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

How much can I earn or save
teaching English overseas?

A more recent version of this page can be found at: Wages Teaching English Abroad

EFL teachers, in many countries, tend to earn at least what the average wage-earner in that country makes - and often more. 

The lifestyle afforded by a career in TEFL typically exceeds that of the common woman/man in most developing countries and is generally comparable in some developed countries.

That said, what people often really want to know is:  Can I save any money teaching English overseas?  And, the answer is, "Yes, sometimes, and in some countries."  Really, it depends on the country in which you choose to teach - and your lifestyle.

How much can I save?

EFL Teachers in Korea and Taiwan, for example, can often save as much as US$1,000 per month or more.  Your lifestyle, of course, will affect your personal bottom line.  TEFL professionals in the Middle East can sometimes triple the savings of Korea (but the ME will generally require advanced degrees and previous experience for better positions). 

EFL Teachers in China report a good lifestyle on their wages - but that they are unable to save significant money.  The same is true of Thailand and Mexico and many countries in South America.  Their wages earn them a modest but comfortable living - but savings are difficult to come by. 

So, as you ponder the decision about teaching English overseas, you'll also need to consider your financial situation and that will affect what countries you want to look at for your TEFL career.

If you have student loans or other debts, consider only countries where your likelihood of success is great and the average teacher is able to comfortably save at least the amount of your obligations.


My personal experience is that I started in TEFL with very little in the way of assets - and over the period from 1992 to 2005 was able to buy several rental properties in the USA and pay them off.  All the while teaching in four different countries and traveling to many others. 

Overall, for me anyway, an excellent lifestyle combined with an ability to save.  But, it is not all roses - I would prefer to always work in a country like Thailand - but have had to make some hard choices and spend some significant time in countries like Saudi Arabia and Korea - which are not everyone's cup of tea.  But TEFL was a real career for me and I needed to make sure I had sufficient funds for retirement (I am now retired).


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