Teaching English abroad is a fantastic opportunity to travel, see a new part of the world, earn a steady income, and gain professional experience. That said, teaching abroad requires careful financial planning.
That's because before becoming a TEFL teacher, you must get TEFL certified, pay for a work visa, and fund the other start-up costs associated with starting a new life in a new country. Getting ready to teach and move abroad can be expensive, but with the right mindset and prep, nearly anyone can do it!
So, if you're dreaming of teaching English abroad but are unsure if you can afford it, here are some ways to save money to help you make it happen.
9 Ways to Save Money to Teach English Abroad
1. Plan Your Teach Abroad Experience in Advance
One easy way to save money to teach abroad is to give yourself enough time to prepare for it. Giving yourself plenty of time at home to set aside money from your current job can make a big impact on your savings versus trying to teach abroad on short notice. Advance planning can also help you tackle any outstanding bills you may have that you don't want to deal with while abroad.
Preparing in advance not only gives you more time to build your savings, but it's also a golden rule for saving money on travel. Airlines are usually cheaper booked in advance, as are hotels or hostels if you need a place to stay while house hunting. Patience is key, and a year or more of prep can make a huge difference when it comes to budgeting for moving abroad.
2. Teach English Online
Teaching English Online is an excellent way to earn additional income and fund a move abroad. It's an opportunity that allows you to set your own schedule and work conveniently at home. Not only that, but teaching English online provides you with teaching experience that can help your application stand out from the crowd and potentially make you eligible for a higher salary. Finally, and more importantly, it lets you see if teaching English is right for you before actually making the leap abroad.
3. Get a Second Job
Getting a second job is a surefire way to earn additional money and boost your savings. While working more hours may not sound appealing, it's well worth the effort if teaching English abroad is your dream.
4. Ask for Cash as a Gift
Every year people exchange gifts in celebration of birthdays and holidays. Instead of material items, ask for money that you can add to your travel fund to make your teach abroad goals a reality. Big or small, any contribution you can put into savings helps immensely!
5. Track Your Spending and Cut Costs Where You Can
Keeping track of your purchases helps you understand your spending habits, giving you an idea of where you can cut costs and how much you can realistically save. Apps like Mint and Digit can make the process easier because they track your spending and make it simple to pinpoint areas of improvement.
But in general, the cost of rent and a car payment tend to be a single person's biggest monthly expenses. So if you can cut these costs (say by living with a roommate or swapping for a cheaper car), you could free up extra money to put towards savings.
6. Set a Budget and Savings Goal
After you have a better idea of your finances and how much you can realistically save, it's time to set a budget and savings goal! One of the best ways to do so is to divide what you need to save by the amount of time before you hope to teach abroad.
Once you've established the right amount, it helps to put this money in a separate account, so it's difficult to spend—out of sight, out of mind! But be patient with yourself, and be sure to set a realistic savings goal that you can achieve.
7. Consider Teaching Somewhere You Can Save Money
No matter where you decide to teach, it'll be an experience you'll remember for the rest of your life. But the overseas destination you choose greatly impacts your earning and savings potential, and some places make it easier to teach English and save money than others.
Not only because some countries pay TEFL teachers more (like in the Middle East or Asia) but also because some destinations provide teachers additional benefits like reimbursed airfare and/or free housing (i.e., South Korea and China). Additionally, choosing to teach somewhere with a lower cost of living can help you stretch your income further (like in Vietnam or the Czech Republic).
Learn more about CIEE Teach Abroad Programs.
8. Research Ways to Save in Your Desired Teach Abroad Destination
While teaching English is an exciting way to support your lifestyle abroad, the salary is often enough to cover living essentials, and not always much more. Therefore, it's important to check that your expected teaching salary is enough to cover the local cost of living and any additional expenses specific to you (i.e., student loans or other debt, health needs, etc.). By researching the local cost of living and ways to save, you can ensure that you'll be financially stable while teaching English abroad.
But in general, some of the best ways to save money while teaching English abroad are by:
- Living with a roommate (if your school doesn't provide housing)
- Grocery shopping and eating local
- Cutting down on nonessential shopping, eating out, and nightlife
- Traveling local
9. Don’t Forget to Plan for Start-Up Costs
Start-up costs associated with teaching abroad are one thing many forget to include in their budget. When you move abroad, you'll need to pay for things on arrival like a cell phone, work visa or residence permit, a security deposit for an apartment, home essentials, and more.
You'll also need to budget for the cost of a reputable TEFL certificate and flights to and from where you'll be teaching. These things aren't cheap and usually require you to front the bill before receiving your first month's paycheck as a TEFL teacher.
As a general rule of thumb, those moving abroad should plan to arrive in-country with at least $2,000-$2,500 or more in savings to cover the cost of living before receiving that first paycheck.
Learn more about CIEE TEFL Course Tuition and Discounts.
Why CIEE? CIEE Teach Abroad Programs
CIEE has been a leader in international exchange since 1947, and has long helped aspiring TEFL teachers move abroad and teach English. CIEE Teach Abroad participants can choose placements in exciting destinations like Spain, South Korea, Thailand, and more. Not only does CIEE Teach Abroad assist applicants in choosing the best program and finding a job, but we also provide a safety net throughout the entire move abroad experience.
Ready to start teaching English abroad? Get TEFL Certified!
One of the first steps to teaching English abroad is enrolling in a quality TEFL course. It's an essential requirement for most TEFL jobs and a must for learning the ins and outs of teaching English as a foreign language. It's especially beneficial for those who wish to teach English without a degree or who lack professional teaching experience.
CIEE TEFL's Flagship 150-Hour TEFL course is a fantastic jumping-off point for your career as an English teacher. That’s because the CIEE TEFL 150-hour course includes the following:
- Course material accredited by ACCET, a trustworthy third-party recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
- One-on-one feedback from a highly-qualified TEFL tutor.
- A mandatory 20-hour practicum providing hands-on experience in the classroom.
- Lifetime job search assistance.
- Discounts on CIEE TEFL tuition for those eligible.