Very few people in the professional world are aware of how lucrative teaching overseas can be. Oftentimes, we associate teaching English with our high school professors: men in tweed jackets, glasses, spewing out a roster of grammatical rules that puts the whole class to sleep. But once you check out the best paying countries for English teachers, you might be surprised at how much you can stash aside for the future. I wanted to also focus on the highest paying countries were you can actually save the most.
After all, how much you can save is a lot more important than how much you make.
Although the two often go hand-in-hand, in countries like Spain you may not be able to save as much as places like Vietnam. Living in some of the best paying countries for English teachers also means you may have to sacrifice. They’re not always the funnest places to live in. Some are outright remote, like Saudi Arabia. Some are outright dangerous.
The more appealing a place is, generally, the lower the salary.
Places like Thailand, for example, will not allow you to save much. Yes, there are exceptions–teachers that bank everywhere in the world–but I am going by the median income.
So bear that in mind as you go down this list of the best paying countries for English teachers.
Again, remember that although there may be countries which pay more, that does not mean you’ll save anything. Cost of living in a place is a huge factor in how much you’ll walk away with once your year is over.
Top 10 Best Paying Countries For English Teachers
1. Saudi Arabia
There is no place like Saudi Arabia to save money. Period. High, non-taxed salaries compounded with paid accommodations and transportation is the winning formula. Add to that the fact that alcohol is forbidden and that there isn’t much to blow your money on, and you’ll be taking that salary and stashing most of it away.
It is a great base of operation for travel bloggers looking to save money, all the while being near many exotic countries they can easily explore. I have seen salaries exceed $70,000, and private tutoring pays as much as $100/hour.
Expected Savings: $2,500-$6,000 per month.
2. United Arab Emirates
Yet another country from the GCC which pays very generously is the UAE. English is in high demand and accommodations are often paid for. Although you can make a very healthy salary in the UAE, you can also spend it all in the same month. The UAE is not insulated from tourism like Saudi Arabia is, especially Dubai.
It’s cost of living can be quite high if you don’t watch your booze and eating out. I’ll just assume you don’t get pulled into its awesome nightlife and that you’ll save your money. Like Saudi Arabia, salaries are un-taxed.
Expected Savings: $2,500-$5,000 per month.
3. The GCC Group
This includes the remaining GCC countries, such as Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Bahrain. Salaries are un-taxed and accommodations are usually paid for. Certification requirements are stricter than most countries in the world. The upside is that you will not only be offered generous pay packages, but you will be able to save a lot of it. For the most part, the remaining countries in the GCC group allow the consumption of alcohol, have great day and night life, and have world rated airports and transportation infrastructures.
Expected Savings: $2,00-$5,000 per month.
Although you can make more in places like Japan and South Korea, the cost of living is much higher in the latter two. If you keep a tight lid on your finances, I’m sure you could save up a good chunk of money in Japan or South Korea, but it’s far easier keeping that tight lid on in Vietnam. Everything is cheap. You can buy a sandwich in a top class coffee shop for under a dollar.
Accommodation is easy to obtain and the prices remain low. Flights in and out of the country cost less than $50. In Vietnam, you can not only make $2,000 a month (and a LOT more with private tutoring), but you can also enjoy your time in one of the fastest developing southeast Asian countries.
Expected Savings: $1,000-$2,000 per month.
5. South Korea
South Korea is one of the best paying countries for English teachers due not only to the decent salary, but the great perks. ESL teachers in Korea get the full package: accommodation, bonus, and medical insurance. The reason I place it beneath Vietnam, however, is because of its cost of living. Having fun in Korea is nowhere near as cheap as Vietnam. Unless you’re a home body, your extra earnings can easily be eaten up in South Korea’s seductive malls and night life. We would all like to think we’ll be saving most of our money, but let’s get real. Temptations do arise, and quite often. And if you happen to be in South Korea, that temptation can eat deeply into your savings.
Expected Savings: $1,000-$1,750 per month.
