Da Low-down on English Teaching Life in Thailand

Deciding to teach English abroad has been the most rewarding experience of my life so far. My advice to you; If you’re thinking about doing it, DO IT. If you’re on this webpage, you already have one foot out the door. Here’s some FAQs that will help you take the next step:

Q: What are the basic requirements to teach English abroad?

A: You need a bachelors degree. It doesn’t have to be in education. My degree is in communications. Then you need to get TESOL or TEFL certified.

Q: What’s TESOL and TEFL?

A: TESOL and TEFL are pretty much the same thing. TESOL stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Schools normally require you to have one of these certifications. If you already have a degree in teaching you usually don’t need to take one of these courses.

Q: How do I get certified in TESOL?

A: Oxford Seminars has classes all over the US. I almost went through them but decided to take my class in Bangkok through the American TESOL Institute (ATI). I paid about $1000 for the three week course. Accommodation was paid for and they gave us a week of real teaching experience at a Thai school.

Q: Why ATI?

A: I enrolled in the Special Thai Program which guaranteed me a teaching placement at the end of the course. I graduated on a Friday and had a job on Monday. It was perfect! It was also a great way to explore the culture and meet other westerners who will most likely become your lifelong friends. I would recommend taking the ATI class in PHUKET, THAILAND. Huge class, a ton of young, fun people and just a great time.

Q: What should I expect to get paid? Is it enough to live in Thailand?

A: When I started I was getting paid 35000 Baht a month which is about $1000  a month. That doesn’t seem like a lot but it’s very inexpensive to live in Thailand. I was able to save about $500 a month. My apartment was $150 a month, I was get daily massages, eating very well, shopping and going out – life was GOOD 🙂 Eventually I was raised to 44,000 baht a month which is about $1300 a month… then LIFE WAS GRAND lol. Seriously though.

Q: What’s it like to live in a non-English speaking country?

A: Patience is key. Some people will speak a little English but don’t assume that they will. You are in their country. Be respectful. And talking louder will not help them understand you — That’s my pet peeve!

My advice is try to learn the language a little. Have fun with it. It can definitely get frustrating at times, especially if you need directions or if you want to ask for something at a store but you get used to it. You’ll start to use non-verbal communication. Thai’s are pro’s at that. In the land of smiles, I’ve learned that sometimes that’s all you need.

Q: What made you want to teach abroad?

A: For me, it was a series of things. When I was in college I worked and lived at Disney World for six months. I met people from all over the world who had come to experience work and life in America. After that, I always wondered what it would be like to live in another country. Then when I was a senior in college, I studied abroad in China – I met an American who was teaching there and met his students and they all really inspired me. My college degree is in Communications and I ended up landing an Account Coordinator position at a PR firm in Manhattan after college. It was everything I ever wanted, but something was missing. I wanted to not just travel the world but I wanted to live around the world and I was determined to make that happen. After some research, teaching English seemed to be the key – So I quit my job and went for it.

Q: Why did you choose to teach in Thailand?

A: Thailand just fell into my lap. I had no preference to where I wanted to teach. When you want to do everything, it doesn’t really matter where you start as long as you start. Now that I taught in Thailand, I’m so happy I didn’t go anywhere else. The hospitality and the culture there is something I have never seen anywhere else.

Q: How did you like  living in Bangkok?

A: Bangkok reminds me of New York city but it’s more laid back. I loved it there. The transportation system is incredible so it’s really easy to get around without a car. And since there is a very large expat community, it’s easy to get a taste of western life if you’re ever feeling homesick. There’s Mexican, English, Irish, and American food.. even found an Outback Steakhouse one day! Also, I’m not much of a shopper, but Bangkok has thee most amazing malls you’ll ever see in your life! Cheap and modern housing, friendly people, amazing nightlife, and plenty of markets, parks and street food to explore throughout the day.

Save $10k a Year Teaching English in Thailand

How to Save Mad Cash Teaching English in Thailand

I’ve done it, and so can you!

Save $$$  & Pay Off LoansWork as a teacher in Thailand and Save Money

  1. The cheap cost of living in Thailand is what makes this possible.
  2. Assumes 30 baht = $1 USD (go to xe.com to check your currency & current rates)
  3. $10,000 USD = approximately 300,000 baht.
  4. We assume a monthly salary of 35,000 baht.  (This is a low-end salary.)
  5. In order to save 300,000 baht/year, you must save 25,000 baht/month.
  6. That means you must set a budget of 10,000 baht/month.

