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


Bradley

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I returned to my home town of Newquay in Cornwall, England last month.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I was there for about three years. I did a couple of years at a large private school in Bangkok and a year at a similar type of institute up in Chiang Mai.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

There were really two main reasons. Firstly, I started to feel homesick. Both of my parents are in their early eighties and not in the best of health so I wanted to spend some time with them in their twilight years as it were. Secondly, I'm contemplating the idea of studying for better teaching qualifications so if I do plan another assault on Asia (and not necessarily Thailand) I'll be in hopefully a better position to earn a higher salary.

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

I was lucky enough to earn a salary of between 60-80,000 baht for most of my time in Thailand (with a few sidelines) so I've actually got a decent amount of savings behind me. Let's just say I can afford to do nothing for a year or two. However, I'm doing some bar work in a local pub, a bit of delivery driving and helping out in a local warehouse - just to keep some money coming in. I'm living back at my parent's home so my overheads aren't that costly.

Despite Newquay being a place that relies on seasonal tourism, there are actually plenty of jobs around for those that want them. OK, they only pay minimum wage or just above, but I'm only in my mid-twenties so I'm fit and strong enough to work as many hours as employers can throw at me.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I worked in both Bangkok and Chiang Mai so I'm guessing a number of readers will be wondering which city I preferred and the truth is I loved them both for different reasons. There's so much to see and do in Bangkok and although the pace of life is slower up north, I never got bored there either. I think it's the freedom and uncomplicated lifestyle I miss most of all. In Chiang Mai, I used to love riding around on my motorcycle, meeting up with friends for coffee and attending various cultural events or just hanging around at the night market. There are so many great places to go just outside the city as well. That said, I'm back in one of the most beautiful parts of England, so it's not been too much of a culture shock.

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

I think it's a fantastic place for a first-time teacher. I wouldn't blame anyone for eventually moving on in order to make more money or enhance their career prospects but Thailand is a terrific starting point.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Whilst Covid has put the world on hold, I'm just taking each day as it comes and not really making any concrete plans. Thailand will always be there even if I don't get back until many years from now. There will always be jobs for good teachers and that's quite a reassuring thought.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Go to Thailand with the intent of doing a good job and not because it's the only thing you can do there. Thai students are great and even though their motivation might be lacking at times, they don't deserve a teacher whose heart isn't in their work. If you show yourself to take the job seriously and always do your best, you'll be rewarded.


Klaus

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to Hamburg, Germany just a couple of months ago.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked through an agency at a government school in Phuket for just over two years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I think for those of us teachers in the 35-50K bracket, the future has become too uncertain in Thailand (and I guess it's the same for many TEFLers around the world) At my school, we would go online because of a Covid outbreak and then return to school only for there to be another outbreak and have to go online again. This sometimes led to arguments over teaching hours and salary between school and agent with the poor teacher caught in the middle. Frankly, I got tired of the whole situation and I can't see an end to it (certainly not this year) Thailand says it is willing to live with Covid but I'm not so sure. I wasn't willing to stick around and find out. I thought about having a go at teaching in China, but the situation feels like it is the same over there.

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

I've hooked up with an old friend and he offered me some casual building work just to keep some money coming in but eventually I will hopefully go back to my old career in human resources. Europe is suffering from another wave of Covid so I can't comment on the advantages of working here because so may businesses are not operating. Ask me again in six months time!

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

The usual stuff like the food and the freedom to do what I wanted on any given day. I miss zipping around on my motorcycle and enjoying the countryside and I also miss the good Thai friends I made. Most of all I miss the foreign teaching colleagues. I met and partied with some amazing characters during my time at school, from the teacher who came into work still visibly drunk from the night before to the teacher who had to flit from town to town to avoid his wife's crazy ex-husband. Everyone seemed to have their own great story to tell! If you made a movie about foreign teachers in Thailand, no one would believe the script and say it was all too far-fetched.

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

Oh definitely! If you go there with the right attitude, you'll have an incredible time. But there is no future in it if you are at the lower end of the pay scale and right now, things are just too uncertain with the Covid situation.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

In a completely Covid-free world, possibly.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

It's a teacher's market at the moment and I think the native English teachers v non-native teachers thing is slowly disappearing. Many schools have to take whoever they can get because it's difficult for new teachers to enter the country in the first place. I think it is much easier now for a good European English speaker to get a job compared to say five years ago and they can ask for the same salary as a native-English speaker and usually get it! If the Covid situation continues then things can only get better for non-native English speakers looking for TEFL work.


Dessie

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back home to the UK (a small town between Sunderland and Gateshead) and this would've been in late 2019, so just before Covid became a thing.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I lasted around nine months, working at a Thai school in Songhkla Province. I was 46 years old at the time and going through a bit of a mid-life crisis (messy divorce, etc). I'd previously been to Thailand many times for 2-3 week holidays and I'd always fancied the idea of teaching English there because I met many foreigners over the years who had taken the plunge. I didn't want to work in Bangkok though (far too hectic and busy for me) so I hooked up with a dodgy agency and they found me a teaching job down south. All I had was an online TEFL certificate and a City and Guilds but I still managed to get the job.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

How many times had I heard someone say 'there's a big difference between holidaying and working somewhere'. When it comes to Thailand, never truer words were spoken. I was constantly in awe of fellow teachers who were surviving on 30,000 baht a month (Filipino teachers at the school were scraping by on even less) and I found myself dipping more and more into my savings as I craved more Western comforts. I was paying 10,000 baht a month for rent purely because I didn't want to live in the cheaper places, I couldn't get on with Thai food all that well (I like my Western food) and my weekend nights out were costing another third of my salary. I just couldn't live cheaply! In the end I thought if I carry on this way for another year or two, I'll be broke!

