Published 12th January 2022
Congratulations! You are now a qualified TEFL teacher. Now, with your certificate from The TEFL Academy, you can start your adventure abroad. But wait! Before you start packing your bags, you’ve got some planning to do! When it comes down to it there is a lot of planning involved in upping sticks and moving across the world, and, understandably, money is possibly the biggest of all your concerns.
Fear not; we’ve done this many times before and we know how to make the most of every penny we have. So in this blog post, we’ll break down exactly what finances you need when you move abroad, and how you can make the most of your money.
So, there are a few situations you might be in right now. You might already have a job offer so you are staying at home while you sort out the paperwork and wait for your work contract to begin. Or, you’re going to fly by the seat of your pants and you’re planning to look for a job when you reach your destination. Either way, you need to make sure your finances are in order and you have enough money to do what you need to do. Let’s look at a typical budget for a soon-to-be TEFL teacher so you can be sure you know what expenses you will need to cover on your adventure.
Let’s start with the obvious one. You’ll need money for your flights. If you can, book your ticket well in advance as this is usually the cheaper option. If you’re looking to save money, taking an indirect flight or flying at an inconvenient day or time will help cut costs as well. A handy trick is to clear your cache between searches. This will make sure you are shown the results for the cheapest flights.
Some employers may cover the cost of your flight but you might need to buy your ticket and you’ll be reimbursed at a later stage. Some employers will only reimburse you a percentage of your flight or only at the end of your contract. Make sure you know the exact situation you are dealing with.
Yes, sadly even though you would avoid paperwork if you could, it could still cost you money. A visa will cost you money. If you need certified copies of your degrees, that could cost you money. If you need a police clearance, that will cost you money. Wherever you live and wherever you are going will impact what paperwork you need. Find out what exactly is required for your specific situation and budget accordingly.
Have you got a good suitcase? A decent bag for hand luggage? A laptop bag? Good. If not, you’ll need to buy these before you leave. You may also want to stock up on any essentials before you leave so you don’t have to hustle as soon as you land. Think about: toiletries, medical supplies, adapters, stationery and appropriate work clothes.
Read More: A Complete Checklist for Working Abroad
Even if you have a job, you might need to look for accommodation once you arrive. Your budget for going abroad will need to include a hostel or a hotel until you find somewhere to live on a more permanent basis. Have a look on the internet at how much holiday accommodation costs where you’re going and budget for around a 10-day stay. That will give you enough time to have a good look around to find suitable long-term accommodation.
Then, when you’ve found somewhere to live you will probably have to pay a month’s deposit. In other words, you’ll need the capital to cover a month’s rent plus a month’s deposit. Don’t forget to budget for your bills too, if those are not included in your rent. If you are travelling with someone, these costs will be a bit more bearable as you can split costs. It might also be possible to share accommodation with another teacher in your school, even if you don’t know them.
Of course, if accommodation is included in your employment contract then there is no need to worry about accommodation costs. Sometimes your school might not cover accommodation in the long term but they might put you up in a hotel until you find somewhere. Other times your school will give you a housing allowance but this will only come into effect with your first paycheque so you will still need the money upfront. Make sure you know exactly what the situation is before you leave home.
If you don’t live within walking distance of your school, you will have to budget for transport costs to get you to work and back home every day. This might be in a taxi, bus, tram or motorbike taxi. Usually, the cheapest way to get to work is to do exactly what the locals do, so find out how the other teachers get to school and do the same. It also makes sense to share taxis if you live with or close to other staff members. Alternatively, find out about any monthly public transport discounts you can get in your area.
You’ll need to bring money with you for groceries from the time you arrive until you get paid. Remember that you only get paid at the end of your first month so that could mean four weeks with no pay or up to six weeks without pay if you still need to look for a job. The main costs will be groceries and cleaning supplies. Eating local food will be cheaper than looking for the food you’re used to at home. If you are going to Thailand for instance, you’ll find that eating out at local restaurants is very cheap – if you live by yourself, possibly even more cost-effective than buying groceries from the supermarket.
Do some research before you leave home to find out the cost of basic foodstuffs so that you’ll have an idea of general costs before you arrive. Bring from home what you can – for example, toiletries, work clothes, medical supplies. They won’t last forever but they will save you money initially.
Communication is important in that your potential or current employer needs to be able to contact you, but also for keeping in touch with your friends and family back home. Find out the best form of mobile phone package before you go. You might be able to get one that will cover international calls at a cheap rate. If you want the internet in your apartment your budget for living abroad will need to include enough money to pay for the first month, plus any possible costs for installation. However, you might want to include internet connectivity on your list of non-negotiables when looking for a place to live.
If you are a bit tight with finances, then this should not be included in your budget. Sure, socialising and getting out and about is an essential part of any adventure abroad, but if you are short of cash it won’t hurt you to lay low for a couple of months. But if you can afford it, make sure you set aside a certain amount of money to spend on weekends and during your time off. It will be impossible for you to know what exactly you will want to do before you get there, so be sensible and set an amount that is available to you each weekend. If you don’t use your entire allowance one weekend then you can have more to spend on the next one.
Read more: How to Find Your Community as a TEFL Teacher
Remember to include some extra cash in case of an emergency. It should be enough to pay for a hospital or doctor’s visit, or even a flight home, but it would be better if it was a least one month’s salary. This way you can be comfortable knowing that no matter what happens you have a considerable amount of cash to help you when you need it.
Don’t forget to figure out the best way for you to deal with your finances abroad. Do some research and find out if you can open a local bank account or if your bank has a particular card you can use abroad with minimal charges. And don’t forget to tell your bank of your whereabouts so your accounts don’t get blocked!
Once you’ve calculated how much money you need to take, the next step is to get packing! Good luck and let us know if you have any more questions!