5 Countries that are cheap to live in and offer a high quality of life!

5 Countries that are cheap to live in and offer a high quality of life!

While everyone’s definition of ‘cheap’ and ‘high quality of life’ may differ, these countries offer an affordable cost of living certainly in comparison to most developed countries whilst still having a huge amount to offer. A budget of US$1000/month (€850, £750) should suffice in all of them if you are savvy while for a little more you can live very comfortably indeed.


Countries that are cheap to live in and offer a high quality of life

image via Carlos Y, under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

While there are cheaper countries in South America, most have major drawbacks in terms of living standards. Chile gets the balance about right. It offers better value than Brazil or Uruguay and probably Argentina whilst it’s generally regarded as one of the safest countries in Latin America.

Even the capital Santiago is free from many of the hassles that other big cities in the region throw-up and it’s location on the edge of the Andes yet still only 100km from the coast is a real draw. In theory you could ski and surf on the same day! The same is true of much of the country given its ridiculously skinny shape and in terms of natural beauty, it’s pretty hard to beat.

Getting around the country can be a challenge given the size of it but transport links are improving and flights are better value than they are in much of South America. Throw into the mix fantastic wines and cultured cities such as Valparaíso and the case for living in Chile is a compelling one.

Cost of Renting 1 Bedroom Apartment in Valparaiso – $300/month

More on the cost of travel and typical expenses in Chile


cost of living in Portugal

Portugal offers Western European living at a fraction of the cost of other countries in the ‘expensive part’ of Europe. It was affected badly by the economic crisis and that has contributed to prices staying low and it’s now cheaper to live in Portugal than some of the more developed Eastern European countries.

For a capital city, Lisbon offers fantastic value, while heading South to the Algarve will allow you to take advantage of a great sunny climate that few parts of Europe can rival. The standard of English is also very high, certainly in comparison to neighbouring Spain or Italy so it’s pretty easy to adapt to life in Portugal.

Everything from eating and drinking out, to renting a flat remains remarkably good value while there are regular train and bus links that connect the whole country, which is of a similar shape to Chile but on a much smaller scale.

Cost of Renting 1 Bedroom Apartment in Lisbon – $550/month (Rooms in shared flats can easily be found for under $300)

Read more on typical prices and costs in Portugal


thailand living

In terms of countries that are cheap to live in but also offer a high quality of life, Thailand is tough to beat. It remains an immensely popular place with foreigners and while tourists and backpackers continue to arrive in their droves, it’s also increasingly becoming a popular place to live.

Almost certainly the cheapest of the five countries on this list, you’ll have more money leftover to spend on trips to other parts of Southeast Asia, whilst eating out practically every night is a realistic option, certainly if you’re a fan of the local cuisine.

There’s also a great choice of possible bases. Sun worshippers may want to head to the islands in the South, while city-lovers will struggle to beat the buzz of 24-7 Bangkok. Perhaps the most popular place to live these days with digital nomads and expats is Chiang Mai, which is ridiculously cheap even by Thai standards and offers a more tranquil pace of life than the capital which has its downsides.

Overall Thailand offers a nice blend of Asian exoticism but with all the comforts of home thrown in, and in terms of healthcare and general infrastructure it’s far superior to neighbouring countries like Laos and Cambodia.

Cost of Renting 1 Bedroom Apartment in Chiang Mai – $250/month

More info on the cost of things in Thailand here!


Living in Greece

image via Nick Fewings, under CC BY 2.0

Greece is another European country hit very hard by the economic crisis and unlike most of the others, its recovery has been a painfully slow process. If you are a freelancer or working from home though it offers an affordable and very pleasant lifestyle.

With an array of different islands and everything from quiet fishing villages to lively cities, there’s plenty of choice when deciding where to live. The Mediterranean climate and diet certainly offers the opportunity to lead a healthy, relaxed life.

Much-like Portugal, it offers life in a developed European country with a rich culture and history, on a budget much lower than you’d need in the UK, France or Germany for example while it also compares favourably to Spain and Italy with rental prices particularly good value.

Cost of Renting 1 Bedroom Apartment in Athens – $350/month

Read about the cost of travel in Greece


Best countries to live in on a budget

image via Ludovic Lubeigt, under CC BY-SA 2.0

Although Chinese-Taiwanese ties remain a constant talking point, political tensions don’t really have any impact on daily life and moving to Taiwan offers the best of both worlds for anyone looking to get a taste of Oriental culture without some of the frustrations that life in mainland China can bring.

Taiwan is a vibrant island of many different influences and is certainly the most challenging of the countries in this article to adapt to but if it’s an adventure and new experiences you’re after, then that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The language barrier is certainly an issue but it’s also reassuring to know there’s always teaching English if you’re looking to make a bit of cash. Other benefits, particularly for digital nomad types, is that it has extraordinarily good internet with virtually the whole country seeming to offer a wifi connection. Meanwhile it’s also a very safe place with almost no crime.

Cost of Renting 1 Bedroom Apartment in Taipei – $400/month

There are more ideas for cheap countries to move to here. Meanwhile a few years ago we made this long list of the budget living costs in 125 cities around the world, which you may also want co check out!
Which other countries do you think belong on this list? Use the comments below to let us know 🙂

This article was published in September 2017.


