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


JD

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to Cork, Ireland in September 2017

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Just over three years

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I simply got jaded towards Thailand, the culture, people, pollution, chaos, weird food and being an eternal farang. As I'm approaching 30, I also didn't see a real long term future and chance to better myself in Thailand. Visa bureaucracy gets worse by the year. I felt I'd be doing TEFL, making no real savings and doing 90-day reports forever there.

I also got married to a Thai woman and we both wanted to settle down in a democratic, developed western country. Ultimately, we want to return to the UK so I can train to become a real teacher but we are doing the "Surinder Singh route" in Ireland as its too difficult and bureaucratic to return directly to the UK from Thailand and find a job earning 18,600 pounds to bring my wife over.

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

Irish people are awesome and Cork is a great city with great craic. We've made some decent friends here just by virtue of being in an English-speaking country that's much friendlier than the UK. It's cosmopolitan but still feels small and far more laid back than England. The pubs are awesome and there's Guinness!. We're a stones throw from the UK and it's easy to pop over with my wife's Irish residence card. While a different country, there's a lot of similarities to the UK so it feels fairly homely to a Brit.

No 90-day immigration check ins, chaotic traffic, weird culture, being a "farang" and the fact that both me and my wife have equal status and can work in any job. While it is a stepping stone to the UK, we are enjoying our life here for the time being.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

My wife misses her family and friends (although a good few of her friends also live in Europe with their husbands).

I miss the cheap living costs and the simplicity in Thailand. Ireland is an expensive place and even with us both working, it can be hard to earn decent money. The economy is still bad, there's a reason why so many Irish are leaving and it isn't just the weather, although about that, the climate really is dreadful here. It just seems eternally gloomy, cold and rainy (even worse than the UK!). I miss the year round heat and sunshine in Thailand. I miss the beaches and islands and randomly riding my motorbike through the jungles and coconut trees. I miss the awesome friends I met, partying and fun I had there when I was single (before I met my wife). Every day felt like an adventure there.

Thailand's a lot of things but boring it certainly isn't.

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

If you want to travel and explore the world and have somewhere to stop off and supplement your travel income then sure, teaching in Thailand was a great experience and I really enjoyed it. For gap year travellers and newbies looking to get into TEFL, Thailand is a great start off point.

You won't earn that much but hey, you'll get to live in a tropical country that's cheap as chips to live in, you'll meet all kinds of weird and wonderful people from around the world and hook up with awesome Asian girls (only speaking from a guy's perspective of course!). You'll whizz around on a motorbike, eat weird snacks and chill on a beach in your holidays. You might even decide to go gallivanting around Cambodia/Laos/Vietnam for a bit!

Yeah, your friends might earn triple what you earn but they'll be slaving away in a box factory or soul sucking corporate job in Slough (or some equally dull industrial park in suburban England), to go home and watch mind numbing TV, get drunk in terrible pubs or nightclubs then repeat the same next week, rewarding their hard work with a package holiday week in Spain once a year.

You'll be having the time of your life and will be the envy of your friends with your pictures of the beach, jungles or random temple somewhere.

But serious teachers, be warned. Thailand is a less developed country with a poor education system to match. Know what you're getting yourself into. If you don't think you can deal with the bad system there, look into an international school (there's some great international schools in Thailand with pay to boot) or look into Korea/Japan/Middle East

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Sure. One option I'm toying with once I'm properly qualified is try for an international school in Bangkok (where my wife is from). And as soon as we have some decent regular income and are properly established in the UK we want to go back and visit every year if we don't move back.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Any UK teachers (can't speak for other nationalities) looking to return home and take your Thai wife with you, be sure to research your options wisely. Its far harder than a lot of returning Brits think.

Try to have a job earning 19k or more lined up before you go back (yeah hard I know), otherwise research the Surinder Singh route wisely, find an EU state you can stay in (you could even do TEFL there) and your Thai spouse would be OK in too. Make sure to document your stay and keep everything (your work contracts, wage slips, proof of accomodation, proof of life in that country). You'll need it when you plan to return to the UK. The longer you stay in that country and more you establish yourself, the better.

The UK Home Office are refusing more and more non-EU spouses using Surinder Singh as a circumvention of UK law! We're planning to stay in Ireland another few months more just to be safe!


Butch

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to England in April 2017

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

A total of 15 years

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I wanted my daughters to receive a free education that was holistic and in the English language.

In Thailand, my daughters were in an English program but 50 percent of the classes were in Thai (go figure). Also I was sick of the awful driving, the Thai immigration and Thai academic staff at school. They were so incompetent, however seemed to take pleasure in pushing me around and going on power trips to compensate for their own miserable salaries. I also saw how bad some Thai teachers treated Thai students and I tired of the shouting rants, the slapping of heads, the throwing of books, etc.

