So you’re interested in moving to Thailand. You’ve heard teaching English is a good way to get a job in Asia. And while you’re there, you can enjoy the dating paradise that is SE Asia.
So far so good… But is it gonna work?
In 2017 I once again sold all my worldly goods and moved to Asia in order to accomplish precisely this. Although last time I didn’t come out here to teach English, I lived off my investments and did a few micro jobs fixing up other peoples’ websites.
So I’ll break down the living in Thailand/teaching and bride hunting into 3 sections.
Living in Asia/Thailand
I’m currently living in China and I really miss Thailand. In my mind Thailand is absolutely the best place to live in Asia. You’ve got good food, good weather, lots of people speak English, and it’s not too hard to find the goods you miss from home.
On the downside transportation is pretty bad. But this is only likely to be an issue if you live in Bangkok and need to get to work on time!
By contrast living in China gives you access to a whole lot of pollution, traffic, it’s difficult to find foreign goods and pretty much nobody speaks English. On top of that it’s kind of boring here. Yes there are entertainment venues but unless you speak good Chinese or have some Chinese wingmen then it’s pretty boring here. As for dating in China – I’ll come onto that later.
So if you’re mulling over your various country options then I’ll always recommend you give living in Thailand a go.
Teaching English in Asia
I’ve been a teacher for 1 semester now and have done around 100 lessons. So in all that’s 150 hours of teaching.
I’m fairly introverted and was really shy as a kid. So I didn’t know if I’d make a good teacher.
So far I seem to be doing pretty good. I’ve had some reasonable feedback, and most of my classes have gone pretty well.
Moving from my old career as a software developer into teaching was a big step, but I’ve appreciated the change.
Moving around the classroom is definitely better for my health than my old job was. Plus teaching can be incredibly fun at times, especially if your students are lively and heated discussions break out.
My attempts to get reserved Asians to actually open their mouths and practice speaking have got better and better. But I’m just not so sure I’ve actually been teaching them anything. Massive class sizes of 35+ students don’t help either. At the end of the day though, Asian students are often really good at the theoretical parts of English. They just need a real native speaker to practice with.
So I’d recommend giving teaching a go. Teaching is a really good transferable skill and you can use your experiences to enhance your career in most other fields. For example I used to work in IT and I could easily move from coding to becoming an IT instructor. Here’s my English teaching blog if you’re super interested in following my path.
To teach in Thailand you’ll generally need a TEFL certificate and a clean police check. The police check is generally easy to get (assuming you don’t have a criminal record). If you want a TEFL certificate then you can get these online. I paid about $300 for mine. It was a basic 120 hour TEFL certificate. It’s a bit more than you need to teach in Thailand but it’s the best as you can also teach in China or elsewhere with it. My 120 hour certificate included a 20 hour weekend face to face course with a really excellent instructor. The other 100 hours I could do at home and mainly involved writing sample lesson plans.
I also did the one month long CELTA which is the elite TEFL qualification. It’s definitely overkill if you just want to teach in Thailand. But on the CELTA you will teach actual English learners and you will get brutally honest feedback that will allow you to improve as a teacher. If you’re intending to make a bit of a career out of teaching English then you should seriously consider doing the CELTA course.
To get better jobs you’ll also need a bachelor’s degree. Usually the subject itself doesn’t matter.
To get even better jobs you need to take the endemic racism in Asia into account and remember that white people from the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand will be the preferred choice by a lot of recruiters. Having said that my current school does employ an African American teacher and he is really popular with the students.
A piece of advice though – don’t buy a fake TEFL or degreee certificate as you can be jailed in Thailand if you’re found out. And yes it has happened. Thais like nothing better than to blame foreigners for all the problems in their country and they WILL throw the book at you if you’re found out. Here’s more on the subject here.
Away from the classroom, I’ve found that teaching salaries aren’t bad in Asia. A huge perk is getting free accommodation and subsidised meals. Then you can save most or even all of your salary!
As far as salaries go, don’t be under any illusions – salaries are low in Thailand. Much lower than they are in China. I get paid around
the equivalent of $1500 USD in China + a free apartment + free utilities + travel allowance + health plan + practically free canteen. You’re very unlikely to get that in Thailand unless you teach in a kindergarten or private international school. When I looked the other day on Ajarn I couldn’t find any entry level job that paid over half of that per month. I know living costs are a little lower in Thailand. But if you’re a beer drinker then Thailand is really expensive these days. Compare that with China where alcohol appears to be untaxed and is very cheap indeed.
Dating in Asia When You’re a Teacher
So is dating any good when you’re an English teacher out here?
For that I’d have to answer yes and no.
On the plus side you’re obviously living in Asia and if you see a cute lady you like on a dating site then you can in theory go and meet her straight away.
The problem with working in Asia though is that your job consumes a fair bit of your time. Especially if you’re a new teacher, because lesson planning will take you longer than it does to teach the actual class itself. Teaching is pretty front loaded when it comes to effort. The good news is though that if you decide to stay with it then in the second and subsequent years you can often reuse 50% or more of your planned lessons. So you might have a lot more time. But then again if you’ve proved yourself then you’ll find your school might bump up your teaching hours. Just as they have done in my case – from 18 hours to 22 hours a week.
Teaching also requires a lot of contact with humans and you might also find that you’re pretty emotionally drained after classes. So the last thing you want to do is have more human contact from going on dating sites and actually meeting ladies in real life.
Another problem I’ve found is that the teaching jobs you’ll find advertised online aren’t necessarily in places that are good for dating.
If you want to teach in a big dating paradise like Bangkok then you’ll find there are a lot more applicants interested in applying for such jobs. I had precisely this problem when I applied for teaching jobs in China. Eventually I ended up in a smaller Tier 2 city instead of one of the household name cities like Beijing or Shanghai. Dating is much more difficult here because fewer ladies speak English and there aren’t so many local ladies on China Love Cupid (our equivalent of Thai Cupid).
Is it a good thing being the only foreigner in town? Not necessarily! You’ll find that if you live in a small town or city in Thailand then the locals might not be that interested in you.
Finally is being an English teacher likely to lead to more or fewer dates?
Many Asian ladies are slightly wary of English teachers. This is more of the case in China, where the Chinese hive mind mentality associates English teaching with foreigner playboys who want to sleep around with as many ladies as they can.
Don’t think that you can date your cute female students either. For one thing this is really unprofessional. For another, more schools are inserting no-relationship clauses in teacher contracts. I’m teaching at a university (students aged 18-21) and have a no-love-with-students clause in my contract. This is becoming a common thing to have, especially if your school has had problems in the past. And if you’re teaching at a high school – well let’s not go there.
On the upside I’ve had some feedback from a lady on the TanTan dating app that foreign English teachers are perceived as earning really good salaries. That’s always a good thing when it comes to attracting ladies in any country.
So that’s what I’ve found out from my first few months as a single guy teaching English in Asia. What are you waiting for? Get out here and try teaching for yourself.
If you’ve got any questions or comments about teaching English in Thailand or the rest of Asia then leave a comment below.