Top 10 Tips For Living in Southeast Asia on a Budget

A guest post by Jyotsna Ramani

Let’s get one thing straight; the best way (as per me) to experience life is living on your own in South East Asia. I have lived in Indonesia for almost a year (for work) and I ensure that I get to travel around beautiful and tropical Southeast Asia. I was a bit sceptical at first about living in an unknown country all by myself – but, hey I did it and loved every bit of the experience that followed!

It sounds really nice while you are just travelling but living in a new country can be a daunting task – even for an avid traveller like me. Since, I knew that I would be in the country for a long duration; I had to plan my expenses accordingly. I found that there were some pretty easy ways to living in Southeast Asia on a budget.

Top 10 Tips For Living in Southeast Asia on a Budget

Here’s my list of tips for anyone living in a SE Asian country for a year, based on my experience living in Bandung, Indonesia and travelling around SE Asia


Accommodation in Bandung
One of the six houses I stayed in while in Bandung.

I was given company accommodation initially for a month which was paid for (by the company) but after that the expense would’ve been mine. So instead of living there, I found shared accommodation (with an Australian teacher) at a cost of merely US$100 per month. All that asked of me was helping around with the household chores (nothing unusual). Guest houses are readily available which are dirt cheap, but make sure to get the review from locals first as not all areas are ideal for expats. Best way to find shared houses and great deals are joining local expat groups on Facebook and posting your query there – that’s how I found all the neat places plus got to meet some great expats.


A little change in food habit is all that is required to save on major expenses. Instead of going out to eat every night, try cooking at home occasionally as that would be healthier, safer, more hygienic and of course cost effective. Best of all – you cook whatever you feel like eating (simple). This will also be helpful towards inviting friends/colleagues over for a nice dinner party at home without splurging.


Since I was already in contract for a year, I decided to hire a bike taxi for exclusive use. The driver would come and pick me up from wherever I wanted to and drop me off wherever I wanted to go; all it took was a phone call. Total cost was around $100-200 per month (including driver and fuel). Compared to using a taxi every time or a self driven car, it was the most viable option – cheaper & safer than driving myself in a new country. The only drawback was getting drenched when the heavens open up without any warning. Carrying a foldable rain jacket always helps (found out the hard way).

Local gym - cheaper than Gold'sFitness

Being fit is one of my top priorities in life; hence wherever I travel to, I make sure to have my daily workout (whichever way it’s possible). A morning jog in the fresh air, a swim in any one of the many public pools, organised runs, etc. I also found that membership in hotel gyms were much cheaper compared to a regular gym.


There are a lot of places to see in Indonesia and almost all of them charge anywhere between 3 – 10 times for expats visiting them. So instead of visiting these places alone, I would suggest tagging along with locals and keeping your voice low as the guards are constantly looking out for expats. This is the best way to see all the touristy places like a local.

Eating Out

Living in Indonesia
Typical Local Indonesian Cuisine.

I know that I said cooking at home would be cost effective but that does not mean not going out to eat ever. Although I must say that even eating out can be cost effective if you know the right places to look or if you don’t mind street food. The best ways to find out about these places are through locals and (thanking my good luck), I did find some of the best people to guide me around and also join me for meals.


I strongly believe in small and simple luxuries like a good massage after a day of hard work (as if I work hard!). But the massage centres in Indonesia will try to rip you off when they come to know you are an expat. So instead of visiting these centres, it’s best to get some home spa numbers from locals and invite them for a nice massage right at your home. People are nice and friendly there so you will never feel uncomfortable doing so.


I cannot insist on how important medical insurance is until I got ill due to food poisoning. I had my travel insurance which covered most of the regular medical ailments related to travel. It is a wise idea to invest in wholesome travel/medical insurance especially in SE Asia where the stomach bug or flu can attack without notice.

Credit/Debit cards

When living in a SE Asian country, it is advisable to open a local bank account and use the credit/debit cards for expenses (if possible). This way you don’t have to run the risk of being pick pocketed, mugging, etc. These sort of problems exist all over the world (no exception). It is much better than carrying cash for 1 year or worrying about losing your international card (which happened to me and I had to wait 3 weeks to get it re-issued from India and sent to me in Bandung).

Drinking in IndonesiaDrinking out

Indonesia is a Muslim country and alcohol in Bandung is not readily available – and when it is, it’s not cheap. Find out the local drinking holes (which would be far less expensive than high end clubs/pubs). 

All in all I can say with a certain amount of authority is that living in SE Asia is a ‘rite of passage’ and once you are through it, you can live anywhere in the world (almost anywhere).


About the Author

Jyotsna Ramani is a passionate globetrotter who loves to let her hair down and maximize her trips. How does she do that? By traveling on a budget and exploring new places. She travels far and wide (Well, Europe counts, right ?) and then comes back to her blog- WanderWithJo.com to share her experiences. Pretty nifty, eh?

So, don’t you want to uncover some secret drinking holes and see awesome new places through her eyes ?

