Top Destinations for Teaching Abroad
Teaching has always been a ticket to see the world, and the English language your opportunity. But how can you narrow down your options? Christopher Nye, Senior Editor at Property Guides and himself once a TEFL teacher, runs through a few global highlights.
Native British speakers don’t know how lucky they are. Even with Brexit cutting our other options for working abroad, with a TEFL qualification you’re pushing on an open door. While spending a year teaching English in Mallorca many moons ago, I once spent an evening in a bar commiserating with a lady who was trying to find a market to teach Serbo-Croat, with little success. No problem for the English however.
But once you have your TEFL certificate, where should you go?
At Property Guides we have done extensive research into different locations and the appeal of each.
Best for the single teacher – Spain
While most British moving abroad do so as a family or retired couple, many TEFL teachers are going it alone. Our researchers crunched the numbers, including data such as affordability on one salary, safety, strength of community support, the percentage of other single people there and overall life satisfaction.
We found that the best place to move abroad as a single person was Spain. In its favour was the weather, of course, with around twice the sunshine hours of the UK, meaning that whenever you’re out of the classroom you can probably be outside more generally. It’s a non-judgemental sort of country, very LGTB+-friendly, where a single woman, or man, should feel safe and welcome. While Spain has far more bars than most countries, it is only mid-table for alcohol consumption, suggesting that people are sociable, but not falling down!
Plus, you can easily pop back to the UK to see friends in half-term (or more likely, welcome them to your place).
Most affordable – Italy
No-one is going to suggest that teaching will make your fortune (although we did have a friend who taught the royal children in Bahrain and received gold jewellery quite regularly in lieu of an apple for teacher).
The winner in our most recent Overseas Cost of Living Index was Italy – at least for general groceries. The other great benefit of Italy is that so many of the best things in life there are free. The views, the history, beaches and even a lot of the culture. You can still get your morning espresso for one euro.
Indeed, if you move to some of the less populated southern regions you can buy a house for one euro. You will of course need to commit to doing it up, but what better project in your holidays?
Best for a long life – Costa Rica
Teaching English abroad is something you can do at almost any age. Perhaps you’ve spent a lifetime in the classroom (or it just feels like it) and wish to swap your chilly British school for something a bit more exotic.
Costa Rica, and in particular the Nicoya Peninsula on the Pacific coast, has been highlighted as an area where people just tend to live longer. It could be a healthy diet, warm sun, safety, active lifestyle, friendly community, or a combination of all of those.
Or maybe the fact that you shouldn’t have money worries either. The cost of living is low and there are low tax schemes for residents from overseas too.
Most sunshine, cheapest homes – Portugal and Turkey
Ever find yourself gazing over the heads of pupils to the sunshine outside and daydreaming about being out in it more? Well pay attention please! Let’s be honest, most of the world is sunnier than the UK, but some of it is too expensive to buy in.
So, Property Guides took a few of the world’s great seaside destinations and calculated where offered the most sunbeams for your sterling.
And the winner from western Europe was the Algarve in Portugal, and in the east was the Turkish Riviera. A single person can buy an apartment even in such beautiful and historic areas as Bodrum or Fethiye for less than £50,000 while enjoying around 2,600 hours of sunshine per year. Compare that with, say, Blackpool, and you’re paying possibly twice as much for half the sunshine.
For those looking closer to home, Portugal is a good compromise, with over 3,000 hours of sunshine a year, great travel links all year, and affordable property.
Happiest Children – Mexico
It’s generally easier to teach happy children, yet todays’ teens have rarely experienced more pressure and stress. So where can expect to find the best adjusted and happiest kids?
UNICEF’s “innocent Report Card 16”, from 2020, found that the countries with the highest life satisfaction at age 15 were in order: the Netherlands, Mexico, Romania, Finland and Croatia.
The Netherlands is even more expensive to live in than the UK, whereas overall prices in Mexico are around half the UK’s, so let’s focus on this much misunderstood country. According to UNICEF 86% of 15-year-olds have high life satisfaction compared to 64% in the UK.
Although infamous for crime, Mexico is far from lawless and most expats live happy lives there without ever seeing an incident. As Simon Anholt, creator of the Good Country Index explained: “I lived in Mexico for six months and it is a very liveable place. The Mexicans are the most delightful people and crime is very localised.”
Wherever you choose to teach, bear in mind that it won’t be the country itself that makes your stay a success. It will be about your own attitude and preparation, and the suitability of the teaching setting. So be bold and confident!