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


Nick

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to England in 2017, Stoke to be more precise.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I did three years in Bangkok, then worked in Seoul for a year, and then back to Bangkok for another 12 months. I have been back 'home' since May 2017. In Thailand, we worked for a decent company that paid just north of 50,000 baht a month each.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

My girlfriend and I had been TEFLing for five years and were getting to a point where the work was not as stimulating as it was. Without a PGCE, there was no better TEFL job we could get in Bangkok than what we had. We also have young nieces and nephews as well as aging parents, and being in our 30s we also had to think about starting a family of our own in the next few years. A bit of push and a bit of pull really.

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

I'm doing a PGCE now so I'm living on a student loan, but we own a house so what money we have is essentially paying ourselves for the future rather than renting. The PGCE gives me more scope for working at home and abroad.

Aside from seeing family and mates and being able to watch Match of the Day live at a reasonable hour, there aren't that many upsides.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

This sounds cliche, but I miss the simplicity of life. Bangkok is a world city but can feel very local and welcoming. I worked with lots of great people from Thailand and other countries, so had the opportunity to explore and appreciate Thai food and the whole eating out culture. There's something great about going out with colleagues for a quick spot of street food, or having a few beers after work, without really denting your wallet.

I'm not a big drinker or a fan of the less salubrious parts of town, so my expenditure wasn't massive, but I would eat out most days and catch up with pals at great bars listening to questionable to amazing live music, overlooking the city and seeing the BTS snake its way through the urban jungle. The vibrancy of the place is great. I fully appreciate for some that 50k isn't much and for others it's a fortune, especially if you're single and living alone, but we thoroughly enjoyed the place and saved a fair wedge each month on that salary. It's a great place for couples.

Add to that the travel opportunities and the luxuries of the city, there weren't many dull moments.

Expats put down Bangkok quite a bit and I appreciate it is a big dirty sleazy mess of a place with a catalogue of minor annoyances, but the people are, on the whole, much more pleasant than in other countries. After working in and enduring Korea for a year, I missed the laid-back culture and learned to accept that Thailand will always have its faults. If you can have a bit of leeway and not compare Thailand to your homeland constantly, then you'll appreciate it more.

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

Depends. If you're young and not sure what you want to do, then get a Celta and you'll get a decent wage and a great lifestyle. See how you fare. If you don't like it or think you can do better, it's only a year of your life.

If you want a break, do the same but know that you still have to work hard and Thai schools and businesses will grind you down. Get yourself some hobbies or focus on the travel opportunities and learn to tolerate some of the idiosyncrasies of working in Thailand. I met plenty of people much older than me who let the politics of the company wash over them as the cost of having a comfortable life with a dash of adventure.

If you definitely want to be a teacher in your home country eventually, get qualified there and then look to get in international schools in Thailand. TEFL is brilliant but inevitably you'll hit a point where there's only so much you can earn with a TEFL qualification. If you have any intention of having a family or wanting long holidays, then TEFL isn't ideal.

Once you get a PGCE or equivalent, you'll have lots of earning potential as well as holidays.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Definitely. I'm doing the PGCE to cover myself in England and internationally. Having a family and living on a TEFL wage in Bangkok throws up a lot of problems around holidays and schooling. With a PGCE we're hoping to work in an international school which will give any theoretical child a quality education and ourselves a good wage that could see us rent out our home in England and save for our future.

We went back over this summer and it felt much more like home than home.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

If you want to work in education in the UK and are currently working in Thailand, you'll need to get a criminal background check from Bangkok. It costs a fortune (a few hundred quid) and a long time to get it done from England, so get it done before you leave. It'll cost you a fraction and save you a lot of hassle when you're applying for jobs which require criminal background checks.

Also, enjoy Thailand. Don't get too bogged down in thinking about money and do things your own way. You don't have to live like a pauper to pay for a nice apartment if you get a decent TEFL gig, especially if you're a couple. Enjoy the culture, the food, the weekend escapes in the jungle or the beaches and the fun of it all because - unless you're very lucky - you won't get that lifestyle in many places in the world!


Joseph

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to the UK in September 2018 to start teacher training (school direct salaried route with PGCE)

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked in Thailand for 2.5 years. I worked for a private school that followed the Cambridge curriculum. The school had a foreign head teacher and relatively good standards for Thailand (but still a mile off the UK).

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I decided I wanted to make a career in teaching and getting qualified in the UK was the logical step.

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

Pension scheme, a proper curriculum, actual training, resources and opportunity to progress.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Eating out every day, the exotic island breaks and the easier working day!

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

Teaching in Thailand is great fun but even the better schools are still fairly behind on education, it is however an enjoyable profession. Don't make the mistake of thinking any experience in Thailand means you could then do it in the UK.

Teaching in the UK is difficult. The hours are long, accountability is high and unless you want to make a change, the profession could easily burn you out.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Perhaps in a few years to work in a top tier international school.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Nope.


Emma

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I went back to the UK in September 2018

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

18 months.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Thailand just wasn’t right for me. I worked in both Thai and international schools and what I saw in the Thai school has scarred me for life! I found the general ‘sabai sabai’ attitude stressful; however, the final straw came when my boyfriend was sent on two visa runs by his school, each time with incorrect paperwork. We figured that one more mistake could see him stranded at a border and it just wasn't worth the risk.

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

The structure and organization of schools in England is just so much more familiar to me. There are fewer cultural barriers to overcome and I can do my own photocopying without requesting it four days in advance!

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

My friends! I miss some of the touristy activities and drinking on a work night. I miss cheap taxis and spontaneous nights/days out. I miss the weather (sometimes- I do not miss 40 degree heat or my soi being flooded to my knees though!)

