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Salary Expectations for Teaching English Abroad Part 1

Teaching abroad is not all fun and games. Many people considering such ventures are worried about a ton of things that are unique to traveling and teaching.

Salary is a major concern when you teach English abroad. How do the different countries compare?

Salary is a major concern when you teach English abroad. How do different countries compare?

Some of the unknowns about teaching abroad concern things we don’t come across in our daily routines — visa requirements, a new language, purely organizational matters, and other preparations for teaching English abroad. These are all hard to accurately prioritize and people tend to overthink them.

Here’s a breakdown of the approximate cost of living and teacher salary in most of the countries covered by LanguageCorps. LanguageCorps is also the main source for the up-to-date information with a few references taken from Numbeo, which is great for getting detailed information about prices around the world.


Cambodia stands on top of the list of Asian countries and for a good reason. ESL teachers enjoy good salaries ranging from $1,000-$1,200 per month. The cost of living is, of course, something very personal, but in general spending is relatively low–  $400 to $450 per month. You can do a hell of a lot of traveling with the remaining $750 or put these dollars aside for a rainy day.

The knowledge-hungry students in China are the biggest reward you can get

The knowledge-hungry students in China are the biggest reward you can get

China offers even better paid positions with salaries reaching up to $1,500. However, the cost of living is also higher, ranging from $500 to about $800 per month. On the bright side, if you have had previous classroom experience, you can expect better pay, too.

Taiwan is where ESL teachers are ultimately best paid — here you’d receive a salary between $1,850 and $2,000. It is also the country with the highest cost of living in the region, with spending often reaching $1,200. Some schools are willing to subsidize your accommodation, so make sure you look into it if you want to save a buck or two. And if that’s not enough incentive, keep in mind you’ll be close to the mesmerizing Yangmingshan Mountain and its hot springs.

Thailand and Vietnam offer relatively similar conditions with salaries up to $1,200 and $1,500 respectively. You will manage to break even in both countries with living expenses averaging $400-$600 in Thailand and $500-$700 in Vietnam.


Working and traveling in Europe is a bit safer for newbie travelers, but is just as much fun as Asia

Working and traveling in Europe is a bit safer for newbie travelers, but is just as much fun as Asia

Salaries in Europe differ greatly and as with living expenses, there’s really no rule of thumb to go by.

Hungary and the Czech Republic are on an even playing field when it comes to paying ESL teachers. Both countries offer approximately $1,200, which is enough to live comfortably and still manage to czech some places out. Health insurance is often a nice gesture from Czech employers if your Visa is legitimate.

You can expect up to $1,000 as an ESL teacher in Greece, but the cost of living is also relatively lower than the average in Europe. One bedroom apartments in the city center usually run around $375 per month, according to Numbeo.

Spain has gone through some tough financial times, but is now on the rise and manages to offer attractive salaries to teachers. You can get about $1,850 a month, which is more than enough to get by to say the least. With a bit of extra planning you can manage to live even in Spain’s most expensive city, Madrid, where living costs come close to $2,000. Being an ESL teacher in Spain brings some benefits, like health insurance, and still leaves you a lot of spare time to immerse yourself in the country’s spirit.

Italy is another country on this list, where you will manage to break even with a teacher’s salary. You can get anywhere from $1,500 to $2,000. On average, the cost of living goes up to $1,300 leaving you enough spare cash to wander around Venice or even go see a Formula One race just outside of Milan.

Negotiating your salary is a touchy matter regardless of your location. Teachers are usually not the best people at talking money, but having an idea of what to expect will save you a lot of headaches and prepare you to handle schools that are trying to be cheeky, however unlikely that may be.

Head over to LanguageCorps’ Location page, where you can find out more about job prospects and overviews of different countries. Keep an eye on our blog, too — a follow-up post with the rest of the countries covered by LanguageCorps is in the making.

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