Intro to Cost of Living in ThailandWhat does it cost to live teaching English in Thailand?

There will be a lot of people who will scream at me for writing this.  The fact is those people are NOT responsible spenders.  Most people don’t know how to SAVE $$$ nowadays.  That’s also a fact.  What you see here is WHAT I HAVE DONE.  I have lived on this budget…and in no way did I feel like my life was compromised.

This table reflects responsible spending.  That means drinking coffee from 7/11 instead of Starbucks.  That means NOT getting McDonald’s delivered every day.  The lower end ($100) reflects Thai standards, upcountry.  The higher end reflects BASIC western standards:

  1. Eating out instead of cooking at homeIt's cheap to live and teach English in Thailand
  2. Taking taxis instead of local buses
  3. Drinking lots of 1 baht 1.5 liter bottles of water and not 10 baht sodas and other crap
  4. Drinking alcohol bought from 7/11 and not out at bars/clubs every night, etc.

I know teachers who live quite comfortably on $300/month in Bangkok.  Some do it for even less.  It’s really a personal choice.  Remember, many upcountry Thais live on 1,000 baht/month ($33 USD).  Now, I don’t recommend that, and you won’t be able to do that in Bangkok, but that does give you some perspective of the cost of living in Thailand.

Sample Monthly Budget in Thailand for Teachers

EXPENSE

THAI BAHT/MONTH

USD$/MONTH

Rent + Utilities (fully furnished)

1,500-4,500

50-150

Food

1,000-3,000

33-100

Transportation

500-2,000

16-65

Miscellaneous

Up to You

Up to You

TOTAL

3,000-9,500 Baht

100-315 USD

Housing Budget in ThailandTeaching English in Thailand Living Room

For 4,500 baht/month, you can get a new, furnished, clean studio condo in Downtown Bangkok (including utilities) like the photo to the right (430 sq. ft.).  Obviously, the further away you are from Downtown Bangkok, the cheaper it gets.  Towards the edges of the city, you can start to find 1 bedrooms for 4,500 baht/month.

I once lived in Chumporn, Thailand.  Most people know it as the pit stop before goingTeaching English in Thailand Bedroom diving in Koh Tao or partying it up at the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan.  While I was there, I lived in two places.

One was a BRAND NEW 4-story townhouse across from the school I worked at.  I shared it with 2 other guys.  We each had a whole floor to ourselves.   Fully furnished, including kitchen.  Cable and Internet included.  Electricity and Water included.  We paid 2,500 baht/month per person.

The other was either 2 or 3 stories, 3 bedrooms, furnished, etc. etc.  That cost 4,000 baht/month, all inclusive.  Which is 1,333 baht/month Teachers Living Room in Thailandper person.

Does everyone find accommodations at these low prices?  No.  Most people try to live in a place that is nicer than anything they’ve ever lived in on their own.  Nothing wrong with that, but that’s not how to save money teaching English in Thailand.

Want to get a great deal on an accommodation?  You can use these websites in Bangkok (easyhomes.tv, thaiapartment.com, soidb.com, etc).  However, we recommend:

  1. Find your school location.
  2. Stay in a cheap guesthouse nearbyTeaching English in Thailand Rentals
  3. Meet with the English teaching staff (both Thai and non-Thai) and let them guide you.
  4. They should be able to set you up in a proper place at a proper price.

A lot of the cheaper housing, even in Bangkok, won’t be listed online.  You’ll have to walk the neighborhood yourself.  This is why hooking up with someone from the school is so important.  If you’re friendly, there will surely be a Thai who will be eager to take you around and translate for you.

 

Food Budget in ThailandEating at Food Stalls in Thailand

For one, most people OVEREAT!!!  That’s your choice.

If you’re a serious over-eater, you’ll have to multiply the budget by 1.5 or 2.  Once again, that’s your choice.  This budget assumes responsible eating habits and normal caloric intake, 3 meals per day or 2 meals and a few snacks, and mostly rice/noodle dishes.  If you cook your own rice/noodles, chicken, and vegetables, you can SAVE even more $$$.Eating at a Food Court in Thailand

Thailand is a place where it might be MORE EXPENSIVE to cook…especially if you’re living alone.  The amount of time it takes to go to the market (not to mention the cost of the taxi), time spent preparing and cleaning up, food that will spoil, etc., makes eating at the food carts a BETTER option.

