What Are the Best Countries for ESL Teachers to Save Money?

By Editorial Staff •  Updated: 12/01/23 •  Teach Abroad

We all yearn for a chance to tuck away some extra savings while engaging in careers that spark joy and purpose. For those of us who’ve embraced the adventure of teaching ESL overseas, finding that sweet spot between financial security and job satisfaction can sometimes feel like walking a high wire.

Trust us, we’re speaking from experience—with numerous stamps on our passports and chalk dust on our hands, we understand how much your chosen destination can sway the health of your bank account.

Through diligent research—and perhaps a touch too much coffee—we’ve pinpointed those ideal locales where teaching English isn’t just about enriching minds but also bolstering your savings.

These are places where adventures abound, personal growth is inevitable, and your financial future looks bright. So come along as we reveal these gems! Let’s make your aspiration to teach-and-travel morph into an economic triumph!

Key Takeaways

Factors to Consider When Choosing Where to Teach English

When choosing where to teach English, consider factors such as ESL salary and benefits, cost of living, start-up costs, and lifestyle.

ESL salary and benefits

We know that salary is a big part of why we all consider teaching English abroad. ESL salaries can be quite attractive, especially in places like South Korea and the United Arab Emirates, where you not only earn a competitive wage but often benefit from additional perks such as free housing or airfare reimbursement.

In these countries, it’s common to stash away significant savings each month; some of us have managed to save upward of $1,000-$1,500 monthly.

Perks vary by country and job position but frequently include health insurance, paid vacation days, and end-of-contract bonuses. For instance, taking on an ESL role in China positions you in one of the best job markets for English teachers globally with strong saving potentials due to high salaries coupled with modest living costs.

Meanwhile in Vietnam, the laid-back lifestyle and affordable living expenses mean more money stays in your pocket at the end of each month. These benefits make these locations top picks for us who want to teach English overseas without sacrificing financial well-being.

Cost of living

Understanding the salary and benefits that come with ESL teaching positions is critical, but assessing the cost of living in your potential new home is just as vital. Our savings hinge on more than just our income; they depend on how much it costs us to live day-to-day.

Take Thailand for instance, where a lower cost of living allows English teachers to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle, but the pay at government schools has not increased that much to keep up with current prices.

Exploring countries like Vietnam further highlights this concept. Here, you can embrace a relaxed way of life without worrying about breaking the bank thanks to affordable food, housing, and entertainment options.

Similarly, China’s vast job market pairs well with reasonable living expenses—giving you ample room to save from your salary as an ESL teacher. It’s all about balancing earnings with expenses so we can reach our financial goals while teaching abroad.

Start-up costs

Transitioning from the cost of living, it’s also crucial to weigh the initial expenses of moving abroad. Start-up costs can take a significant chunk out of your budget before you even begin saving.

These include airfare, housing deposits, and setting up your new home. In countries like China and South Korea, though, some schools reimburse flights or provide free housing which slashes these upfront costs massively. Other countries like Thailand and Vietnam provide no such support (unless you’re teaching at an international school).

We must consider all necessary purchases upon arrival—furnishings for an apartment, classroom supplies not provided by the school, and local transportation fees. However, in places like Vietnam and Thailand where the cost of living is remarkably low, these one-time expenditures won’t break the bank.

Careful planning and a clear understanding of what’s provided by employers can smooth this transition without derailing our savings goals right from the start.


Teaching English abroad provides the opportunity to immerse oneself in diverse cultures, experience new traditions, and explore fascinating destinations. Living a lifestyle as an ESL teacher often involves embracing a mix of adventure, personal growth, and meaningful connections with locals.

The laid-back lifestyle in countries like Vietnam and Thailand allows for a healthy work-life balance while offering opportunities to save money due to their low cost of living. With vibrant landscapes, bustling cities, and rich historical sites awaiting exploration during days off, teaching in these countries caters to both an enriching career path and an exciting lifestyle.

As we delve into the top 10 countries for ESL teachers to save money, it’s essential to understand how each location can enhance both professional development and overall quality of life.

Top 10 Countries for ESL Teachers to Save Money

South Korea, China, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, Turkey, Czech Republic, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia offer great opportunities to save money while teaching English abroad.

Interested in learning more about these top countries for ESL teachers? Keep reading to find out how you can start saving while teaching overseas.