Follow her adventures on – http://WanderWithJo.com

You can also follow her on social media:

instagram | facebook | twitter | pinterest


This article was published in March 2016.

Get our Backpackers Guide to Southeast Asia 2017-2018 for a summary of budget travel in the region.


Top 10 Best ways to Work and Travel

Top 10 Best ways to Work and Travel

While it’s always useful to have a fair amount of cash saved up before you set out travelling, finding work on the road is often vital for any backpacker looking to travel for a long period. There are lots of weird and wonderful ways to make some dosh as you roam the earth. Few are particularly well paying, but it’s not hard to find jobs that at the very least offer you free accommodation and food, not to mention the chance to really experience day-to-day life in a foreign land.

Here are 10 of the best ways to make some money while travelling to new places:

english grammar textbook1. Teach English

If you are a native English speaker you are already 90% of the way to becoming an English teacher. In some countries you can easily get work teaching English without any formal qualifications or experience. Teaching English in places like Korea or Singapore offer you the chance to save up quite a large amount of money each month which can be used to fund your travels. See TEFL.com for a bit of inspiration as to the sort of jobs that are out there. Private lessons pay better and Skype lessons are also growing in popularity.

Also check out our guide to teaching English abroad.


WWOOF is a network offering volunteering opportunities on organic farms all over the world. In return for your help you get accommodation and food, as well the chance to learn about organic farming. You won’t make any money doing it but it is possible to travel to lots of different countries and just work on different farms in each. This way you will still see lots and for the most part your accommodation and food will be paid for.

hostel3. Work in Hostels

Most hostels employ passing travellers to help out with general hostel duties. If you’ve stayed in many hostels you’ll almost certainly know what sort of stuff this entails. It’s always worth asking if there’s any work going and occasionally you will get paid although more often you’ll be rewarded with a bed, meals and possibly the odd free drink at the bar. Easy way to meet lots of travellers and is generally quite good fun.

4. Bar Work

Another fairly standard way for travellers to earn a bit of cash. In most countries you don’t need to be particularly highly qualified to get bar work but you’re unlikely to earn much more than a wage that will cover your living expenses. Worth it if you end up somewhere you like a lot and want to stick around. Also often pays cash in hand which helps avoid work visa issues.

5. Volunteer work for Charities

There are loads of volunteer opportunities around the world. Avoid the ones you have to pay for that are advertised all over the web as these are only really taking advantage of your good nature. It’s probably best to wait until you arrive in a country and then look for volunteering projects to get involved with. In poorer countries that attract backpackers, such opportunities are plentiful and will allow you to really interact with the locals. Many projects offer food/beds to volunteers.

street performer headless man6. Street Performing

Obviously for this it helps if you have some sort of talent but backpackers lacking any amazing skills should not despair. All you really need is some sort of original idea that will get you noticed and you have every chance to earn money while travelling. People pretending to be statues seem quite popular in touristy spots around the world so why not join the club. Advantages include that you can do this job pretty much anywhere there’s people. You can also keep travelling as much as you please and just perform wherever you happen to be.

7, Run your own website

This has the potential to bring in anything from virtually zero to enough cash to cover your travel expenses forever. It takes time to build up but in this day and age with a little bit of effort and know-how virtually anyone can set up a website. Don’t expect instant results but if your content is unique and interesting you have a chance. Internet cafes and wifi connections are easy to find even in the more remote parts of the world so it’s fairly easy to keep your site up-to date on the road.

8. Travel Writing/Photography

Almost every single backpacker out there takes photos or writes diaries as they travel. Turning these into cold hard cash is the considerably trickier part but by no means impossible. If you have a good camera and take cool snaps you have a chance provided you get your photos out there into the worldwide web for potential buyers to see. Getting a break is often the hardest part in both cases even if you consider yourself to be incredibly naturally talented. At myfunkytravel we give amateur travel writers/photographers a platform for their work but sadly for you don’t pay. If you’re interested then contact us.

9. Video Blogging your travels

If you fancy yourself as a bit of a natural in front of a camera and have interesting stuff to talk about which is generally pretty easy when you’re travelling in distant lands then why not start posting videos on sites like youtube. If 5 or 10 people like your videos, it’s not entirely unrealistic to think that in a few months that number could be 500,000 or 1 million. There are countless examples of young people whose lives have changed as a result of becoming an internet video hit.

10. Fruit Picking

Another common job people take to earn a bit of cash while backpacking. Anywhere that fruit is grown, there are people that get paid to spend all day picking it. Work is obviously only during harvest but there’s always somewhere in the world that’ll have fruit picking jobs going. It is pretty hard work but can sometimes pay quite well.


This article was published in September 2011.


Budget & Student Living Costs around the World

Budget & Student Living Costs in 125 Cities around the World

NOTE – This article was published in 2014. Costs may have changed since.

We do have a 2018 article comparing the cost of living in European cities.

One of the best and most cost-effective ways to see more of the world is to actually take yourself off and live somewhere. Not only will you get a more authentic experience and really get to know a city or country, you can also use it as a base for exploring a region.

