Saving money while teaching abroad is possible! You’ll be stunned how far a little preparation goes. ☆ Teaching abroad will be one of the most rewarding and exciting adventures you’ll experience in your life! You’ll make a difference in the lives of others, broaden your perspectives, and gain valuable skills for your career. Not to mention, you’ll be learning the local language, reveling in sweeping landscapes, and experiencing the delicious foods. The overall value of teaching abroad outweighs the total cost, but you might be wondering how (or if) you’ll be saving money while teaching abroad.
Rest assured that many before you have taught abroad and saved lots of money with the right planning and preparation. Think about what you’d like to achieve while teaching abroad, make a plan, and stick to it. Plus, take advantage of local resources for advice and recommendations to save money while abroad. If you play your cards right, you’ll save more money teaching abroad than you thought was possible. Yuan for a good time by saving money while teaching abroad? Well, you’re yen for a treat with these 7 tricks!
7 tricks to saving money while teaching abroad
1. Choose an affordable destination
When considering where to teach abroad to save money, consider the cost of living abroad in that country and the estimated teaching abroad salary. Additionally, don’t forget to consider the perks like housing stipends, TEFL certificate program, free meals, health benefits, flight reimbursements, and more. Your best bet for the best countries to teach English and save money? Countries in Southeast Asia, such as China, South Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam will help you to save thousands per month. Cha-ching! Rice paddies, dumplings, and pho never sounded so good.
Some of the other best countries to teach English and save money are in Eastern Europe (like the Czech Republic and Turkey) and in the Middle East (like Oman and Saudi Arabia). These countries are willing to pay decent salaries because English teachers are in high demand. You’ll love the immaculate castles, mosques, and beaches in many of these locations. From learning Arabic or Chinese, to experiencing tropical weather or deserts, the cultures and languages will help you get out of your comfort zone and make memories to look back on for years to come.
2. Create a budget
Google or Excel spreadsheets will be your BFF when creating a budget! Take into account your monthly income from your teaching abroad salary and necessary expenses for housing, utility bills, insurance, groceries and personal goods, transportation, etc. Don’t forget about your disposable income — AKA “fun money” for going out because you’ll need to treat yo’ self after a long day of grading every now and then. Once you see everything written out, you’ll have a visual picture of where your money will be going.
Don’t forget to consult with other fellow foreign teachers living in the area to see where to shop and what companies to use for utilities. They’ll also likely know the best banks for foreigners and how to avoid high ATM withdrawal fees. They know from firsthand experience and can give some helpful recommendations. Be sure to talk to your program coordinator or supervisor to make sure you know how you’ll be getting paid and how often you’ll get paid. The hardest part will be sticking to your budget and making a few sacrifices here and there, but you’ll thank yourself in the long run.
3. Get TEFL-certified
Recognize the saying, “it takes money to make money”? Earning your TEFL certificate will be a sound investment! You’ll gain the start-up training you need to be an effective and confident teacher. Most of all, you’ll qualify for higher-paying jobs in many countries when employers see that gem on your resume. Hundreds of TEFL certificate programs are available online and abroad, and nearly every program will help you find a job after you graduate.
You could even apply for a scholarship for a TEFL certificate to save some money. You’ll also be able to see if teaching abroad is something you’d like to do, and you’ll have the golden ticket to teach in many areas of the world. The teaching markets in southeast Asia and the Middle East value a TEFL certificate much more than other areas in the world as well, so you’ll be earning money riyal quickly.
4. Live with a host family
One of the best ways to save money on room and board while immersing yourself in the culture is by living with a host family. Your host family may not speak English well, but they’ll speak your language when it comes to delicious home-cooked meals, community events, and local discounts for teachers. They’ll also have good recommendations for where you should shop, what places to avoid, and what customs to keep in mind.
With many programs, host families will make one or two meals for you a day. Not only that, but you’ll have ample opportunities to practice the local language with them for free or as an exchange deal. If living with a host family isn’t your style, try it for a few months to get a good sense of the community and other accommodation options. You might be able to find an Airbnb where you can share it with roommates (or other teachers) and pay monthly with no contract.
5. Shop at local markets
More than likely you’ll find some flea markets and food stands just around the corner from where you’ll live. Some of the best tasting foods and beautiful clothing won’t come from a corporate store. Not only that, but you’ll save money by buying local foods instead of eating out. If you’re looking for handmade clothes to beef up your wardrobe or fresh fruits to fill your fridge, you’ll love all the options available.
The locals in many countries are willing to negotiate for a good deal, so don’t be afraid to get a little thrifty to save a buck or two. Just be sure you have cash in the local currency, and it’s helpful to shop with a local to get the best deal and learn the tricks of the trade. You’ll also be helping the local economy while meeting more people in the community. Need to practice language skills? You can also do that for free at local markets. Talk about a two-for-one deal!
6. Tutor students in your free time
Who doesn’t have a side hustle these days? With many teaching abroad placements, you’ll teach around 20 hours a week in the beginning. Why not work extra in the spare time you have? You might as well take advantage of the skills you’ve gained in the classroom and tutor students privately in your free time for some extra dough! Many students will need help with doing their homework, studying for exams, and practicing conversational skills.
You might also be able to take on extra classes or substitute for other teachers once you feel more comfortable in your new environment. You could also consider teaching online for students who live in other countries. Plus, you can consider teaching other subjects or age groups to expand your skills and gain more experience. Your teaching abroad salary will likely cover all the necessary expenses but the money you make from tutoring will help bulk up your savings while teaching abroad!
7. Create a FundMyTravel account
For our final trick for saving money while teaching abroad (*drumroll please*), create a FundMyTravel account! Getting started is easy, especially with a goal in mind. After you’ve signed up, you can reach out to your network with a campaign in a variety of ways online and offline. With a sprinkle of creativity and a dash of determination, your friends and family will be more likely to give back when they see how hard you’re working and how much you want to teach abroad.
The funds can help cover startup costs with administrative fees, flights, travel insurance, teaching materials, and much more. Your campaign can also help you create a “rainy day fund” to cover unexpected costs while teaching abroad. If you’re unable to defer your student loans for a period of time (in many cases you can), the funds can also help cover student loan payments for a month or two until you get rolling with your teaching abroad salary.
It’s possible to save money teaching abroad—you can baht on it!
Whether you choose to commit to one of these tricks or you’re a master of all seven, you’ll be saving money while teaching abroad! The best thing to keep in mind is to get a little thrifty while teaching abroad to save on extraneous expenses. Try walking, riding a bike, or taking the metro instead of taking a taxi.
Practice the local language with locals at language exchange clubs instead of spending more on lessons. When you’re out with friends, try to find a good deal on drinks and food. However, don’t deprive yourself of a fun time or a soothing espresso every now and then. A FundMyTravel account can come in handy for those necessary expenses, so you can save and enjoy yourself more!
This article was written by Sydney Lutz. Growing up as an “army brat,” Sydney could not help but develop a thirst for traveling. She has visited all 50 states as well as England, France, Canada, Germany, and Australia. Sydney graduated with a master’s degree in public communication and technology in Colorado, and taught abroad for a year in Quito, Ecuador. Her favorite things to do include studying Spanish, practicing yoga, and travel writing.