I officially joined the OFW in Thailand bandwagon in 2010. I left my six-year job at a private school in the Philippines to seek a career as an EFL teacher. The work grew monotonous and tedious. I felt like I needed a break, so I jumped at the chance when I was invited to come.
It was not without hesitation, though. Even though I had been promised a job upon arrival, I was terrified. I was turning 30 that year, but in all honesty, I wasn’t ready for the unknown life overseas. Numerous questions kept playing over and over my head. Will I be able to do the job? What if I won’t be able to manage the students? Will I be able to hurdle life abroad?
However, after weighing the different pros and cons, I took the most significant leap of faith. I arrived in Thailand on April 13, 2010. It was the start of my incredible 10+ years of OFW in Thailand teaching history.
Arriving in Phitsanulok
Upon arrival in Thailand, I traveled for ten long hours by bus to Maesot, 490 km from Bangkok. Maesot is a small city in western Thailand that is bordered to the west by Myanmar. I stayed there for a month before I found a school in Phitsanulok which is 3 hours and 40 minutes away by bus from Maesot.
Phitsanulok is a historic city in Thailand’s Lower North, roughly midway between Bangkok and Chiang Mai. It has a population of approximately 80,000 people. The city serves as a regional transportation and commercial hub and is one of the main stops for those who travel to the north. While the city isn’t the most fascinating, it’s an excellent starting point for those who plan to visit Sukhothai, Thailand’s ancient capital.
Laid back lifestyle
I fell in loved with the place right away the moment I arrived here. I liked that it was a city, but the people’s lifestyle was very laid back, unlike Bangkok. Eleven years ago, we only went to Big C and Lotus to hang out. There was no Central Plaza yet, but there was a smaller place called Topland and no English movies in theaters. There were only a few bars to go to at night and few big restaurants to dine in. The vibe was a little rustic, but it was just the way I liked it.
Nonetheless, so much has changed in 11 years. Currently, Phitsanulok has wider highways and brighter street lights at night. Bars have mushroomed all over the place (not comparable to Bangkok, though), and apartments and condominiums have sprouted everywhere. You must have guessed by now that I haven’t moved to another city since the day I came.
OFW in Thailand: Teaching in Phitsanulok
Phitsanulok is a haven for many OFW in Thailand. When I came, it was already home to many Filipino teachers who were teaching English and other subjects in different schools, including kindergarten, elementary, high school, and university. I taught in one of the government high schools at the very heart of the city. I was fortunate to be the very first Filipino teacher to be hired in that school. When I left after two years, they hired more and are still employing more Filipino English teachers even up to today.
In number, there are already at least a hundred Filipino teachers in the city proper. Each school has at least three or more Filipino teachers who teach English, Maths, Science, Social Studies, and other significant subjects. There are 11 of us in both the EP and Foreign Language Department in my current school alone. The number of Filipinos keeps increasing each year.
Salary of Filipino Teachers in Phitsanulok
The salary of the Filipino teachers in Phitsanulok ranges from 22,000 to 50,000 Baht. The remuneration depends on the school’s size and whether they’re teaching in a government or a private school. More importantly, qualification matters.
Big public schools in the city prefer Filipino teachers who have degrees in teaching. Consequently, big schools offer a more lucrative salary. Filipino teachers also earn extra income by teaching in different language schools and private tutorials at their respective homes.
I started with a 23,000 baht salary in my first school. In my first year, I was out to prove how a Filipino teacher works. We joined in almost all the competitions such as Skit, Story Telling, Impromptu Speech, and ASEAN Quiz and activities. Not long after, I earned the Thai teachers’ nod, and they wanted me to join even in activities unrelated to English, including scout camps. After a year, they gave me a 2,000 baht increase.
In my third year, a new director came, and he wanted to change everything, including my contract. That propelled me to move to another school that offered better compensation. After two years, I was offered the position of ASEAN teacher-in-charge at one of Phitsanulok’s most prominent schools. Despite my initial reservations, I accepted the job and am currently in my seventh year at the institution.
Housing Accommodation in Phitsanulok
Apartments in Phitsanulok cost between 2,500 and 3,500 baht per month. This is a standard studio room with basic furnishings such as a refrigerator, sofa, dining table, bed and wardrobe set, and air conditioning—the average condominium unit costs between 6,500 and 8,000 baht. If you want larger spaces, a whole house with 2-3 bedrooms can be rented for approximately 5,000 to 6,500 baht. However, since this lodging does not include furnishings, you will need to acquire your own.
I am renting a two-story house with three bedrooms which I am sharing with two other housemates. The entire house costs 7,000 baht because it is furnished with air conditioning in each of the three rooms with a bed and complete wardrobe set. During summertime, our electricity bill (which is not part of the house rent) would be as high as 4,000 baht but only at least a thousand baht during cooler months.
You can watch this house tour to see what this 7,000 baht house looks like:
The cost of living in Phitsanulok is way cheaper compared to other key cities of Thailand. The breakdown, of course, would depend according to a person’s lifestyle. But generally, since life in this city is quite laid back (as previously mentioned), there’s not much to spend your money on except for parties which happen very often (especially during the pre-covid era) or pubs (if you are into nightlife).
Suppose you are an OFW in Thailand and are looking for a place to move in. You can try Phitsanulok as your option. There are still multiple teaching opportunities that await you. We have active Filipino organizations that will make you forget that you are living away from home. There’s no better way to encapsulate all these but this statement of Ms. Leah Doysabas, one of the Filipino pioneers in Phitsanulok:
“People asked why Phitsanulok and I responded why not? Phitsanulok may not be as bustling as any other big cities in Thailand, but it’s definitely the friendliest place for peace and quiet loving nonnatives like myself. Ask me now why 18 years in the same place? 18 years because I’m home.”