**Thai map image above photo credit Christian Bier
What is the actual cost of moving abroad to teach English in Thailand? What documents will you need to pay for, and what things will you really need?
How much money should you actually save before jumping on the plane to become an expat abroad?
Well let’s find out.
Maybe you’re tired of your day job, and you want to see a new part of the world… Or maybe you have no idea what to do with your life, you’ve always loved language, or you have a strong attraction to foreigners.
Whatever the case is, you’ve decided to look into teaching abroad.
Teaching abroad is a pretty good gig for those who want to travel because it allows you to make a wage while experiencing another culture in a way that just isn’t possible when you are just passing through.
But even though teaching abroad will earn you a wage, there is still a considerable cost in moving to another country, and beginning a new career.
Thailand is one of the more popular choices for teaching abroad, and it is a good place to start for several reasons. Even though Thailand’s education system is much more poorly rated than many other Asian nations, the laid back atmosphere of Thailand, the unbeatable tropical weather, the extended holiday breaks, and the presence of foreign amenities makes the country a great place to start a career teaching abroad.
So let’s break it down.
The actual cost of moving abroad to teach English in Thailand
The Visa Situation
Non- Immigrant B Single Entry- 2,000 Baht/ $55 USD
Non- B Multiple Entry- 5,000 Baht/ $140 USD
Border Bounce Tourist Visa (see below)- 6,000 Baht/ $170 USD
In order to get a work permit in Thailand you need to have a Non- Immigrant B Visa. A Non immigrant B Visa is good for 90 days, and there are two kinds.
Single and Multiple Entry Visas
The difference between the multiple and single entry visa is that with the multiple you can leave the country and come back as many times as you want before your visa expires, without having to get a re-entry stamp, and without having to pay a fee.
With a single entry visa, you will have to buy a re-entry stamp for your visa, before you leave Thailand. If you do not, the penalty is that you’re Non-B visa will be cancelled.
Non Immigrant-B Visa Requirements
Click HERE for the the list of requirements for the Non-B visa on the Thai immigration website.
The two things that should really be noted from the requirements list are the letter of acceptance from a school or employing agency, and evidence of educational qualification.
In order to get a Non-B visa you need to have paperwork from an employer before you come to Thailand. This is not difficult to get, but it is a lot of work for the employer, and can sometimes be a lengthy process.
Because of this, is it advisable to make sure that if you leave the country, you have a multiple entry visa, or a re-entry stamp, otherwise your documents will be canceled, and your employer will have to resubmit all of your paperwork for the visa or work permit.
**Even if you have been working in Thailand for years and you have a solid work permit with your school, if you leave the country and fail to get a re-entry stamp, your work permit will be cancelled.
The Tourist Visa Route
It is free to enter Thailand on a tourist visa, and the visa lasts up to 60 days.
However, if you want to teach in the country, you will still need to get a Non-B visa.
What this means, is that you will have to leave the country (even if you are able to obtain an employer before your tourist visa is expires) and take your Non B visa paperwork to a Thai consulate in one of the neighboring countries to get it approved, and then you can come back into Thailand on a Non-B.
Once you have a Non-B visa, then your employer can help you obtain a work permit.
So, to reiterate~
if you come to Thailand to be a teacher, and you enter the country on a tourist visa, then you will have to leave the country to get a Non B visa at a Thai consulate, before you can come back in and work.
That being said, people do this all the time and it’s totally fine.
If you need to do a border bounce for the Non-Immigrant B visa, you can plan for an estimated budget of 6,000 Baht or $170. This includes re-entry costs, paperwork costs, hotels, meals, transportation… everything.
The Educational Qualification
In order to obtain a Non B visa to be a teacher, you have to have an educational qualification. Many schools want applicants to have a four year degree from an accredited university.
There are many non-degree holders who still come to Thailand to teach. If you are a non-degree holder, and you come to Thailand to teach, you will be forced to work on a tourist visa.
Working on a tourist visa is illegal, but the penalty is only a public stoning… just kidding it’s a small fine.
Many schools are so desperate for foreign native English speakers, they will still hire a teacher on a tourist visa.
Being on a tourist visa will mean that you will need to leave the country every 60 days to avoid a fine, and that the school will not be able to pay you via direct deposit.
If you are a non-degree holder who wants to teach in Thailand, I’m not saying it’s impossible, and I think that if teaching abroad in Thailand is what you want to do, then you should go for it! But be aware of the above complications.
Flight Cost: $ 650-1,000
Ok, some people are going to fight me here and say they got a ticket for cheaper by booking nine months in advance with a promo code they found on a .net site… but I’m just talking about the normal people who buy flights near the time they need them
1rst month Accommodation: $300-500
You might have a job lined up for the week you land in Thailand, and for those of you, this might not apply to you.
But many of the people coming to Thailand to teach will spend their first month doing a TESOL course, or applying for jobs and volunteering at schools to build experience for their resumes.
So, unless you have an immediate job lined up, you’re probably going to be forking out some cash for your first month.
If you work with a TESOL company, there is a good chance they get reduced rates on local accommodations, but if you are flying solo, be sure to look for accommodations that offer a reduced weekly or monthly rate.
A TESOL Certification
TESOL stands for Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, and the certification is awarded upon graduating a curriculum that prepares you to teach ESL learners.
Most schools in Thailand will want you to have a TESOL certification, and, a TESOL certification is good all over the world.
