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


James

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Shanghai

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Eight years

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

There were 3 main reasons.

1. Finance - being married with a young son, I was very concerned about saving. I'd been in Thailand 8 years and had nothing in the bank. On a good month I could save 10-15,000 baht but our annual Xmas trip to England would use all of that. Bills, paying a mortgage, car repairs...it all mounts up and Thailand is getting more expensive too. Now I'm on a salary similar to what the best international schools in Thailand pay with all the benefits.

2. Living conditions - after 8 years in Thailand I came to the conclusion that the climate is not for me, swelteringly hot all year round. Having to wait until 5.00pm to go outdoors is not for me. I'm a Londoner, we walk to many places, but Thailand took that away from me.

3. Career progression - I worked at a fairly good school just outside Bangkok but couldn't break into the international school circuit, well not the decent ones anyway, and that's with a PGCEi. Now I'm at a good international school and really feel I'm developing as a teacher. It has been a big step up and I am enjoying it.

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

The school
Professionalism and organisation far beyond what I experienced in Thailand.
The salary and benefits package.
The students' English levels.
Being appreciated by school leaders and management.

Shanghai itself
All encompassing metro system.
Tree lined streets.
Pavements.
New and interesting food.
Things running on time.
Not being refused by taxi drivers.
Parks.
Beer selection at Family Mart.
Cashless payments.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Beaches, which I rarely got to enjoy. In fact, we'll probably visit the southern beaches of Thailand more now than when we used to live there! I also miss some good friends.

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

If you're a new teacher and qualified go there only if you get into a top 10 international school making at least 100,000 baht a month. You will have a fantastic time and be able to save for your future.

I wouldn't go like how I did, with a TESOL and making 30-40K a month for my first two years there. It is easy to get stuck in Thailand and before you know it will be 5+ years in with very little future proofing.

If you have a family go somewhere where the money is good and there are things to do for everyone. Like Shanghai, Seoul or another Northern Asian city. Oh and one with four seasons!

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

We have a house there which we rent out so it's possible, but right now there's no plan to return. Except perhaps for Chinese New Year in February.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

I used to read this section and think most of the teachers sounded bitter that they had left or of course they'd say the new place is way better. But I can honestly tell you that leaving Thailand was the right decision for my family and I.


James

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Naples, Italy in September 2016 after a brief couple of months back in England

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Just over 3 and a half years (two years in Rayong, one and a half in Pattaya)

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Several reasons. My first and biggest reason was that I had grown tired and burnt out by Thailand and all things Thai. I was tired of getting sick off the food, confused by the culture and saving face, being a farang along with everything that goes with it, 90 day immigration check ins and ever worsening visa requirements. I got frustrated by working in a country that so clearly didn't want me to be there. I wanted to be in a place that accepts me for who I am and not just treat me as another farang. If you aren't happy somewhere, it's better to leave than grow bitter.

Plus, although I'm still young, realistically I saw no long term future in Thailand, dancing for peanuts until the age of 60 when I won't be allowed to do that legally anymore, then with no savings or pension and bridges back home burned over time, what would I do then?

On top of that, I missed my family, friends and western food/culture but still love TEFL and see no future in returning to the UK to try find a boring job in a supermarket or cafe in my hometown. Moving to another country in Europe just seemed to make sense.

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

In Italy, I am a short, cheap 3-hour Ryanair flight from the UK and can actually afford to go back from time to time. In Thailand, the low wages combined with bad currency meant going home was an extremely rare and expensive treat.

Being an EU citizen, there are no visa requirements, no 90-day immigration check ins, no interrogations at the airport upon entry (although this may change when Brexit happens!).. Here, I am allowed to do any job, own property and have the same rights as locals (unlike in Thailand). There's no farang harassment, double tier pricing or any of the "us vs them" mentality that Thailand has. It was also fairly easy to bring my Thai wife here and get her residence permit (easier than the UK and far easier than it was to get my Thai work permit). We have travelled with ease around several countries in Europe and visited my family in the UK.

Naples is close to some awesome places including the Amalfi coast and Pompeii and it isn't far to Rome either. The language is much easier than Thai, the food is fresh, inexpensive and good quality, the weather is good for most of the year, the people much nicer and more genuine and the culture is leaps and bounds better than Thailand's IMO.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

To be honest, the move has been a lot harder for my Thai wife than it has for me, she had a decent job in Thailand but here she's struggled to find meaningful employment in a city and country where locals struggle enough. On top of that, there was the language barrier and culture shock that can be expected for any Thai wife in a western country.

For me, I miss the year round heat (even south Italy gets chilly in winter made worse so by the old, poorly insulated apartments) and travelling around the islands. While here we have Positano, Ischia and Capri, I miss hopping around Krabi, Samui, Koh Chang etc, staying in bungalows and lazing around in the sea.

I miss travelling around by motorbike through the jungles, coconut trees and finding a random beach somewhere. That every day was an adventure (although living in Napoli is quite an adventure too!).

I miss the cheap living costs, the simplicity and freedom of day to day living (live and let live) . I miss my beautiful modern apartment with air conditioning, housekeeping, a gym and swimming pool and cringe when I remember that it cost a fraction of what I spend on a small, old inner city shoebox in Italy.

I miss the cheap beer, lads nights out, parties and how easy it was to find female company for the night when I was single. I miss the friends I made and just people watching in Pattaya. It really is good fun to just sit outside at a bar with a beer and watch the world go by.

I also miss the fact that in Thailand, Sundays are a normal day, there are no siestas and the 24 hour 7/11s. Italy is a nightmare for its business hours.

