Posted on March 21, 2019 | By Jenni Fogg
Before You Go
09th Jan 2019
For many people, the idea of moving across the world to start a new life in a foreign country is something reserved only for those young, cool and adventurous people in their early 20s. They’ve finished with education and are off to spend a few years travelling and teaching before moving back home to settle down. They’ll get a mortgage and a family car, get married and have kids.
But what about YOU? Maybe you’ve done all these but it isn’t enough – whether it’s itchy feet or dissatisfaction with your own country, is it possible to pack your bags and take your whole family on an adventure? In this post, we’ll be talking you through the pros and cons of teaching English abroad with a family.
What do I need?
You’ll need three key things – time, funds and research. Submitting a visa application with dependants will take longer than if you apply on your own. Plus, it’ll take time for you and your family to get used to life abroad – even more so if you’re moving abroad with older kids. You’ll need to be patient for your new life to feel familiar – from learning the language to working out where the best local restaurants in your area are.
When it comes to funds, you’re going to need money for lots of things. From sorting out accommodation and deposits to organising childcare or schooling, having your finances looking healthy in essential. We don’t recommend teaching English abroad with a family to run away from financial troubles.
The other thing you’ll need in abundance is research – your job hunt is one thing. Consider where your kids are going to go to school and, if your spouse is travelling with you, what are they going to do? Research will also help you find schools that are family-friendly and actively look for teachers with dependants to move over. You might stand out as a prospective ‘long-term’ employer as you won’t leave the job and the country to settle down.
There are two ways to do this – you can find a school that provides accommodation or you can find your own. Like everything in life, there are pros and cons to both these things. If the school promises to provide accommodation and you arrive to a flat that you’re sharing with colleagues, you’re going to be a bit stuck. Fear not though, there are plenty of employers who take your situation into account and will provide larger housing for families – you’ll have to ensure this is something your employer will really do for you though. The best places for this are China, the UAE and Saudi Arabia – but we’ll discuss the best places to teach English abroad with a family at the end of this post.
If you want to find your own house, it might be challenging – especially if you don’t speak the local language. In a lot of cases, it’ll also be much easier to arrange if you’re doing it on-the-ground in the country. You can always go out first, get set up and then have your family join you when you’re more settled in the country! Though, it might be a good idea to test out any potential new cities with a holiday before you go – just to make sure you’re going to like it.
The teaching salary you earn depends on many different factors – the country you want to move to and your own teaching qualifications and experience will hold the biggest sway on whether or not you can get a high salary. As you’ll be supporting dependants, getting the highest salary possible will have considerable benefits, especially if you have to fork out for private education for your children and if you’re supporting your spouse too. See our blog on how much teaching abroad really pays. Remember – you can always supplement your income with private teaching too.
Getting a teaching abroad job with working hours that fit into your family life will be something you need to consider. In lots of positions in private language schools, you’ll be working in the evenings. This might not be ideal if your kids are in school all day – when will you see them? Working during the day in a public school, international school, fee-paying school or in a university will guarantee more consistent working hours. However, if you opt to work in language schools, you might be able to teach Business English classes, which take place throughout the day.
Childcare and Education
A huge factor to consider when planning on travelling and teaching with your kids is their childcare or education. If your children are too young to go to school, you’ll need to find suitable childcare. Getting a nanny in China is really easy – even a live-in nanny is reasonably-priced. If this isn’t your thing, you’ll have to find nurseries in your local area. It’s worth noting that there might be kindergartens and nurseries attached to international schools.
If your kids are of school age, you’ll need to look at your options – from local state schools to fee-paying international schools. In a local school, your children will have to learn the language. The younger they are, the easier this will be. However, depending on where you move to, having your kids join a local school might be out of the question altogether – for example, in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. In this case, your only option might be a fee-paying international school – on the upside the whole curriculum will be in English, but the fees might be sky-high. Though, if you teach in the school yourself, you might receive free or discounted education for your children.
The term ‘trailing spouse’ is used to describe a partner following you abroad when you take a job. If your partner isn’t a teacher, it might be worth considering finding them a job first. Teaching English abroad jobs can be easier to come by, especially in countries with high demand. If this doesn’t seem realistic, your spouse can always take on the responsibility of home schooling your children which could cut out any excessive school fees.
When you get into your new home country with your spouse and children, don’t be too surprised if there are a few teething problems. You’ve made a big change by uprooting your family – a totally new world with a new language. It might be the case that the younger your children are, the easier it will be for them to settle in. Older children and teenagers might find the move more unsettling and experience homesickness, as they have to leave behind school friends. But think about the positives for your children – getting to know a new culture, picking up a new language and exploring a country.
Where to go?
Let’s take a look at the best places to live with your family bearing in mind what we’ve discussed so far. Look for positions that are high-paying – this means teaching English in China, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan or Japan. Each of these places comes with its own pros and cons.
These locations tend to offer accommodation for families and offer allowances or discounts for your children’s education if you choose a private or international school. However, in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, your children will not be allowed to attend a local school – they’ll have to go to a fee-paying international school. Although you’ll be earning a tax-free high salary, you’ll need to pay for your children’s education, which could be super pricey. In the UAE and Saudi Arabia, you will not be able to live there with your children if you are unmarried. Similarly, if you are travelling as a single parent, it’s best to avoid these countries and try Southeast Asia instead.
Wherever you’re thinking of teaching English abroad with a family, be honest – let employers know your situation and your plans. Think carefully about the best place for you and do some reading to try to find real-life stories from people who’ve done the same thing. There are threads on plenty of online forums such as TES and Reddit with stories of people who have tried teaching English abroad with a family.