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


Mark Dawson-Smith

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to Hamilton, New Zealand (Hamilton is about an hour and a half south of Auckland), in March 2003.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked in Thailand for more than 11 and a half years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Mostly for family reasons. My family (wife and two daughters) had been involved in an horrific coach accident in the south of Thailand in May 2002, in which my youngest daughter had almost lost a leg. I guess it was the reaction of some of the local people that sealed it for me. Insurance companies didn’t want to know, the bus company blamed the driver (who had, of course, fled the scene), the police grinned a lot and gave me the coach driver’s address, should I want to settle the matter myself, and at the end of it all I just felt that I never wanted to put my family through such a thing again. Additionally, my girls were leaving home before 6am to get to school and as I wasn’t getting home until late most evenings, I hardly saw them during the week. So, definitely a move for family (and lifestyle) reasons.

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

Where do I begin? First of all there is excellent education for my daughters at very low cost. I have a good working environment with generally competent people and very few shysters. People are prepared to listen, and there is little of the back-stabbing and petty jealousies that are so common in Thai educational establishments. All staff are expected to work a 37-hour working week, Monday to Friday. Any over time can be taken off in lieu. I get a reasonable salary (although I can’t save as much as I did in Thailand). Employers have good leave provisions and offer generous training assistance. As far as teaching goes, we get a great mix of students from different countries around the world. They are generally well-motivated, as most are preparing for university. And, of course, we enjoy outstanding sport (I spent all day yesterday at a sun-soaked Seddon Park watching the Black Caps stuff the Aussies!)

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Mainly my friends/work mates. I was lucky enough to work with some top teachers during my time in Thailand, and I guess these still make up most of the people I would still call good friends. And maybe quiz night at the Bull’s Head!

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

For a new teacher, I would most definitely advise to seek work in Thailand. It is a great place to learn, and I think the learning curve is probably a lot steeper over there, especially in Bangkok. There are some very good teachers working in Bangkok, and ‘newbies’ can learn a lot from them. I know I certainly learnt loads from other more experienced teachers when I started out in 1991. If you can find a school that pays a half decent salary, Thailand can be a great place for new teachers.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I’d like to say “Yes”, but I don’t think I could come back and work, at least not until my daughters had finished uni over here. We still own a house in Prakhanong, so I guess that gives me a good excuse to pop over there, but I have resisted the temptation for the last 4 years. If I was to return, I think lifestyle would be a real issue, though.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Enjoy Thailand as much as you can. Make mistakes, but learn from them. Remember that there are lots of other great places out there, and if you are a serious and capable teacher, then don’t be afraid to turn your back on Bangkok and find just as much fun somewhere else.


Christopher Smith

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to Korea on the 1st of October last year.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I just worked there for a year. However, it was my third trip to Thailand; I went to Thailand on an Australian Bicentennial scholarship to be an exchange student for a year when I was 16, and again for a three month holiday when I was 21. Both these times I lived in Kantralak, in Sisaket; last year, I made the big move to Ubon.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

My motivations to move to Korea were threefold. Firstly, I had a Korean girlfriend to whose arms I wished to return – a relationship that, upon my return to Korea, fell through in very short course (sheesh). Secondly, I wanted to perfect my Korean language skills. Thirdly, I wanted to save some money.

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

The advantages are more money and faster internet.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss life in the country – I was born and lived in the country when I was a kid, and Sisaket/Ubon are just like my home. Now, of course, I'm in the super-metropolis of Seoul. Life was also a lot easier for me in Thailand because I speak Thai and Thai Isaan – I'm trying to address that issue by studying Korean as hard as I can. I miss the hot weather, especially when it's winter in Korea. Finally, I miss how multicultural, caring, sharing, life-loving and attentive to their lessons my students were in Thailand.

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

It would certainly be far easier to learn how to teach English, and to engage for the first time with another culture, in Thailand. But I wouldn't like to put anyone off Korea either, here is excellent too. I reckon that when I can speak Korean as well as I can Thai, I will like Korea just as much.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I'm a man with no plans. I still, however, have the other half of a return ticket to Thailand that I bought when I came here to Korea; I have to use that before October. And I constantly pine for my life in Thailand; also, if I didn’t go back there, all those years and all that effort I spent learning the language would go to waste.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

If you're going to teach in either of the places I do, don't be lazy and cranky. That's how so many farang/wheregooks shoot themselves in the foot. Learn the language of the place you're in; it's not hard, and it makes life enormously better. Being an ESL teacher, as long as you don't you blow it and make the students run amok, rips.


Sean Earl

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Hong Kong after a post-Thailand, very-regrettable two-year stint in Canada

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

5 years

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Money, starting a family

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

All public (and for that matter private) services available in English, world-class infrastructure, excellent pay, western food reasonably priced, a wide variety of interesting expats and worldly locals.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Definitely the food- Chinese can never compare with it! As well, the warmth of Thai people.

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

Having taught in an even dozen countries spanning North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia, I think it is important to try at least a few countries before settling down- if anything else, this is a career choice that allows for a lot of travel and adventure, so take advantage of that.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I'd like to spend part of the year there once semi-retired.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Yes- I find people who've not got a lot of good to say about Thailand to be generally unhappy people no matter where they are. Sure it has its problems, but what country doesn't?


Malcolm Swann

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Back to England a few years ago

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked there for 2 years, on the outskirts of Pattaya

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Money money money - not being paid on time, running low on savings. I could not carry on with the life style I had become accustomed to. Changing immigration rules also meant a lack of stability.

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

Back in the UK, I have an excellent salary which is paid on time. There are no daft immigration rules and I bought a house in MY name!!!! No rabies from biting dogs either.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

The weather, the good food and the good night life. I also miss the smiling people and the laid back way of life.

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

Yes but dont get hooked on the drug, do your time and get out.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Having a Thai wife, we go back twice a year for holidays, if a stable, well paying job come along I would certainly consider it.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Thailand is a wonderful country to explore, but keep your head down and stay out of trouble. Make sure you have enough cash to live the life you want there or else it's like being in Disneyland and not being able to afford the rides.


Curt Crossley

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to Pachuca, Mexico, just outside of Mexico City, 6 months ago (August 2006).

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Nearly 4 years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Bureaucratic and intransigent educational system and arcane and frustrating immigration policies

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

Significantly more trust of foreign teachers than I ever found in Thailand. More open to new ideas. More personal responsibility. Better quality and more committed foreign teachers. Better trained and more innovative native teachers

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

The celebrity of being a foreign teacher. The low cost of living. The wonderful, inherently friendly, and largely non-controversial nature of Thai students and people.

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

I think a qualified teacher would find Mexico more professionally satisfying, but Thailand is certainly more of an adventure. It depends on what they are seeking from the experience.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

It depends on whether the system ever becomes more inclusive of foreign teachers and accepting of Western ideas.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

I find the disservice that Thailand is doing to its youth, with the educational system it has, really sad, and really hope that sometime in the near future they begin to make lasting reform that is not responsive to fads and trends, but is more conducive to progress and learning.


Showing 5 Great Escapes out of 235 total

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