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


Steve

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Xi’an, China. Feb 2017.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked there for eight years from March 2009 to February 2017.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I was happily teaching four classes (20 hours a week) of A-level maths and physics at an international school for 53,000 baht a month. When they tagged on an extra IGCSE physics class (pushing the total of contact hours up to 25) I managed two weeks before walking.

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

1) Salary. 110k/month.
2) Accommodation. I get a luxurious, fully-furnished, two-bedroom apartment for free. This would cost about 20k/month in Bangers. It’s also walking distance to school. So no tuktuks, scooters or MRT commutes.
3) Annual return flights to the UK. All paid for by the employer.
4) Workload. I now teach 16 x 45-minute periods across two classes. It’s a foundation maths program for Australian/American universities. Basically, half the work for double the money.
5) Weather. Can’t believe I’m saying this because this was my biggest fear after 8 years in the tropics, however, I love walking miles around this city … without sweating.
6) Public Transport. Air-conditioned buses are clean, frequent and cheap (5 baht regardless of distance). A brand spanking new subway conveys you across the city for 9 baht. I forgot what decent public transport was like.
7) 630ml beer (similar to a big Leo) is 9 baht in the supermarket. Yes … you read that right…. NINE baht.
8) The treatment and support I have experienced have been incredible compared to Thailand. I was even met at the airport!

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

1) Bumguns. Thailand has this sooo right.
2) The lingo. I could read/write/speak Thai proficiently.
3) Motorbiking around the provinces.
4) The wonderfully warm Thai folk (away from the tourist traps). I think I miss them the most.

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

Thailand. It's an exotic paradise in the tropics. What’s not to like? It gave me everything during my time there. But if it’s about money, then come to China.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Probably. Although I have Mongolia, the Stans or Central America in my sights now. Got to keep this teaching adventure rolling. If I do return to teach it will be in a quiet Isaan town, far away from any tourist ghettos. Back to the 30k/month slog but I'll have a big wedge in the bank after working here so mai pben rai.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

I find the negative comments about Thailand on here disappointing. I loved my time there. I worked in both government schools (28k/month – lol) and international schools in Trang, Phuket, Pattaya, Bangkok and Chiang Mai. T'was an awesome ride.


Allen

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Moved home to Naperville...a suburb of Chicago, IL in October, 2016.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

8 years total. My original plan was for around 2 years!

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Salary. There are lots of reasons, and as much as I have to listen to people proclaim "it's not about the money" the truth is that its always about the money. I want to work hard and be compensated fairly. That doesn't happen in Thailand. I don't want to live paycheck-to-paycheck, and even the teachers that save 5-10k baht a month (I saved around 8k a month on average)...that's not much in the grand scheme of things.

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

Too many to name. Thailand is great. Honestly, it's just one big, long extended holiday. Great for visiting, but so many pitfalls if you want to try and live/work here. I am just frustrated and disappointed in myself that I stayed probably around 5 years too long. I didn't realize how big of a mistake it was, and how disconnected from reality I was until I returned to the USA.

It's a shame so many foreigners speak badly about their home countries....I never fell into this camp, but was always taken aback at the anger and frustration people talked about. Mostly, it was about being a "corporate slave" and never having any holiday time. The reality is that I work less hours for more money, and have more holiday time (4 weeks total + holidays all paid) that I never had in Thailand. Also, salary is more than triple what I was making before. My conclusion is that a lot of teachers working in Thailand have rejection or social issues back home. They know that Thailand won't judge them.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Exploring. Checking out cool hikes and trails in the North, and eating seafood in the South.

Meeting new, interesting people that were not constantly blowing their paychecks at lame nightclubs, girls, and alcohol. I worked with several teachers that would consistently stop at 7-11 near the office after work and grab a few big Leos to bring home on a regular basis....in the early afternoon!

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

Tough question. If you are young (under 30 for sure, preferably under 25) and feel that you can commit yourself to 1-2 years max, then go for it. If you have a support system, and job security back home at the end of your little adventure, then why not? I had a lot of good experiences in Thailand. It just takes courage and commitment to return home, and have a realistic plan.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Not really. The world is too big to be so fixated on one country. Also, the rising costs are getting out of control. I can find good food, nice beaches, and friendly people anywhere.

I noticed flights from Chicago to Bangkok are at an all-time low right now... around $460 r/t. That is tempting, but not tempting enough.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

It is hiring time (February) right now. I am sure there are a lot of first-timers and people considering making the move to become teachers. Perhaps they have heard all of the good, and just filtered out the bad. Confirmation bias. If you don't know what that means, look it up. Thailand can be a fun, rewarding experience. But it WILL be challenging, disappointing at times, and low-paying as well. I don't know if its true, but it sure feels like there are more bad, unqualified teachers than good. The turnover is high.

