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


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.


John

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to China in August.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked in Thailand for almost 7 years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

New opportunities popped up. I was also struggling to make ends meet , and even though I was making an OK salary for Thailand by English teacher standards, it just wasn't enough. I was in debt, and that's a terrible position to be in in Thailand unless you are working at the best paying schools. Plus I have been working on a masters degree and felt like it was time to progress in my career.

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

The money and career progression are certainly some major advantages of where I am now, as is the change. I feel like it's good to shake things up from time to time. It builds character.

I can't think of a ton of advantages to working in Thailand in terms of career. Price-wise, daily expenses don't seem to be vastly different where I am now, but I suppose some of that depends on what you do. I certainly feel like the access to entertainment is better and more varied in Thailand, and cheaper, depending again on what you do.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I do miss Thailand. I miss the nightlife, of course. I miss the general pace and ease of life, and when you live in a place for a long time you start to feel much more rooted there.

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

Like a lot of people on The Great Escape say, that kind of depends. I think if you are dead set on working in Thailand and won't have it any other way, go for it. I was like that and don't regret anything. But I think you will eventually find that unless you get into the right niche, you just won't make enough money, and I do think your future career options could be affected.

Plus, it sounds like a no-brainer, but it's easy to put on the rose-colored glasses and think working in Thailand will be like vacationing there long-term. Obviously it won't be. But Thailand is also very addictive for a lot of people. I think the feeling of ease and that sort of thing has the potential to backfire on you eventually, especially if you aren't in the best job or doing something to further yourself.

Also, be warned, regulations have gotten much more stringent and Thailand is not the best place for casual work anymore.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

For sure. I already plan to head back for Chinese New Year.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Thailand is changing, and it's not exactly the same place I began working in back in 2010. I guess everything changes eventually.

It is also not as cheap as it used to be. It's still a great place, and I'd go back in a heartbeat to work there again if the right opportunity came my way. Otherwise, I think it's a good idea to think a little bit about your future and maybe save Thailand for holidays. Just my thoughts.


James

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Shanghai

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Eight years

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

There were 3 main reasons.

1. Finance - being married with a young son, I was very concerned about saving. I'd been in Thailand 8 years and had nothing in the bank. On a good month I could save 10-15,000 baht but our annual Xmas trip to England would use all of that. Bills, paying a mortgage, car repairs...it all mounts up and Thailand is getting more expensive too. Now I'm on a salary similar to what the best international schools in Thailand pay with all the benefits.

2. Living conditions - after 8 years in Thailand I came to the conclusion that the climate is not for me, swelteringly hot all year round. Having to wait until 5.00pm to go outdoors is not for me. I'm a Londoner, we walk to many places, but Thailand took that away from me.

3. Career progression - I worked at a fairly good school just outside Bangkok but couldn't break into the international school circuit, well not the decent ones anyway, and that's with a PGCEi. Now I'm at a good international school and really feel I'm developing as a teacher. It has been a big step up and I am enjoying it.

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

The school
Professionalism and organisation far beyond what I experienced in Thailand.
The salary and benefits package.
The students' English levels.
Being appreciated by school leaders and management.

Shanghai itself
All encompassing metro system.
Tree lined streets.
Pavements.
New and interesting food.
Things running on time.
Not being refused by taxi drivers.
Parks.
Beer selection at Family Mart.
Cashless payments.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Beaches, which I rarely got to enjoy. In fact, we'll probably visit the southern beaches of Thailand more now than when we used to live there! I also miss some good friends.

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

If you're a new teacher and qualified go there only if you get into a top 10 international school making at least 100,000 baht a month. You will have a fantastic time and be able to save for your future.

I wouldn't go like how I did, with a TESOL and making 30-40K a month for my first two years there. It is easy to get stuck in Thailand and before you know it will be 5+ years in with very little future proofing.

If you have a family go somewhere where the money is good and there are things to do for everyone. Like Shanghai, Seoul or another Northern Asian city. Oh and one with four seasons!

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

We have a house there which we rent out so it's possible, but right now there's no plan to return. Except perhaps for Chinese New Year in February.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

I used to read this section and think most of the teachers sounded bitter that they had left or of course they'd say the new place is way better. But I can honestly tell you that leaving Thailand was the right decision for my family and I.


