The number of UK teachers taking up teaching positions in foreign countries continues to increase with each passing year. In 2016, over 100,000 British teachers, or almost 22% of the approximately 450,000 teachers presently working in Britain, were working abroad. This is happening despite the critical shortage of teachers in the country, leading to one union leader calling the situation “potentially catastrophic.”
Some argue that the situation is caused by the low pay of teachers in UK coupled with high workload and stress. While this is true to a degree, the primary reason why teachers choose to work abroad is because it is a more attractive career and lifestyle option. So what are the benefits of teaching abroad that makes it so attractive?
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Depending on their qualification and experience, as well as the host country, teachers can generally look forward pay bumps ranging from 20% to 100%. The wages are particularly higher in the Middle East. In addition, almost all Middle Eastern nations provide teachers with tax-free salaries.
The cost of living in UK is the 13th highest in the world, while London is the 12th most expensive city to live in. Even if teachers receive the same wages while working abroad, they would be living in relative luxury if they were based in countries like China (ranked 59th), Malaysia (75th) or Vietnam (95th). An average pub meal in UK, for instance, cost between £8 and £12 – that would be enough to pay for the meal of a dozen people in Myanmar (Burma)! When you consider the pricing difference for transportation, grocery, clothes, house rental, etc., you will begin to understand the kind of savings expatriate teachers can make while working in developing countries.
Speaking of rentals, most international and private schools provide free and comfortable accommodation for foreign teachers (or at least, provide a housing allowance). Ironically, quite a number of British teachers actually use the savings here to purchase properties in UK. By the time they return from the global walkabout, they would’ve probably paid off a large chunk of the mortgage.
Many Britons are able to endure the biting cold of winter by dreaming of a summer vacation on a sunny beach somewhere. Teachers who are working abroad, meanwhile, live in warm and sunny weather pretty much the entire year (unless they specifically chose to work in the mountains of Azerbaijan, northern China, or other similar places). Teachers work between six and eight hours a day, and they have the rest of the day to enjoy the weather. And during the weekends, they can just take a short drive or bus ride to nearby beaches for more fun in the sun. What’s not to love?
One of the most gratifying things about working abroad is the chance to experience various cultures and live in different communities. It’s exciting, emotionally rewarding, and enriching. People will also become more mature and tolerant having experienced living with people of different beliefs, faiths and lifestyle.
So, are you tempted to make the leap now?
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