Ajarn Street

Our story

Two teachers in love and planning their life together in Thailand

It started when we moved in together. We were happy to be together, under one roof, but felt restricted. Something didn't feel right. This "thing" hadn't ever really felt right.

In the past I dealt with this issue by saving (sometimes borrowing) some money, packing a bag and running to Southeast Asia. Career, family, mortgage... they could wait. Each time I'd come home with renewed enthusiasm, having spent the previous few months meeting interesting people and living a pretty carefree existence.

This enthusiasm invariably waned, usually, after a year or so in a job, in an office, staring at a computer screen, daydreaming of Southeast Asia.


Then I met Jane! (I say met... we had actually met at university six years previous to this meeting. So when I say met, I mean fell in love with). Jane shares my sense of cowardice towards "growing up" that's induced by the prospect of waking up one day and realising that I spent my life in a rat race and it's all too late. What's more, she also had a burning desire to travel and see the world.

For months into our courtship, we fantasised about moving to all kinds of exotic places and leading fairytale lifestyles. It took a while, but we moved in together. It was bliss, our own (rented) flat in North London where we could come home to each other at the end of an exhausting day at work. I worked in retail and Jane was, and still is, a teaching assistant in a school.

We booked our first real holiday together... to Thailand! She had never been and I wanted to show her the country I had fallen for time and time again.


In two weeks we measured the streets of Bangkok, relaxed on the beaches of Koh Chang visited the Elephant Sanctuary (a lifelong dream for Jane) and absorbed the slow pace of life in Chiang Mai. That was all it took. We were going to come out to Thailand and teach and live free from the constraints of the society back home.

We were rebels with a cause and we got to work reading and researching. All was going well and we even moved out of the flat to live with our respective parents to save up our magic beans.

Then one day in the spring of 2012, a letter arrived. I still have mixed feelings about this letter. It was an acceptance letter in response to what was a half winded application wrought with self-doubt, for a place on the PGCE programme at Middlesex University.

As two adults in love and in their late twenties, this letter triggered something completely contradictory to what we felt before. We were both inexplicably filled with a yearning to put down roots. Suddenly, we're thinking about how many kids we might want; we're saying things like ‘property ladder', all the while justifying this sudden change of direction by telling each other that we could travel during the school holidays.


The year that followed was one of the hardest I have had.

The PGCE drew from me my will to teach, and at times, to live. It drove me to tears and overwhelming bouts of depression. However, I came out the other end as a qualified primary school teacher with a massive amount of respect for the profession.

The love and support Jane showed me over the course of this time sealed the deal and I popped the question. She said yes (Well what she actually said was "yes, OK, just get up, you're embarrassing me).

During the entire length of my PGCE, Jane and I didn't live together. I graduated in July 2013 and we still don't live together. In fact, during our 4 year relationship, we have only lived together for 9 months!

Why? Simple; we grew up in London and the cost of living is ridiculously high so we stayed at home with our parents. Granted, the price of a life here doesn't stop most people, but we've always been the type that likes to work to live, not the other way round.


As I stood on the verge of starting the search for a permanent teaching job in order to commence my NQT year, that old familiar feeling of wanting to pack my bags and run came creeping back.

I told Jane and we said we would have the summer holiday in Cyprus we had booked and think about our options there. Two weeks of sun was all it took. A week after returning from holiday, Jane had enrolled in a part time CELTA course at Southgate College and I started doing supply work to once again, save those magic beans.

This was less than two months ago and yet it seems like a lifetime. We said we will be flying out to Bangkok around March next year to give us a month or so to travel around before finding work but my god does time go slow when you want it to fly!

The dream

I spend my evenings drawling over job postings on Ajarn.com, searching for condos in Bangkok or Chiang Mai. I think I've memorised all the regional guides and I've run out of blog postings to read on there!

But as agonising as the wait is for me, my heart goes out to Jane. She works in a school full time, only to have every spare minute she gets, taken up by what seems to be a degree in English grammar, squeezed into 12 weeks of evening and weekend classes.

