In my 10-plus years living in Thailand, I’ve met several western teachers who also happened to be single parents. All of them had lived and taught in Thailand for several years while their children grew up attending Thai schools, learning Thai and becoming just as much ‘Thai’ in their thinking as western. Not one parent I have spoken to has said they have regretted it, and just about all of them wished they had done it before they did.
If you too are a single parent, yes, you can teach English in Thailand and bring your child or children with you. Here are a few things you’ll need to know to do so.
Dependent visa – Once you receive a job offer in Thailand and apply for your work visa, you will also be able to apply for a dependent visa for your child. Just be aware, if you are required to do any visa runs or leave the country to apply for another visa at a Thai embassy in a neighboring country, your child will likely have to travel with you.
Living costs – Thailand is one of the few countries where a single parent can make enough money teaching English to take care of both herself and her child. You can expect your living costs to be around 30 percent of your typical costs in the United States and that is for a very comfortable lifestyle. Factor that in when it comes to negotiating salaries.
Child care – If you plan on teaching in Thailand with a young child, you will have to look into child care if you don’t have anyone coming with you who can take care of that. Luckily, local child care in Thailand is cheap, with local kindergartens charging as little as 4,000 baht a month ($133) for full-time daycare.
Education for older children – Unless you are independently wealthy or receive excellent child support from a former spouse, you will likely have to accept that your child or children will need to be educated at a Thai school or at a local bi-lingual school.
That is because, while a Thai school is only a few thousand baht a year for basic expenses, and a bi-lingual school around $4,000, a typical international school in Thailand, where all classes will be taught in English, starts out at around $18,000 and up.
It can, of course, be frustrating for the first few months for any western child who doesn’t speak Thai being educated in an all-Thai school, or in a bi-lingual school where half of the classes will be in Thai but, from those children I’ve met here who experienced it, they settled in quickly and learned fast. Every one of them also made many friends.
One added bonus of this, however, is Thai schools are much less likely to have issues with violence than are schools in the United States, so it’s less worrying for a parent sending their child to school every day.
Health care – While I would suggest you make sure you have a health insurance policy that fully covers your child for any possible medical issues, you can rest easy in the knowledge that medical care in Thailand is cheap and, at any private hospital, as good or better quality than in the United States. In fact, you will probably find teaching in Thailand as a single parent with a child will mean you save money every year on medical expenses alone.
All in all, Thailand can be an excellent choice for a single parent with dependent children to get a job teaching English. It’s an inexpensive place to live for a very good standard of living, it’s a very safe country, Thais adore children, and local child care and education is highly affordable.
Add on that your child will learn a second language fluently if you live here for a year or two or more, and I can’t think of a better place to teach English as a single parent than in Thailand.