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


Michael Watson

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to China in 2004 from Bangkok.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked in Thailand just shy of three years. I worked as a consultant for a large logistical company and then taught for one year.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

The hassle of obtaining the necessary visa and work permit (when I was teaching) Working as a consultant was much more straightforward when applying for these documents.

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

I make a lot more money each month. Currently, I work seven days a week. The money is excellent (equivalent to THB67,000). I get nearly three months paid leave each school year and the school I am working for is much more professional. Sure, there are still annoyances, but overall it is much better.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss so many things. Food, culture, climate, cheap travel, islands, other foreigners, nightlife, entertainment, etc...etc...

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

I would advise someone who is young to try out Thailand before going to work in other Asian countries. I think Thailand is a great stepping stone into Asia.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Perhaps when I am near retirement I might opt to live my remaining years in the LOS. I have traveled back to Thailand on holidays and will continue to do so...as long as the country doesn’t implode.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Nope.


Sam Cordero

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to Singapore and then later to Dubai.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Two years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

The monetary benefits for teaching in Thailand is only enough for a single person I think. Leaving my competitive MEP Government School was a mistake on my part. Having entered the university teaching project with farang and Thai officers in the university not able to assist, facilitate, defend and show real concern for their teachers proved to be very stressful. They wore me out and killed my passion for teaching children. English teaching became so commercialized that schools were hiring backpackers who hadn't even achieved a secondary level of education. It was sickening. It was pretty obvious that English teaching wasn't rooted in education anymore.

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

The big advantage is money!.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss the simplicity and beauty of Thailand. I miss the shops, the local foods, the beaches, the historical places and the warmth of good old Thai friends.

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

If they have the money to extend their stay for at least three months (worst case scenario) then why not.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Yes. I have been visiting Thailand but only Bangkok. I miss the Isan food so much.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

I wish everyone well especially in the face of the ongoing political turmoil.


Graham Lowe

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Doha June 2009 but I have been before.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

October 2006 until June 2009.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Two outstanding reasons. The money & career development.

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

The money. Its double a B grade international school in Bkk. Also in Middle East schools offer career development. In my case IB assessor training. If you are ambitious or career driven its a good place to get ahead.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Many things! Thai food. Is there is a better cuisine in the world? The climate in winter. The beaches and islands. Thai girls. Away from the bar and the freelance scene, Thai girls are lovely. Some of the students I have taught here have been a pleasure to teach.

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

It's very unlikely that an inexperienced teacher would get a post in the Middle East. Similarly unlikely for a TEFL CELTA etc teacher. They usually prefer registered teachers from country of origin. I have a PGCE, 14 years UK experience teaching A levels in Chemistry GCSE Sciences. Without this experience I would not get a job in the Middle East.

As for Thailand? Its difficult to get a job in a top tier international school unless you are registered with a few years of experience. As for the rest? Thailand is like nowhere else in the world. The unexpected is the norm here. You can have a great time teaching here or it can be your worst nightmare. Depends upon you and your luck with getting the right school.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

If I can get a suitable post in a good school I would love to return here to work again. I will be back for holidays etc.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Lots to add. Do your research and don't whinge. Leave your western sensibilities at Bangkok airport. Thai rules apply here. You are guests in this country, remember that! Thailand has poor salaries, cheating, no-fail systems, corruption, dodgy school administrators etc, but you should expect and be prepared for this. Thais like Thailand just as it is. You would not like it if a foreigner said "in our country we do it like this..." In Thai society employees do as they are told and are expected to kiss the ass of the employer while doing it. Well meaning sincere advice is seen as criticism by a Thai. It doesn't matter how much experience you have etc.. Keep your opinions to yourself and do things "the Thai way".

Thais judge people how they see them. Appearance is everything. White skin is everything. Look at Thai TV, adverts pharmacies etc. Racism is accepted as the norm. (look at ajarn.com jobs for native speakers only photo required etc) Some of the racist statements I have heard from educated Thais beggars belief. This unfortunate situation is because of the education of history in Thailand. Thais are very nationalistic and some are xenophobic.