Unless you are a student on an Erasmus program or have a lot of cash saved up you will probably need a job but finding work abroad is easier than you might think. Teaching English is a possibility pretty much anywhere and if you are a native speaker or even if you’re not (if you’re reading and understanding all of this in English then you should be fine) then you have a good shot at finding work. In some places you will need a TEFL qualification but you can get this in 4 weeks and can do it in a large number of destinations around the world.

You may have seen our budget travel table but it is important you realise that actually living somewhere is considerably cheaper than travelling there. Renting a room long-term should be cheaper than staying in a hostel. Eating and drinking is cheaper once you’ve got to know a city and know where the value is. You also won’t be forking out for long-distance bus or train tickets every few days.

Our budget is based on:

Student living costs around the world but you don’t have to be a student to live on a budget! Here is a guide to what we consider to be realistic on the figures below:

-renting a room in a shared 3/4 bedroom flat (including gas/water/wifi expenses) in a student area or reasonably cheap district but not one so dangerous where you will be risking your life on a daily basis.

-eating out perhaps a couple of times a week but primarily cooking at home in your flat.

-one big night out per week on average and a couple of other more casual evenings out.

-a bit of cash for entertainment each week (going to the cinema/gigs/museums etc).

-a bit of cash for other necessities (toiletries, toilet roll, cleaning stuff and things like that)

-a monthly travel pass on the cities transport network or the likely cost of travelling in the city most days in a month.

It works out as roughly that of a student budget or perhaps a little bit more in most cities. It should be useful for anyone wondering how much it costs to study abroad or curious about the living costs for Erasmus students in cities in Europe. For everyone else, it may help you decide where you can afford to live.

You can find out more precise info about how we calculated this table and how to more precisely work out how much YOU are likely to spend in any of these cities at the bottom of the page.


Student living costs around the world

(all figures are estimates and in Euros/month)

most expensive city in the world

Oslo, Norway – the most expensive city to live.

OSLO €1590
LONDON €1530
NEW YORK €1350
SYDNEY €1305
PARIS €1223
TOKYO €1140
DUBLIN €1125
BIRMINGHAM (England) €1088
MUNICH €1020

brussels street

Brussels, Belgium – more expensive than 75% of the cities.

OSAKA €953
SEOUL €945
ROME €938
MILAN €938
MIAMI €938
DOHA €938
DUBAI €923
LAGOS €840
BAKU €773
SAN JOSE (Costa Rica) €720

beijing street

Beijing, China – the median city but on the up.

SALVADOR (Brazil) €653
ACCRA €645
SANTIAGO (Chile) €630
RIGA €623
LIMA €570

budapest street

Budapest, Hungary – cheaper than 75% of the cities.

GUADALAJARA (Mexico) €525
QUITO €510
SOFIA €480
HANOI €480
DHAKA €465
CAIRO €458
LA PAZ (Bolivia) €435
DELHI €360
KIEV €345
CORDOBA (Argentina) €338

cheapest city in the world

Kolkata, India – the cheapest city to live.

How we calculated the estimated Cost of Living for each city

We started off with a strong idea of the cost of living in a couple of cities in which we have lived in the past couple of years. From there we used this excellent living costs comparison tool (based on the experiences of 1000’s of people around the world) to work out the percentage difference between those cities and others which we haven’t lived. From there we could calculate an estimate of the cost of living in each of these 125 world cities.

Obviously this isn’t an exact science but we hope you find the info useful.

You can convert Euros to your own currency here.


How to calculate YOUR likely monthly living costs in any city

Everyone has different spending habits so dig out your calculator and use this useful trick to calculate your probable expenditure across the world. First decide if you have lived in any of these cities long enough and recently enough to get an idea of how much you spent each month.


If you live or have lived in any of these cities fairly recently

1) Think about what your average monthly expenditure is or was.

2) Compare it to the figure we have quoted for that city.

3) Divide your actual monthly living costs by our estimated living costs to give you a figure (it should be fairly close to 1).

4) Write this figure down somewhere. Do it to at least two decimal places.

5) To calculate your likely living expenses in any of the cities on this page you just need to multiply our estimate by the number you have just written down.


You lived in Hamburg and your average expenditure was only €800 and not the €953 we have.

800/953 = 0.84

You want to know what your likely living expenses in Bangkok might be. Our table has Bangkok as €593.

0.84 x €593 = €498

Therefore you’re project monthly expenses in Bangkok would be €498.


If you haven’t lived in any of these cities recently

1) Use the comparison tool to compare the living costs in your current city (or one in which you have lived recently) to one on our list that you think might have similar living costs to yours (for the purpose of this tutorial we will choose Lisbon).

2) You will get a percentage difference between the costs in that city and Lisbon.

3) Convert that percentage into a decimal.

i.e. for positive differences +1% will be 1.01, +10% will be 1.1, +25% will be 1.25

for negative differences -1% will be 0.99, -10%will be 0.9, -25% will be 0.75.

4) Using your decimal see where your city would rank in our scale.

Estimated costs in Lisbon x Your decimal = Estimated cost of living in your city.

5) Now decide what your actual average monthly living expenses are/were in the city you chose.

6) Compare it to the figure you calculated in step 3.

7) Divide your actual monthly living costs by the estimated living costs to give you a figure (it should be fairly close to 1).

