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


Raymond

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to the eastern province of Saudi Arabia in September 2011.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked in Thailand for about 6 years: 4 years in the Bangkok area, a year and a half in Rayong, and 6 months in Chiang Mai.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

The main reason was money, and mostly because Thailand has not allowed me to financially save for my future, which also means for my spouse and children. However, there are lots of good things about working in Thailand, especially working with Thais.

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

I work in a situation that focuses on the right things. I am now working with a university based out of Canada, and that affords me the space to practice and develop my art of teaching. Being paid well enough allows me to just focus on my contracted job rather than constantly seeking extra work outside of the contracted job.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

My wife and my children. I miss the relative freedom of life in Thailand, and having interesting things to do that are easily accessible. I also miss my many friends.

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

It depends on the teacher. However, I would say it is much better to save money out here, and go travelling during the ample holidays. But if one isn't the type who can "work for the weekend" then Thailand is a better choice. However, I also would suggest to serious teachers that working in the Middle East is a great place to hone your skills.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Yep. On my first holiday.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

I want to give an honest assessment about bilingual (EP / MEP) programs in Thailand. I think if you follow your heart, you will see that they are both bad places for your kids and incredibly difficult places to work. I have not had a great escape but I have had a reality check.


Matthew Noble

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to my hometown of Cambridge, Massachusetts (a suburb of Boston) last July.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked in Bangkok for six and a half years. I worked at several different places and lived in a few different parts of the city. Thinking back now, it's actually pretty hard to believe I was there that long. I guess time flies when you're having fun as they say.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I had a few reasons to move back. First, I was ready to enroll in an MA TESOL and I didn't want to do an online course or a Thailand-based grad program. Second, my wife was interested in graduate and/or other education for her in the States, and wanted to experience life abroad. Third, I was simply feeling 'ready for a change' and a little bit worn out/down by Bangkok life. So, here we are. The visa process was a bit of a hassle and it was certainly tough to uproot from a life I had begun to feel very settled into, but I'm glad we did it.

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

I work at a place called The Boston Language Institute. There are several things I really like about it. The management is great. I'm listened to, changes are made when needed, and there's a sense of teamwork in the air. It's a friendly place with an overall good atmosphere. There are plenty of teaching materials and they've order several new books upon my suggestion.

I really like teaching diverse populations. I could count the non-Thais I taught in the LOS on two hands. Here, I've been teaching Chinese, Iranian, Georgian, Slovakian, Brazilian, French, Haitian, Japanese, Korean, Colombian, and Saudi students. It just makes things much, much, much more interesting.

The Boston area is extremely expensive and I'm not making much more per hour than I was before I left Bangkok. This math ain't good. If I didn't have a supportive family network here, things would be more dire.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss the food, the buzz on the streets, people everywhere. I got used to that. I miss the usual stuff. Certainly the getaways to beaches and waterfalls, etc. There are great spots around here, but it just ain't the same. I also miss being able to practice speaking Thai. I fear I'll lose my Thai eventually.

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

I'd say Thailand because there are more jobs and the quality of life is better if you're suited to it all. Why not take off and get away from all this American political crap and lack of delicious spicy food? There is plenty of ESL work in and around Boston as it's a major international education hub. But it's almost all part-time and short-term. You can make 24,000 dollars a year or so running around teaching classes here and there.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I'm pretty sure we'll be back. I didn't leave for any negative reasons at all. I miss it a lot already. I think once both my wife and I are topped up educationally and have some more 'time away' to scheme and plan for return plans we'll know if and when the time is right to come back. We don't have kids yet, so that may change things. But I invested a lot in Thailand and find it hard to imagine getting stuck back here in the West forever.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

I don't know...there's the feeling of getting 'stuck' in Thailand. I got familiar with that for stretches of time. There's all the endless entertainment and cheap activities, and the overflow of potential work. It's so easy to put off leaving, even if it makes sense to. My advice is to just bite the bullet and go where you need to go. Thailand will always be there, waiting for you to come back. That said, if you're happy with your lot in the LOS, enjoy and appreciate it...and have a nice steamy plate of pad krapow at bahg soi for all us deserters around the globe just pining for a little honest two-dollar streetfare.


David

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Cambodia, in 2002

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

About two and half years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

The visa and work permit thing was always a pain. In my last job, I was asked to re-submit another copy of my academic transcript, together with a letter from my university. My employer already had these, but the government powers that be wanted me to go through the whole process again.
I started teaching at another school, and the Chinese owner promised to get my visa/work permit for me. She didn't. I had had enough.

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

Easy to get visas......and no work permits.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Decent healthcare at very affordable prices, people obeying the rules of the road, and Thai food.

