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


Joanna

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back home to Sydney, Australia a couple of months ago when the coronavirus started to take a grip.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I taught at a large government school near Bangkok for almost an academic year from March 2019.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I was in two minds about whether to stay on and do a second year because I loved the school and the students and most of the staff (I got on far better with the Thai teachers than the foreign teachers it must be said) I was beginning to have family problems back in Australia involving a younger sister and while I did my best to help out from a distance, it's not the same as being there.

Then when the coronavirus started spreading around the world, I had a gut feeling it was going to make life difficult for a new and still relatively inexperienced teacher who didn't have a great deal of money to fall back on. I hate to say I've been proved right but my heart goes out to those teachers not only in Thailand, but all around the world, who are suffering financial hardship at the moment. Let's hope we come out of this crisis soon!

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

I haven't managed to find a job yet but obviously with the lock down situation, it's become a case of sitting things out and waiting for the situation to return to some sort of normality. I made certain that I didn't burn my bridges while I was away and kept in touch with my ex-colleagues, so I'm hopeful of going back into local administration at some point.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss the great Thai friends that I made and I'm so thankful that we can keep in touch on social media. I also miss the amazing street food and the opportunity to live really cheaply if you choose. I don't miss the Bangkok suburbs though and if I ever return to do a second stint, I'll be sure to pick somewhere a bit greener and more laid-back. I don't need to be surrounded by foreigners!

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

I think Thailand is a fantastic experience for a new teacher. Sure, it has its downsides, but doesn't everywhere.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I'm keeping my options open but no one is going anywhere at the moment and I don't see much point in making plans for the future until at least late 2020. I'll try my hand at finding gainful employment in Sydney first but if that fails, Thailand could well be on the cards for another adventure. Perhaps I might venture down south next time. I have a good friend who teaches in Hat Yai and while I appreciate it's another big Thai city, my friend seems to love working there.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

If you are going to work for a teaching agency, choose your employer carefully. Although the agency I worked for were generally OK, I heard so many horror stories of teachers not getting paid and just being left to fight for themselves. Stay safe everyone.


William

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to Busan in South Korea about six months ago.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked in Thailand for five years. Most of that time was spent at a large government school in the south but I also worked in Bangkok for a couple of years at several private language schools. They were very different experiences but I enjoyed them both.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I needed to make more money and I suppose I was looking for something with a more defined career path. Thailand was great but it was very much a year-to-year existence. Very often it felt like I was going nowhere and when I hit 30 years of age, I had a moment of clarity and realized Thailand just wasn't a long-term option. I also split up with my Thai partner of several years and that made the decision to move to Busan even easier.

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

Much like anywhere else in the TEFL world, there are good schools and bad schools in Korea but I've managed to land myself a position with an institute that really looks after its teachers. Things aren't great at the moment with the coronavirus but we look to be over the worse here now and during the months of downtime, while my school has been closed and we've had no students, teachers have still received a basic pay package that has been more than enough to live on. Hopefully it won't be long before life gets back to normal.

I had been to Seoul a couple of times on my travels and really liked it but I decided to give Busan a try and it's a great city. Yes. it's mainly known for its industrial port but it has excellent parks and places to go hiking. The subway system is very good and it has a vibrant nightlife and plenty of Western food options.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Although I'm enjoying Korea (or I was until the virus struck), Thailand will always have a special place in my heart. I love the simplicity of life there and how some days you can manage quite easily on a couple of hundred baht. If you are willing to move out of Bangkok, the pace of life can almost be too relaxing.

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

I think Thailand makes a great first TEFL destination. It's not too demanding on new teachers and you'll gain plenty of great experience before perhaps moving on to something better.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I'm not sure whether I could work there full-time anymore. Looking way ahead into the future, when perhaps I've got enough money saved up, a lifestyle of semi-retirement with a part-time teaching gig might appeal to me.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Only what many others have said in this great escape section - don't get stuck in a rut in Thailand for too long. Before you know it, you might be a 50-year old teacher that despite years of service, your employer no longer wants. I think it's very easy to get 'too attached' to Thailand and feed yourself with too many reasons for not facing up to the reality and moving on. But as a place to teach for a couple of years (three at a push) Thailand would be hard to beat!


Rick Sanchez

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Cambodia in late 2019. Sue S'dai!