8) Write this figure down somewhere. Do it to at least two decimal places.

9) To calculate your likely living expenses in any of the cities on this page you just need to multiply our estimate by the number you have just written down.


You are from Leeds but Leeds isn’t featured in our list however it is close to Manchester and probably has a similar cost of living.

The comparison tool says that Leeds is 1% more expensive than Manchester.

+1% gives us a decimal of 1.01 and our estimated costs in Manchester are 953 Euros.

953 x 1.01 = 963 so imagine Leeds is now in our table at 963 Euros per month.

However in your experience you actually spend 1100 Euros per month in Leeds.

actual living costs/estimated living costs is 1100/963 = 1.14.

You want to know what your likely living expenses in Bangkok might be. Our table has Bangkok as €593.

1.14 x 593 = €676

So in Bangkok your estimated living costs would be €676.



If your brain has just exploded we apologise!

For an easier read, check out five cheap but cool countries to live in.

This article was published in August 2014.

Teaching English as a Foreign Language – TEFL FAQs

How to Become an English Teacher Abroad

intro | get qualified | where to go | finding jobs | short-term work | FAQs

Teaching English as a Foreign Language – TEFL FAQs

Some of these points we covered in the previous sections, but they are common doubts amongst newcomers to the world of TEFL. If your question isn’t answered then use the comments section at the bottom and we’ll get back to you.

Do I need to know the local language to be an English teacher abroad?

No is the answer to this in the vast majority of cases. Of course it helps if you know a bit, but lessons can and in the opinion of many in the profession should be solely in English. You can use various prompts and materials to explain what you mean and even with weaker students it is relatively easy to get your point across with a bit of persistence.

Is it better to apply for TEFL jobs from abroad or once you’ve arrived at your destination?

It’s much easier once you’ve arrived but that doesn’t mean you can’t start looking before you hit your planned destination. Send out CV’s to schools and you should at least be able to arrange a couple of interviews for when you do arrive. For more on this see the finding jobs section.

I’m not a native English speaker. Can I still teach English?

Yes. Non-native speakers have the advantage of having actually learnt the language from scratch in a school environment so you may be able to relate to your students better than a native speaker. Schools generally prefer native teachers but if you have a high level of proficiency there are still plenty of opportunities for non-native English speakers. There is a quick English test on TEFL247 that will give you an idea if your English is good enough to teach.

What is a typical background for an EFL teacher?

Truth be told EFL teachers come from all sorts of different backgrounds and given that it is very easy to get into and pretty much any English speaker can do it, there is no typical path into it. A typical TEFL course or TEFL workplace will consist of people aged anywhere between 18 and 65 and probably from a variety of different countries. People from the UK, USA, Australia, South Africa and Canada have an obvious advantage but the demand for teachers is very high and there are probably just as many non-native speakers who get into TEFL as there are natives.

I am really bad at English Grammar! How can I be expected to teach anyone?

grammar teflEven if you think you are good at grammar there is a whole lot that you probably don’t know yet that you need to, in order to be an English teacher. This is one of the main reasons why you need to do a TEFL course and grammar is a big part of it.

Many new teachers feel the same way to begin with and many experienced ones still struggle with it from time to time. In answer to the question, you just have to learn it which can be a daunting prospect as you encounter a whole heap of new jargon. It will change the way you think about your own language!

Non native speakers often make better grammar teachers because they have gone through the process of learning it from the beginning rather than native speakers who pick it up naturally without thinking about it.

How Much Money Can I make teaching English?

You are never going to get rich from teaching English (unless you start your own language school) but it’s generally quite easy to find work. Pay varies from city to city, country to country and continent to continent and ultimately comes down to simple demand and supply. If the demand for English is high, but few teachers want to live/work there then wages will be high (e.g. Korea or Saudi Arabia where business with Western nations and companies is booming so people need English but few teachers want to live in a hot desert where they can’t get drunk at the weekend). Somewhere like Thailand that is a more popular place for foreigners to live, has high demand for English thanks to a huge tourism industry but also has a high number of English teachers so wages aren’t anything amazing but enough to live very comfortably.

In truth, although the job is pretty similar wherever you go, pay varies greatly across the world. In Latin America for example teaching wages are on the face of it extremely low yet will just about cover your living costs. Pay in Europe is much higher but so are living expenses so you’ll do well to save much money while teaching in Europe. The real money is to be made in Asia, where working for 6 months or more in Korea or China for example should leave you with some sizeable savings to go travelling on or take back home. In English speaking countries, jobs are much harder to come by if you don’t have much experience but there is still a market. Summer camps in the UK for example are fairly easy to get into and offer excellent potential to save up some money all be it over a short time period.

In the Where to Teach section we provided a summary of some of the better paying countries.

Will I be teaching mostly adults or children? Which is better?

Depending on your school you could be teaching anything from a group of middle-aged business people to a class of screaming 4 year olds and sometimes both on the same day. Many teachers enjoy the diversity that brings while others have their preferences. Kids and teens can be hard work but have lots of crazy ideas so it’s often more enjoyable and they have lower expectations and are less likely to complain. Adults behave but are more reserved and expect to actually learn rather than have fun! It’s good to experience both sides of the coin and you’ll quickly know which one you prefer.

