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


Steve

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I initially moved to the UK and then took a job at a university in the Middle East, after 7 months of being back.
In Thailand, I refused to be experimented on in 2021 and as a result, I haven't had any issues with my health. Due to making this decision, a friend and I were shown the door, right before Christmas, from our so-called 'international' school.
When I got to the UK, things were bad. I found myself living in my brother's garage and wages were stagnant and inflation was high. I was also shocked by the state of schools in the UK and by the standard of education there, nowadays.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I was there for just over 8 years. Initially, I arrived with nothing more than a diploma and a TEFL certificate, but I managed to do a BA in TESOL and an MEd, during my time there. I worked in a range of different schools from kindergarten to high school. I also worked in all the low-end establishments and also through agencies. plus I worked for private schools and at government schools.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Apart from having the audacity to make decisions about my own body, I was sick of the appalling management, the lack of gratitude and respect for foreign teaching staff, and the hardnosed sense of entitlement from Thai schools.
In the 8 years I worked there, I worked at many schools, even spending a couple of years as a substitute teacher at an agency. In all that time, I only visited a couple of schools where either I wasn't abused in some unnecessary way or I didn't witness the abuse of other foreign staff. You're often made to feel unwelcome.
In addition, to the contempt and the passive aggressiveness, you also have to contend with the lack of resources provided and you're often expected to fork out from your own paltry salary.

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

I am paid at least 3 times what I was making at a supposed 'international' school in Thailand.
My expertise and experience actually means something where I work now.
I don't have to deal with archaic, feudalistic management. The managers here have their egos in check.
The local staff aren't passive-aggressive and are unlikely to stab me in the back.
You get paid for overtime and extra work.
Pay rises are a thing here.
You can actually get promoted where I am now and progress in your career.
I'm not expected to compete in the job market with people who have the same level of English as my students.
Almost all of the teachers here are NES and there's no bitching and moaning about nationality or ability.
I don't know what the government thinks of foreigners here because they don't try and make outsiders feel unwelcome. The same can be said about the local press.
I'm not constantly having to fork out and grease palms.
Visa runs are few and far between and are paid for.
The rules aren't changing every five minutes.
My apartment and utilities are provided free of charge.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss the food more than anything else. The nightlife has become quite expensive and is no longer what it once was. I also miss riding around on my motorbike.
The banks are a lot better these days in Thailand.

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

No, absolutely not.
5 years ago, I would have recommended to a teacher without a degree that they enrol in the same programme that I did. However, that course is now twice as expensive and salaries are basically the same as they were 20 years ago. I would recommend that new teachers think about other regional countries to start their careers or take their gap year. They would likely be paid more and treated a lot better. Most of the things that allure would-be teachers to Thailand can be found in neighbouring countries.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I have been back twice and plan to go again at Christmas. My girlfriend works there as a Filipino teacher and has just been hired at a top international school.
I cringe at the thought of having to work there again in a Thai-managed school. There's basically no stability and it only takes one vindictive member of staff to ruin everything for you.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

I think that there's a massive sense of entitlement in most schools in Thailand. You're offered crappy, stagnant salaries and schools have no shame in demanding the most prestigious of qualifications to apply for such roles.
Many schools are more interested in your age or appearance than your qualifications and experience.
When I arrived, 10 years ago, most foreign teachers were native speakers, who could at least speak English fairly well.
I basically only survived the first 5 years because I was on an Ed visa and could walk out of a school that day if the games started.
Over 8 years, I watched the standard of foreign teachers drop considerably.
Many of the places I used to work are still advertising the same salaries they were offering a decade ago.
For these reasons, I don't see salaries rising and I would urge NES with qualifications to consider looking elsewhere. Have a bit of self-respect because there are much better deals abroad. Don't get sucked in.


Cathy

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to England in July 2023

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I was there for just one year, working at a large primary and secondary school in Chiang Mai.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I never really felt settled and friendships were too transient. You would make good friends with someone only to see them move on to somewhere else after a term. It's also well-known of course that the pollution in the north is awful and Thailand doesn't seem to have a solution. I didn't want to experience all that wheezing and coughing for another burning season. I would also add that a 35K salary didn't quite stretch as far as I thought it would. There are a lot of temptations to spend money in Chiang Mai.

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

More security and stability and I can put away some money for the future. Being close to family instead of the other side of the world is nice too.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Not as much as I thought I would. I guess Thai street food would top the list and of course I miss many of my students and seeing their smiling faces in the morning.

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

I would certainly recommend any teacher to consider travelling and working abroad but be sure to do your research on the schools before you start work there. Try and talk to the current foreign staff if at all possible but avoid any obvious negativity from teachers who have been worn down by years and years in Thailand. Always have an open mind

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I'd certainly include it on any travel plans around Asia and hopefully I'll do that some day. Would I work in Thailand again? Probably not.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Try and seek out the positive foreigners as friends. Negative people can suck the life out of you. Thailand suits some people and not others. I'd always recommend it as a place to visit and, if you can look past the many challenges, it's an amazing place to spend a longer time.


Dan

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I returned to Australia in May 2023.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Four years at a large government high school in Chiang Mai.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Lack of recognition of advanced skills and generally incompetent colleagues, both Thai and farang. Of course, the school celebrated the incompetents so long as they were yes men. Pointless routines like morning assembly. I attended assembly once in four years but really felt for the students who had to attend, even though they knew it was a waste of time.

