut a long story short, we got married and when I suggested moving back to the USA, she was happy to give it a go. I wanted her to experience life abroad as well even if was only to aid her personal growth because she was in a bit of a dead-end management position where she was.

Personally I hadn't fallen out of love with Thailand, but I was getting a little bored with the daily routine. I still think Thailand is a wonderful place for a holiday but I'm not so sure about living and working there for an extended period.

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

Well, I went back into the retail food profession and make much more money than I ever did in Thailand. My wife is doing well too and works for a small fashion company, helping them with marketing and improving their online presence, etc. She's settled into the American way of life very quickly. She's put on quite a lot of weight as well but hopefully she won't be reading this :) We've managed to get our own place and we have a car and a few mod-cons. It's not the lap of luxury by any means but we're happy with our lot at the moment.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I really miss just hopping on a cheap flight to other countries in Asia for a short break. I did a lot of travelling while I was there and got to see Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia and Myanmar. Had some great times - especially going with a bunch of other guys. There are some wonderful places in Thailand too if you can get off the beaten track and avoid the usual tourist destinations that tend to wear thin very quickly.

Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand?

I'm really not sure what my answer is to that question. I wonder if Thailand has had its day as an Asian TEFL destination and other countries in the region have more to offer these days? I would love to have given teaching in Vietnam a try but it just never happened. It certainly seemed to pay more than in Thailand.

It's a well-known fact that salaries in Thailand have hardly moved in the past 20 years or more but it's become considerably more expensive to live there. I always found that Thai people earn a lot more than you think plus they have that family security net and welfare, etc.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

We're planning a trip in October mainly so my wife can see her parents and brother. I feel largely indifferent about going back, especially during what will be the rainy season. And I don't think a single one of my teaching colleagues is still around. They've all moved on to other countries or returned home. I'm not really sure what I'm going to do with myself for three weeks actually.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Thailand isn't for everyone. I once heard the country described as 'organised chaos' and I wouldn't disagree with that. If you are the kind of person who likes everything to be either black or white and organised how you like it or perhaps how you are used to, then Thailand is possibly going to push you to your limits. I met a lot of teachers who started off with good intentions, but Thailand kind of got the better of them in the end and they just couldn't handle the day-to-day living. You have to go with the flow in Thailand and not let all those minor annoyances wear you down.


Sav

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to UK to do a PGCE and become a (er-hem!) proper teacher.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Two years, firstly in Bangkok, then I moved to teach in Hat Yai and then came back to Bangkok.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

To get properly qualified and hopefully come back to get a well paid job in an international school - but it didn't work out that way. I got kind of 'stuck' back in the UK as I got a job in a secondary school here. In the end, I did go back abroad but ended up in Malaysia, which was actually great. It's a nice expat lifestyle there and everyone spoke English. I found it so much easier to settle there than in Thailand.

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

By far better money, a pension and all those things you never had to think about when you were younger, single and had no children. I met a lot of older teachers back in my Thailand days who were living paycheck to paycheck, spending all their wages on having a good time - all the time. That's great when you're young, but one day when you're older, you'll find you don't have a pot to piss in and you have to make provisions for that.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

The people. Thais are so good-natured generally. I miss the food, especially from street food stalls and the beautiful places you could travel to from Bangkok. The beaches, the temples, etc.

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

If you are young and looking to travel and get some life experience that is interesting and enriching - not money-wise I mean - then yes, go to Thailand. It's not the greatest pay if you are an EFL teacher, but you find your level and live within those means, still being able to have affordable holidays, etc.

If you are male and single, you will find suddenly you are Casanova. But be careful. Those lovely smiling bar beauties see you as a walking ATM. But having said that, many men meet the love of their lives in Thailand and are happy.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Would love to go back but as a tourist / visitor only.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

If you think teaching English in private language businesses is going to be a walk in the park, think again. I found the hours to be awkward, the pay not that great and when I worked in Bangkok, the travelling to work gradually got to me. My last job there was the best as I lived quite close to the school. But before that, the daily commute was a pain in the posterior!


Peter

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I went back to the UK in early March of this year, spent a few nice weeks with my family in Derby and then caught a flight to Brazil. I'm currently bumming around South America until the money runs out. My plan is then to start doing some online teaching.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I was there for about 7 months at a government school just outside Chonburi. It was my original plan to teach in several SE Asian countries, maybe doing a year in Thailand and then moving on to maybe Vietnam and Cambodia. But plans change and in the end I wanted a complete change of scenery.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

After my initial short-term contract with the school expired, I got the impression that I was surplus to requirements. A couple of ex-teachers returned (an expat couple actually) and they seemed more popular with the Thai staff than I was. I didn't shed any tears because the school was a bit of a madhouse and I didn't get on all that well with the other foreign teaching staff.

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

As I said, I haven't actually started to do any work yet but funds are getting low so I guess I'll have to start doing some online teaching or find some hourly paid work in a backstreet language school in Bolivia or something. Failing that, I'll head back to Derby. Anyone else getting the impression that I need to sort my life out? I've just turned 28. How many more years can I spend bouncing around the world on the TEFL trail?

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss the warm weather, the Thai islands and I used to enjoy going into Bangkok for the weekend. I miss my Thai street-food as well.

