Have you ever thought about living abroad? Have you ever wondered where are the best places to teach abroad? Experiencing something completely foreign and exotic? Maybe escaping from the predictability of Western society. If so, then you certainly wouldn’t be the first Westerner to do so.
Of course, it is only feasible if you can financially support yourself. Some are fortunate enough to have saved a good amount of money or have highly specialized jobs in engineering or programming that pretty much make them employable anywhere in the world.
If you don’t fit into these categories, then your best bet is to teach English abroad. Not only can teaching abroad allow you to support yourself financially, but you may even be able to save money in some countries and have a great time doing so.
Table of Contents
Teach English Abroad For Fun – Not Money
Nobody is getting rich teaching English or teaching anything for that matter. Keep in mind that teaching abroad is always more about the experience and opportunity to travel. Consider yourself lucky that you just happened to be born a native English speaker or have had the opportunity to acquire a native level, which is the first qualification to teach English!
Let me backtrack a little. There are a few places where you can make good money teaching. It’s possible to save between $15,000 to $35,000 a year, for example teaching English in China, in the Middle East or South Korea. But if you are a young (single) person looking for adventures, fun, and freedom, look further!
Don’t get discouraged just yet! There are plenty of places where you can still save a small to moderate amount of money and have fun. So consider the following list of countries as the best places to teach when factoring in fun and adventure as the key motivations to give up whatever you are doing in post-modern suburbia before venturing off to some foreign, exotic land. Consider salary as an added bonus.
Vietnam is first on the list because it not only has to be a fun place to live from all accounts I’ve heard, but the pay versus the cost of living is great. It is completely possible to save between $5,000 to $13,000 a year there teaching English. If I weren’t attached, I would be in Vietnam at this moment. Teachers are reportedly making between $1,200 to $2,500 per month and there remains a steady flow of jobs.
Keep in mind that most jobs exist in the large metropolitan areas of Hanoi and Ho Chin Min City. It is certainly possible to teach in the smaller cities and villages, but the pay is considerably lower. But hey, it’s not all about the money and maybe it would be nice to spend a year living in the boondocks near a rice paddy and forget about the superficial bullshit of Western society. The cost of living is certainly low out in the sticks.
Besides offering plenty of decent paying jobs, Vietnam is in Southeast Asia! If you have ever been anywhere in Southeast Asia or had a friend who went and talked your ear off about it, then you know what I mean. The spirit of Southeast Asia echoes fun, adventure and just enough danger to keep your adrenaline flowing when you are riding on the back of a motorbike or hiking through the jungle or swimming off some secluded beach. As an added bonus, Vietnam is just a short plane ride or treacherous bus trip away from Thailand, Cambodia, and Indonesia.
I spent one month in Ecuador a couple of years ago and I fell in love with the place. I strongly considered staying after being offered a couple of teaching jobs and have even thought about returning since. Maybe one day if I could just convince my better half to come along as well.
I didn’t partake in all of the touristy activities while there but instead spent the great bulk of my time in a wonderful place called Banos, which is high up in the Ecuadorian Andes. My days consisted of hiking in the surrounding mountains of the town, eating at cheap restaurants, studying Spanish and partying into the late hours of the night.
Besides being a great place to live, there are a good amount of jobs in Ecuador. You can land a teaching job with a university degree, but having a TEFL certificate or classroom experience definitely helps. While the majority of jobs are located in the capital, Quito, there are jobs scattered throughout the smaller cities and towns.
Most English teachers in Ecuador make between $600 to $1,300 per month, but you also have to factor in that the cost of living is quite cheap. If you can live modestly, you can live comfortably in Ecuador on $1,000 per month.
I once spent two weeks in Chile and I love this place. Chile isn’t for everyone, but if you like geographically elongated countries next to the Pacific ocean and endowed with the majestic Andes, then you will love Chile. The people are pretty nice as well and the avocado is one of their staple foods.