Can I just quit after a couple of months if I want to visit somewhere else?

Well yes. Like any job you can quit if you don’t want to do it anymore but you will almost certainly be asked how long you intend to stay for during your interview. It’s up to you how honest you want to be and we wouldn’t condone lying but many teachers do. A lot of English Schools around the world do tend to have a very high turnover of staff but as we mentioned in the previous section it’s pretty dishonest behaviour and doesn’t reflect well on you.

If you don’t feel as though the school is treating you well then that is a totally different matter. In an industry where it’s very easy to find work, the ball should be in your court and you should be looked after. Don’t let schools bully you around.

I’m not sure I’m ready to teach but I’ve heard of people working as an English Language Assistant. How do I do this?

There are language assistant programs that you can join and some schools actively hire them. You don’t need a TEFL course for this but will probably need a degree or be in the process of getting it. Most language assistants tend to be in their 20s. If you are a Brit have a look at the British Council’s Language Assistant programme. In some countries (Spain is a good example) you can also pretty easily get on their own governments language assistant programme by turning up in the country and making a few enquiries. There aren’t nearly as many opportunities for assistants as there are teachers but if you can get a language assistant role it’s quite a nice job but not normally that well paid.

How much work is involved in TEFL?

Almost everywhere roughly 20 hours a week of teaching should cover your living expenses. 20-25 hours is generally considered full-time in the TEFL world but some at least basic lesson planning and travel time between classes means it’s not the always the cushy job that it might sound like. It’s generally speaking not difficult work once you’re used to it and can be quite rewarding but it’s not for everyone. Teaching children and unruly teenagers can be tiresome. Adult classes tend to be easier but they will expect to learn and will get annoyed and drop out if they don’t!

What is a typical day or week like as an EFL teacher?

It depends what type of school you work for. Some language schools have all the classes on site. Typically you might work say 4 or 5 days a week with an evening schedule of 4.30pm to 9.30pm. Many classes are scheduled late because the students come after work or school.

Alternatively you could be teaching business or after-school classes in which case you may have to do a lot of travelling between classes to different locations. Your school should pay for your transport if this is the case. A few schools require you to teach Saturday morning classes (usually to kids). Try to find a job with at least two consecutive days off which allows you to get away and travel at the weekend.

A typical day might consist of you getting to school an hour or so before your first class to plan and prepare materials or attend meetings. Then you can be teaching for four or five hours with the odd break in between classes. Classes can last anything from 45 minutes to 2 hours depending on the school and the type of students.

Can I teach privately?

Yes. You will probably make more money too per class but students can be unreliable. It also takes time to find students and you don’t benefit from the resources that many language schools have. One to one classes can also be pretty hard work but it’s good money if you can build up the contacts and keep your students happy.

This article was published in September 2014.

How to find Short-term English Teaching Jobs

How to Become an English Teacher Abroad

intro | get qualified | where to go | finding jobs | short-term work | FAQs

How to find Short-term English Teaching Jobs

For those who see teaching English, primarily as a means to travel then short-term jobs are ideal. However most language schools around the world are reluctant to take people on for only a short period of time. Most contracts are for 9 months or one school year. While it is fairly common to break contracts (if you’re school even gives you one) it is still obviously unprofessional and could come back to haunt you in the future when you apply for jobs and have your employment history checked up. Employers are unlikely to vouch for your excellent character and talent if you have performed a disappearing act on them.

Therefore English language camps provide the best way to get short-term TEFL work that will enable you to earn some money while visiting a new country for a short time. You can find them by similar methods to those listed on the previous page and mostly they take place in the summer.

If you fancy more of an adventure check out this school in Brazil, who we know are looking for short-term native speakers (as of January 2017).

UK English Language Summer Camps

There are loads of summer camps in the UK which cater to children and teenagers from other countries who come over for a few weeks to learn English in the summer. There are probably about 100 in different parts of the country that hire EFL teachers so it’s quite easy to get work.

It’s a great way to get some experience in TEFL and although it is hard work, it can also be great fun with lots of free trips and excursions included. The requirements are generally the same and almost all require you to have a TEFL certificate (4 week course). A degree and previous experience is often not necessary though and you will typically be interviewed on skype or on the phone. TEFL.com is the best place to find these jobs and you should think about applying from January onwards when the adverts start to appear.

The pay is also excellent and ranges from about £300 to £450 a week plus accommodation and three meals a day. The camps typically run from the start of July until mid August and given that you will spend very little onsite then you have the potential to save up as much as £2000 if you work for six weeks. Take a quick look at our budget travel table and you will note that this can pay for quite a lot of travel in some parts of the world!

Other EFL Camps

During the summer break and main holiday periods, many language schools around the world put on short-term courses and sometimes you can find work on these. There are also more specialist language camps which only operate during the summer. In Spain TECS have loads of camps all over the country and obviously the summer is a bit better than in rainy Britain. The pay isn’t as good though.

