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


Johnny

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to the UAE in 2021. I spend most of my time working in Abu Dhabi, with a few days a week in Dubai.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I lived in Thailand for just over 10 years. Three in Chiang Mai and seven in Bangkok.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I had moved for financial reasons and to be closer to home. I can work fewer hours here for a lot more money and my standard of living is comparable. I can also be back to the UK in 7 hours. I also have a young family and was growing tired of trying to teach my kids to ride a bike and have a kick about in central Bangkok.

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

I was honestly quite judgemental about moving to the UAE. I had assumed the whole place was a shopping mall in the desert and was devoid of character - we would make some money for a few years and head on somewhere else. To be fair, some areas are like this, but once you start to know the place there is a huge amount of charm and culture. It is definitely better to raise kids here than the dog and car filled sois of Bangkok - loads of parks, activities and all very safe.

There are annoying groups of people here - Dubai especially - but idiots are everywhere. Influencers and life coaches and dodgy financial advisors here, cryptobros and digital nomads and dodgy financial advisors back in Thailand.

The opportunity for work here is large and progression is a real possibility. Teaching is always said to be valued highly socially in Thailand, but here it is valued economically and professionally also. Regulations and requirements for work permits here are quite rigorous, but this allows for the profession to be protected somewhat from those that may fall into positions and impact the reputation of foreign teachers. People are direct here and you know where you stand. I didn't realise how refreshing this would be.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss the beer scene. Pints are expensive here, which is fine I guess, but the plastic stool and bottle of Leo with mates is something I do miss a lot. Bangkok has a charm that nowhere else has, it's hard to describe, but it's certainly missed. Of course the food and travel opportunities of Thailand are a huge miss too.

Routine is a hard thing to move on from. I miss my local haunts, my favourite food delivery, getting a motosai to places, but I guess this will all go with time.

Whilst it sounds strange, I quite miss some of the randoms you'd meet in the pubs there. Old boys who are there with nowhere else to go telling stories that are probably untrue, but highly entertaining none the less. I'm not saying I miss the grumbling 'romantic retirees' berating snowflakes and a 10 baht increase in the cost of their full English, but there is something to be said for the wide range of people you can meet in Bangkok.

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

It really depends. If it was a 'time passer' for someone for a little while then definitely, but someone trying to forge a lifelong career then I'm not so sure. Bangkok has a very high concentration of international schools - a lot of them decent - and this can be an advantage that other cities don't have. This benefitted me. Really though, I probably would advise a young teacher to do it for a year or two and move on. The progression of the field that is occurring globally just doesn't seem to be applying to Thailand. Although the changes in China may have a knock-on effect to the region in a year or two.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

It's a charming country where I have friends and memories, but it often doesn't make things very easy for international visitors. My wife isn't Thai and a lot of my friends there are already beginning to move on also. I think post-covid Thailand may struggle to re-achieve its tourist numbers. It pains me to say, but why would I pick Thailand over Vietnam, Turkey or India for a week or two? I'm not interested in the 'nightlife' that lots of tourists/expats are and I can go to fantastic places that are cheaper and easier. That all sounds a bit glum but I'll probably return purely because it'll always feel a little bit like home.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

I sounded a bit negative there but I loved my time in Thailand!


Clif

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I left Thailand in November of 2019, spent a year in the Philippines with my wife (who is Filipina) and moved back to my home country of the U.S. in November of 2020.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I did a 120-hour TESOL course in Phuket back in 2013 and aside from a year in China I was in Thailand for pretty much the whole time from 2013 to 2019. So roughly six years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

My wife and I left Thailand back in 2019, which was during the height of the TM-30 episode for those of you who remember. Back then we were living in Nakhon Nayok and the immigration office there was one of many in rural Thailand that decided to make life very difficult for Filipinos. My wife had been living with me in Korat for years and we never had any issues, but as soon as we moved to Nakhon Nayok, things started getting bad. That immigration office made our lives hell that year, so I think we both just really needed a chance to take a break and recharge our batteries. We also wanted to start pursuing a visa for her so that she could come to the U.S. if we ever decided to move back.

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

I never thought I’d say this, but America is actually a pretty great place to be right now. When I left in 2013 things were pretty bleak and I was much better off in Thailand. In Thailand I usually made about 70-100k a month as a TEFL teacher by combining bricks-and-mortar teaching with online work. Living in places like Korat on 70K a month affords a very nice standard of living, so I never thought I’d leave. When I was living in Korat I started an M.A. TESOL course and graduated a while back, so being back in the U.S. with a Master’s degree has put me in a very good position. I’m making more money than ever, but the cost of living here is much higher. Also I don’t have to deal with the Thai immigration system right now, which is very nice.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss pretty much everything about life in Thailand except dealing with immigration. I miss the food, the cheap vacations to Koh Chang, the ease of travel and the friends I made there. This might sound odd to say, but I really miss government school teaching. Now that I have an M.A. TESOL I can get better paying jobs, but honestly the decision to move from government school teaching to upper-end private school teaching was probably one of the worst moves I’ve ever made. I really wish government schools paid more because they can be amazing places to work if you find yourself at a good one. (Of course, they can be terrible, as well)

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

I absolutely recommend teaching in Thailand, especially for new teachers. Living in Thailand isn’t as easy to adapt to as you might think, but if you give it time and have some patience, you might find that Thailand has a lot to offer. Even if it’s not for you, I guarantee you’ll pick up some good stories.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I would absolutely love to come back to Thailand one day. I doubt it’ll be any time in the near future, but I could definitely see myself heading back that way if I found the right job.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Thailand can be an amazing place, but it can also be a stress factory. Believe me when I say that teaching 24+ classes a week for under 40k baht can get old really fast. If you really want to enjoy Thailand long-term, you’re going to need more than those 30-40k government school salaries unless you’ve got other streams of revenue. A good way to make sure you don’t get stuck at a bad school or with a low salary is to get qualified before you make the move.


Mugwump

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Canada, 2009

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Two years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

The political tensions between the 'red shirts' and the 'yellow shirts' had me worried that a violent coup or civil war was not an unlikely outcome.

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

Higher salary. I am a citizen here so I don't need to worry about all the paperwork involved with obtaining and keeping a work visa.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Food, people, scuba diving...and no snow.

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

Go anywhere but Canada. Things are in a bad way here now.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Yes, I'm hoping to return as soon as possible.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Hope to be back in time for Loi Krathong.


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.


Showing 5 Great Escapes out of 305 total

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