What isn’t there to love! In Chile, you can experience the big-city life of Santiago or venture throughout the charming smaller cities and towns, such as Valparaiso, Puerto Varas, and La Serena. If you want to see breathtaking nature, then take a 12-hour bus ride from Santiago to Chilean Patagonia in the South. While buses are relatively inexpensive in Chile, the overall cost of living can be on par with North American standards in parts of the larger cities. However, one can still rent a one bedroom flat in Santiago for $400 or $500 per month.
There are quite a few teaching jobs in Chile to be had. In most cases, you will need a university degree. It isn’t necessary, but having a TEFL or TESOL will give you an advantage. You are not going to make bank in Chile, but its possible to make enough to live on and in some cases even save a little. Expect to make between $1,000 to $1,600 per month teaching English in Chile. Most jobs are located in Santiago.
Keep in mind that it may take three or four months before you can make a decent income, so come to Chile with at least $4,000 in savings. In fact, you should always have emergency funds in the bank no matter where you decide to teach English. You never know what is going to happen while living abroad, but that is also part of the adventure.
If there is one place I’ve always wanted to visit, it is Colombia. From all the reports I’ve heard, it must be one of the best places to live and teach English. The people, the music, the food, the dancing, the weather, the never-ending parties, and adventure. Of course, teaching in South America cannot offer the safety of places like South Korea or Japan, but that is part of the reason some people would choose to teach there.
Colombia is also an ecologically diverse country. You can spend your days on the tropical beaches of the north or in the higher elevation and cool climate of the Andes. Personally, I’ve spent time in South America and I’ve met people from all parts of Colombia. Everyone seems to be friendly, curious and extremely sociable. If you are worried about security, Colombia has improved drastically in recent years and a little common sense will keep you out of harm’s way.
It is easiest to find a job in the capital, Bogotá, which is also one of the largest cities in all of Latin America. However, there are plenty of jobs in cities and towns throughout the country. The Colombian economy is one of the strongest and fastest growing in Latin America and many Colombians are eager to learn American English in the hopes of landing a job at one of the several multi-national firms operating in the country.
Pay in Colombia is high for Latin American standards. Expect to make between $900 to $1,600 per month. While Bogata can be expensive, it is more than possible to save a little while teaching in Colombia. You only need a university degree to land a job, but a TEFL, TESOL or CELTA may be required by some schools.
I once spent a month in Thailand and it might have been the most fun I’ve had in my life. Thailand is a land that has something for everyone and the fact that you can teach English there simply because you happen to be a native English speaker is a blessing. I met quite a few teachers while I was there and they were all loving their time in the land of a thousand smiles.
Whether you like the city, majestic mountains in the jungle or the beach, Thailand has got you covered. It is a place where you wake up with a smile and if you cannot smile in Thailand, then you are probably just a boring person. In Thailand, there is always something to do, people to meet and adventure to be had. Great food, beautiful people, warm weather and post-card scenery characterize this wonderful country.
Thailand has remained a hotspot for teaching English for several years. While the economy has slowed down a bit and there has been a saturation of teachers, there remain jobs for those who are qualified. You can usually land a job with a just a university degree, but it helps to have a TEFL, TESOL or CELTA. Most teaching jobs are located in Bangkok or Chiang Mai, which is the second largest city.
Teachers in Thailand generally make about $1,000 per month and the more seasoned vets pull in around $1,200 to $1,400 per month. Although the inevitable plague of inflation has hit in recent years, the cost of living remains incredibly low by Western standards. One can live quite comfortably on a $1,000 per month in Thailand.
The five countries mentioned above are all places where one can have a blast while teaching English. With the exception of Vietnam, you are not going to save a lot of money in any of these countries, but you can certainly live comfortably and experience something unique.
Teaching English abroad is more than just taking a gap year or saving money to pay off student loans. It is about the chance to see the world and put ourselves out there. If you feel that I left a deserving country off of the list, feel free to leave a comment.