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

11 years! I taught in Trang, Phuket, Pattaya, Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Hat Yai. You could say I got around a bit.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

The visa bullshit. After 11 years, it just wore me down. Also the nagging feeling they simply don't want Westerners there anymore. TM30 anyone?

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

A far more lubricated and welcoming immigration system. Khmer folk are even more chilled than Thais - something I wouldn't have thought possible.
$0.50 beer. That's 15 baht for a beer. $0.25 for cigarettes. That's 7 baht for a pack of 20. Let those prices sink in. For the health-conscious, the gym is 10 baht.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

The roads. Beautifully engineered roads with tarmac extending to the sidewalks. Cambodia is dusty as a result of the poor roads.
I also miss the lingo because I could speak, read and write Thai. I can already read Khmer but speaking it is a different ball game. Thai is easier.

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

Thailand's best days are behind it. 1997 to 2013 were the golden years but not so much now. Get yourself a bit of coin in Saudi or China and then go to Thailand on holiday if you must.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Nah. After three months here, I'm loving it. It's like Thailand was back in the 90s. I'll be happy if I never see another Thai immigration officer in my life. I sure am glad I never got married or invested in anything there.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

I used to love watching Thai footy. However, I never got to see an actual Thai Premier League game the whole time I was there.


Jardel

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to South Korea in March of 2018.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I'd say 2.5 years. Two years in a government school in Bangkok and one semester in Esaan.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I was living paycheck to paycheck. I wasn't saving any money and even if I wanted to stay, the visa laws we're getting stricter and more annoying. I was also getting tired of having to wear a shirt and tie in the heat on my way to work fighting traffic. What a drag that was.

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

A number of things. My salary is twice as much and that doesn't include the free housing. I get flight allowance, start up allowance and a completion bonus among other benefits.

Korea is more developed too. The buses are clean and on time. Their subway system is quick and efficient. It's easier to travel from city to city too with no delays or need for a domestic flight like you'd need in Thailand if you want to get around on time.

The visa laws are also not as strict. I don't need to check in every 90 days for my whereabouts. I also don't need to pay for a reentry stamp if I make a visit to a neighboring country.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss the easy lifestyle. It kept the stress level low. I miss the food and cheap beer. Although I didn't like the heat I'm no fan of winter so I do miss the weather for the most part. Lastly I guess the dating possibilities as Korean girls don't put out as easily as in Thailand. It also doesn't help that the xenophobia is higher here than in Thailand.

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

It's a good starting point in my opinion, if you have little to no teaching experience. It's also a fun place to be if your main priority is the experience of the country and not the salary/benefits.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Yes, I go every now and then. It's only 4-5 hours from Korea and I've realized I get much more satisfaction going there as a tourist than I every did when I lived there.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Do your research before going there. Don't get taken advantage of for being misinformed whether it's being forced to teach Thai teachers or parents for free or being dual priced on the street.

Also find a way to progress or find an exit strategy when the time is right.


Sonny

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to China in 2018.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

For 10 years, mainly at an international school in Chonburi

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

The cost of living, stagnant wages, the attitude from the Thais that we will never be truly welcome. Noise levels and unlawfulness are a big thing for me having children. Overall, no security.

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

It's clean, crime-free, quiet, cheap, convenient and safe.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

The lifestyle before things started to go downhill. I like China but it's kind of dull. Same old, same old everywhere you turn. The food is pretty bland too (in my area) and the people, although pretty quiet in comparison to Thais, are ill-mannered. They spit and smoke everywhere and push in queues etc.

In Thailand, life is always exciting. There's something happening all the time and life just ticks along. I love(d) the street life with the vendors, colours and smells. The personalities and characters also. That is becoming a thing of the past though so I have to accept that side of my Thai experience has gone.

I miss being able to travel around to beautiful beaches and so on. I miss the people of the North-East but not any of the others, especially Chonburi.

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

Yeah, have a few years there. Consider getting qualified to cover yourself and get a decent job. Avoid language academies and government schools. China has jobs everywhere but most are awful so choose wisely. You're every bit a necessary evil here as in Thailand.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Holiday yes, to live no. Never say never, but Thailand has had its day and the natives are destroying it. The people in charge don't deserve such a naturally beautiful place. Financially they're destroying it.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Don't jump at the first job that hooks you. Don't think that high salaries equate to a great job. Research, question and take your time. Also avoid agencies at all costs.


Showing 5 Great Escapes out of 264 total

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