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

Depends on what they want. Teaching in England is a totally different experience and I would only recommend it for those who truly want it.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Only for holidays! Several holidays hopefully.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Nope :)


Will

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Back to the UK in October 2018

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

14 months (this time!) This is the third time I have worked as an ESL teacher in Thailand.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Family reasons really. We needed to get back to the UK to register our daughter for primary school and also my wife never really settled back to life in Thailand.

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

Pay is far better, with real benefits. There are also policies and procedures to follow, including protection for minority groups and an equal opportunity to succeed. People generally get jobs based on their ability, rather than their appearance or who they are in with. Lets also not forget free and comprehensive healthcare, free and better education for children, a vote and generally a lot more freedom to speak your mind on any subject!

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

If I am honest, pretty much everything. People, weather, food, learning a language etc. Everyday things like popping down the local market on the motorbike, watching the local football team with a beer in my hand or getting a Thai massage. Being in a foreign country, every day feels like a bit of an adventure. Its such a diverse place with something for everyone. It's also generally cheaper and more accessible to do most fun activities.

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

If you are serious about being a career teacher, get certified at home and possibly consider teaching elsewhere. Teaching in Thailand can be fun, but the pay is low and so are the standards. Look at it as a working holiday really, unless you have the qualifications and can get a job in an international school.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Of course! I love the place and it really is my second home. I will be back for regular holidays until I can work out another plan to live there again. Probably when my daughter has finished secondary school and flown the nest.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

I met so many teachers in Thailand who have no confidence getting a good job back home and therefore felt trapped. If you want to go back, look at your transferable skills and sell yourself to employers. You may not get a great job immediately, but good things can happen in the long run!


John

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to Australia in 2012.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked for about two years in an international private school. I rented an apartment nearby and used to ride to and from school in-between classes to eat at home and swim in my pool.

Great days! though I must admit I didn't like teaching classes of 40 children that couldn't behave and had no real English skills.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Before working in Thailand, I taught in Tokyo, Berlin and back home in Australia, so I have always had a taste for living abroad and teaching. I left Thailand for the same reasons many other teachers do: you have to be serious about the future. It's not a place most will ever make the kind of money needed to cover things like superannuation for a pension or cover much more than living there. There is no future. It is just a great place to have a party. Even if I didn't worry about my own future, I don't want my child to grow up there in that system.

Also the visa stuff was really annoying and they were always coming up with more hoops to jump through that often had to be paid for out of our own pockets.

I don't mind being the foreigner all the time but I do dislike some people's attitude to darker skinned Thais though. Yes, Thais are also sometimes racist and are often very superficial (lots of lovely people too though!)

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

I'm working in Australia in ESL at a university. I have been doing this for roughly 15 years on and off. Teaching adults is by far the most rewarding and financially it is the best life. The ESL industry is one of the biggest service industries here, and it was booming when I started with a bit of a dip, I think around the time of GFC, but it has survived.

I have seen so much change in my time and learnt so much doing what I love. Living in your home country where you can buy stuff that you keep is so good after living out of suit cases. I have lived abroad almost 5 years and it is always the same thing: should I buy this thing or that thing to be happier and more settled... but always knowing that you can't take it with you if you suddenly decide to leave.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

It has to be the right time of your life. I broke up with a long-term girl friend and went there a couple of times on holidays to mend my heart. I loved it so much I quit my job and went to continue the party.

I miss relaxed rules like smoking and drinking anywhere, living by the sea, riding my bmx bike everywhere because Pattaya is so flat. Also having my apartment with wifi and pool was all I needed and could jump on my bike and travel around town quickly.

Let's not forget the beautiful women, the food, and living with the other foreigners from all parts of the world that I wouldn't tend to meet back home in Australia. Living in Japan and Germany was similar.

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

Much like what I have already said above. Everyone has different reasons to work abroad in different places.

I chose Japan and Germany for the particular culture I wanted to explore. I wasn't able to save money anywhere I have lived. I have always dipped into savings to travel and get set up. I would not personally recommend living permanently anywhere in Thailand for anyone but know many who do.

I do however recommend the same as I did; live in Pattaya if you are a single man wanting to minimise the cost of an extended party. There is no way in hell you are going to afford to have that party off the money you make though.

My 40,000 a month salary went a quarter to accommodation and then I lived off a thousand baht a day for simple food and a few drinks. Going out and having a good night every night means you need at least four times that.... and that is never going to happen.

I suggest that everyone goes there for a holiday first and give it a go where you live off 1,000 baht a day and see if you like that life style.

Also some people say once you buy your own place it gets cheaper etc... NO you lose your job at a particular place it is not that easy to find another so you would basically be stuck with your money tied up in one rotting apartment and they are constantly building new ones, so it is just not worth buying in my opinion.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I do return every couple of years as I married a Thai and have a kid.

I am accepted into Thai life up-country, but must admit I hate having to do the long drive out there. It's nice to be out near the Cambodian jungle border for a day or two. It's such a completely different culture, food and people, but I am happier when I return back down for a visit to Pattaya.

In Isaan, I even got bitten on the face by a scorpion in the outdoor toilets in the middle of the night! With the constant worry about malaria and knowing of relatives who have died from it there, I do like to stay away from that place.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

I'd like to thank Ajarn, as I found my job in Thailand on this site. It was pretty amazing when I went to Thailand for my holiday and then decided I wanted to work there. I returned to Australia, sent my resume off to various schools and in a few days later got a reply. I said I would be back in Thailand in a week and started straight away.

It was like going from a holiday idea to a reality in a week.

I have spent more time in Pattaya than any other place overseas and it really feels like I am coming home every visit I take.

There is something about the Thais and their culture that makes me feel like I belong there. I just wish I could have the job I have here in Australia and live on the pay over in Thailand.


Showing 5 Great Escapes out of 261 total

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