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


Jamie

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to Scotland last year to apply for a PGDE (the Scottish equivalent of a PGCE) at various universities.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked in north Bangkok for three years, near the Ratchayothin intersection.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I felt I was stagnating at school with no career mobility, no pension plan and indifferent colleagues. I decided to move back home to qualify as a teacher to increase my ability to progress up the career ladder and have more flexibility; teaching in Thailand for a few years convinced me teaching was THE career for me.

I applied to various universities in Scotland, and was accepted by the University of Edinburgh to start teacher training, the best bit of news I had all year.

Unfortunately, living in the UK is difficult, particularly with the negative mindset of Britons around me dragging me down. As another Great Escape contributor mentioned, it's difficult to get a stable job and income. I'm currently working as a life attendant in a sports centre with a fixed part-time wage but that will end soon because I'm starting university in August and have to put my career training first.

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

Pension plans, workers rights, the ability to challenge your superiors when warranted, sick leave and paid holidays. There's also career progression here, and once qualified, my salary will far exceed anything I could get as a TEFL teacher in Thailand.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Being able to afford a large and comfortable place to live in, fresh and plentiful street food that costs next to nothing, having my own motorcycle to zoom around the country, and the ability to afford a flight and hotel stay every month in the north or south of Thailand. Those were the best things around to help me cope with the realities of adult life.

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

Considering how competitive the teaching courses are here, I would advise you to get a couple of years' experience in Thailand then come back and do some classroom volunteering at your local school to maximise your chance of getting a place. In the long term, qualifying here will be the best thing you ever did.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Yes, I plan to buy a holiday home in Thailand in the future.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

If you're in Thailand and plan to come back to the uk, make some plans for what to do to progress yourself here, otherwise you'll end up in a miserable rut with no prospects for the future. Also, seek mental health counselling if you feel dragged down by those around you. It helps. Seriously.


Ricky

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to the UK a couple of years ago and I live with my parents on the outskirts of Leeds.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I was there for three years at the same Thai secondary school in a very quiet and peaceful town, about an hour's minivan ride from Bangkok.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I just got bored of life in Thailand. Simple as that. I loved my first year there and the school always treated me well and I always felt like part of the family. But by the end of the second year, I could feel the malaise setting in. And I just ghosted through the third and final year.

The school begged me to sign another contract because even though I had fallen out of love with Thailand, my performances in the classroom hadn't suffered. But I knew deep down it was time to move on. And that was probably the biggest mistake I've ever made in life.

Like other 'Great Escapes' I've read on the Ajarn site, I never had a long-term plan or ever bemoaned the fact that I never had one eye on the future. I genuinely went into the TEFL business in the hope of making it a career because teaching was all I ever wanted to do. Thailand seemed like a perfect place to start and my attitude was always 'let's see where this leads'. I thought maybe once I had got enough teaching experience under my belt, I could become an academic director or head teacher and move steadily up the TEFL ladder, perhaps even move on to a country like Japan or China where the pay would be better.

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

I love this Great Escape section of the website but I wanted to wait until I had been back in England for at least a year or two until I was in a position to hopefully make sense of the situation and analyze the direction I have gone in since I left Thailand.

What's life like for a guy in his mid to late twenties living back in the UK with his parents? I honestly don't know where to start. Even on the sunniest of days, it's like living your life under a perpetual black cloud. I could genuinely weep for the majority of young, single people here because I don't see a future for them at all. I think many young, single people have given up already. It's like there isn't even a small ray of hope.

The gap between the haves and the have-nots has never been so wide. I see countless single mothers pushing prams around Poundland and trying to put a meal together out of tins and stuff off the out-of-date shelf. Or they go the numerous charity food banks that seem to be springing up everywhere. I see lonely, elderly men sipping cheap pints of beer as slowly as possible at ten in the morning rather than go home and have to turn the heating on in some pokey little council flat.

Everything is bought 'on tick'. It's rare to meet someone (certainly in the circles that I move in) that doesn't have credit card debts spiraling out of control. All those young guys you see driving flashy cars can only ever afford them on some back-street lease agreement. The whole thing is an illusion.

Many young people are working on zero hour contracts. The employer says we'll pay you when we're busy but if we're quiet, we'll send you home with no wages or don't even bother coming in. As I said, how can anyone plan or budget for a future based around such a flimsy and unpredictable system.

I would go out and drown my sorrows, but I'm scared of accidently walking into a Sharia law 'neighbourhood watch area' with my girlfriend and having some hate preacher unleash his venom at her for wearing a skirt above the knee.

I could go on.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

How does the old saying go? - "you don't know what you miss until you don't have it anymore" Something like that.

Everything I grew to dislike about Thailand - the terrible driving, the insect bites, the floods, the occasional bouts of food poisoning, the unbearably humid weather at certain times of year - I now realize that I should have just shrugged my shoulders and laughed them off. They are part and parcel of living in a foreign clime.