Korea is also pretty good for summer work and of course they tend to pay very well. You can use it as a base for seeing a bit of the Far East. Do a bit of research an you can probably find this sort of work in most countries and it might even be possible to do a whole year of travel, jumping from camp to camp with some travelling in between.

Winter in the Northern Hemisphere is probably the worst time to look for work as this is the middle of the school year and the weather doesn’t really suit camp life which is largely outdoors. There are exceptions though such as the Nordic School who run winter camps in freezing Finland.

camp fun

Work as a Camp Monitor or Activity Leader

If you don’t want to teach but like the idea of working at English language camps then you can apply to be an activity leader, counsellor or camp monitor. You won’t get paid quite as much but will be doing sports or trips almost every day and will get out and about more than teachers so you should see some of the highlights of the country where you are based for free! You don’t really need any qualifications for this but you need to be fairly outgoing and have some talents (sport/art/music etc). If you enjoy working with kids then this might be the job for you.



This article was published in September 2014.

How to find TEFL jobs

How to Become an English Teacher Abroad

intro | get qualified | where to go | finding jobs | short-term work | FAQs

How to find TEFL jobs

There are two basic methods you can use to land a job teaching English.

1) Pack your things, jump on a plane to somewhere you want to live and go find a job

This requires a bit of balls and you will need a bit of money saved up to cover the initial period when you’re looking for work. The vast majority of jobs are not advertised online and most employers won’t take you seriously unless you are physically in their country and inside their school. If you opt for this it’s best to head out a week or so before the start of the school year (varies from country to country) and head from school to school with your CV. In many places you have a decent chance of being offered a job on the spot! This is the best method for finding work, especially in Europe where it’s hard to find a job in advance.

It can be a bit daunting to do this at first though, so there’s no harm in sending out few enquiries and trying to line up an interview or two in advance. Most EFL interviews are fairly straight forward affairs where their main goal is to confirm that you can indeed speak English clearly.

You might find our living costs guide useful in deciding upon where to go. With a bit of research online you can find out about TEFL salaries in different places so by comparing the two you can get an idea of how much money you can save up in different places.

2) Browse the Internet for TEFL jobs and sort it out in advance

Some of the bigger schools, countries where there is high demand and some schools in less popular countries use the Internet to recruit teachers. China and South Korea are perhaps the two countries which has a constant stream of TEFL jobs advertised online but there are positions offered all over the world. If you upload your CV to websites you may even be approached by schools.

A few TEFL job websites worth looking at are:


You will probably need to have a fairly simple SKYPE interview to secure a job. The downside of this method is that it offers little security for either party. Teachers do accept jobs and then have a sudden change of heart about their upcoming move to Uzbekistan. From your point of view you should be aware that many English language schools and agencies are also a little bit dodgy. Some will try to get your money in exchange for their services. You shouldn’t have to pay to get a job (especially one that might not even exist). Use a forum like the one on Dave’s ESL Cafe to try and contact people who have worked for the school in the past or can verify that they are a legitimate organisation.

summer camp efl

How easy is it to find work teaching English as a Foreign Language?

While you may not have had much idea before of how to find TEFL jobs, a more important question is perhaps how many jobs are out there. It varies from country to country but generally speaking it is often ridiculously easy to find an English teaching job. Better still from a travel perspective, there is a market for English teachers in practically every single nation on the planet. English is the international language so if you’re a native speaker with a TEFL qualification you shouldn’t have much trouble finding work. A degree is required in a few of the more academically minded countries in the Far East but isn’t a necessity in most. Teaching English is by no means solely an option for native speakers and people from all kinds of different backgrounds end up making a living in TEFL.

Overall if you are certain about where you want to go, you will have more chance with method 1 then method 2. Employers will take your application much more seriously if you show up in person rather than send them an e-mail from the other side of the world with vague plans to come and teach English in their country. If you’re open-minded about where you teach then you can have some success with method 2 especially once you have built up some experience.

A good tip for beginners is to do a TEFL course in a city which you would like to teach. If you do well on the course, the school may even employ you but as a minimum they should help you find work and it gives you a chance to make friends and get to know the city too. Short-term jobs at summer camps are also a nice way to get your first TEFL experience.



This article was published in September 2014.

Where can you Teach English abroad?

How to Become an English Teacher Abroad

intro | get qualified | where to go | finding jobs | short-term work | FAQs

Where can you teach English abroad?

The answer to that question is almost anywhere. English is the clear number one international language and so people all over the world need to speak it. It is a simple game of demand and supply. In most countries the demand for English seriously exceeds the number of people capable of teaching it.

If you understood that last sentence then you could meet that demand, have hopefully a great experience abroad and maybe even save up some money. Some countries have a preference for Americans, others prefer European teachers. Some countries require you to have a degree, some require you to have a TEFL qualifications, others require neither and a few require both. Whatever your situation if you can speak English there is a country and a job out there for you.

Some of the more popular countries & regions for TEFL

korea tefl

South Korea

(pictured above)

PROs – Some of the highest salaries in the world and a great place to save money. Many schools will even pay for your return flight there and you can use it as a base to explore other countries during your lengthy holidays.

CONs – Korea has a somewhat unfair reputation for being a bit boring. It certainly lacks the appeal of places like Thailand or Japan in the eyes of most teachers and travellers.


