What's it like to live and teach in Bangkok, Thailand?
In today's interview, we speak to Jade, who is in her first year teaching in Bangkok. Not only does she give us the lowdown on living in Thailand, she also gives us some useful tips to get a job there!
How long have you been teaching abroad?
I have been teaching abroad for just over 3 years now. Our first 3 were in Kuala Lumpur, and now we are in Bangkok.
What made you decide to move overseas to work?
My partner and I were saving for a house, but both of us were working two jobs – teaching and then swimming coaching mornings/evenings/weekends. We barely saw each other, spent so much money on transport, and were still barely managing to save any money.
How did you find your current job?
Since moving abroad, we have made quite a few connections at different international schools around Asia, through sporting events and friends. There was an opportunity for my partner to work at one of the top 3 schools in Asia, so we went for it! We both applied, and spoke to the connections that we had in that school in order to get as much information as possible and make sure it was the right move for both of us.
Why did you choose that location?
We both love Asia, and the school has a brilliant reputation. Similarly to KL, Bangkok is a great base for travelling too!
What is it like living there as a single female?
I have never lived abroad as a single female, but as a female, I feel safer in Bangkok that I did in KL when out and about on my own.
What are its advantages?
Are there any negatives?
How did you deal with the negatives/ homesickness?
Homesickness – I genuinely thought that I wouldn’t cope! But… with Facetime, Skype, Whassap, etc. it is SO easy to stay in touch with home. The only times I’ve ever felt homesick is when I’ve been poorly. Obviously it helps being out here with my partner too!
What has been the best part of your experience?
Travelling, for sure. When we lived back in the UK, we were lucky to have one holiday each year. Since we have been living in Asia, we have been to see a new place every single school holiday, and even some weekends too. My partner and I can now spend more time together and enjoy the money that we work very hard to earn. We have also made so many lifelong friends, from all over the world, which has just made the experience even more amazing!
What are the biggest differences with teaching at home?
The freedom to think outside the box! Here, the school are happy for you to continue to try new ideas and completely go with the interests of the children. They have such a broad range of experiences and opportunities, I honestly can’t see us going back to the UK and continuing our teaching careers.
What is normally included in a good teaching package in your location?
- Good induction program to help you get to know the local area, language, school etc.
- Housing (or housing allowance)
- Return flights to your ‘home’ base (usually at the beginning and end of each contract)
- Medical Insurance
- Pension contribution
- I’m not sure if this is ‘normal’ for all schools, but here we have the option to split our pay, so some is sent directly to a UK bank account – instant savings!
Is there tax on your salary?
Yes, but this is covered by the school.
How did you find your accommodation?
The school provide you with free accommodation in the first year, and then you are provided with a housing allowance after that. If you wish to stay in the same accommodation, that is also fine.
What is the social life like there?
During the induction period (about 10 days prior to the start of the school year), there are several social events organized by the school. Some are optional, and some are compulsory. These were a great way to get to know our new friends/colleagues/neighbors, and really helped everyone to get familiar and form friendships early on.
In general, the social life is fab and there is something for everyone. Pub quizzes, sports/interest clubs, great nights out, weekend trips. Those with families also have some good options that are family friendly. Most condos have swimming pools too, which is often where lots of people get together at the weekends.
Any insider tips? E.g. when applying for jobs, renting, living and working there?
- Depending on where your school is located, you may need to learn some Thai! We are in a very local area, and have realized that knowing some Thai makes everything a lot easier!
- Make your application stand out. For some of the top schools, they have something crazy like 200 applications for one position – make yours special and worth reading!
My name is Sorcha Coyle and I’ve been teaching in the Gulf (Qatar and Dubai) for the past 9 years. I also run Empowering Expat Teachers, whose mission is to empower future and current expat teachers to lead personally, professionally, and financially rewarding lives. If you haven’t already, join the supportive EET FB group here and follow me on IG @sorchacoyle_eet for lots of research, CV, and cover letter tips! Last but not least, I also provide CV and cover letter support to future and current expat teachers with my range of services in Teach Abroad Academy- check them out here!