Moving to a new country to teach English is no mean feat. Job hunt aside, you have to find a place to live, sort out visas, health insurance.
Read this: Teaching English abroad: A step-by-step plan
Wouldn’t it be nice if some kindly employer swooped in and said they’d do it all for you? AND pay for it all (plus flights!) too? Yup, teaching English abroad, all expenses paid, sounds like a pretty sweet deal!
Aside from freeing you of any admin stress when you arrive, all expenses paid English teaching contracts mean that your major expenses will all be taken care of by your employer. As you won’t have to put your monthly salary towards your housing or airfare, there’s a good chance you’ll not only be able to have a taste of the high life while you’re teaching abroad, but also be able to save money to take home with you too.
This opportunity to pay off debt or save up for future life goals makes teaching abroad with all expenses paid a great option for recent graduates, future homeowners, career changers who don’t want to take too much of a salary hit and, well, anyone who wants to explore the globe without breaking the bank!
Hold up! What does all expenses paid mean?
In the ESL world, English teaching contracts with some of the coolest perks include:
- Housing (either accommodation or a housing stipend provided)
- Airfare (either paid in advance or reimbursed)
- Medical insurance (either wholly or partially covered by the employer)
- Visa cost reimbursement
- Paid vacation time ️
Other benefits, such as language lessons and in-country orientation, may also be thrown into the mix.
While having all of the above paid for and getting a full salary on top is awesome in itself, a major unlisted benefit is all the life admin that’s taken off your hands. It means that when you arrive in country, you can hit the ground running and focus on enjoying your adventure!
Can anyone get an all expenses paid English teaching contract overseas?
If you have a four-year degree, have native (or equivalent) English skills and are TEFL qualified, you are a great candidate for teach abroad contracts with some of the best benefits packages on offer.
However, not every country in the world offers its teachers these kinds of benefits. While they are common in the Middle East and parts of Asia, they’re pretty much non-existent in Europe and South America.
Countries in Asia, especially China and South Korea, often take on new teachers, but in the Middle East, expenses paid positions are often only available for teachers who have completed formal teacher training programs.
So, yes, teaching abroad with all expenses paid is an option for most ESL teachers. As long as you have an open mind about where you go to teach.
So, which countries do offer English teachers all expenses paid contracts?
Ok, let’s be honest: Schools in Japan may not cover all expenses, but English teachers can still get a lot of benefits included in their contracts.
Japan’s JET program, for example, offers return airfare but does not include housing. However, they do help you find a place to stay and sometimes offer accommodation at a set rate to help their teachers balance their budgets.
Many schools offer contract completion bonuses, full or subsidized medical insurance, paid vacations and refundable pension contributions. If you have to travel between schools, your contract may also include a transport allowance.
Japan also ranks highly for TEFL salaries in Asia, and although living costs can also be high too (especially in cities) most English teachers earn a comfortable living and have enough money to save on the side.
China is the world’s largest job market in the world for TEFL-qualified teachers and, as such, jobs can include some pretty awesome benefits. Typical contracts might offer reimbursed airfare, rent-free housing, a contract completion bonus, paid holiday and medical insurance.
Some even include workday meals and Mandarin lessons!
There’s also a huge variety of work in China for English teachers - you could find yourself co-teaching 60 students with a native teacher in public school, or teaching small private classes. Check out Teach Away’s Explore Program to find out more about some of the great ESL positions on offer right now across China.
In general, English teaching salaries in China provide a comfortable lifestyle. Living costs are low and many teachers save money while they are there.
3. South Korea
South Korea also has a huge market for English teachers, and it’s not hard to see why. Contracts often include return airfare, fully furnished housing, paid holidays, contributions to health insurance and a bonus upon completion. Many contracts also include pension contributions, which can be or reclaimed as a lump sum when you leave the country (depending on the country you’re returning to - check with your employer!)
Factor in a low tax rate and low cost of living, the lifestyle South Korea offers its English teachers is hard to beat. Why not check out South Korea’s government-run EPIK program for more information?
4. Middle East
Each country in the Middle East has their own lifestyle advantages, but one thing they all have in common is offering some of the most generous teaching packages in the world.
Benefits often include reimbursed airfare, end of contract bonus, housing allowance and health insurance. And if you want to take your loved ones along for the ride, packages are often also available for spouses and families.
Living costs vary from country to country, but the cherry on the cake is that salaries for foreign teachers are tax-free. YES. Tax-free! However, jobs in the region can be restricted to highly qualified teachers with teaching licenses, or those with TEFL certification and a few years teaching experience. Take a look at the UAE Government Schools program for more info.
Free housing and airfare! It sound too good to be true. What’s the catch?
Well, although signing up for all these perks can make your life easier when you arrive, it’s still work doing a little (or a lot)of research before you sign up. Firstly, all these benefits are usually reliant on you signing up for (and completing) a teaching contract, which can last anywhere from one to two years on average. Your visa is normally dependent on the contract so it’s with making sure that you can abide by what you sign up for.
The advantage to having a clear contract is that you can take your time before you sign to work out whether what’s on offer will work for you. Here are some questions to ask:
1. What kind of company will you be working for?
Research schools online and don’t be afraid to ask if they can put you in touch with their current English teachers.
2. What lifestyle can you expect?
Find out about the area the school accommodation is in, the living costs and what there is to do in your free time.
3. Are you allowed to work outside your contract?
You might be hoping to pick up some private lessons in your spare time but some contracts don’t allow this.
4. How many hours are you expected to work per week?
Remember teaching hours do not include preparation, marking and admin time.
5. How is vacation time allocated?
Some schools will only allow English teachers to take vacations at certain times of year. It’s worth checking in advance when and how long your vacations will be.
When it comes to housing and airfare coverage there are quite a lot of details you might want to clear up before you sign up.
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English teaching jobs with paid housing: Questions you should ask before accepting the offer
If the company is offering you furnished accommodation, ask for as much information as you can about it, including photos, how far it is from the school, how much bills are and exactly what is included in the furnishings.
If the accommodation isn’t to your taste, the best solution will probably be factoring in buying items to personalize the space. Don’t forget, you may want to buy your own bedding and towels too!
If you have fancier tastes than the stipend allows, so will your salary cover the rest? Or if you want to live somewhere that costs less than the stipend, make sure you find out if you’ll be able to pocket the difference or if it will go back to the school.
English teaching jobs with free flights: Questions you should ask before accepting the offer
Firstly, find out if there is a cap on the amount the company will pay for your airfare. Let’s be real, they’re probably not going to expense a first-class ticket! But if their cap is $600 then you’ll know to try and hunt out a flight that fits within that budget.
Next, if a school says they will reimburse your ticket, make sure you’re clear on when exactly that will happen so you don’t get caught short. Some schools do it immediately after you book, others when you arrive and others when you complete your contract.
Once you’ve ironed out all the little details, all that’s left to do is sign on the dotted line, and then turn up and enjoy!
I like the idea of teaching abroad, making money and traveling the world, but I want my freedom too! What should I do?
If all this talk of contracts has you breaking out in a cold sweat - don’t fret! All expenses paid contracts are great for those who want the hassle taken out of a big move abroad and don’t mind sticking to the terms and conditions that come along with it.
If you prefer things a bit more free and easy but still want to save money while you’re away, why not look into teaching English in countries where you earn enough money (relative to living costs) that you can still save a bunch while you’re there?
Vietnam is a great example. You might have to pay for your own airfare and accommodation, but your earnings should cover that and them some. Our English teaching salary calculator can help you work out where might be the right destination for you!