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

I would advise them to seek work in Thailand first. See if you like it, and research your move thoroughly. Come for a holiday first, and visit some schools/ universities. Cambodia is not for beginners.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Definitely, but only for holidays as long as the archaic bureaucracy exists.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Cambodians are extremely friendly people, genuinely so. Accommodation is noticeably more expensive, and decent healthcare is ridiculously so. If you get seriously ill (and you will), you will need a decent healthcare plan with med-evac options. In addition, the traffic will stress you out.


Danny

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to Shanghai, China, around two months ago, mid August 2011. I'm now teaching mathematics at an A-Level school for Chinese students who want to attend university abroad.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I taught English in Chiang Mai for a year, at one of the private missionary-founded schools.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I really had an amazing life in Chiang Mai - but with few oppurtunities for career advancement, I knew that I would need to get my education degree to move up in the world of education.

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

Money is of course a big plus. I can afford a much nicer apartment and can splurge on nice meals and big nights out without worrying too much Shanghai is a massive city with endless oppurtunities for entertainment, so I'm never at a loss for things to do. Plus I'm getting valuable experience teaching A-Level mathematics which will come in handy in the future.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

The friendliness, politeness and warmth of Thais. Living simply and enjoying life. Cheap and delicious food.

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

Thailand is a great place for a few years if you're young, unqualified and just want to enjoy life. Its also a fantastic place if you are highly qualified and can get into a well paying international school. However, for recent educaton graduates, Shanghai is ideal because there are many well-paid positions for subject teachers. It can be a great place to start a career in education.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Absolutely. Thailand isn't perfect but it has so many good things going for it - low cost of living, pleasant culture, good weather, amazing food, relative safety, and terrific holiday opportunities - that few other places can compete.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

The year I spent teaching English in Chiang Mai was probably the best year of my life, and there are moments when I wonder why I left. At the same time, I'm grateful for the opportunities to develop as a teacher and enjoy a nicer lifestyle.


Will (AKA Wild Bill)

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to Lancaster, near to where I was brought up and where my family still live, in May 2008.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Worked in Chiang Mai for 18 months after visiting as a backpacker and meeting my then girlfriend who is now my wife.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Mainly financial. I was a little bit naughty and used my overdraft to fund my move to Chiang Mai and after over a year of no payments, the bank was sending nasty letters to my parents' house! Wanted to catch up with my friends and family too as well as giving my wife the opportunity to see where I come from and get to know my family.

Needed to also top up my HND into a degree which I completed this year.

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

Obviously you get paid more money, which allows you to save for the future. The problem with Thailand is although you can live quite well, it is very difficult to fund a trip home, so many farangs don't get to see their homeland for years on end. Also there are real prospects for promotion and a career, although right now that does not motivate me.
Not dripping with sweat is also nice but I would swap it for being battered by rain and wind on my walk to work or falling over on the ice in winter!

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

The simple things really, like going shopping for food at the local market; riding my Honda Dream in my shorts with the warm air blowing against you as the sun drops; drinking a few Leos whilst catching ridiculous -sized catfish a local fishing lake; meeting chilled-out and happy people wherever you go; and eating 'aroi' food wherever and whenever. Basically I miss it all, apart from the pollution and the sunburn!

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

Thailand is definitely a place to 'cut your teeth' so to speak. It is easy to find work with relatively few qualifications and experience and you are usually left alone to learn on the job.

Kids don't always want to learn but usually want to have 'sanuk.' So don't expect too much from them but at the same time put as much effort as you can in to getting some fun activities together that teach a little bit to everyone each class.

Teaching young adults employability skills in the UK is actually quite similar but may be a tougher gig to start with. I have found that if you have the carrot of a job opportunity for the learners you can motivate them to learn quite well.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Although living in the UK is OK and my wife has settled in really well (many folk at work actually think she is a born and bred Lancastrian!) I have a definite plan to return to Chiang Mai in around 15 months time to build a small house on my wife's land and probably stay and teach for at least a year.

Ultimately I want to take a PGCE in the UK and also buy a house to rent out. Then I can return to Chiang Mai and live my days out in financial security with the house acting as a 'nest-egg' for when I retire. Long way off though - I am only 29!

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Two points: if you are in the UK and have considered teaching in Thailand, but have not bit the bullet, do it! I moved over with no experience, very little money and managed to get a TEFL, get teaching and earning a decent wage within three months and may have still been there if it wasn't for the bank catching up with me!

If you are in Thailand and are worried about coming back or want to show your Thai partner where you come from etc; then again, it is probably worth biting the bullet too. Living back in the UK has been good for our relationship as my wife can now understand a lot more about me and my life before I met her. I joke with her that she is currently three years into her PhD in Northern English. In two years she will be fully qualified and ready to return to Thailand to act as much like a farang as me!


Showing 5 Great Escapes out of 330 total

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