A Practical Guide to Teaching English Abroad

Frank and Friendly Advice written by a Retired Teacher-Trainer, Experienced EFL Teacher
& Former Peace Corps Volunteer Living & Working Abroad since 1989

What about Quality of Life in TEFL?

As an EFL teacher will I live well?

Typically, EFL instructors are paid better than the average wage in a country.  You will usually live better than the average wage earner.

Yeah, well . . . what level is that?  What if the "Average Wage Earner" lives in a tin shack?

Good question!  Your quality of live can be modest, but can also be very good.  It depends a lot on the country.  But, I don't think I have ever lived poorly.  Nor have I heard other teachers from other countries complain.  Even in countries where wages are quite low - teachers tend to live well on the local economy.

What problems exist?

Though it seems like a great idea to get free housing from your employer - it is sometimes a bone of contention.  You may find yourself living in what looks like a slum.  I know I have.  But, very modest housing in many poorer countries doesn't mean what it means in many developed countries.  It is quite unlikely that gangs or crime will be out of control. 

In Korea, I had friends who lived in an area - that back home in America - I would be afraid to enter after dark.  But, in Korea, no problem.  In many countries, crime is not the problem it is back home.

My Personal Experience

While teaching English in Taiwan, Korea (twice), Saudi Arabia and Thailand - my quality of life has always been good.  I eat well and live well, and can afford good medical care (typically at a small fraction of the cost back home). 

With the exception of Thailand - I have always been able to save significant money every month (minimum US$800/month, up to double or triple that).  In all countries, you can expect to be able to live well on the local economy and to be able to vacation in the region.  


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