South Korea – Save $500-$1000 a month

South Korea offers ESL teachers an excellent opportunity to save money, with the potential to save $1,000-$1,500+ per month. The country’s robust English education market and high demand for English teachers make it a top choice for those looking to teach abroad and build savings.

South Korea also boasts a captivating blend of modernity and tradition, providing a unique cultural experience alongside financial benefits. Its rolling mountains and rich history add intrigue to the teaching experience while still allowing teachers to maximize their earnings.

With its competitive salary packages and relatively low cost of living compared to Western countries, South Korea emerges as an enticing destination for ESL professionals seeking both financial security and cultural immersion.

China – Save $500-$1000 a month

China offers one of the best job markets for teaching English abroad, making it a great place for ESL teachers to save money. With the world’s highest population, there is a high demand for English teachers across various regions in China.

This provides ample opportunities for ESL teachers to earn a good salary and save money while experiencing an enriching cultural immersion.

Teachers in China can benefit from competitive salaries and benefits, as well as low living costs in many areas. By taking advantage of these favorable conditions, ESL instructors can maximize their savings potential while enjoying the adventure of working and living in one of the most dynamic countries in the world.


Transitioning from China, another top destination for ESL teachers to consider is Japan. Known for its unique blend of ancient traditions and modern technology, Japan offers ESL teachers the opportunity to immerse themselves in a rich cultural experience while also saving money.

With competitive salaries and a relatively low cost of living compared to Western countries, Japan presents itself as an attractive option for those seeking to teach English abroad and build their savings.

In addition to financial benefits, teaching English in Japan allows educators to explore stunning landscapes, indulge in delicious cuisine, and engage with the country’s fascinating history.

Taiwan – Save $500

Transitioning from the potential for ESL teachers to save money in Japan, Taiwan also offers attractive opportunities for educators looking to build savings. With a lower cost of living compared to many Western countries and competitive salaries, ESL teachers in Taiwan can expect to put away a substantial amount each month.

Surrounded by beautiful scenery, including stunning mountains and diverse coastlines, teaching English in Taiwan is not only financially rewarding but also provides an enriching cultural experience for educators seeking international opportunities.


Teaching English in Vietnam presents a fantastic opportunity for ESL teachers to save money, thanks to its low cost of living and laid-back lifestyle. With monthly savings potential ranging between $400-800, Vietnam offers affordability without compromising on the richness of cultural experiences.

The high demand for English teachers in Vietnam provides ample opportunities for career advancement while enjoying the country’s beautiful landscapes and historical sites.

Vietnam welcomes ESL teachers with its vibrant culture and warm hospitality, making it an attractive destination not only for saving money but also for embracing new perspectives and immersing oneself in a unique way of life.


Turkey is another country where ESL teachers can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle while saving money. With its rich history, diverse culture, and stunning landscapes, Turkey offers a unique experience for ESL teachers looking to work abroad.

The demand for English teachers is growing, particularly in cities like Istanbul and Ankara. Moreover, with competitive salaries and relatively lower living costs compared to Western Europe or North America, teaching English in Turkey provides substantial opportunities for saving money.

Expats are drawn to Turkey’s vibrant cities and picturesque coastal towns, finding it an ideal location to immerse themselves in a different culture while having the potential to put away significant savings each month.

Czech Republic – Save $100

Czech Republic is an attractive destination for ESL teachers looking to save money. The cost of living in the Czech Republic is relatively low, allowing ESL instructors to stretch their earnings further.

Additionally, the country’s central location in Europe provides easy access to travel and explore neighboring countries during vacations. Moreover, teaching opportunities in private language schools and international schools are abundant, offering ESL teachers a chance to advance their careers while saving money.

The Czech Republic also captivates with its beautiful architecture, rich history, and vibrant culture, providing a unique experience for ESL teachers seeking cultural immersion. With all these factors combined, teaching English in the Czech Republic presents an excellent opportunity for educators looking to teach abroad while maximizing their savings.

United Arab Emirates – Save $1000+

The United Arab Emirates offers ESL teachers the opportunity to save a significant amount of money while earning a good salary. The UAE, along with Saudi Arabia, China, South Korea, and Japan, is considered one of the countries where TEFL teachers can maximize their savings potential.

With its high standard of living and tax-free income for expatriates, the UAE provides ESL instructors with an attractive financial package. Additionally, English teachers in the UAE often receive benefits such as free accommodation or housing allowance, health insurance coverage, and even flights home each year.

