A country that boasts 13 different types of smiles must be a magical place, but there are also many other reasons for moving there. If you are planning to travel around South-East Asia, choosing Thailand as your base where to live and find work is a great idea. Its central location in this part of the world is very convenient when it comes to visiting other countries, such as Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar (Burma).
However, before you travel farther afield, make sure you explore Thailand and experience everything it has to offer. As a tropical country, Thailand’s climate spans across three seasons, from rainy to dry. Its countryside is breathtaking and varied – from stunning sandy beaches to the highlands peaks, from river valleys to vast flats.
Life in Thailand is generally affordable, but when moving abroad to start a new career as a teacher of English as a foreign language (TEFL), it is always recommended to plan ahead. Let’s see a few tips that will make your move to Thailand stress-free and help you avoid disappointment.
- Culture shock
When travelling abroad for a long period of time, culture shock is bound to hit you at some point and to a certain extent, and so is homesickness. Being prepared for it, it will increase your chances of facing and overcoming the difficult moments you might encounter.
- Before you travel abroad, use social media to your advantage. Join TEFL groups living in the area you are moving to and start getting a feel of what it is going to be like. This is a great way to make friends before you even get there!
- Social media can also be useful to do some language exchange. This would give you the opportunity to learn the basics of the language spoken in your host country. This will give you some confidence when you meet the locals – they will definitely appreciate you making an effort to speak Thai!
- Feeling homesick can spoil the fun. Bring something small from home, like pictures or an ornament, as a keepsake and remember to make time to call family and friends. They will miss you as much as you miss them, so keeping in touch is important for everyone, despite the time difference.
- Finding accommodation
It is true that housing can be extremely cheap in Thailand, but this could also mean that what you are offered is a bare room with just a bed and basic furniture – but this is not always the case.
Schools usually help their international teachers with finding their accommodation, or even arrange it for them before they arrive. Whatever the case may be, keep an open mind and lower your expectations to avoid disappointment, but most importantly, choose a safe area over a very cheap one.
- TEFL teaching in Thailand
One key factor to keep in mind is that every language school in Thailand is run slightly differently. You might be in an environment where you can share the teacher’s area with your local counterparts, or you could be in a school where farang (non-Thai) teachers have a separate teacher’s room from the local ones. Take every chance you get to spend time with the Thai teachers and make friends, learn from them and share experiences: this is what living abroad is all about.
In many cases your employer is an agent who helps you manage your relationship with the school. To find out more, this article tells you all you need to know about teach English in Thailand.
- Free time
While it might be tempting to tour the country from your very first weekend, it would be better to start by getting to know your surroundings. Thailand is a beautiful country and you don’t need to travel far to find stunning views or to experience something spectacular.
Although travelling in this country is cheap, it is not free – every little expense adds up. Plan your trips ahead of time so you can get deals and discounts.
- Choose your location
While you search for your job in Thailand, consider in which part of the country you would like to live. Living in a big city will give you more chances of finding a job and the public transport in urban areas is generally very efficient. Here are some of the most popular destination among international TEFL teachers:
- Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and, as you might expect, is the heart of the country’s economy. It is a modern city with shopping centres, skyscrapers, and sky trains, and it is also the largest Thai city, hosting over 14 million residents.
- Phuket is the largest island in the country and, with its many attractive beaches, is the most popular destination among expats. Despite the cost of living here being quite expensive, over 100,000 expats choose to live here. This island offers many opportunities to practise water and outdoor sports, and it is famous for its world-renowned golf courses.
- Hua Hin offers a similar lifestyle to that in Phuket, just more affordable. This island is well known for its outdoors events, such as the Kite festival, the Jazz festival, and the Vintage Car Rally.
- If sandy beaches don’t grab you, consider Chiang Mai. It is a peaceful city in the north of Thailand, steeped in history and culture. Life here is much more inexpensive, which is what attracts people from different walks of life.
Are you ready to teach in Thailand?
Nicknamed ‘the land of smiles’, Thailand is a wonderful place to live and work in. Its beautiful landscape and vibrant cities have made thousands of expats fall in love with this country. If you are in search of a different lifestyle and are looking to start a new career as a TEFL teacher, Thailand is the place for you.