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

I'm not working now. I'm living off investments.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Good, cheap food, affordable laundry service, the wonderful and inquisitive Thai students and the mountains around Chiang Mai.

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

I'd say establish your career in a country that values your abilities. If later in your career you want a break, then sure, try Thailand. So that's a no from me for new teachers.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I'm currently on an extended visit to Thailand and nearby countries.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Most of my more advanced students had a plan to get out of Thailand and I can't blame them.


John

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to America on August 4th, 2023

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Three years

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

1. Low salary - about $1000 a month ( I have a masters' in math and 10+ years experience
2. The directors complaining about the "high salary" of farang and scolding them.
3. Students who would rather complain than study
4. The school cancelled the paid holiday in the Summer
5. There was no respect for my legitimate expertise or experience
6. Competing with cell phones and iPads
7. Everything needs to be "easy" and "fun"
8. Constant in-fighting between teachers
9. Being disrespected by "leadership"
10. Missing the food I have loved and cannot find or have to pay so much for in Thailand
11. Gate duty at 0700 am to 0830 am
12. Being constantly told what clothes to wear
13. Despite the fact that there is an entrance exam, many students who could not speak English found there way into the program and there was no warning.

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

1. Much more salary, and many many holidays
2. I am teaching at a university, so I can actually get through a lecture
3. Money going into a retirement fund
4. Teaching classes I am more suited for and also a lighter load
5. I don't have a set schedule except for the classes I teach
6. Like a grown man, I can dress myself

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

1. I will miss how polite most people are in public
2. How will miss how kind the people are in general
3. Economical and sincere entertainment
4. The friendliness in general
5. The modesty inherent in some of the culture
6. The way that people respect their flag and country (for the most part)

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

It depends on the what the teacher is looking for. I would say if you are an English teacher, life may be a lot easier than a STEM teacher in a bilingual or EP program. If you are a STEM teacher (especially mathematics) I would say that I had a great time teaching students in China and the pay was much higher!

Q7. Anything else you'd like to add?

Remember, it's always hot in Thailand. If you are not a morning person, you will suffer. Going to work at 7 am in the jungle heat to be met by mosquitos in your desk is not great. Get used to the 'mai pen rai' attitude. If you want something mellow and stable, where there is just minimal effort required of students (and possibly you) it's fine. I imagined what it would be like to become a fixture in this school and stay for a long time, but I suspect your commitment, devotion and dedication will have to be their own reward.

Q8. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I will visit, but I will never work for a high school again. Perhaps it's a possibility if I could teach at a university for a much larger salary.


Kate

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to China in June 2023

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I was there for two years and worked at both a government school in Central Thailand and also as a corporate teacher on a local industrial estate (but that was only a couple of evenings a week)

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I simply wanted to give another Asian country a go. When I left the UK in 2021 once the pandemic had eased off, I set myself a goal of working in four Asian countries in six years. I'm still not sure whether I got too comfortable in Thailand and should've moved on after a year but too late to stress over that now.

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

I haven't been here all that long but the school is much more organised. The admin staff are really on the ball when it comes to letting you know about schedule changes and new course dates, etc. There is none of that flying by the seat of your pants, which becomes second nature in Thailand. I earn a better salary too and get a more than adequate housing allowance. It's not a great deal more than I was earning in Thailand too be honest but I do fewer teaching hours. I'm not quite so exhausted come Friday nights.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss the stress-free nature of life there. From Friday 4.00 pm to Monday 8.30 I could completely switch my mind off teaching and focus on enjoying the weekend.

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

You will love Thailand if you are a 'go with the flow' kind of character. Start getting uptight about minor annoyances and you're in for a whole world of trouble. From admin not telling you about a classroom change and suddenly finding your 40 students are waiting for you in the next building, to having to sit through a two-hour meeting (mostly in Thai) that doesn't require your input and has no bearing on your job whatsoever. I could list twenty other scenarios that you'll need to simply grin and bear. But at the end of the day, the positives of living in Thailand far outnumber the negatives.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Not sure about that. I'm going to give China a year and then assess the situation and decide if maybe I want to stay for a further term or perhaps give Vietnam a try.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Thailand never struck me as a place to build a teaching career (or a future) unless you are super-qualified and pulling in the equivalent of a UK salary at least. It's a great place to experience life in a SE Asian country for a year or two and then move on.


Showing 5 Great Escapes out of 325 total

Page 2 of 65



Featured Jobs

PSPE Teacher / Swimming Instructor

฿75,000+ / month

Roi Et


NES EAL Support Teacher

฿45,000+ / month

Roi Et


NES Teachers

฿40,000+ / month

Pathum Thani


Full-time and Part-time Literacy / EFL Teachers

฿48,000+ / month

Bangkok


NES Nursery / Kindergarten Teacher

฿45,000+ / month

Bangkok


NES Kindergarten and Primary English Teachers

฿60,000+ / month

Rayong


Featured Teachers

  • Aamir


    American, 26 years old. Currently living in USA

  • Aye


    Myanmarese, 23 years old. Currently living in Myanmar

  • Patricia


    Filipino, 25 years old. Currently living in Philippines

  • Johannes


    South African, 38 years old. Currently living in South Africa

  • Jonathan


    British, 48 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Jovilyn


    Filipino, 42 years old. Currently living in Philippines

The Hot Spot


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?


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!