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


Hilary Connon

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Back to England last April (2007)

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

6 years at Chiang Mai University

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Family commitments

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

Security of a regular income, healthcare, pension scheme.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

The warm climate; the smiling people; my polite and oh so cute students; my fun friends; my lovely garden; the fabulous food; the respect for one's opinion; the stress-free lifestyle; two hour massages and free exercise classes.

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

Definitely go to Thailand and learn about the culture. Make your own lesson plans and see them work or fail, and learn from the experience. See your own country and culture from a distance and through the eyes of non-natives

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

As a tourist yes. To retire in years to come, maybe.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Went back into HR and sometimes get the oddest jobs to recruit for. If you know of any American ex Engineering/QA students out there looking for a role on their return, I might be able to help him/her with a job in Illinois


Michael West

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I returned home to Australia (to what is probably age-enforced retirement)

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked in Thailand for nearly 2 years. I taught Music in Bangkok from May 2006 to October 2006, then I took a short music contract in Pattaya until December 2006. I was offered an extension to that contract, but I chose not to extend. I returned to Australia, in December 2006, and was offered an English (ESL) contract at the first school at which I taught in Thailand from June 2007. That contract ended in March 2008. I was again offered an extension, but I was (and still am) keen to return to my major area of music, so I came home.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

(see 2. above) and also that ludicrous “Thai Language & Culture” requirement. The idiot responsible for that particular insanity ought to be institutionalized.

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

Not applicable (see 6. below)

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Cheap living, kids who mostly smile at you rather than snarl at you as Australian kids do, and of course friends - both Thai and "foreign" - that I made whilst I was there.

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

Certainly not in Australia – especially for a male. It is a minefield with ridiculously applied “political correctness” in the education area. The proof of that is in the inordinate imbalance of males versus females in the teaching service, as well as the fact that a significant majority of teachers seek other employment after only a very few years of teaching. Most will do anything to get out of the classroom.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Possibly, although I think that at 68 years of age, despite my good health, I am not likely to be “employable”, and almost certainly not at a salary commensurate with my qualifications and experience.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

It would be nice to think that one day, the dinosaurs in the Ministry of Education would actually take a look at the rest of the world, and attempt to throw off their xenophobia. Are they too benighted to understand that if there is no fear of failure for students, then there is equally no motivation for them to succeed? This is clearly one of the most potent reasons for the inability of Thai students (except those from International Schools) to compete internationally. Someone famous once said that “comparisons are odious”, but one has only to look at Singapore to see that this is true.

Finally, with some notable exceptions in my experience, considerable numbers of Thai school administrators, and indeed many teachers, are incompetent, and their ideas and methods are rooted in the past. They are at best reluctant to embrace any ideas suggested by foreigners because “they don’t understand Thailand”.


Norbert Demanuele

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to the good ol’ USA back in January 2007.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Roughly 2 years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I thought Thailand was taking a turn for the worst! With the country recovering from the coup around this time, the southern violence worsening, the economy taking a plunge, and foreign teacher regulations on the rise convinced me it was time to move on. Not to mention I took some shrapnel in my arm in the September 06 bombing in Hat Yai in the hands of the insurgency!

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

None, aside from the money. In my opinion the USA is full of materialism and consumerism and lacks culture compared to the land of smiles! I recently completed my contract with a company I work with and am now seriously considering coming back possibly to Thailand or greater SE Asia

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Everything. The simple things are what I miss most! For example, getting a nice Thai meal of som tom, gai, and kow niaw at a mom and pop shop. Additionally, I really miss the sense of community, friendliness of locals, the slow pace of life, the food, hanging out with locals. the list goes on and on…..

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

Of course I would suggest Thailand to a new teacher. It is a great country despite the red tape and the incompetence and miscommunication that is experienced at some of the schools. The new regulations may pose as an annoyance but I feel this will eventually subside – This is Thailand after all! All this aside, the pros far outweigh the cons. The lifestyle in Thailand is far superior to that of any Asian country and Thais are among the most hospitable people I have met in all of Asia!

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Of course, there is always a place in my heart for Thailand! (seriously! – sorry for sounding sappy! –lol). I would love to settle down in Thailand and open a Guesthouse /business or even an NGO.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

For you newbies out there, and I know there are many of you! leave your western mentality at home when you come here. Relax, and acclimatize to the culture here and don’t expect locals to adjust to you. Instead, adjust and improvise to how things are done here. More importantly, do not take everything too seriously – Enjoy it and have a laugh!


Ajarn Robert

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to teach in South Korea in April/07 to April/08. Currently back in Thailand thinking of where to go next for a year - China, Japan or God forbid Thailand?