These perks contribute to substantial savings for ESL teachers working in this dynamic Gulf nation.

Furthermore, teaching English in the United Arab Emirates allows educators to experience a unique blend of traditional Arabic culture and modern cosmopolitan lifestyle. The country’s strategic location also enables easy travel opportunities within the region and beyond.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia offers ESL teachers the opportunity to save a substantial amount of money while earning a competitive salary. With its low cost of living and tax-free income, ESL teachers can expect to build significant savings during their time in this Middle Eastern country.

Furthermore, many schools in Saudi Arabia provide additional benefits such as paid vacation, accommodation allowances, and flight reimbursements, further enhancing the financial advantages for ESL teachers.

Additionally, with its rich culture and fascinating history, teaching English in Saudi Arabia provides an enriching experience that goes beyond just monetary gains.

Thailand – Breakeven

Coming from the laid-back lifestyle of Vietnam, Thailand also offers ESL teachers a chance to save money due to its low cost of living. With its beautiful beaches, tranquil temples, and bustling cities, Thailand is an attractive location for those looking to work and save money.

English teachers in Thailand can benefit from the inexpensive cost of living in the country, allowing them to allocate more of their salary towards savings. The demand for English teachers continues to grow in Thailand, providing ample opportunities for ESL instructors seeking a balance between work and saving money.

Thailand presents an opportunity for ESL teachers to live comfortably while still being able to set aside a substantial amount each month. Whether it’s exploring ancient ruins or enjoying delicious street food at affordable prices, teaching in Thailand allows you not only to experience a new culture but also save significantly compared to many other countries.

Benefits of Teaching in These Countries

Teaching English in these countries offers high savings potential, cultural immersion, and career advancement opportunities.

High savings potential

When teaching English abroad, there is a high savings potential in several countries. South Korea offers the potential to save $800+ per month. China has one of the best job markets for ESL teachers with a great opportunity to save money.

Thailand provides a fun lifestyle and Vietnam boasts a laid-back lifestyle and low cost of living, making it an excellent choice for saving money while teaching English.

These countries offer various benefits such as career advancement opportunities and cultural immersion in addition to high savings potential. With ample opportunities and attractive salaries, overseas ESL teaching can be financially rewarding”.

Cultural immersion

Teaching English abroad provides a unique opportunity for cultural immersion. By living and working in a foreign country, ESL teachers can experience the local customs, traditions, and way of life firsthand.

This allows us to gain a deeper understanding of the culture, language, and values of the host country. Engaging with locals on a daily basis not only enhances our teaching experience but also broadens our perspective, leading to personal growth and development.

Moreover, cultural immersion enables us to build meaningful connections with students and colleagues while gaining insights into different educational systems. Embracing new cuisines, festivals, and social practices enriches our lives beyond the classroom, creating memories that last a lifetime.

As ESL teachers immersed in diverse cultures around the world we develop intercultural competence that fosters empathy, respect for diversity contributing positively to global citizenship.

Career advancement opportunities

While teaching English abroad offers the opportunity to save money, it also provides avenues for career advancement. Many countries value and prioritize education, leading to various professional development opportunities for ESL teachers.

In addition to the potential savings, these countries offer paths for growth within educational institutions or through language learning centers. This can include opportunities such as leadership roles, curriculum development positions, teacher training programs, and even administrative positions within schools or language institutes.

Furthermore, teaching English overseas allows ESL instructors to gain valuable international experience that can enhance their resumes and open doors to new career opportunities in other countries or back home.


In conclusion, ESL teachers have numerous countries to choose from where they can save money while teaching abroad. The decision should be based on the potential savings, cost of living, lifestyle, and career advancement opportunities in each country.

Ultimately, by making an informed choice about where to teach English overseas, ESL teachers can maximize their savings and enjoy a rewarding experience in a new cultural environment.

Making such a decision entails considering factors like salary and benefits along with start-up costs before deciding on the country that will offer them the best opportunity to save money while advancing professionally.

Editorial Staff

I'm David Unwin and I head the editorial staff here at Teach and GO. I've taught as an ESL teacher in Thailand for 5+ years at all levels of education, from elementary to University. I was also one of the first 1000 VIPKID teachers. I and my team now share my extensive experience as a teacher here at Teach and GO. Learn more.

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