Traveling Man, or Settling Down?
I’m happy to report that TedKarma is back with some more insight for the TEFL Logue. For those who don’t know (and hey, get up to speed if that’s you!), Ted is an experienced EFL teacher with a Master’s Degree who has worked in Korea, Taiwan and Saudi Arabia. This time, I asked him to share his thoughts on settling down abroad – in his case, in Phuket, Thailand. In his own words:
I wanted to see the world. To experience it fully. To live in and get inside of as many cultures as I possibly could. It is a great big beautiful world out here! After two years in the Peace Corps in Africa , I became excited about the possibility of living in a variety of countries and cultures and headed out into the mist . . . never to return.
Unusual? Nope. Though many career EFL teachers head out with the intent to see the world, you will notice that many of us, after a period of time, find a place we really like and settle down there, often with no intention to return full-time to our native country.
What are the things that might draw you to a country or specific location and end up keeping you there? What is it that can unbind the wanderlust in your soul? Is it culture, people, food, weather, landscape? A great job? A life partner and family? Or perhaps all those things and more?
For my partner and me, it was a combination of all those things. After about ten years of apartment living in Korea , Taiwan , and Saudi Arabia – we really wanted to live in a house – with a little garden – and room for pets. Moving about had deprived us of having a cat or dog. We also wanted good food, good weather, good people, and to live near the sea – all in an affordable location. As somewhat “older” teachers, we also wanted to find a place with good quality and relatively-inexpensive health care.
One thing we didn’t want was the high-stress fast-paced lifestyle that we had left behind “back home.” We didn’t want high crime rates or high-pressure jobs. We wanted good jobs and we wanted to do a good job, but we didn’t want to go crazy or get overly-stressed about it.
Another issue – we wanted to live legally. We didn’t want to have to pretend to be “tourists” forever making “visa runs”, our future dependent on a border immigration officer who might have woken up on the wrong side of the bed the day we ran into him.
We wanted it all! And why not? As experienced and well-qualified teachers, we realized (finally!) that we could pretty much pick where we wanted to settle down.
Believe it or not there are actually a few places (maybe many!) on this earth that meet all those requirements. We had visited several of them on vacations before – and went back to them to take another look. To take the look that is very different from the tourist’s view. To check on job availability, the cost of living (not just the cost of hotels and restaurants!), housing costs, crime rates, political and financial stability of the area, hospitals and clinics, even Internet access. For the final decision, we took a 30-day vacation and took an even more serious look at what we thought to be the very best place in the world for us.
Needless to say, you won’t always be 100% right in your choice, no place is perfect, and things can change quickly, but after almost six years in Phuket, Thailand – I think we have found the right place for us.
From the time we first moved here, I felt I had added ten years to my life. A toast to that!
Head out into that big world, and you too may find the paradise that fits you perfectly. It is out there, you just have to go get it.