What are the best places to teach English abroad?

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That depends on what you care about. If it's the salary I have all the info you need. What is the average English teacher salary in different countries? How much is the salary worth in that country (i.e. cost of living)? What does an example budget look like? If you've already decided on a country or you just want the budgets then head to the end. They're reasonably in-depth and include tax calculations and insurance.

Average ESL Teacher Salaries by Country The numbers below are for entry level positions in private language schools with the notable exception of Taiwan which is government funded public schools (still an entry level position).

UAE - $2200 - $3200

Saudi Arabia - $2200 - $3200

Japan - $2400 - $2600

Taiwan - $2100 - $2400

Korea - $1900 - $2100

China - $1600 - $2300

Malaysia - $1000 - $1500

Vietnam - $1000 - $1200

Thailand - $700 - $1200

Now let's mention the obvious problem with average salaries. They vary a lot; kindergarten, university, big city, rural town, all of these things are going to change your salary. If you've got more experience or are a professional teacher then international schools and universities will pay higher salaries across all the countries. Private language schools tend to work you the hardest and you can often trade off some of the salary for less working hours and less intense positions. For example in Korea, public school jobs pay less, but have less hours and more vacation. This list doesn't take into account benefits like paid accomodation or bonuses and it doesn't account for tax. (But it's in the spreadsheets!) How much is my salary worth? Different countries have different costs of living. If we were to take our salaries relative to the cost of living in our country this is what we'd be earning. (We're using the excellent free cost of living index over at Expatisan to compare.)

Taiwan - $2050

Saudi Arabia - $1750 UAE - $1650

China - $1570

Vietnam - $1400

Japan - $1260

Korea - $1170

Malaysia - $1160

Thailand - $830

We can see that now the top countries for salary have switched around. For example Taiwan and Japan have similar salaries but the cost of living is so much higher in Japan, the salary in Taiwan ends up being worth almost twice as much.

This list mostly agrees with my experience, the big exception being Japan and Korea. They're both typically regarded as good places to save for money, so... What happened to Japan and Korea? Both Korea and Japan have a lot of extra bonuses that aren't straight up salary, bonuses and possibly pension refunds can add another month or two's worth of income at the end (in Korea your airfare and apartment will be free too). Vietnam is higher because it pays really quite well if you have a private school teaching job (with ILA or VUS for example) however they're not hugely common. Public schools will pay a lot less well.So although I've given Vietnam a higher rating if you're not in a private school it may not be so useful.

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