Take a step back and ask yourself, "why do I want to be a teacher in Thailand?" Hopefully you want to make a positive impact in student's lives. More likely though, it is because it is the only job that you know is easily available in Thailand, and you want to escape whatever social or personal problems you have at home. Make sure you come for the right reasons, because a lot of people don't.


Jamie

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to Scotland in November 2016.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Just shy of two and a half years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I wanted to get back into real teaching, having become tired of the lack of care and attention to students' education in Thailand. I learned the basics of teaching in the UK, and tried to apply what I knew in Thailand. With little support from my Thai colleagues and no coherent, realistic and progressive curriculum framework to work off, it was an uphill struggle teaching in Thai schools.

I'm working in pupil support in the meantime, and applied to universities to start my PGDE this upcoming August. I've been accepted to study at the University of Edinburgh to teach Secondary English, which I'm really looking forward to.

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

There is real career progression here, a progressive salary scale, pension plan, free healthcare, my family support network is close at hand, and I face challenges everyday with the freedom to teach how I want to, not how some jumped up little manager in an office wants me to teach.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Waking up at the crack of dawn and heading to the local shop for breakfast in my short and t-shirt on my motorbike. The daily sunshine, cheap living costs, warm weather year-round and the opportunities to head north or south by plane at weekends for a beach or mountain break.

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

If you want to unwind and get some experience working with young people for your career, it's easy to get a job in Thailand. I would not recommend staying for longer than two years or so, because you end up stuck in your ways trying to justify living a hand-to-mouth existence as "living in the moment." It's all well and good in your early 20s, but when you get to 30, you start thinking about your future. A job in the UK as a teacher would certainly provide the stability you need to plan for the future, so if you want a real career, train and work in the UK.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Yes, of course. My heart will always be in Thailand, that hasn't waned in the seven year I've been visiting on and off. I'm planning to purchase a holiday home there in the future.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

If you choose to work in Thailand, expect to feel frustrated with the pedagogy, staff professional relationships with you, and the constant multiple choice assessment that doesn't effectively assess knowledge and skills-building. Take it as a life lesson in how to be resourceful, flexible and innovative with the limited resources you have. Try not to become stuck in your way there, because it doesn't make sense to stay in the country for longer than necessary to the detriment of your career.


Stephen

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to Nanjjng in 2011 after working in Bangkok from 2002-20011. I planned on getting IB teaching experience and then returning to Thailand after 3 years. In the end I worked in Nanjing for 5 1/2 years and have just returned to work in Bangkok.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Nine and a half years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Gain essential curriculum and teaching experience and save a boatload of cash.

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

The advantages were exactly what I set out to do - to get cash and marketable experience.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I missed the food, nightlife, internet, living standard, value for money of most things, weather, air quality (yes, Bangkok air is fresh compared to Nanjing), blue skies, clarity of the air, definition of clouds rather than an amorphous white haze, sparsity of rude people, lack of horrifyingly rancid breath, lack of loud people and incesssnt car horns, drilling, pounding and hammering noises.

I missed people who are not pathologically programmed to be lazy, obstructive, combative, unhelpful and unpleasant, I missed the smoking free atmosphere as well. I could add more, but my finger is tired.

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

If you seek a good paycheck and/or need to obtain legitimate curriculum experience then a stint in China is good for those goals. I saved $40,000 US a year and I spent every holiday outside China for about 13 weeks a year. If money isn't an issue and/or obtaining relevant experience isn't either then go for Thailand. I came back after my goals were accomplished.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Yes. Already done.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Not really.


Matt

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to Nanjing (China) about a year ago.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked in Bangkok for 2 years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I just felt that there was not much opportunity. I felt serious about teaching and wanted to get a job at a good international school and just felt it would be very difficult as I was not a qualified teacher. Although since moving a few of my friends have found good jobs to show it is possible.

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

Now I am working in an IB school with a much better salary and benefits. For example I now get free accommodation and flights every year. I have actually also found my Chinese co-workers to be very helpful.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss the ease of life. In China the police are a lot more strict to the point that I actually can't buy a gas bike without major problems and expense. I also miss the food and the ability to get to the beach.

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

I think it is up to people what they want to do. For younger teachers looking to make a career, I would suggest a few years in Thailand and then move on. However if you get a job that has good long term prospects maybe there is no need to move on. For me if you are living pay check to pay check you are playing with fire. What happens if you get sick etc?

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I will come back for holidays, but to work is unlikely. I feel that it is like an ex-girlfriend. You broke up for a reason, so why go back? If an ideal job came about and I had no commitments I would consider it for sure, but at the moment I would like to continue in China.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

My only advice to people is to stop kidding yourselves. In my experience many teachers complained about low wages, but then made no effort to get qualified and get a better job. I also saw teachers who were running out of waivers and had to leave, how could you not see that coming? If you have time check out this website to learn more about qualifications you can do whilst teaching- www.thelaoshi.com


Showing 5 Great Escapes out of 235 total

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