Now sat on the family sofa at home with my Mother screaming at the TV because the judges on 'Britain Hasn't Got Talent' are being way too harsh, the air thick and sickly from my Father's flatulence, and the family poodle trying to have it off with my leg, all those things I moaned about seem so trivial. They actually feel exciting and exotic.

Sometimes I let my mind drift away and I'm relaxing on a Thai beach, sipping at a young coconut and hypnotized by the calming ebb and flow of the tide. Then Mother asks me to put the kettle on, Dad lets another one rip - and I'm back in the real world of Simon Cowell's golden buzzer and TV ads for high-interest loan sharks and yet another MFI clearance sale.

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

I'm not going to answer this question with a straight yes or no but let me just say this. When you've experienced life back in England as I have for a couple of years, suddenly the idea of earning 30-40,000 baht a month as a teacher in Thailand doesn't seem that bad at all. I know which lifestyle I would rather have.

30-40,000 baht a month isn't a fortune we know (it's about the amount I earned when I worked there) but you've got your own apartment, your own personal space. It might not be a mansion on the hill but it's YOUR place. You can watch all the football for free on your computer (TV packages cost a fortune in the UK) You are eating good, healthy food two or three times a day. You've got money in your pocket for the odd nice weekend away. Last but certainly not least, if you fancy a bit of company in the evenings (wink! wink!) well, it isn't too hard to find. You DO live like a king when all things are considered.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

As you've no doubt guessed, I would pack my suitcase and catch the first flight out tomorrow morning. I really have no idea what's holding me back. Perhaps it's the fear of just picking up where I left off and falling back into a negative mindset. But life is going nowhere here. Work-wise, I'm picking up enough bits and pieces (mostly delivery driving) to pay for my food and lodging (your 'keep' as we call it) but not putting enough away for a safety buffer to have another crack at teaching in Asia.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Not really. Eastenders is is just starting.


Casey

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to Kyoto, Japan in April last year.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Three years

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I'll be completely honest: I had a good resume and a good education. When I chose Thailand as a place to live and work, I wasn't sure how it was an escape from all my problems back home. The truth is that I just didn't think much about it at all. I thought "Bangkok is a huge cosmopolitan city, how hard can it get?"

I started self-censoring myself all the time. I didn't even know whose face I was saving or why I was becoming a pussy to please people who'll never be pleased no matter what I did.

It's not in Thai people's nature to be in-your-face aggressive but they don't really like to co-operate and you are often treated with contempt.

Pollution, humidity, bad urban planning. Life just seemed to consist of being in my condo and going to the shopping mall.

Other expats or frustrated men. There's a low glass-ceiling for anyone who's not Thai. That leaves you with a bunch of jaded and frustrated men. These people do not make good friends. I couldn't go out and bond with people. I couldn't go out and bond with nature. I couldn't go out and volunteer. I sure as hell couldn't get a promotion.

If I slacked off all day I was a "typical foreigner" and if I tried hard at work someone would try and cut me down sooner or later.

I mean none of this was my plan for Bangkok. Certainly not the social hermit part but it's how things are here and none of my positive thinking could have changed that. My good qualifications didn't change reality.

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

One of the biggest differences are is that people deliver. If I'm expected to get paid at the end of the month, I'll get paid at month's end whether P'James or P'Somchai like me or not.

In Thailand P'Gai or P'James have to *like* so all of us could work well together. There's more pressure here but people deliver what they promise. In Thailand people promise and say yes, maybe, Yes but who the heck knows how that pans out?

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Thailand life can be very simple (because it's also very limited in terms of activity). There were mornings and days and weekends when I woke up and I felt truly at peace. I loved my big house. My wife taught me that love means taking care of each other and helping out other people.

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

Would your send your kid to work at McDonalds? The pay is low, working conditions are sub-par, and co-workers aren't very nice. How do you expect to ever get a better job when your self-esteem is zero every day?

Teaching in Thailand is like that. Maybe you'll get paid and life will go on. But will you ever be anything more? Will you be allowed to accomplish more?

And say you want to retire in Thailand after working in Thailand for a long time, who'll help out with the pension? My wife's parents depend on my wife and not on the state pension. That's how the system works.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

It's July and I'm back and it's still humid, hot as hell and you can't get around outside which is why I'm writing this. It's almost six months (from end of February) with this weather.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

The good thing is that I'm still married and things are still going fine (my honest bit that's hard to write but I'm still doing it is also) I wanted to move on and try this out for myself because I was becoming resentful at my wife and how many opportunities she was getting and at how I was stuck despite trying so goddamn hard. I know it's not my wife's fault. It's the reality and the system whether you are from the UK, US, Malay, Burmese, Lao -- Thai people tolerate you but they also make sure that you don't succeed.

People say how they are disappointed with all the negative reviews and I'm also disappointed with positive reviews because they set up new teachers for failure and make it harder for teachers who are suffering to move on.