James

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Naples, Italy in September 2016 after a brief couple of months back in England

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Just over 3 and a half years (two years in Rayong, one and a half in Pattaya)

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Several reasons. My first and biggest reason was that I had grown tired and burnt out by Thailand and all things Thai. I was tired of getting sick off the food, confused by the culture and saving face, being a farang along with everything that goes with it, 90 day immigration check ins and ever worsening visa requirements. I got frustrated by working in a country that so clearly didn't want me to be there. I wanted to be in a place that accepts me for who I am and not just treat me as another farang. If you aren't happy somewhere, it's better to leave than grow bitter.

Plus, although I'm still young, realistically I saw no long term future in Thailand, dancing for peanuts until the age of 60 when I won't be allowed to do that legally anymore, then with no savings or pension and bridges back home burned over time, what would I do then?

On top of that, I missed my family, friends and western food/culture but still love TEFL and see no future in returning to the UK to try find a boring job in a supermarket or cafe in my hometown. Moving to another country in Europe just seemed to make sense.

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

In Italy, I am a short, cheap 3-hour Ryanair flight from the UK and can actually afford to go back from time to time. In Thailand, the low wages combined with bad currency meant going home was an extremely rare and expensive treat.

Being an EU citizen, there are no visa requirements, no 90-day immigration check ins, no interrogations at the airport upon entry (although this may change when Brexit happens!).. Here, I am allowed to do any job, own property and have the same rights as locals (unlike in Thailand). There's no farang harassment, double tier pricing or any of the "us vs them" mentality that Thailand has. It was also fairly easy to bring my Thai wife here and get her residence permit (easier than the UK and far easier than it was to get my Thai work permit). We have travelled with ease around several countries in Europe and visited my family in the UK.

Naples is close to some awesome places including the Amalfi coast and Pompeii and it isn't far to Rome either. The language is much easier than Thai, the food is fresh, inexpensive and good quality, the weather is good for most of the year, the people much nicer and more genuine and the culture is leaps and bounds better than Thailand's IMO.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

To be honest, the move has been a lot harder for my Thai wife than it has for me, she had a decent job in Thailand but here she's struggled to find meaningful employment in a city and country where locals struggle enough. On top of that, there was the language barrier and culture shock that can be expected for any Thai wife in a western country.

For me, I miss the year round heat (even south Italy gets chilly in winter made worse so by the old, poorly insulated apartments) and travelling around the islands. While here we have Positano, Ischia and Capri, I miss hopping around Krabi, Samui, Koh Chang etc, staying in bungalows and lazing around in the sea.

I miss travelling around by motorbike through the jungles, coconut trees and finding a random beach somewhere. That every day was an adventure (although living in Napoli is quite an adventure too!).

I miss the cheap living costs, the simplicity and freedom of day to day living (live and let live) . I miss my beautiful modern apartment with air conditioning, housekeeping, a gym and swimming pool and cringe when I remember that it cost a fraction of what I spend on a small, old inner city shoebox in Italy.

I miss the cheap beer, lads nights out, parties and how easy it was to find female company for the night when I was single. I miss the friends I made and just people watching in Pattaya. It really is good fun to just sit outside at a bar with a beer and watch the world go by.

I also miss the fact that in Thailand, Sundays are a normal day, there are no siestas and the 24 hour 7/11s. Italy is a nightmare for its business hours.

While these are things I do miss, I know I'm looking back with nostalgia and if I went back, I would soon get annoyed by all the 'Thainess' again.

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

I definitely recommend visiting and maybe teaching for a while but don't recommend staying for the long term. Teaching in Thailand, while easy and fun, definitely has a shelf life before you start wondering where you're going in life and long for greener plains.
I would only recommend staying for the long term if you have a good amount of money with you from abroad or if you can get a job at one of the big international schools, otherwise, do your time, have fun, travel - then move on.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Sure, my wife is from there and we plan to get a couple of weeks winter sun every year once we have the money but we both don't want to live there again.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

New teachers, make sure to take your original documentation with you including your degree certificate and any legal proof of name change if you have done so. I had a bureaucratic nightmare my last year there trying to get my non-B visa and had to get everything sent by post from England then being snagged by the fact that my degree certificate is under a different name to my passport.

Really research the city you plan to stay in and the school you'll work at if possible and try to pipeline some teachers on Ajarn/expat forums before you go to ease the transition. Culture shock is a real thing and you aren't weak for feeling it. It's normal to have down days (or weeks).

And realise that Thailand isn't for everyone. It's a long way from home and different in just about every sense. Living there is very different to vacationing there and like a relationship gone wrong, there's no shame in realising when enough is enough and it's time to walk away.

Page 1 of 44 (showing 5 Great Escapes out of 218 total)

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