Yes, the food carts are plenty SAFE.  With that said, if you see rats pooping in the rice, don’t eat at that one.  Never seen it, but you will occasionally see a stall or food cart that looks dirty…Avoid it!  Unless!  Unless you see all the Thais eating there.  Go where the Thais eat!

Remember, a 100 baht/day coffee habit is 3,000 baht/month is 36,000 baht/year is $1,200!!!!!!

Make your own dang coffee at home!!!

Transportation Budget in ThailandBTS & MRT Maps in Bangkok

In Bangkok.  People typically take motorbike taxis (10-40 baht usually), car taxis (40-80 baht usually), the BTS (aka skytrain, 15-30 baht usually) and the MRT (aka subway, 15-30 baht usually) to get around the city.

We usually take buses when traveling to outside of the city.  With that said, the buses go everywhere within Bangkok, arrive frequently, and are cheap!  Heck, some are even FREE.  They look like the pic down below; red bus with blue message on the window.Buses for Free in Bangkok Thailand

Song taews or 'two rows' in thailandOutside of Bangkok.  Walking and bicycling?  Sure, why not.  However, teachers typically get around via songtaews (pictured right), motorbike taxis, and tuk tuks.  Those who are slightly more adventurous either rent motorbikes (1,000-2,500 baht/month) or buy one (used available for 7-15,000 baht).

Miscellaneous Expenses in ThailandGetting Drunk on Khao Sarn

If I had to guess, I’d say most English teachers in Thailand blow their budget on renting an unnecessarily nice condo, food and ALCOHOL.  Of course you should enjoy your life, but be careful not to blow your budget on any of those 3 things.

Drinking!  Clubbing and excessive consumption of alcohol can be a weekly, even daily, drain on your savings.

Thai beersYes, alcohol is cheap at 7/11 and local Thai restaurants (and even at Thai clubs), but we recommend setting a monthly ‘drinking budget’.  Let’s say you set it at 3,000 baht/month.  That’s about 750 baht/week.  That will buy you a 750-ml bottle of Absolut or Johnny Walker every week.  In terms of beer, that will buy you about 17 1-Liter bottles of Chang Beer per week.  If you drink more than that every week, then perhaps budgeting isn’t your problem (hint hint, alcoholism).

Cost of Typical Items in Thailand

ITEM

THAI BAHT

USD $

Meal @ a local restaurant

30

1

1kg (2.2 pounds) of rice

20

.66

Eggs (dozen)

45

1.50

Red Bull

10

.33

1 hour massage

100-150

3.33-5

Pack of cigarettes

30-80

1-2.66

Taxis

30-120

1-4

Hangover 2 Filmed in Thailand

Why Teach English in Thailand?

Looking for How to Teach English in Thailand, Fast & Easy?                       Keep Calm and Love Thailand

People who have taught in Thailand have a love affair with it.  Some might call it an obsession.  Sometimes teachers leave Thailand, but Thailand never leaves their heart.  And when they do leave Thailand, a part of them gets left behind.

But that’s okay, because they ALWAYS come back!

1. First World Comforts @ Third World Prices4D Movies in Bangkok Thailand

Ever seen a movie in 4-D? 4-DX? 6-D? Probably not, because Thailand is one of the only countries in the world that has these technologies. Yet, you can get food at a restaurant at ANY hour for $1.

 

2. Hawaiian Paradise @ Affordable PricesBeaches in Thailand

Hawaiian style beaches and islands, yet affordable and with great-paying jobs.

Have you ever dreamed of traveling to a place with palm trees swaying in the gentle breeze, laying in a hammock, cocktail in your hand, and sun-drenched white-sand beaches running into pools of aquamarine and emerald?

Why travel to one when you can LIVE in one!

3. People in Thailand

Thailand is nicknamed LoS, Land of Smiles. Enough said.People are very friendly in Thailand

When it comes to life, Thais get IT! Life should be enjoyed and celebrated. Thais have taken this to the extreme. It’s very rare (unless you are in the tourist areas) to find a Thai person who is in a hurry, stressed-out, worried, frowning, etc. They enjoy the MOMENT and prefer not to judge people and their actions.