My experience isn't negative. It's honest. Do you think I could have made friends with that dodgy teacher from Jersey who invited me to smoke weed at his place or that (too good to be true nice) nice Kiwi teacher who stabbed me in the back at the speed of light just because he could? No. because I didn't plan for any of this. I didn't see any of this coming. I wasn't running away from my problems, I was moving to Bangkok.

If my "negative" experiences help someone move on or not make the same mistake, then at least they are worth something. I don't believe people who said they were paid 150,000 THB and who were hanging out with the "lads" all the time. I never met anyone like that in person.

If you really feel there's something 'better' in life for you than Thailand, then read these reviews. Teachers are jaded because people treat them badly. It's hard to "rise above it" when you're working in a country infamous for its poor education system.

Know that you are not alone, and try and be positive. Build your life step by step so you at least give yourself a chance of trying something new. You may fail at first but you CAN do it.


Lance

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Back to the USA (Las Vegas) in May of 2017

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

5 Years

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Family concerns, as my mother is struggling. I mentioned this in my <a href="http://www.ajarn.com/help-and-guides/cost-of-living/lance" title="cost of living survey">cost of living survey</a> I did (November 2016). I have no other family who can help out and it was either put her in a senior home or move back and help.

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

Work - fair pay, a proper pension and labor laws being followed. No 90-day check ins or work permit hassles. I can drive to work and own a nice car for far less than what it costs in Thailand. Able to be in a management role without being micromanaged. Also, my wife has more job options and makes more than she did in Thailand.

I used to work in sales and marketing (My best year was pulling in 145,000 USD) before I got stressed, my health was getting worse and I was sick going to work. So I went back to University/student teaching to get a teaching license and went overseas. Now that I am back in the USA I chose a less stressful job managing a recreation center. Yes the pay is only 50,000 USD a year but I have my evenings, weekends and sanity.

Life - The variety and affordability of food, cheap buffets at the casinos, being able to drive to California on the weekend and there is far more entertainment in Vegas than in Thailand. Also, no state tax is a huge plus.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

My brother-in-law. He is amazing and we’d kick back with some beers on a Friday night and attempt to talk in each other’s native language. He taught me how to fly drones and fix minor computer issues. Just a great guy and I could not have asked for a better brother-in-law. Hopefully he can visit next year.

I also miss the simplistic way of life and was less stressed in Thailand. Yes, Thailand has it's fair share of problems but no country is perfect.

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

If you are qualified and have a teaching license then yes. At the very least get qualified to be a substitute teacher in your homeland before seeking work. Also, before you go to Thailand do some tutoring or coach youth sports too as it really helps to have some background in education to build up your resume.

Going to Thailand with few skills and qualifications, you will have a rougher time I feel.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Of course, as my wife and I plan to retire there. Depending on my mother's situation, maybe we will return earlier.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

My wife loves the USA and I enjoy seeing her find new things of interest. Such as “WOW! They have slot machines in the airport?” “WOW! Brittney Spears performs every night?” and when we stopped at a 7-11 en route to California and she bought the largest drink possible just because “It looked like a fun American thing to do”.

I was worried she would not adapt to the USA and Vegas would be sensory overload for her but she has adapted quite well. Her English has got a lot better, she enjoys her job too and has made new friends.

We don't plan to be in the USA forever so our attitude is just to enjoy the experience for now.


Alec

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Back to my home town in Kentucky, USA. June 2017.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Three and a half years in various cities.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Money. I was making good money in Thailand and really enjoyed life, but I wasn't making much progress toward planning for a future or a real safety net. I'm now in my mid-20s and the reality of not having a concrete financial plan and savings was starting to sink in.

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

I went back to work for the same company I worked for before moving away. So the money is good, I have a long relationship with the company, no hassles with visas and the uncertainty that goes with life in a foreign country.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Everything! I miss the food, as cliche as that is. American food is just too heavy now. I miss how easy it was to travel, I miss the cheap cost of living, the laid back attitudes, my friends and the places I became familiar with. Three years isn't a very long time, but I can say that Thailand absolutely felt more like home than where I went back to.

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

Yeah. I moved there as a teacher and did my time to work up the ladder before eventually getting out of teaching. But I'm forever grateful to those years I spent teaching, especially as a 21-year-old looking for something new. I met good people, made great memories, and loved every second.

Thailand is what you make it. Some people aren't cut out for work there, whether it's teaching or whatever else.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Yes. My intention is to spend my time in America getting on solid feet financially and building my own work. I love living in Thailand but I am over working there. Ideally I would like to live there whilst still doing what I do now.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Teaching in Thailand was a great experience, as was working for other Thai companies. But one can easily fall into the comfort and the fun of living there while neglecting any sort of forward planning.

If you're young and looking to spend a few years abroad, or if you're older and at a point where work isn't necessarily a requirement, then I think it's a fantastic place to be.

I've struggled to re-adapt to life in America, but "going home" isn't actually as bad as I was anticipating. I truly love Thailand and I'm glad I took a step toward getting myself in a position to live there with less stress than before.


Showing 5 Great Escapes out of 235 total

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