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How can I save money while teaching English abroad?
- Although financial gain is not the biggest driving force for most people heading overseas to work as an ESL teacher, being able to live comfortably and to enjoy as many new experiences as possible without money worries is usually a high priority. To give yourself the best opportunity to earn a good salary and the chance to save enough to pay off debts or to fund further travel and adventure, there are a few things you can do prior to departure and once you arrive in your country of choice.
- When it comes to salaries and earning potential, one of the most important things you can do prior to departure is to complete an internationally recognized TEFL certification course. TEFL certification is increasingly expected by employers in many of the most popular countries, particularly those who offer the best salaries and other benefits. Completing a TEFL course will not only open up a greater number of job opportunities, it will also show employers that you are serious about teaching and capable of providing quality instruction to your students.
- For first time teachers the choice of destination will have a big impact on how much you can earn. Many teachers dream of living and working in European countries such as France, Italy or Spain, however, the relatively high cost of living means that these may not be the best choice from a financial standpoint. While jobs in these countries are likely to provide a comfortable standard of living, most teachers are unlikely to be able to save more than a small amount each month. If you want to do more than simply break even, to pay off college debts or fund further travel for example, you might consider heading to Asia or the Middle East.
- In countries such as China, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E., many jobs come with free housing and paid airfares on top of a generous salary. In these countries it is common for teachers to save anywhere from 30% to 50% of their monthly wage, which can add up to a tidy sum at the end of a one year contract. Typical savings per month in countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Taiwan amount to around $500, while those in China and South Korea can expect to save anywhere from $500 to $1500 per month. For the biggest savings, head to the Middle East where teachers have the opportunity to save up to $2000 per month.
- In most popular destinations around the world there is usually the opportunity to top up your paycheck by taking on private students in your free time. In countries such as China, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan it is common practice for parents to fund extra language tuition for their children outside of the school day. Here you can earn anything from $20 to $50 per hour for each student on your books. There is also a strong demand for private tuition in many European countries which offers a great chance to earn the extra you need to fund further travel or simply to save.
- Although some teachers receive free or subsidized housing, for the majority of those teaching English abroad, accommodation can prove to be one of the largest expenses. The simple answer to reduce your monthly rent and other bills is to share a house or apartment during your stay. In many cases it can be easy to find a teacher from your own school who is looking for the same arrangement. Whether you share with a colleague or a local resident, house sharing is a simple way to save a considerable sum of money.
- For teachers arriving in Asia, the low cost of living in comparison to western countries is a big factor in your ability to save money during your stay. However, new arrivals often find themselves only socializing in bars and restaurants aimed at foreigners, and subsequently paying inflated prices for everything from food and drink to everyday groceries. To enhance your ability to save your hard earned wages it is easy, and often more rewarding, to shop at local street markets and hangout in establishments aimed at a wider audience.
Choosing a Destination