I think Thailand is a pretty easy country to get on with. I managed to take short trips to both Vietnam and Malaysia while I was there and I know you shouldn't judge countries on being there just a few days, but Thailand had a much better vibe all round.

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

Go for it! I think it's a fantastic experience for a year or less but unless you're a proper qualified teacher, pulling in the megabucks, you'll hit a serious dead end at some stage.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I haven't ruled it out.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

I've always considered TEFLing as an easy way to support yourself whilst you are travelling the world. I think it's a great way to live when you are young and carefree. And of course you have none of those horrible student loans to pay off.


Simon

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to Beijing, China in March of this year (2019)

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I had to think about this for a while but it's actually been five years. And during that time, I've worked in Thai private schools, government schools and done plenty of corporate work and evening stuff at private language schools. You could say I've got experience right across the board.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Well, firstly I had a decent job offer from a school in China and I had been thinking about making the move to somewhere else (not necessarily China) for quite a while. The job offer came at just the right time in my life because I was beginning to feel a bit lost in Thailand if truth be told.

My Father always says that there is no such thing as a 'job for life' these days and there will always be changes in company rules or the hiring of new personnel that can turn a dream job into a nightmare overnight. This seemed to be a common thread for me whenever I was employed at a school full-time and got my feet under the table so to speak. New staff would take over the foreign teacher department and all of a sudden your face didn't fit anymore. It was tough to live and work with constant clouds of uncertainty hanging over you.

A number of the schools I worked at were constantly trying to cut corners financially and hire the cheapest teachers available. Literally just bodies in the classroom as long as they looked the part in front of the paying parents.

Then of course there is the Thai education system itself, which I won't go on about because it's all been said so many times already. Being a foreign teacher at a Thai school - a teacher who wants to do a professional job - can feel like too much of an uphill battle at times. Perhaps that's my fault as much as anyone else's. I needed to change my mindset but found that very difficult.

One of the reasons, I moved from school to school during my five years in Thailand was the annual contract renewal. Schools wanted to give with one hand and take with the other. The small pay increase meant nothing if your 12-month contract suddenly changed to become 11 months.

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

Apart from earning twice as much money for fewer hours? Well, I haven't quite got a month under my belt yet but so far I'm very impressed with what I've seen and experienced. The teaching schedule is manageable, the students are willing and eager and the school provides in-house development and teacher training sessions. The local teachers are good to work with as well. They know the foreign teacher salaries are higher than theirs but there is no resentment. If there is then they keep it very well hidden.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I was going to say the weather but it sounds like you guys are broiling over there at the moment, while yesterday we had a gorgeous 18-degree day with a couple of light rain showers in the afternoon.

Thailand has a lot going for it if you hit it right but I think it probably makes a far better retirement destination than a country to live and work in. Thailand is not as cheap as it was though - even five years ago!

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

Yes, certainly. The standards and expectations at most schools are probably lower than in other Asian countries so it's not a bad place to learn the trade and gain some experience and confidence, before moving on to another Asian country perhaps. If you love life in Thailand, then stay but if you find yourself stagnating and kicking against the pricks, don't wait five years like I did, thinking that tomorrow things will get better. They probably won't.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

It's not in my mind at the moment. I want to knuckle down here and embrace my Chinese adventure. If it all goes pear-shaped, I've no idea where I would move on to next - but very much doubt it would be Thailand.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

I don't see things ever getting better for the majority of foreign teachers in Thailand. Salaries haven't increased significantly in nearly thirty years from what I'm hearing, whilst the cost of living has probably doubled and tripled in that time. Eventually I think the wheels will fall of completely and even the most desperate traveller / teacher will look at the salaries, weight it up against the time and effort and see it's just not viable.


Nicola 'Teacher Cola'

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back home to Newcastle, U.K quite recently.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Seven years in total. I worked for five years in Thai schools and another two years at an international school.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I wanted to experience life again in the U.K as I felt as if I'd almost forgotten what it was like. I was also thinking about doing further study.

It was always in the back of my mind that I wasn't yet a fully qualified teacher and I think I'd feel more settled and able to progress if I was. I was also growing a bit sick of visa issues and just wanted a change. I felt I wasn't appreciating life in Thailand as much as I had in the past, but I think I'd definitely appreciate it more now I remember what life in the U.K is like.

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

Having family close, shopping at good value supermarkets and going out to events etc. Not having to worry about visa issues is nice and just generally being able to understand everything more - because it's all in English of course! It's nice being able to walk to places too, which I could never really do in Thailand.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

The weather, the food, the Thai people, having more free time and spare cash to do things. Having fewer worries in general. Everything in England is expensive and I also find the work is quite stressful. You don't seem to get as much free time here. Nowadays, a lot of people seem so busy and stressed out.

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

I think if you're qualified, I would recommend going to teach in Thailand, definitely! It's a great life and you can save a lot of money and travel. Or if not, go to Thailand for a few years but aim to get qualified at some stage in order to get a better job and enjoy a better lifestyle.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Yes, I'm hoping to start a PGCE qualification in September then go back to teach in an international school. I think I've realised you don't need to necessary settle in the U.K. As long as you're happy, it doesn't matter where you are. You can always pop back and visit family in the U.K fairly regularly.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

I'm so glad I came back home to the UK to have this experience but I'm looking forward to returning to Thailand with fresh eyes in the not so distant future, so I'll see you all then!


Showing 5 Great Escapes out of 248 total

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