Thais love to gossip, its the national pastime. Learn some Thai and listen in to it in the staffroom! It will turn your toes what they say about westerners! There will be enough gossip about you without adding to it so keep your social life to yourself. NEVER date a Thai girl you work with. If it goes wrong be prepared for the ex-gf from hell!!

Set yourself a budget and stick to it. Obviously Thailand is full of distractions. They will still be there when your next pay check goes into your bank. Thai food is wonderful and cheap. Avoid the expensive restaurants. You are paid like a local so eat like one. Watch where the thais get their food and go there. Enlist the help of a friendly Thai girl to help you find the best food. Live close to work, rent a good clean secure cheap place. Make sure you check it out at night time. Thais love noise and fail to understand you are trying to sleep.

Keep all your original documents. Don't trust any school with originals. Remember private schools are there to make money! If they did not they would not exist. This applies to international schools as well. Government schools are poor. Hence cheap salaries. No matter what your qualifications are, you are expendable and disposable at any time. If you come to Thailand expecting a hedonistic paradise. Forget it. You do not have the time or money to live like a tourist so don't expect it.

Thai kids are the same as others in the world. They will try it on with you. Don't expect rows of polite wai-ing kids. Its not like that. A minority are over-indulged "do you know who I am? My dad pays your salary" type. Get on with it, pass them and think of the good majority you teach. Don't fight the system you cannot win.

Its a wonderful country but is not paradise. Make sure you understand what you are letting yourself in for.


Craig Berry

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Saigon, Vietnam in October 2007.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I was there for 2 years working for Chulalongkorn & Ramkhanhaeng on the Nonthaburi project and at ECC part-time for a year.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

A fellow teacher moved to Vietnam & kept hassling me to move, telling me how much better it was in every way. So I finally went over to have a look for a weekend & what he'd told me seemed to be true, plenty of work, a far more professional working environment & much better wages.

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

Working two jobs in Thailand I was saving about $200US a month & I had to be pretty careful to do that. Now I easily save $500 a month & I'm eating out twice a day & going out as much as I want. I now work full time for a large language center, teaching mostly adults & older teens in TOEFL & IELTS classes. All my students are motivated & really want to learn English as they understand just how much of a difference it will make to their lives. In comparison, in most cases, Thais are just not interested in foreign languages or culture, they prefer their own, end of story. When I first got to Vietnam I taught some classes in public high schools, in nearly every way it was a far easier & more rewarding experience

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I never went out that often in Thailand but it was great to have a vast range of places to go to. I certainly don't miss the in your face seediness of many areas of the city. I do miss the niceness of Thai's, in general I liked them, however the Vietnamese are even nicer. I miss the endless visa & work permit hassles like a hole in the head. Now my school looks after the lot, free of charge, I never have to go near immigration or a border.

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

Thailand is a great starting point because it shows you just how bad it can be and so after that any place is appreciated far more.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I've already been back for a short holiday to visit friends & I'll probably do it again. I also went back for bicycle supplies as there's little available for a serious biker here.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Vietnam has it's problems of course... pollution, street vendors, not so developed. But overall it's far more rewarding than Thailand.


Michael Secomb

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Brisbane, in May 2008.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

3 years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Family crisis in Brisbane involving the breakup of our daughter's marriage, plus our house, which had been rented out, needed renovating.

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

Brisbane is clean, civilized, and there are at least half a dozen English language schools, plus English language departments at several universities and opportunities in the Department of Technical and Further Education (TAFE). Plus, it pays a lot better than Thailand - AUS$30-40 an hour in language schools and up to $65 in some other situations. A large number of students from Asia, Europe and South America come to Brisbane to study English in an English-speaking environment. The facilities are generally good here.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

The food, the shopping, our Thai friends, the Thai culture and attitudes towards life.

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

Go to Thailand for the experience. Most of our colleagues teaching English in Brisbane have taught in overseas countries. It makes us much better teachers, able to connect with students.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Yes 'd love to, but we don't know when at this time.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Loved Thailand and still stay in touch with people there. I had burned out in my previous career in the media and Thailand revitalized my outlook on life. It was a fascinating time which enormously widened my mental horizons.


Showing 5 Great Escapes out of 258 total

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