Joey Beaton – Thailand Expert

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I’ve been an ESL teacher for 6 years. I taught in Seoul, South Korea; Leeds, UK; and Bangkok, Thailand. All of these places have been enjoyable to live and work in but for the past four years I’ve been able to call Bangkok home.


Living in Thailand


Working here is fun, frustrating, challenging and enjoyable, but I think that the pros far outweigh the cons. Let’s get the cons over and done with first; like anywhere you will get your share of unmotivated, spoilt students; the traffic in Bangkok is TERRIBLE and there is no rhyme or reason to it either; and the air quality can be pretty bad sometimes (but not even half as bad as China!).  Now for the pros: the people are lovely; the food is fantastic and cheap; the sun shines a lot; the taxis are affordable; the night life is great; and from Bangkok it’s a couple of hours to great beaches or lovely jungles.




Your employer does not pay for your accommodation. Rent can vary from as little as 6,000 baht for a Thai style apartment with no kitchen, to the sky’s the limit. However, most people pay around 14,000 for a one bedroom condo, which usually has a gym and pool attached. I live in a three-bedroom house in the suburbs of Bangkok and pay 15,000, so it really depends on the area you choose and what you want.




Transport can be a bit problematic. If you live on the sky train or subway lines then getting around is fairly easy and quick, and not expensive. If you don’t, then taxis are the best option but due to the huge amount of traffic this can be a very frustrating part of your life. There are also local buses which cost 8 baht a journey, or a ‘songtao’ which is a pickup truck with benches in the back, these vary from around 5-20 baht depending on the route. There are also commuter boats that go up and down the Chao Praya, fares are around 30 baht. But there are also boats that go along the main canals. This is my favourite form of public transport in Bangkok, it costs 18 baht to get ALL the way across the city, no traffic jams, and you get to see the swanky part of Sukhumwit Road and the old style wooden houses on the edge of the waterway.


Food & Drink


Bangkok is a very cosmopolitan place, all types of food is available from Indian curries, Lebanese kebabs to fancy French and Italian restaurants. This is an aspect of Thailand that I love, having taught in some places where it is difficult to get foreign food. The supermarkets are also well stocked with foreign fare, so if you get a craving for something from back home, it is usually very easy to get your hands on the ingredients.


A beer from 7/11 is around 40 baht and you’ll pay around 80-120 baht in a restaurant for a local beer. The only thing I really miss is wine. Although it is available here, it is expensive as the government smacks a whole load of tax on it – expect to pay upwards of 400 baht.


Teaching in Thailand


I can only tell you about the teaching hours, insurance and holidays where I’ve worked, which were a Thai school and a British Council teaching centre. Hours teaching were 24 not including prep time. At the Thai school, we had 8 weeks paid holiday a year, plus all public holidays. At the British Council you get about 36 days holiday, plus all public holidays. This great holiday has allowed me to travel extensively around Thailand and Asia.


Both places I’ve worked have included medical insurance. At the Thai school the cover was not extensive, however, I currently work for the British Council and the cover is fantastic.




Starting salaries can vary from around 30,000 to 60,000 baht; it is then law that your salary increases every year. If you’re earning 30,000 don’t expect to save anything, although living in Thailand is cheap, I find that there are so many things to do, places to go and great restaurants to eat at, that my salary is gobbled up pretty quickly. But you can live comfortably on 30,000, so anything you earn above that could potentially be saved.