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I have taught in Thailand since 1999. One year in Phetchaburi, at an infamous private language school chain, and 6 years at the English Programme in Chumphon (actually a fairly normal school by Thai standards)

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

There is never one main reason in Thailand. Let me see - Administrative incompetence, degrading salaries, an educational system lead by idiots that haven't the slightest idea what education is, an immigration department that assumes everyone is a Burmese drug smuggler, the chicken and the egg quandary rules between the work permit office and the immigration department, schools that are more into the money making aspects of an English programme than the academic side, having to do entrance level tests, then the school letting any idiot student in that has failed the entry level test just because Daddy's a policeman, every Thai teacher agreeing with your criticisms but non of the spineless buggers ever doing anything about it, having to wai people that wouldn't be hired to bag shit in any other country, having M 1 students that could do a better job of running the Ministry of Education or Immigration than any Thai minister could, etc, etc
If you have taught in Thailand for more than a week, you know bloody well why people leave this country.

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

In Korea, they do know what education is, and they don't expect you to be the world's authority on the English language either. They do discipline children, as their parents aren't sending bribe money to the director to keep them in school, students are eager to learn English as they can see that it is useful to have. I had primary students and was able to have a conversation with grade three students, because they have shut up in class and listened and have actually learned something.

Being in a school that actually has supplies that aren't ordered as you need them. A supply room stocked with such extraordinary things such as staples, paper, pens, markers, notebooks, you know, school supplies. Printers, computers and photocopiers that all work. And students that work!

That was just from the school side, now what about getting looked after? - mainly a salary that was real, free apartment, flights, pension plan, medical and other BENEFITS!! A one stop immigration work permit office that took 5 minutes and that's it, you are done for a year and at a far cheaper cost than Thailand. A tax rate that is less than Thailand's (tax-free if you are not Canadian)a cost of living that beats Thailand (remember you don't pay rent), electricity was cheaper than Thailand, clothing is less than Thailand, foreign food was a lot less than Thailand. Did I mention not only cheaper but you are making 3 to 4 times a Thai salary.
The over-all attitude of the Education systems are: it is an honour to have you here, or the Thai it is an honour to be here BS.
In short there aren't any advantages in Thai schools, except more holidays, but considering what they pay you, you should have 2/3rds of the year off.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I am back in Thailand, because I live here, married to a Thai and most likely will die here, but work here? - maybe never again.
When I was in Korea I didn't miss anything about Thailand, except maybe the beach in the winter months, but I was back in Thailand 4 times during the year. Why? because I could afford to do it. A return flight is less than half a month's salary. Try flying anywhere on a Thai monthly wage.

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

Thailand doesn't deserve to have anyone work here with their attitude but some, and I must stress some of the Thai students do. The advice would have to be Korea hands down. There is no reason whatsoever to work in Thailand really. If you are going to get your hands-on working experience you may as well get paid for it. And have the opportunity to learn how to teach, instead of just strategies of how not to kill your lazy ass Thai students or their corrupt director.
Work in Korea or elsewhere and make enough money to come and enjoy Thailand, which everyone can as long as you don't work in a school here. If it isn't money you are after, then go to some poorer country in Africa. They might appreciate you more anyway.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I plan on living in Thailand for the rest of my life, (unless immigration reads this and then I'll be deported)
I do enjoy Thailand, its people, weather, and I understand the culture. Will I ever teach here again? Most likely. There are enough good Thai students that are worth saving I know. I have had a lot of very good students. Will I ever have any respect for Thai education? - most likely never, because it won't change in my lifetime. It's like if you hate fast food, you can't say that you'll never eat at McDonald's. You'd prefer not to, but if you're hungry, you're hungry.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

No. I've said enough.


King Willy

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to Jakarta, Indonesia. Last July.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked at the one international school in Bangkok for 5 years

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Job opportunity, also somebody had quipped to me that I would never be able to leave Thailand, it sort of felt a little bit true, I was getting bored in my job so made the plunge to go elsewhere.

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

It’s all sort of six to one half a dozen to the other. I’m on a lot less pay, but have a lot more responsibility in the school that I’m working in. I’m certainly enjoying the challenge.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

People, food, availability of food, Bangkok is far easier to get around than Jakarta, has a far more 1st world cosmopolitan feel about the place, availability of goods and ease of getting things done.

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

The biggest factor has to be weigh up each job possibility or offer on its own merits, it’s no good having a crappy job in a good place.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Holidays? Have been back 2 or 3 times already. Working? No firm plans, however, it is a strong possibility in the future, just depends on if the right job comes up at the right time or not, however, with a Thai wife, Thailand will never be far away.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

No


Showing 5 Great Escapes out of 246 total

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