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

I wouldn't say there are any real advantages because England is England. I guess it's just easier for me to fit in. I'm a carpet fitter by trade and I've never had any problems picking up work. I've also got a decent flat and a nice little van. It's not that expensive to live well up north if you've got a trade. I actually feel like I have a much better standard of living.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss the female company, I won't lie about that. And I made some good Thai friends from all walks of life while I was there. I could also walk from my school to the beach in 20 minutes. I just never felt I had the income to live like a king and that's really how I thought I'd be living. I was naive and I quickly realised that.

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

It will depend on your expectations. I probably set mine way too high. I did enjoy the teaching though, although it's difficult to make any progress with classes of 30-40 teenagers. When I started teaching, my students couldn't string a sentence of English together. After 9 months, they still couldn't string a sentence of English together. That was frustrating because I tried my hardest. I was up half the night doing lesson plans and whenever I was asked to attend a school function, I never said no. I'd like to think I was the model teacher but when I told the school I was leaving, they were more concerned about me handing my textbooks back in than what I was going to do with the rest of my life. They found my replacement a day before I left.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I'll come back for a holiday once the entry restrictions have been dropped. It's a terrific country to visit as a tourist with a nice fat wallet riding on your hip.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

I only taught there for nine months but it's something I'm so glad I did. The TEFLing didn't really work out for me but it seems to work out for many others. Maybe I was a bit too old and once a carpet fitter, always a carpet fitter!


Leonard

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I returned to my hometown of York in the UK a couple of months ago.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I was there for about 18 months in total, working for an agency at a Thai school just outside Bangkok. I guess I was the classic 35,000 baht a month teacher (and I'll get round to doing one of your cost of living surveys soon)

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Covid. I hate to come across as a doomsayer but I don't see an immediate end to this pandemic in either Europe or Asia, but at least in England I can return to my family home and we can all suffer together. I got sick of the Covid restrictions at my school and the online teaching just wasn't doing it for me. I got out while I saw the chance. Thailand isn't going to live with Covid in my opinion. The moment there is another outbreak, we'll be back to square one. I couldn't wait around and build a future with so much uncertainty going on around me.

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

I'm not working at the moment. I'm still drawing on my limited savings but I don't need much money anyway right now. My parents are feeding me and washing my clothes and I'm limiting myself to just one night a week at the local pub.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Strangely enough, I miss all the foreign oddball teachers I used to work with. There are some incredible characters that find their way to Thailand. I can't imagine anywhere in the world that they would fit in. There were the closet alcoholics, the useless teachers who had no desire to get any better and the ass-kissers who just said the right things to stay in a job. And then you've got the Filipinos and Thai teaching assistants stabbing them all in the back at the first opportunity. I definitely found Thailand an 'every man for himself' environment. You do make what you feel might be close friends but the moment you refuse to lend them a couple of thousand baht to tide them over until pay day, they're gone like a fart in the wind.

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

I would seriously wait until Thailand has some sort of clear direction before looking for teaching work there. At the moment, schools close, open, and then close again. And online teaching is painful. It's just all too unpredictable.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

See answer above. I'm staying put for the time being until the world figures out whether it's going to live with Covid or keep people locked up forever.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

No, I think I've got things off my chest, although I didn't talk about how far a 35K salary doesn't go in Bangkok. Stay safe everyone!


Natalie

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I returned to my home town of Braintree in Essex, UK last month (October 2021)

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I was there for just under two years, working at a private school in Khorat.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

While still in my mid-twenties, I wanted to get back on the career ladder in England probably for fear of growing older in Thailand and not having enough money to take care of myself. Although 50,000 a month was more than enough to live comfortably in Khorat, it didn't allow me to save for the future and it was something that constantly played on my mind. I only came out to Thailand initially to teach for a year anyway but ended up staying two!

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

I haven't started a new job yet but I've had plenty of offers, especially in the real estate and property business, which is where my background lies. I've actually been quite surprised at how many job vacancies there are here. On a personal side, it's nice to be back among family and also friends that I can have a conversation with. I made tons of friends in Thailand but relationships can be very fleeting and superficial there. Plus of course there are the language and cultural barriers.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I loved living in Khorat. I think it's a wonderful place to live, work and base yourself. I miss zipping around the city on my little motorcycle and going on day trips to the beautiful surrounding countryside whenever I had the time. And of course I miss the students and their parents. Many of the parents were very good to me, often inviting me to their homes for meals and sorting out any minor problems I had.

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

Thailand is wonderful. The teacher salaries are not great but if you can make enough to cover all of your daily needs with a bit left over, you'll have an amazing time. The visa and work permit red tape, etc can be annoying but it all seems to get sorted out in the end.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Difficult question to answer because I only just got back. If things don't work out for me in the UK, then who knows. It's comforting to know that Thailand is always there if I need it.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Come to Thailand with an open mind and just go with the flow. It's a terrific place to live if you don't let all the small niggles get on top of you.


Showing 5 Great Escapes out of 302 total

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