Published 12th October 2015

If you’re thinking about TEFL, you’re probably thinking about the travelling, living in exotic places, eating unusual food and generally having a good time. This is definitely a possibility – most jobs will satisfy any cravings for adventure and fun – but then, unfortunately, you also need to be realistic and think about finances. A lot of jobs in amazingly beautiful places don’t pay well and you would choose those positions for the lifestyle and experience more than the money. On the other hand, if you’re looking at disappearing for a while and returning home with suitcases full of cash, it’s possible too – you just need to know where to go. Happily, these jobs will also provide adventure and exoticness, but bear in mind there can be a price to pay for the fat pay check, be it long working hours or a challenging social situation.

Top of the list of top-paying TEFL countries is undoubtedly the Middle East. Most countries in the Middle East are overflowing with money and schools are falling over themselves to hire English teachers. Chances are they will provide you with accommodation and even a living allowance. It’s also possible to find work in tertiary education here, as there are many schools of technology, academies and colleges. Living in the Middle East is not for everyone, however, so think carefully before you take the plunge. If you are willing to overlook certain issues, living in this region is definitely exciting and different to anything you’ve experienced before.

South Korea also has a reputation for paying well. South Korea is an amazing blend of modernity and tradition; you could find yourself teaching in the metropolis of Seoul or in a more isolated village, both options with their own positives and negatives. In South Korea you might work in a school or a hagwon, a private academy, but no matter where you work you’ll probably find yourself working quite hard for your money. It’s known as the place to save, though, so if you’re looking for the cash this is a good option.

Japan, Taiwan and China (and Hong Kong) are three countries that deserve a special mention here. Offering spectacular scenery, intriguing history and fascinating lifestyle, they are all good options if you want to earn well. In some places the cost of living is quite low, while in others your job may include benefits such as housing or flights, which makes the salary more agreeable.

While money should never be the only reason to choose a job – and you should look carefully at what is included in the job offer – it can be a deciding factor. Bearing in mind that saving money is a matter of earning as well as not spending money, if you have the right mind-set there is no reason why a TEFL job cannot provide you with the financial security you are looking for.