Another great country which allows you to save money while teaching English is China. Why China? It’s cost of living is still well within reason, and the perks you get often include paid accommodation. It is one of the best paying countries for English teachers and offers a very diverse cultural experience.
The geography of the country is nothing less than dazzling, allowing you to explore endless parts of the country’s rich, dynastic history. Although many countries in Europe offer equal or better salaries for English teachers, none come close to the package effect of China–a low cost of living, and awesome perks.
Expected Savings: $750-$1,750 per month.
You don’t get as many perks in Taiwan, but the high salaries make it one of the best paying countries for English teachers. If you’re careful with your spending, you can set aside a decent amount of money every month. Its cost of living is reasonable, but not as cheap as the southeast Asian countries. If you live in Taiwan, you’ll always be near beautiful sceneries and can go about exploring Asia on the cheap–all the while saving money. The downside for me is the size of the country. I tend to prefer bigger countries that you can actually explore.
Expected Savings: $750-$1,500 per month.
At first I was very hesitant to put Japan on the list, but then a few friends who lived there convinced me that it ought to make the list. Salaries in Japan generally hover in the $3,000 range, but the cost of living is what really nips at you. On a dollar-per-dollar basis, it is one of the best paying countries for English teachers.
The drawback, however, is the insane cost of accommodation in some areas of the country, as well as the cost of food. If you don’t eat out in style and do as the locals do, you can definitely save some money in Japan. The problem is temptation. There are so many beautiful places to visit in Japan, and so much to be spent, you may quickly end up blowing your first year’s salary on excursions.
Expected Savings: $750-$1,500 per month.
Denmark kind of suffers from major Japan-itis when it comes to the cost of living. It can be immensely expensive, but English teachers in Denmark can also bank serious cash. Whereas private tutoring doesn’t rank up against the likes of Saudi Arabia, $40-$50 an hour is still very respectable. If you’re not much of a drinker, and don’t mind renting a cheap room, you’ll find yourself saving a lot of money. The problem is that just about every beautiful place in Europe is around you. You may quickly find your wallet or purse itching to open and do some exploring of its own.
Expected Savings: $500-$1,500 per month.
The hard part about teaching English in Brazil is that you can’t easily get a work permit there. This probably explains why so many of the foreign English instructors in Brazil work under the table. If you have an English specialty, such as legal or business English, you can quickly gather private tutoring lessons, which earn you anywhere from $25-$50 an hour.
The cost of living there is rapidly rising, but your local friends can help you find cheap housing deals. Do not fall in love your first month there, the point of working in Brazil is to make and save money, not make money, then spend it on your Brazilian sun God or Goddess.
Expected Savings: $500-$1,000 per month.
Aside from trying to work in a country which pays English teachers the most, one has to also factor in the dating scene. There is often a give-and-take between how much you can make and the ability to have relationships. For example, dating in Saudi Arabia is illegal. Places like Chile or Colombia, however, are not on this list, but their dating scenes are nothing short of spectacular–for both genders. Thailand’s dating scene, on the other hand, seems to favor males.
The beauty of teaching English overseas is the unlimited mobility. Very few face-to-face jobs in the world possess such an advantage. Your skills are in high demand everywhere, and the more experience you have under your belt, the more opportunities will open up.
If you want to work in some of the best paying countries for English teachers,
I recommend alternating countries.
There’s nothing holding you down. You can teach for a year in Saudi Arabia, save a lot of money, then head on over to Colombia. There, you may not save much at all, but you’d have saved enough in Saudi Arabia to enjoy a year in Colombia. Then, why not head on over to Dubai? Or Qatar?
The opportunities for English teachers endlessly sprawl across the globe. With proper strategy and planning, you will find that you can save far more teaching English than friends back at home in “professional jobs”, such as banks or law firms.
Yes, they may make more.
But trust me when I tell you–and I’ve seen my share of account balances–not many save much.
And many certainly don’t enjoy foreign cultures the way you will.
What other best paying countries for English teachers would you recommend? Do these just pay high salaries or do they also allow you to save a lot of money?