Start Up Costs

What You Need Financially to Set Up as an English Teacher Abroad

Whether you’re just moving 20 miles or 2,000 miles, when you set up in a new home you’re going to have some start-up costs. The trick to a reduced-stress international move is being prepared for the cost of establishing yourself in your new location.

Keep a Cushion of Cash

If you’ve had the opportunity to visit the city you’ll be moving to, you’ll have some kind of idea of what food, drink, and local transportation will cost you. If you haven’t, see if you can find a message board online that will lay this out for you. Use this information to make a rough estimate of what your daily costs will be. It’s good to have a cushion of about two month’s worth of this, just to be safe.

Then, you need to estimate what your accommodation will cost each month. You may have to pay for a hotel or short term lodging for the first few weeks while you look for permanent accommodation, or your employer might help you find something right away. When you find something permanent, be prepared to pay first and last months’ rent plus a deposit on your apartment. Try to find out from your employer or online forum what an average utility bill will be. In some countries you’ll also need to pay fees for turning on utilities like telephone or Internet service.

Next, you need to think about furnishings and items for your home. It’s usually best to rent a furnished apartment so that you don’t have to worry about large move-in bills (and the stress of finding things and having them delivered to your new apartment) and you won’t have to sell it all or move it at the end of your rental contract. Home appliances don’t cost too much, and your apartment might come with some of them, but you’ll need to budget some money for getting a coffee maker, water filter, dishes, cups, pillows, towels, bed sheets and cleaning supplies, for example.

Does Anyone Want to Give You Gently Used Items?

However, a caveat on appliances and the like. Sometimes its best to ask your employer or new coworkers if they have any used things you could take off their hands. A little bit of patience on the nonessentials might save you some money.  I can’t count the number of times I bought something only to have my employer provide it the next day or next week. You may be able to inherit some things a departing teacher left behind, or provide a good excuse for someone with more roots in the community to upgrade something of his own. A friend of mine got all of her home technology—TV, DVD player, coffee machine, microwave—for free when her boss decided the school break room could use a whole new outfitting.

If all this seems a bit overwhelming, rest assured that it’s really not. It only gets overwhelming if you don’t plan ahead. Once you sit down and make a list of the things on which you know you’ll need to spend more, you can go ahead and budget for them, and then concentrate on enjoying your move.

A final note: some employers will withhold a portion of your salary checks during the probationary period. If this is true for your school, take it into account when you balance what you will be bringing in with what you will need to spend.

Ted’s Tips #1:  Don’t let a tight budget get in the way of following your dreams. If you can plan it, you can do it. Just be realistic and allow a little padding to help out on those “rainy days.”  Probably most people start on not much more than a few weeks worth of cash, but we like to recommend a conservative approach.

Ted’s Tips #2:  Ask employers and coworkers if they’ve got any household items they’d like to get rid of. If you don’t mind taking pre-owned stuff, you’ll save on your start up costs.

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