Money, as the song goes, makes the world go round – and English language education is no different. Still, while teaching English abroad can be lucrative, it is not a path to riches. Even when it is unusually well-paying – like in Western Europe – such gains are often offset by the region’s high cost of living. At the same time, it is important to consider intangibles like quality of life as well.
In most countries with well-established ESL industries – i.e., South America and Europe – English teachers will typically receive salaries that allow them to live comfortably but save little. Indeed, although compensation packages in Europe vastly outstrip their South American equivalents, the relatively low cost of living that teachers in South America enjoy means that both have roughly comparable savings rates.
By contrast, new and emerging markets – i.e., Asia and the Middle East – are ideal for those looking to pay off college loans or save for retirement. In those markets even beginning teachers often receive accommodations as part of their compensation packages, meaning that they have the potential to save significant amounts of money monthly.
Of course, money is not everything – when you are considering where to teach English abroad, quality of life matters, too! To illustrate the difference here, compare Dubai, United Arab Emirates and Prague, Czech Republic. Dubai, with its high salaries and lengthy contracts, offers the best conditions if your main goal is to save money. At the same time, its restrictive policies and conservative customs are not for everyone. By contrast, Prague, with its relatively low cost of living and high quality of life, offers the best conditions if your goal is to enjoy your time abroad. Solidly ensconced in Western culture, it is widely seen as the most desirable English location in the world.
So, in the end, do your homework and decide for yourself – after all, only you can say which is more important to you!
* Salary photo from Shutterstock