A reader recently asked just how much money she could earn teaching English in Taiwan versus other locations. She was hoping to maximize her income to take care of student loans.
She was looking for her first teaching job, so we didn’t discuss the Middle East, where wages can be excellent, but they tend to require a couple of year experience.
Taiwan versus Korea versus China
It is important to understand that it is not how much you can earn, but rather how much you can save (your discretionary income).
While Taiwan ranks high in Asia for wages, the benefits provided with jobs often do not match other countries that pay a bit less. For example, Korea pays only a bit less than Taiwan, but you get free accommodation, paid air tickets and a lower overall tax rate – and, bottom line, you have more bankable income than in Taiwan.
The overall cost of living in Taiwan is higher than in Korea also. I found it less stressful to teach private classes in Taiwan, but they were less plentiful than in Korea and private classes paid more in Korea.
China should not be ruled out either. With your degree in business, you should be aware that there is a demand for Business English in China that far exceeds the interest in it in Taiwan and Korea. Lower cost of living, even lower taxes and sometimes, you could bank more money in China than in Korea. And again, in China, free accommodation, reimbursed air tickets and sometimes even free or subsidized utilities (which are expensive in both Korea and Taiwan) and even meals at some schools.
True Bottom Line?
You can save far more in Korea, China and Taiwan than you can in the States, UK or Australia. And it looks like taxes and pension costs are going to be going up up up soon as most Western countries struggle to balance their budgets
The same reader also asked, “Can I make a career out of TEFL and teach abroad indefinitely?”
You bet you can – I did – and many others are doing it right now. But be forewarned, it is such a different and enjoyable life you may never go back . . .
TED’s Tips™ #1: It’s how much you can save, not how much you can earn. If money is the bottom line for your decision, be sure to compare all your benefits and determine the costs of taxes and essentials before making a decision.