Some of you are probably wondering, what about a TEFL? Both a TEFL and a TESOL will qualify you for the same jobs, and there is really no difference in value. The main difference is that TESOL focuses more on speaking, and TEFL has a curriculum geared more towards writing and grammar.
Either way, if you want to teach English abroad in 2016, you pretty much need to get a TESOL.
So there’s a few different ways you can do this.
Online TESOL = $250-1000
In class TESOL= $1,400-2000
Travel Abroad Programs= $1,500- 2,500
An online TESOL is going to be your cheapest option, so for those on a penny pocketing budget, the online certification is probably going to be your best bet.
That being said, I cannot stress how valuable an actual in-class TESOL curriculum can be. Teaching in Thailand is nothing like teaching in the west, and it’s very hard to know what to expect when you do a course online.
Most in-class TESOL programs are done inside Thailand, and are taught by people who have lots of experience teaching in the country.
I did an in-class TESOL certification with a company called Xploreasia, and they not only went above and beyond to give me the individual attention I needed to create successful lessons and curriculums, they also taught me about working in Thai culture, and they gave me an idea of what to expect when I headed off to my school.
The most important benefit of going with an in-class TESOL certification, is that most companies will also help you get a job in Thailand after you graduate their program.
Xploreasia helped Krissy and I get placed in an awesome school in Thailand, and we’ve stayed there for over a year.
Let’s talk about the last one on the list~
Travel Abroad Programs
There are tons of programs like Geovisions, Global Work and Travel, Greenheart, etc… out there that offer all-inclusive set-up to work abroad deals.
These companies usually get some preferences from you, like where in the country you would like to teach, and what age level, and then they help you with everything from building a resume, getting a visa, getting travel insurance (a requirement for teaching abroad in Thailand) and they can even set you up with a TESOL program.
I can’t speak for any of the companies I listed here, other than Geovisions.
Geovisions helped Krissy and I with everything I listed above, they hooked us up with Xploreasia, and in a little over one month we had a TESOL certification and a job teaching in Thailand. Most of the time the TESOL certification price (in class/ online) will be built into the price of the travel abroad program.
Travel programs are the most expensive route, but they really can be the most inclusive, provide the most support, and may be the quickest route to landing a job.
1rst Month Food Budget: 60Baht x 4 Meals a day (30days) = 7,200 Baht or $200
This is another one that people will probably gouge me on.
Yes, you can probably survive on a cheaper food budget, but only if you eat three times a day and you only eat street and market food.
But I bet, after one week of not being able to take a dump because the only thing you have eaten is sticks of grilled pork, and small bags of sticky rice, you’re really going to start wanting to branch out.
To be honest the food budget I listed above seems a little bit light, but food is one thing I don’t mess around on, and I know a lot of people who get off eating less than I do.
Either way, even though food is cheap and plentiful in Thailand, you will still need to factor in an eating budget for your first month.
Misc. Transportation Costs= $100
Tuk tuk to a job interview, a Songtao to the school you’re volunteering at, or crying in the back of a taxi because you got lost on the way to the hotel and nobody speaks any English and you just…just… get the picture.
You’re going to need a little bit of cash for transportation.
Misc. School Supplies: $50
You came to Thailand to teach right? Well you’re going to need a couple of supplies.
Nothing too crazy, but you will need whiteboard markers, binders, a notebook for ideas and grades, stamps…..
Do yourself a favor and buy all of that in Thailand. You don’t want to lug a whole separate bag of school supplies on and off planes and taxis for a month, when you can just buy everything you need in country.
Sightseeing & Beer: $300-400
This is sort of an optional cost.
I arrived in Thailand a week before my TESOL course started, and before I had any obligations.
I wanted to explore! I was going to be living in this country I’ve never even been to before, and I wanted some time to travel around and get a feel for the place.
I wanted to see the big temples, and Kao San Road, and do all the silly touristy stuff, before I settled down to start working. It’s likely that in your first month in Thailand you will meet other foreigners, and they will want to go out and have drinks. You will probably want to have money for that.
Once again, this is going to be a cost that not everybody incurs. I will say though, I highly recommend coming to Thailand a few days before you have to be responsible for any obligations.
Take some time to get over the jet lag, get your feet under you, and get any travel party bug out of your system.
Lots of people I know who came to Thailand and started working or taking a TESOL course immediately, have tried to rush down to the tropical islands in the south of the country at the first chance of a break, and often times this results in a rushed trip that ends in flustered disappointment and missed obligations.
It’s kind of like when you meet a beautiful woman, and you… you know what, never mind.
I’m just saying…I’ve seen it happen a bunch of times, and I want to be 100% real with you.
If you come to Thailand, give yourself a little bit of time to venture out and get acclimated, and you may be able to avoid that overwhelming urge to jet down to the tourist hot spots the second you have a paycheck and two days off.
Varies, but you can expect to pay around $5 a month.
Whew! So, what does all of this total up to? What is the actual cost of moving abroad to teach English in Thailand?
Well instead of burying the total cost deep inside this post, I wanted to put it on an easily readable reference page that you can access at any time.
Click this link to see a simple cost list, and total cost analysis sheet.
I apologize for putting the totals on another page, but I wanted to create an easy to access reference page that you could refer to at anytime, should you ever want to see this information again, and not want to wade through all the extra details I’ve listed here.
You can thank me later.
As always, please feel free to comment.
Thanks for reading, and Happy Travels.