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

People in the UK are mostly kind. There is a much better career progression. Also a 5-year visa that does not require putting up with a yearly Thai immigration incompentance-a-thon. The schools end at 3:30 pm and homework is manageable, whereas in Thailand there were ten, fifty-minute classes a day plus home work. Our daughters have their childhood back in the UK, which was stolen in Thailand via the education profit-at-any-means approach

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Great dental care, the lovely beaches and Thai food. Thai people are lovely as long as they have no leverage over you or employ you.

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

It will be fun if you treat it as just a working holiday

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Only for a vacation.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Thai immigration. What does not kill you, kills you slowly


David

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I left Thailand for the UK in September 2017.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I just did the one semester from May to September.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

My TEFL course internship came to an end and after considering my options I concluded that I much preferred returning to the UK than remain as a teacher in Thailand.

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

Teaching English as a foreign language is not my career. I did it first in Greece for 18 months and then in Thailand as part of a career break. However, I always knew that I would probably return to the UK. I appreciate my work and life there much more now having experienced the struggle of a TEFL teacher in an economic crisis (Greece) and of what I consider to be the mental poverty of the educational environment in Thailand.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Not so much overall, but there is much to like. The happy demeanor of most people there and their humility and simplicity of life are dear to me. I miss the company of friends I made there, and the ease (when not having to work!) of my life there.

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

That of course depends on that teacher's goals and priorities. In general terms I'd say a new professional teacher, i.e one who has undergone prolonged training, should focus on finding a professional environment where he or she will learn the craft of teaching and develop solid skills. From my perspective I'd say that Thailand affords limited prospects...but I'd also advise against that teacher remaining in the UK since TEFL is better done, in my view, when the teacher has experienced living and working in a foreign culture.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

No.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

My time in Thailand was successful in that I achieved the goals I had set. I am not a good fit for the TEFL scene there in particular and the struggles I experienced were within normal expectations (as I now know!) as a mature professional educated in the UK who was looking for job satisfaction and a greater sense of purpose at work.

On the positive side, I'd say that Thailand has much to offer if you are able and willing to learn the language and adapt - not just politely tolerate at an emotional distance - to the very different ways there. If you are going to remain, you had better face them and work at accepting them. Otherwise you are likely to become one of the numerous Westerners I met there or heard about whose resistance was marked by depression, alcoholism or general bitterness.

Set specific goals and force yourself to review them periodically. Don't drift and avoid facing important stuff, such as whether you've reached the time to leave or to do something different. Good luck.


Thomas

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I returned to the UK on 31st of March of this year.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Three academic years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I only planned to stay in Thailand for two years but ended up staying one more because I was in a relationship. When that ended that was my cue to leave.

Also, it was the height of summer, and I absolutely hate the March to May period when it's horrible to spend more than about a minute outside. I was so glad to land in London on 1st April in 16 degrees celcius sunshine. Being able to spend all day outside doing activities is something I love but could only dream about in Thailand.

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

Everything. i can't think of a single disadvantage of working in the UK over Thailand. Hopefully that answers the question.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I think it would be a great place to retire, but it's no place for working age Westerners. After two years, any novelty it had more than worn off, and I was living a dreary Thai rat race existence. I can see why so many teachers there become alcoholics.

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

I think there is something wrong with any Westerner who would want to make a long-term career of teaching in Thailand's educational system. If you can get into an international school with a foreign boss then fine, but working for Thais absolutely sucks.

Thai working culture sucks horribly, especially the grovelling, corruption, laziness and blatant discrimination.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

For the occasional holiday I expect, but I want to see the rest of the world first. Later to retire perhaps, although I'd probably choose Penang, Malaysia over anywhere in Thailand.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

You can't leave your problems behind by going to work in Thailand. Same problems, different place.


Nigel

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I left Thailand for Vietnam on June 30th 2017.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I was in Thailand for almost four years. I worked at a Thai high school for seven months and a university for three years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I wanted to continue teaching young adults, and I really struggled to find work in Thailand. Opportunities came up in both China and Vietnam, and I decided to pick Vietnam.

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

I find the staff to be much more professional and driven where I am now than in Thailand. The staff here are much more supportive than those people I worked with in Thailand. The pay is much better in Vietnam than in Thailand.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

The bureaucracy (believe it or not) - although it can be a nuisance, it is much easier to navigate in Thailand than in Vietnam. I guess I am still new to Vietnam, so I haven't learnt how to deal with it.
Food - I miss the food for two reasons. I feel that Thailand has a wider range of food choices to offer, particularly Western food. Secondly, I find Thai food to be more appetizing than Vietnamese food. I haven't eaten anything yet that I would choose ahead of laab or somtam.
The people - both nations have very friendly people but Thais are more welcoming.

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

I would suggest Thailand because it would be easier for a new teacher to settle there than in Vietnam.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Definitely yes. I see Thailand as my second home. I will go there as much as I can.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

No.


Showing 5 Great Escapes out of 246 total

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