While these are things I do miss, I know I'm looking back with nostalgia and if I went back, I would soon get annoyed by all the 'Thainess' again.

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

I definitely recommend visiting and maybe teaching for a while but don't recommend staying for the long term. Teaching in Thailand, while easy and fun, definitely has a shelf life before you start wondering where you're going in life and long for greener plains.
I would only recommend staying for the long term if you have a good amount of money with you from abroad or if you can get a job at one of the big international schools, otherwise, do your time, have fun, travel - then move on.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Sure, my wife is from there and we plan to get a couple of weeks winter sun every year once we have the money but we both don't want to live there again.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

New teachers, make sure to take your original documentation with you including your degree certificate and any legal proof of name change if you have done so. I had a bureaucratic nightmare my last year there trying to get my non-B visa and had to get everything sent by post from England then being snagged by the fact that my degree certificate is under a different name to my passport.

Really research the city you plan to stay in and the school you'll work at if possible and try to pipeline some teachers on Ajarn/expat forums before you go to ease the transition. Culture shock is a real thing and you aren't weak for feeling it. It's normal to have down days (or weeks).

And realise that Thailand isn't for everyone. It's a long way from home and different in just about every sense. Living there is very different to vacationing there and like a relationship gone wrong, there's no shame in realising when enough is enough and it's time to walk away.


Barkut

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to Kampot in Cambodia in May 2017 so about 4 months ago.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked in four different cities over a 13-year period.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Just too hard. 13 years experience in schools and still expected to spend money to prove my abilities. Sick and tired of seeing newbies come in and constantly get ripped off. Those wanting to stay long term are seen as the problem for the directors. Also sick of seeing the waste of all those special days that even the locals pretend to respect.

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

I am online now so although it is taking a long time to get the salary up to a reasonable level, the cost of living in Cambodia is really low. I never got married so life is fairly cushy. No kids to worry about either. Th only concern is the dog.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Not much actually. I should have moved years ago.

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

Do not work in Cambodian schools. They are worse than Thailand. For online teaching it is great place to start you business. Internet speed of 25mbs and I live on about 25 USD a day. Food in Kampot is much better than Thailand as well. Thai food is like eating plastic food now with all of the chemical based farming practices. The food here seems much more like real food. Also the Western foods are prepared by Westerners and not a Thai who thinks pretty is more important than healthy.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

At the moment nope

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

No.


LT

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

My plane departed Swampy two weeks ago on Sunday, September 20, 2017. I arrived here in China to make the transition to a first tier international school.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I spent over a decade teaching in Bangkok and Chonburi.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

It just doesn't make sense to remain in a country that doesn't value your contribution or work in a profitable way. I have a family to support, and my son is now four years old. I need to provide him with a proper education and make some progress in my career.

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

Isn't it always about money? Quality of life. If you include schooling and the 7 hours of private teaching I am doing at 500 CNY (2,500 THB) per hour, the total package given to me comes to over 285,000 baht per month. That's a six-figure package in dollars. Do the math. I just arrived here and made more money in a week and a half than my monthly salary as an academic manager in Thailand.

Time off is a big factor. I have 181 working days per year. The rest is for my family.

Education here is far better, and it will provide more opportunities for my little boy.

Beer is half the price! Everything else is comparable, except for rent. My school handles that though for my 2 bedroom, 101 square meter apartment.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss being able to speak the language. Everything seemed more relaxed there. I miss the internet. The Great Firewall is no joke!

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

If you want to make money and gain valuable experience, come to China and get to work. Thailand is just a big holiday and seen as somewhat of a joke. Don't stay as long as I did ....

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Every chance I get, but not in the capacity of an educator. I will return to build my retirement house and every holiday I get. My wife is Thai.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Do your homework ....


James

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to the South East of England in August 2016 (one year ago)

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

10 years

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I wanted to give England another chance and bring my kids up here.

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

Workers rights. No corrupt people in authority ruining your every move and all the nonsense that goes with it. Not feeling like an alien all the time. The climate. The driving. No mosquitoes.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

The quality of life for what you earn. The cool and rainy seasons. Watching a football match in the pub with my friends. Freedom. Eating out when I am too lazy to cook. The attitude of ESL teachers compared to the "qualified" teachers here. Spontaneity

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

Get yourself qualified here first. Get it out of the way because once you've experienced life abroad coming back is a nightmare, literally. Going the other way will feel great.

Then go and seek out the schools abroad. Start in a standard Thai school (not a government one though) and learn the culture before moving to an international school. If you go straight into international school work, you'll miss out on a large chunk of life there.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Very soon. I have been here a year now and I hate it. It's becoming impossible to save any money and life in the cities (outside of London) is becoming harder and harder. I am on less money than I was 20 years ago yet the price of everything has doubled.

Add to that the yob culture of kids and the lack of parenting going on and it creates a huge dark cloud that follows me wherever I go.

Thailand isn't perfect by a long way but at least you have a life. This country has hit rock bottom for me. I look around and feel so down at the state it has become.

The lack of hope, the closed businesses, the dirty run down houses and gardens, the complete lack of pride that young people have in themselves.....basically the money has been wasted and spent in all the wrong places. I no longer feel proud to be British, I honestly don't.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Yes - create a chat group where people such as myself and others who struggle to resettle can meet and discuss things because you feel completely isolated at times and unless you talk to someone who has experienced the same, you just feel like everyday is a struggle.


Showing 5 Great Escapes out of 235 total

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