Posted on September 2, 2019 | By Jenni Fogg
08th Mar 2019
Depending on where in the world you decide to teach, Teaching English as a Foreign Language can come with a great salary. Whether you’re earning pennies or making a pretty penny being an EFL teacher, it always helps to be careful with your money and save where you can. These are our top tips on saving money while teaching English abroad.
#1 Get a bike or walk
Transport costs can add up to a hefty fee when you’re travelling to and from work every day. In some teaching positions, you may even have split shifts or travel to multiple destinations in one day. To avoid racking up an expensive bill for transport, consider walking or cycling to work. (This doubles up as free exercise too – no need for that gym membership!)
Of course, whether you can walk or cycle depends on the city or town that you’re living in. Some cities are more pedestrian and bicycle friendly than others. For example, Barcelona, Berlin, Strasbourg, Tokyo and Rio are known for being great for cycling. And some of the most walkable cities include Buenos Aires, Florence, Paris and Vientiane.
If walking or cycling isn’t an option, due to heat or the length of your commute, public transport may be a good option if the buses and trains aren’t too expensive in your local area. Alternatively, you might be able to carpool or hitch a ride with one of your colleagues in the area.
#2 Eat like a local
In many places, the cheapest way to eat is likely to be buying food from a local market or budget supermarket, then cooking for yourself at home. However, this isn’t always the case. In some countries, such as Vietnam and China, getting your hands on delicious, local street food might be even cheaper than going grocery shopping!
Make sure to do your research on where the cheapest places to eat are before you arrive in your new country. Avoid places aimed at tourists or foreigners, limit expensive meals out and if in doubt, go where the locals go! Unsurprisingly, locals are likely to know both the tastiest places and the cheapest places to go – though they might not always be the same place unfortunately.
#3 Save money on accommodation
Accommodation is usually the biggest expense in almost every country. Applying for positions where the rent is covered partially or wholly by the employer will cut down your expenses massively. These kinds of positions usually come up in the Middle East but some positions in Asia also offer free accommodation. If you are volunteering as an EFL teacher, you’ll often be provided with free shared accommodation too.
If you aren’t fortunate enough to find a job with free accommodation, focus on finding cheap accommodation or joining a house share. If you find cheap accommodation a little way out of the city or far away from work, remember to weigh up the cost of travelling further against the cost of paying to live closer to work and spending less on travel.
#4 Make extra money with private tuition
Alternatively, rather than avoiding spending money, you can work hard on making some extra money. As an EFL teacher, working as a freelance English tutor in your spare time is the perfect way to earn a bit of pocket money. You can pick up some teaching hours on one of your days off from your main job or you can pick up tutoring work in the school holidays. If you speak any other languages, you could even offer lessons in another language rather than just English.
#5 Cut down on nights out
It can be tempting to spend a lot of your free time socialising with both new local and ex-pat friends to enjoy the company of. But remember, this doesn’t always need to be a boozy night out – there are plenty of ways you can socialise for free. Head to the park to sit in the sun, take a cycling trip around the city or further afield, visit free local museums or galleries, walk through your local market, or invite each other over for dinner. Also keep an eye out for free local events and meet ups – this can be a great way to socialise and meet others without heading to the most expensive bar in town.
#6 Cut down flights home
This might be the hardest sacrifice to make, especially in the early days if you’re suffering from homesickness. Bear in mind that any long-distance flights home are going to take a considerable chunk of your savings in one hit. Budget for this and book flights as far in advance as possible or be prepared to miss a couple of trips back home.
Better yet, persuade friends or family to come and visit you! After all, you’ll be living in a new, exciting place so your visitors will have the perfect excuse for a holiday. Plus, your visitors will get a free tour guide and you’ll get a visit from loved ones – everyone wins!
If you found this article useful, you may want to check out: 4 ways to live rent-free while teaching English abroad.