Finished school? Graduated from university? Looking to do something where the experience counts more than the cash?
Fantastic! Teaching English abroad sounds like it’s just for you. Work in the world’s most exotic locations and educate hard working pupils. It’s both life-changing and self-improving – there are many wonderful, satisfying, and fulfilling benefits to teaching abroad. Sadly, however, a high salary is very rarely one of those benefits.
Generally speaking, teachers will not earn huge amounts of money. Usually, you’ll earn enough to pay rent and buy groceries, but you won’t exactly be going home a millionaire. And because of this, those pursuing the TEFL dream will perhaps be curious to find out which countries are cheaper to live in than others. Below are five of the most affordable TEFL destinations, in no particular order.
Starting off in the TEFL wonderland of Southeast Asia, Cambodia is excellent for those on a budget. Recovered from a recent and bloody past, Cambodia is looking to become a TEFL hotspot. Visit the awe-inspiring Angkor Wat or relax on the white-sand beaches in the south. A lovely climate, delicious food and drink, and cheap rent set this nation apart.
According to Numbeo, “You would need around €2,228.71 in Phnom Penh to maintain the same standard of life that you can have with €4,700 in Dublin”. As you can see, the cost of living in Dublin is over double that of Cambodia’s capital. On average, amenities and services here are far cheaper than at home, from McMeals to beers, to going out at the cinema!
Now we’ll head to the Central American tropical paradise of Costa Rica with it’s growing TEFL market (the only time the list diverts from Asia!). Costa Rica will provide teachers with an unforgettable experience composed of pristine coastlines, sapphire waters, and upbeat cities. Again, like anywhere, urban centres will be more costly than the countryside but will provide the most opportunities, so keep that in mind.
An affordable place to live, aspiring teachers will find that rent is very cheap at around €400 per month for a one bedroom apartment in the middle of the capital San José, which is about three times less than in Dublin. As well as that, groceries, meals, and transport are all also slightly cheaper than in Ireland. Teachers can look forward to saving and should be able to enjoy their time here without experiencing overwhelming financial strain.
A fantastic place to work, live, or travel in, Vietnam provides English teachers the opportunity to TEFL both comfortably and cheaply. A high demand for teachers combined with the country’s low living costs means teachers can quite easily save money.
The average cost of rent in a one-person apartment is around €338.24 a month – and that’s in a city centre! Groceries also tend to be significantly cheaper than in Ireland. Meals at restaurants are very cheap at around €1.50 at low-end locales. Street food is far cheaper – and arguably better. Teachers can live like a king in Vietnam, as long as you maintain some level of frugality.
Go through to this post if the sound of teaching in Vietnam is appealing!
Vietnam’s next-door neighbour is also very cheap to live in for English teachers. Towns and cities boast the most teaching options, however, rural areas should not be ignored either. With a booming TEFL industry and inexpensive living costs, you can see why Thailand is one of the most popular TEFL destinations in the world.
Here, it is possible to rent a one-room flat for, on average, around €350 in some city centres. Of course, food is cheap, especially street vendor snacks. Clearly, living on a tight budget is doable. In fact, it’s quite possible to save your hard-earned wages so that you can explore more of this beautiful country. Tourists flock to the likes of Phuket Island and Bangkok, but there are plenty of other gorgeous spots to enjoy such as inland Tak Province, with its temples and vast forests largely untouched by tourists.
For more facts and information on Thailand, give this country guide a look!
The final country on this list as well one of the cheapest; Indonesia is a top TEFL destination. Full of buzzing cities (some of which are amongst the largest in the world), deep jungles, and countless tropical islands – including perhaps the most famous of all: Bali – this country is perfect for anyone with even the slightest thirst for adventure and excitement.
On top of it being a brilliant place for thrill-seekers, Indonesia is an especially good choice for the more economical traveler. Rent is even lower than in Cambodia, often below €250 a month for a one bedroom city apartment. Use leftover income to discover other areas of the country – navigate the hectic streets of Jakarta, party on Bali, or indulge in the unbelievably beautiful scenery the archipelago has to offer.
Don’t miss out on this fantastic opportunity to teach in locations across Indonesia.
To sum up, Southeast Asia and Latin America tend to be on the lower end of the spectrum for costs of living. These are only a handful of potential options open to you, so do some more research if none of the above tickle your fancy.
Hopefully, TEFL seems like a more viable and attractive career path. Money certainly isn’t a problem, so what’s stopping you?
Data for all costs of living were taken from Numbeo.