The cost of living in the country is much less than in Bangkok and the accommodation costs can be dramatically cheaper. Couple that with a nicer approach from the Thai teachers, and you will have a more pleasant life in the country than in the overcrowded, polluted city. It is all a matter of choice. There are not the resources and nightlife in smaller cities, but they are not too bad. They will have the Internet in schools, which is free for you. Outside they may well have a good video rental store and the accommodation may be thin on the ground, but you can afford to go a bit upscale because it is cheaper.
They may of course expect you to do things like be in school after your lessons are finished, or to greet students coming in for the start of school. That is normal and you should iron that out with them before you begin. They will want a lot from you for what they see as the vast sums of money they pay you. Perhaps to you it will seem just a small wage where you come from, but for them it is very high.
The school year begins in May and there is a month off for October. It begins again in November and goes through to March. However, since you will not be needed for the last month in each end of semester period, it gives you a roughly 9 month year. Initially that sounds great. But, you need to find out if you are being employed for a full 12 months or for just 9 months of the year. This could drastically affect your salary.
If you have a 12 month contract you should also be given holiday pay to compensate for any lack of work time. You may be employed doing something else, like teaching adults, or teachers, or for a summer camp. This is to make up the hours.
You will also need to ask when you will get a Non B Visa. You need this to get a work permit. They may say in a few weeks. Or they may say after a given probationary period. Whatever it is get a definitive date and keep them to it. Also ask will they pay for the Non B Visa. If your visa expires before the time to get a Non B, ask can you have time off. It takes a full day to get a 30 day visa.
If you are employed by an agency the same applies. The good thing with an agency is that they are usually competent in getting all the necessary paperwork for your Non B. Of course so are some schools. It is a lot of work and involves a lot of paperwork, costing them about 10,000 Baht to process everything. Therefore, it is understandable when schools and agencies hold back for 6 weeks or so until they know you will stay the course.
Arriving in Thailand is easy. Most countries don’t need a prior visa. However, if you really do plan to work or live there you should check out the regulations before going to Thailand. Go to a Thai Embassy website and check out the Visa section. It may be best if you go to your local Thai consulate, or mail them for a tourist visa for 60 days before you leave home. This can easily be renewed. Later, you can get a 30 day visa, then when it’s time, go back and apply for another 60 day visa. Check a professional for details, not a bar-room know-it-all. See below for some addresses.
Excerpted and adapted from the ebook "Living and Teaching English in Thailand: How to Get a Job, an Apartment, and Important Survival Tips for Life as an English Teacher" by Ken Bayliss.