I can understand how she is unable to daydream of Thailand the way I do as she just can't look past her next assignment or observation. Leaving the house when it's dark and coming home to do more work when it's dark doesn't help. I had the same blues during the PGCE so I completely sympathise.

Still, suffering or no suffering, this time we are doing it. We are Thailand-bound and excited, if somewhat distracted for the time being.

Sun, smiles, a detachment from most of what and who we know. New friends, new haunts and new experiences. A different perspective on life.

Success or failure, this foray into the relative unknown will shape the rest of our lives. Our bond is strong and we will stick together no matter what.

Roll on March 2014!!!... seriously! Is it time yet?

Bob Smith


Personally, I'll be trading in the 9am-1:50pm California grind for $5,500 a month--and I'm going to do it in a hot second. Not to fear, my eyes are wide open...and have been.

By Eric Wright, California, USA (17th November 2013)

"It’s so sweet to trade that 9-to-5 UK grind for a ‘sabai sabai’ 7-to-4:30 thai work day. Welcome to paradise for $1,000 a month"

Actually Guy, the teacher who wrote this has already had several offers of 90-100,000 baht a month with benefits. He has a PGCE if you read the blog. But I've told him to hold out for me.

Contrary to what you may think, not EVERY teacher that visits ajarn.com is earning 30K a month or less.

By philip, (17th November 2013)

It's so sweet to trade that 9-to-5 UK grind for a 'sabai sabai' 7-to-4:30 thai work day. Welcome to paradise for $1,000 a month.

By Guy, Bkk (17th November 2013)

I guess you will get a lot of advice. I have worked in Thailand for around 3 years and I am happily married now to a Thai so have a little idea of your predicament. I also completed a PGCE.....which was just as you described and we now work as a teaching couple in the UAE.

If your partner has a CELTA and a university degree she will be able to secure a really good job of about 60000 baht if she looks around, maybe less if she needs quickly.

You yourself with a degree and PGCE are like gold dust my friend. Do not listen to what they say in the UK. Once you leave your horizons will open up. We are in short supply around the world and in Thailand you will have schools falling over themselves to employ you, for around 90 - 120 thousand baht a month before tax. Do yourself a favour, relax sit back and enjoy the ride. If you are prepared to work reasonably hard you will be rewarded beyond your wildest dreams

By Karl, United Arab Emirates (7th November 2013)

Hi Raif
I really liked your story, it is very touching and some of your story rings true for me too!
I am the School Director of the British run school, The Learning Tree Nursery & Kindergarten in Koh Phangan. I sent you a FB message about vacancies we have but I think it might have gone to the cleverly hidden 'other messages folder'. If you haven't already seen my message, please check there.
If you are interested please get in touch, if not I wish you lots of luck!

By Julia, Koh Phangan, Thailand (6th November 2013)

I'm sure you'll find the adventure you're after, but I feel compelled to advise you to plan ahead to get into a decent international school, especially with your qualifications. Nothing against the Thais but what they want out of NES teachers doesn't require all the advanced degrees you have gone to the effort of getting. Also Thailand has a lot of competition of teachers wanting to work in the good international schools (which operate on a different schedule than the Thai schools) so you might look around at neighboring countries like Myanmar or Vietnam or Malaysia for a start in SE Asia. Then again if you're dead-set on Thailand, have good quals and start your job search now (also you can use international search firms) you should be able to land something in LOS. Coming as a couple should be a plus, as I think it makes you seem more dependable/trustworthy.

Good Luck.

By Scott, China (4th November 2013)

I couldn't have said it better myself. We are like souls--only, I have been a teacher in the United States for 11 years already, am 38, and have a new baby. But, I'm still going--I just have to wait until May. Thanks for the great article. Go, go, go! See you in Thailand.

By Eric Wright, California, USA (4th November 2013)

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