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


Jakarta Casual

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Left in 1999 to Bangladesh and after a brief stint back in 2001 moved on to Indonesia, Kuwait and finally England in 2017 after short stops in Pakistan, Kazakhstan and Egypt. Since I've been back, still managed short gigs in India and Kyrgyzstan

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

About 7 years

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I used to commute across Sydney Harbour Bridge and I used to say to myself once I got bored with the view I'd pack my toothpaste and move on. Similar with Thailand. Once the nightlife got boring and the skytrain pylons looked real, it was time to look elsewhere

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

I work from home when I want and how much I want. No inane meetings or daft dress sense code. A fish and chip shop a 2-minute walk away, a park and a river to stretch my legs nearby. The weather may be shitty at times but when the sun is shining and the sky is blue, there is nowhere better

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Not much really. I loved my weekend breaks in Kanchanaburi and street food but that's about it.

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

Thailand is great for younger folks. I used to look at the older people in bars or staff rooms and pray to myself I wouldn't end up like them!

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Once Air Asia took off I would often fly round the region travelling or watching football. Now I'm in England, I've got 30 plus years of catching up to do in Europe so trips to Slovakia, Hungary, Germany etc sate my wanderlust

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Working abroad is brilliant and I had a blast mostly despite a few crappy jobs and some proper woeful accommodation but the me of 2023 would tell the me of 1987 to either get a proper teaching degree or do some football coaching badges. I left England in 1987 with a few quid in traveller's cheques, a one way ticket to Australia and a vague idea of 12 months overseas but found myself drifting around countries and jobs and too often a hand to mouth existence


Paul

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to the UK in 2019.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked on and off in Bangkok a total of 10 years. Most of this time was spent in a language school.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

The money mainly, and the increasing regulations when renewing my work permit. Also, the prices for many things increased and I felt Thailand wasn't good value for money anymore.

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

I actually moved again. I'm in another country and the advantage is a higher salary and free accommodation and utilities.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

The fun nights out, the cheap cost of food, and the ability to easily travel both within Thailand and in the region.

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

Go to Thailand. Stay a few years, get the experience, and the qualifications and then move. Thailand is great; however, it is going to be harder to live there when you are older and have no savings.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I would like to go back to visit friends, and also travel to the regions I haven't explored yet. However, I don't think I'd like to work there again.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

If you've just graduated or you're only going for the 'gap-year' experience,
don't go there without a plan, and some money to set you up for the first few months.


Maria

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to England in February of last year (2022)

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked there for three years. I did one year at a university in Bangkok and then moved down south for a quieter life (and less money) at a private school in Nakhon Si Thammarat.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Both of my parents were getting on in years and not coping too well with life. Because I'm an only child, I felt duty bound to return home and take care of them, or simply to be there if they needed me.

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

Fortunately, I'm a fully qualified teacher so I've been doing some supply teaching at various secondary schools in the Bolton area (my hometown) and doing some freelance editing work. There's plenty of 'bits and pieces' work in the UK if you put your mind to finding something but it's very often 'feast or famine' and impossible to budget from one month to the next plus of course you don't get the benefits that you'd receive from a full-time position. I can't commit to a full-time job at present though because of the parent situation.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

The simplicity of life, especially the two years I lived down south. I often float off into daydreaming mode and I'm back in Nakhon Si Thammarat. It's a warm, sunny day and I'm riding my trusty motorcycle to the beach wearing t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops. I can sit on the beach, under an umberella with a good book, and it feels like I haven't got a care in the world!

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

It's horses for courses. I saw many foreign teachers come and go during my years in Thailand and some loved it and many just couldn't cope. I think in many cases, new arrivals have expectations that are too high and they get stressed when things don't go smoothly (as they rarely do in Thailand). You have to go with the flow and not get fazed by the bumps in the road.

England is England and while it has its faults, I still think it's a great country to live in. I hate the cold Winters though!

