People have many different reasons for wanting to teach English abroad. For some it is the adventure, while others are looking to experience a new culture, or even just to escape the daily 9 to 5 grind. Whatever your reasons, the financial side of heading overseas as a TESOL qualified teacher is also likely to be of some importance. Although the majority of teachers have no problem finding a job that pays them enough to live a comfortable lifestyle, for some it is also essential that they are able to save some of their income to put towards future travel or to pay off student loans etc.
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Despite being an automatic first choice destination for a large number of TESOL qualified teachers, Europe is often one of the hardest places to save money while teaching English. If you decide on joining the many thousands of teachers working in traditional hotspots such as France, Italy and Spain, you should have enough money in your pay packet to cover all your expenses and a reasonable social life. However, as the cost of living is high in these countries, you should not expect to be able to put much aside each month.
Due to its many natural attractions and its seemingly endless opportunities for unique adventures, Latin America is also a popular destination with many TESOL qualified teachers. However, despite the relatively low cost of living in comparison to Europe and North America, the low average salaries means it is also a difficult region for saving money as an English teacher. Generally, you can expect to live well in comparison to many local people, but saving a great deal is likely to be difficult.
Unlike the regions mentioned above, Asia provides plenty of opportunities for TESOL qualified teachers to save money during their stay. Due to the strong demand for teachers in some areas, the average salaries can be very high, especially when you also consider the low cost of living in many countries. Also, previous teaching experience is not always required to be eligible for high paid positions. Many people complete their TESOL training and walk straight into a well paid position that provides a high potential for saving cash. Another factor to consider is that a large percentage of jobs across Asia come with free airfares and accommodation included, which can obviously boost your saving power immensely.
So how much should you expect to save while teaching in Asia? The typical figure should be somewhere in the region of 30% to 50% of your monthly income in many of the most popular countries. This figure would translate to roughly $500 to $800 in Japan, $500 to $1,000 in China, and $800 to $1,000 in South Korea. More modest savings of around $200 to $500 per month are realistic in countries such as Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.
If saving as much money as possible is your main aim, the Middle East is probably the best region for you to teach English. The average salaries on offer are among the highest in the world and the cost of living is relatively low in most countries. Another major bonus is that many jobs also include a generous benefit package that typically provides paid airfares, free accommodation, and an end of contract bonus. Unsurprisingly, TESOL qualified teachers are able to save a sizable portion of their income in this environment. In countries such as Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the U.A.E., you can reasonably expect to save around $1,000 to $2,000 per month. However, in order to be eligible for jobs in this region you will generally require a degree and a minimum of one year of previous teaching experience.
Obviously, how much you can save will largely depend on how you choose to spend your money, however, there are several things you can do to reduce your outgoings and increase your savings. Completing a TESOL certification course is probably the most important thing you can do as most of the better paid jobs worldwide will require one. It is also common practice for teachers to add to their main income by taking on private students in their free time. By working just a few extra hours a week you can seriously boost your income and keep your savings growing.
If you are unable to secure a job that includes free or subsidized housing, you will find that rent is the biggest expense you will face while teaching English. One common way that teachers reduce the amount they spend is to share a house or apartment with other teachers at their school. You can also consider renting a room from a local family, which can often be very affordable and offers the chance to immerse yourself in the culture and language of your hosts. Finally, being smart about where you shop and spend your free time can also have a major impact on your saving power. By avoiding flashy supermarkets and entertainment venues aimed at the tourist market you can make considerable savings that will really add up over the length of your teaching contract.