PROs – More exciting than Korea and less likely to get nuked! The JET programme enables you to work for a shorter period than your typical TEFL contract. High salaries too often including accommodation.

CONs – Japan is a very expensive country to live in so it would be a very brave or very rich person who heads out there without a job lined up.


PROs – Huge and increasing demand for teachers. Salaries are also increasing rapidly and there is lots of university work available which many teachers prefer.

CONs– Outside the more popular cities you might be one of very few foreigners in the town which some teachers find very isolating. Chinese is hard to learn and you need to know some to get by in most of the country.

Spain and Italy

PROs – Laid back lifestyle, some of the funnest people in Europe and a larger demand for teachers than other parts of the continent.

CONs – Limited chance of saving any money as wages are generally fairly low. Americans and Canadians will struggle to get a work visa without holding an EU passport.

Southeast Asia – Primarily Thailand and Vietnam

PROs – The same reasons so many people travel to the region. Intriguing culture, fantastic food and beautiful destinations.

CONs – It’s fairly popular with teachers but you should be able to find work. Many schools aren’t great though and you can get messed around.

South America – Chile and Ecuador amongst the most popular

PROs – Opportunity to learn Spanish cheaply and use it as a base for exploring South America.

CONs – Some of the lowest paying TEFL salaries in the world.

The Middle East – Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE etc

PROs – Fantastic Salaries. Comparable to those of a highly skilled profession back home.

CONs – Living in a country which adheres to strict Islamic principles isn’t for everyone. It’s also really really hot!


(pictured below)

PROs – A famous man once said that wherever there are billionaires there are English language schools. Okay we made that up but it’s probably true. Russia is an emerging market with lots of demand for English teachers.

CONs – It’s difficult unless you speak some Russian and getting a visa to go there is a hassle.

st petersburg tefl



This article was published in September 2014.

Get Qualified to Teach English Abroad

How to Become an English Teacher Abroad

intro | get qualified | where to go | finding jobs | short-term work | FAQs

How to get qualified in TEFL (TESOL)

While it is occasionally possible to find work without any English language teaching qualifications, it’s not a good idea to dive straight into the classroom without any form of training. There are lots of possible qualifications and they are not all the same so it’s important you chose wisely. Once qualified many more doors will open up to you and you will quickly pay for your training.

In your initial research into the whole TEFL industry you will probably come across numerous different websites and language schools telling you why you should do their course. It is very important to note that not all TEFL qualifications are the same and in fact some are hardly worth the paper they are written on. 

Online TEFL Qualifications

Some people aren’t convinced in the value of online qualifications as they don’t include any actual teaching practice but there are some advantages to doing them:

1) They are much cheaper than other TEFL Courses and are a good option for people who have no long-term plans to teach English other than to do a bit on their travels.

2) If you aren’t sure if TEFL is for you then an online course gives you a good idea of what is involved in teaching English as a foreign language.

3) If you decide to go onto to do a full TEFL qualification then you will come in with a large amount of knowledge which will help you out no end in what will be a very intensive period.

4) You can do it in your own time and fit it around your life whereas in-centre courses usually require you to commit all your energy towards it for the duration of the course.

5) Although employers often demand full TEFL qualifications, online qualifications may help you find work and certainly won’t do any harm.

On the negative side if you’re looking into becoming an English teacher as a career, even if it is just for a few years, you won’t get very far with an online qualification. Getting fully qualified will give you access to a greatly increased number of better paying jobs and enable you to be much better prepared for the classroom.

Get a Full TEFL Qualification

A full TEFL qualification typically consists of a four week full-time course that includes six hours of teaching practice. There are loads of different schools and organisations around the world that offer what on the face of it are very similar courses. In reality although they are similar, the final certificate you get at the end isn’t equal.

The two qualifications that really stand out from the rest are:


tefl qualification

Some courses are billed as CELTA equivalents and are probably just as good at preparing you for the classroom but aren’t as respected by future employers. It is better to do either the CELTA or the Trinity course.

They are very similar and typically involve an intense four week course with six hours of actual teaching practice. The Trinity involves teaching children for at least one class, whereas the slightly more common CELTA doesn’t but in essence they are treated equally by prospective employers. You can do the course in hundreds of locations around the world. It can be a good idea to do it in the place you would like to work once you’re qualified as you may be provided with assistance in finding a job but be suspicious of any course that guarantees you work immediately after you qualify.

There are hundreds of different schools that offer these courses:

Find somewhere to do the CELTA course

Find somewhere to do the Trinity Cert TESOL

There aren’t usually any necessary prerequisites that you need to get on a TEFL course. You don’t need a degree or any work experience but may be asked to take an English test if you are not a native English speaker.

CELTA or Trinity courses normally cost in the region of £800-1000 or roughly $1500. The price varies around the world but the course is basically the same worldwide and you will receive the same final certificate. Once qualified you have an excellent chance of finding work in many countries.

Hopefully now you have some idea of what it takes to get qualified to teach English abroad. However that’s only the start of the road. The fun part is choosing where to go and we cover that in the next section.



This article was published in September 2014.