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I'd go back in a heartbeat but unfortunately it's a case of letting nature take its course and having to wait until I have no family ties. I'm mindful though that I'm now in my mid-forties and it won't be that many years before I could be deemed as 'too old' to work in Thailand. You have to be realistic about things.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Perhaps I just got lucky but Thailand was very good to me. I made some great friends (both farang and Thai) that I still keep in contact with. In fact several of them have visited me on trips to England. I worked at fabulous schools with great admin staff and teaching assistants, etc. I never had many problems at all while I was there. I know some teachers aren't so lucky but I noticed those teachers that struggle are very often in bad situations of their own making.


Selina

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I went to teach in China in January 2023. New year, new career path and all that.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked there for two years at a large government school in Si Saket.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I needed a change of scenery and to start earning a bit more money. When I hit 40 years old, I started to think about my future more. If I was going to stay as an English teacher then 40,000 baht a month for the rest of my working days wasn't really going to cut it. Although 40,000 baht was more than enough to live on in Si Saket, it didn't really allow for wild trips home or wild trips anywhere to be honest.

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

The salary is almost double what I made in Thailand and I don't have to be in school as much (only when I have classes plus a little bit of prep time on top) The school simply values its teachers more and we have weekly meetings to make sure that everyone is happy with their lot and especially the new teachers are settling in OK. There are regular workshops that teachers are encouraged to attend and you just feel as though you're improving as a teacher all the time. In Thailand, you're pretty much left to your own devices and I suppose there's good and bad in being left alone. But career-wise, you get the feeling that time is just standing still.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Probably the simplicity of all. In a quiet rural backwater like Si Saket, if you have a good school administration department that takes care of all the visa and work permit stuff, then life on 40K is relatively stress-free. That brings its own issues though in that one day can just blend into another and your life lacks challenge. I certainly miss the terrific students and some great Thai colleagues, who I always found so helpful and willing to give up their time in my rare hours of need.

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

Oh, without a doubt. I think it's an amazing country to get some TEFL experience under your belt. And as long as no one is complaining, you can just get on with life. Be careful about getting too comfortable though.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I don't think so, although I certainly plan to return for holidays.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Go to Thailand with an open mind and go with the flow. Don't try and change the system. Let the Thais do things their way, even if it might not be your way. Keep all that in mind and you'll have a blast! It's just a shame that besides the top jobs at international schools, Thailand just doesn't pay well enough to live, travel, and plan for retirement comfortably.


Kevin

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to England in early December 2022.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I was there for just over a year and worked at a government school in Pathum Thani, on the outskirts of Bangkok.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I wanted to teach English in SE Asia for a year to see if teaching was really for me. I don't think it was.

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

Well of course I've only just got back and I wanted to spend Christmas and New Year with my family before making any decisions on my future. It was nice to be home again. I'm not sure I'm the kind of person who could become a long-term expat on the other side of the world. There is just too much I miss about Sheffield!

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I would say the Thais themselves. They are generally so easy to get along with and also very helpful if you have any kind of problem. I was always amazed at how much they'd go out of their way for you. I also miss a lot of the cheaper aspects of living in Thailand like the massages and buying fresh food from the local markets. Living in Thailand feels like every day is an adventure (though perhaps 'challenge' would be a better word on most days)

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

I've seen this said on Ajarn many times so I'll just add one more voice. Thailand isn't a place to build a career and plan for the future as a teacher unless you're well-qualified and can snag a position at a top international school. I was earning north of 40K a month but would want at least three times that if I was taking living in Thailand for the long term seriously.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

To teach English? No. It was something I wanted to say I'd tried and done. Mission accomplished. Although it was enjoyable for the most part, TEFL doesn't strike me as something I could do for years on end.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

I worked with many foreign teachers who seemed to have little choice but to float around SE Asia - a year here, a couple of years there - teaching for little more than survival wages. At 24 (the age I am now) it's not too late to change direction but at the wrong side of 50 with no real savings, no pension plan and all your bridges burned back in your homeland, it's a very different landscape. You don't want to be one of those people.


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