Choosing which country to relocate to is undoubtedly a huge decision. There are, of course, dozens of factors that go into deciding where to become an expat, but I thought I would break down some countries into a few simple categories in line with many reasons why people decide to move abroad.
Now it’s no secret that everyone’s opinion is totally different and you may disagree with some of my labels or think that a country should land somewhere else on my list. Let me know in the comments below what your experience has been like in the locations! I’m just placing them where I do from some of my own experiences and what I’ve read from other teachers. Don’t take my world for it, do your own research and let me know what you come up with!
You want…a country that is good for first timers.
Are you a new teacher? Have you never lived abroad before? Do you want schools with their own curriculums? No shame in any of those reasons at all! It’s smart to go “easy” on your first teaching job! Look into jobs in countries like South Korea, China, or Thailand. Lots of first time teachers head to those locations and they are used to dealing with new educators! Most schools seem to have a curriculum already which means there won’t be to much lesson development on your part. These are good locations to get your feet wet and learn from more experienced people in your field.
You want…a country that you can make good money.
Until you can work at the University level you’re probably not going to be making a butt-load of cash teaching. However, there are definitely countries that will allow you to save more than others. Saudi Arabia, Uniter Arab Emirates and others in the Middle East are notorious for a good paycheck. Though they usually ask for at least three years teaching experience and a two year contract, this is a good area to head to if you need to make some good wages. South Korea also pays really well and provides housing. I’ve heard on average a new teacher could save $10,000USD if they don’t spend all their money on drinks. Japan also pays well, unfortunately their price of living is high; whereas Vietnam might not pay a huge amount but in relation to their price of living, you can save if you try. Research what an average year wage is for ESL teachers in the countries you are interested in is and try to find jobs that provide housing and pay above and beyond. They do exist, you’ll just have to be patient!
You want…a cultural experience.
Now, every country is going to have a certain amount of culture shock, so I just picked countries that seem to have very distinct customs, clothing, food, architecture, and religious practices. Places like Japan, Italy, Thailand, Russia, Mongolia, and Turkey come to mind immediately. Whether it’s the shrines, festivals, markets, historical sites, or exotic fruit, these places will throw you in the deep end of cultural emersion. Not to say they are at all unwelcome to the novice Westerner, (on the contrary you will feel very comfortable I’m quite sure) but these countries all seem to have held onto their rich history and you can catch more than just mire glimpses all around you.
You want…an adventure.
This is where I come in. I wanted adventure and to get off the beaten path. Of course, I’m starting in Hong Kong which isn’t at all off the main road, but I’ll get to the wild unknown soon enough! Maybe it’s eating fried tarantula in Cambodia or moving to the rarely visited Burma or unknown Myanmar. Maybe it’s relocating to a small, beach village in southern Thailand or traversing the markets of Casablanca, Morraco. Does a Himalayan village of Nepal sound good? What about a semester teaching in Madagascar? These places will be a lot of hard work and not the least bit glamourous, but the reward would be unspeakable. If you seek adventure then stay away from big cities and choose schools that seem small or isolated. (Of course, take extra care and be safe!) And hey, after a year spent in the outskirts of Siberia you’ll forever be that guy at parties!