Respect! Teaching English in Thailand will change the way you think of the word Students in Thailand Smiling‘respect’. Thais are about respect and politeness. Even the poorest amongst the Thais embody this ethic. Sometimes you feel like you’re in a contest to see who can out-respect or out-polite the other.

Watch out, there’s a chance you’ll never pay for food or alcohol again. Thais are super friendly and love to share food and drink with you. You’ll have to learn how to avoid the free-whiskey-every-night gambit that plays out nightly in Thailand. You’ve been warned!

4. Weather in ThailandBeautiful Weather in Thailand

Speaks for itself.  But, if tropical beaches and warm breezes aren’t your thing, feel free to head to Chiang Mai and other northern provinces where the locals sometimes dress like they’re going to grab their  skis and hit the slopes.

5. Food in ThailandFood in Thailand

If you haven’t tried Thai food, you are in an extreme minority. It’s the 2nd most popular food in the world after Italian. Then again, you’ve probably paid $10+ for a dish you can get for $1 here in Thailand.  After a hard day of teaching English, it’s nice to know you can eat out without breaking the bank!

If Thai food isn’t your thing, don’t fret. There is no shortage of Japanese, Italian, French, English, American, etc. cuisine.Eating at McDonald's in Thailand

If McDonald’s, KFC, Subway, & Pizza Hut are your thing, you’re in luck. They are EVERYWHERE in Thailand. And they all deliver! McDonald’s delivers 24 hours a day. Convenience!

6. Tropical Beaches & Islands in ThailandChilling in Phuket Overlooking the Island

The Beach with Leonardo DiCaprio?  You’ve seen it. If you haven’t, you should. It was filmed at Maya Bay in Koh Phi Phi, Thailand; a short boat ride from Phuket.

Hangover 2. All of those shots were taken at beaches in Thailand.

From Phuket to Koh Samui to beaches and islands even more beautiful and less developed, Thailand is the tropical paradise for you.

7. Activities in Thailand, What to Do in Thailand?

Massages in ThailandMassages in Thailand

Definitely the most popular activity in Thailand for both men and women. For as low as $3 you can get a 1-hour massage that will leave you feeling loose and relaxed. That’s right, $3.

Scuba Diving in ThailandScuba Diving in Thailand

Koh Tao is the #1 destination in the world for PADI and SSDI certification.

Thailand is home to some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving in the world. Similan Islands and Surin Islands are ranked in the top 10 spots for diving in the world.

Rock Climbing in ThailandRock Climbing in Thailand

The limestone cliffs you see in Hangover 2 are home to some of the best rock climbing in the world; beginners are welcome!

Elephant Trekking in Thailand

Can be done for as low as $15. One of the most popular attractions in Thailand.

Parasailing, Skydiving, Zip-lining & Bungee Jumping are available. And at low prices!

If you can think of an activity, there’s a 99% chance you can do it in Thailand!

8. Traveling – Holidays AbroadMap of Asia and South East Asia

Thailand is centrally located in Asia and is a perfect jumping off point for holidays in Bali, Japan, Australia, Borneo, China, Myanmar (Burma), Tibet, Maldives, Cambodia, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, Laos, Brunei, New Zealand, Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan and India.

9. Amazing, Fast, Cheap & Easy Transportation Systems in Thailand

It’s 2:00 a.m. and you want to go to Pattaya, Samui, or Phuket for the long weekend, what do you do?Bus in Thailand

Easy, you go to one of the 4 main bus terminals, or hop on a train, or grab a taxi, or go to one of the 24-hour minivan stations. No matter what time of day, there are more than 20 buses being boarded at each terminal. Minivans leave every 30 minutes for every part of Thailand. Taxis are everywhere at all times.

10. Thailand History & CultureHistory & Culture of Thailand

Thailand is home to some of the oldest civilizations in history, with recent excavations finding possibly the oldest civilization ever!

From remains of 1,000 year-old kingdoms, to dinosaur bones, to Reclining Buddhas, to palaces and 1,000’s of temples, your itch for history and culture will be scratched.

For thousands of years, Thailand has been at the crossroads between traders from Europe, India, and China. Its present culture reflects those influences. It truly is a melting pot.

 

And Much, Much More to Do in Thailand ++++++++

The only limit is your imagination!

Best Things to Do When You are Teaching English in Thailand