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Top Countries In 2024 To Teach English & Save Money

Updated: Jan 20

Top Countries In 2024 To Teach English & Save Money
You can teach and save money!

We all have two sides - a logical brain telling us that we need to set money aside for a rainy day, that we need to save for a mortgage and for retirement, and an emotional brain, telling us that we deserve a life of adventure, discovering exotic cultures, learning different languages, finding new loves and sampling unfamiliar dishes. It can sometimes be a struggle to decide on the right course of action, when dealing with such conflicting desires. Of course, it's true that we can't have everything, but we can strive for a life that balances adventure with common sense, that takes both excitement and practicality into account. In the world of English language teaching, there are definitely people who don't prioritise money - they are happy to spend time in nightclubs and on the beach and just earn enough for the next night out. But teaching English abroad doesn't have to be like that. It's still possible to live abroad, to have authentic cultural experiences and to save money while teaching English.

Finding The Best Countries Where You Can Teach English WHILE Saving Money

There are some countries, where the cost of living is high and teachers' salaries are relatively low, and of course, those aren't the places to go if you want or need to save money. The most important factors to think about are (1) the cost of living, (2) your net salary and (3) perks offered with the job. This is all about getting the balance right - there are countries that have high salaries, but also a high cost of living, like Switzerland, and so you're unlikely to save much money. There are also countries that have a low cost of living, but also offer low salaries, like Egypt, so again, you're unlikely to save. What you want to find is somewhere that will offer a relatively high salary in comparison to the cost of living, and hopefully will allow you to reduce your cost of living by offering perks like housing and healthcare for free.

Top Countries to Teach English and Save Money

Map and flag of South Korea

A. South Korea

South Korea is suffering from a shortage of English teachers, with up to 10% of vacant positions currently unfilled. This means that teaching salaries in the country are relatively competitive. A review of current advertisements on popular jobs site showed that most schools were offering between £1600 and £2000 a month, as well as an impressive range of extra benefits. The majority of jobs in South Korea for international English language teachers include some attractive perks, such as housing, visa costs and return flights to and from the teacher's home country. This has the effect of reducing your cost of living. According to cost of living site Numbeo, a single person in Korea will spend about £864 a month on living expenses before rental costs. As your rent is likely to be covered by your employer, this means that you can save up to half your salary while living in Korea.

Temple in Abu Dhabi

B. United Arab Emirates

The teaching jobs market in UAE is competitive, because teaching jobs tend to be very well paid. A quick Google search shows many jobs available for tax-free salaries of up to £2750 a month. Some of these jobs come with requirements in terms of advanced qualifications and extensive teaching experience, but there are high paying English language schools in the UAE that will hire teachers from native English speaking countries who have a CELTA. Not only are the salaries high and taxes non-existent, but many jobs will also offer perks in terms of accommodation, medical insurance and return flights to your home country. All in all, although there aren't as many vacancies as there are in some other countries in this list, the UAE is a prime destination for any English language teacher who wishes to save money while teaching. This is a destination that you can be in a good position to consider once you have had some experience and can apply for more senior teaching posts. Senior teaching positions for those with experience, can pay over £3500 a month, with benefits.

Chinese lanterns

C. China

There are more people learning English in China than anywhere else in the world. There are an estimated 400 million people studying English there at the moment. Not only are there plentiful opportunities for English teachers, but the cost of living in China is strikingly lower than in the UK. Even in modern cities like Shanghai, it can be up to 58% cheaper than in the UK. Not only is the cost of living relatively low, but there are a number of ways that you can live even more cheaply, by buying local food and using Chinese apps. According to adverts on, monthly teaching salaries start from £2100 and go a lot higher, and some jobs also include housing and other allowances. This means that teachers can save a surprisingly large amount of money while experiencing all that China has to offer. "I spent a year teaching in China and cleared all my credit card debt from travelling and came home with money to spare for a deposit on a flat in London" - Lauren - CELTA graduate 2006

Mecca at night time

D. Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia can offer a very high standard of living for English language teachers as a result of its high rates of pay, without any income tax. The teaching market isn't as competitive as the UAE, meaning there are more jobs available, and schools may be willing to offer higher salaries and/or better working conditions as a result. One calculation puts the average English language teacher salary at over £39,000 tax free annually. Like the other countries on this list, there can often be other benefits included in teaching contracts such as signing on bonuses and paid flights and visas. Saudi Arabian teaching jobs can even involve additional pay for working on oil fields or military sites outside the main cities, where you're unlikely to spend a lot of money.

E. Vietnam

Vietnam isn't quite as popular as neighbouring Thailand with European travellers and this can mean that this attractive country can offer higher salaries to entice international English teachers. English teachers in Vietnam can earn up to £1600 to £1800 a month in some schools advertising on today. This is a very generous salary considering that the cost of living in Vietnam can be almost 60% cheaper than living in the UK. "When I lived in Ho Chi Minh City, food cost almost nothing and I could buy three delicious hot meals a day from street food vendors without even making a dent in my salary" says DC Director Connor, who lived in Vietnam for a year, working on CELTA courses. Because the teaching salary tends to be so high relative to the low cost of living, Vietnam is definitely a destination to consider when thinking about where to teach English while saving money.

Europe and Latin America

Even though you can support yourself in Europe or South America while teaching English, we didn't include any countries from those regions on this list because the salaries tend to be in line with the cost of living and so most international English language teachers don't tend to save a lot of money while teaching in these locations.

Extra tips for saving money while living abroad

In general, if you live like the locals in whichever country you choose to work in, you're more likely to live within your means. Buying imported food, clothes or other products that may be popular in your home country can end up costing a lot. This also means that you can have a more authentic experience, meeting the locals as they go about their day to day lives, allowing you to soak up the culture.

  • Look for jobs that include benefits like accommodation - not having to pay rent is the single biggest saving anyone can make.

  • Don't eat out all the time - you can still have a social life by inviting friends to your apartment for dinner.

  • Make the most of opportunities for extra income - private lessons in student's homes or online are a great way for any English language teacher to top up their income.

  • Don't buy things just because they are cheap. A low cost of living doesn't guarantee savings if you're not consciously watching how much you're spending. If your goal is to save money, then you need to prioritise this.

  • If you book international flights to come home a lot, this can also be expensive, so enjoy the country you're living in and consider spending your holidays there. Invite your friends and family to come and visit you so you don't miss them!

In the battle between your heart and your wallet, you don't need to sacrifice your dreams of a life of adventure. If you choose the school and country where you work carefully and put in some planning, you can come home at the end of your contract with money in the bank.

Dr Connor O'Donoghue hails from Ireland and he started teaching English as a foreign language in Poland in 2003 and he became a CELTA trainer in 2008. He has taught and trained in Ireland, the UK, France, Italy, Slovenia, Macedonia, Poland, Russia, Kazakhstan and Vietnam. Connor also holds a Masters and a PhD in Education from Trinity College in Dublin. He has previously managed large teacher training centres in Vietnam and in London before founding DC Teacher Training.

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