The best thing about the worst things we go through is that they are always pathways to something better. A breakdown = a breakthrough we haven’t seen the other side of yet. Often when we think our lives are most in chaos, it’s because they’re re-setting to where we want them to be. Here, a few (sometimes difficult) signs that your life is actually changing for the better, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now. / jeffbergen / jeffbergen

1. You’re recognizing what you don’t want. All of a sudden, you’re becoming acutely aware of how much you dislike your work habits and how much your “friends” drain you and how little you feel like yourself lately. It may seem like you’re dissecting the anatomy of a disaster, but really, you’re getting clear on what you don’t want so you can get clearer about what you do.

2. You’re opening up to people again; isolation is no longer the most appealing option. Even if you’re just thinking about the fact that you need to open your heart more to the people around you, you’re already on the right track.

3. You’re unpredictably emotional. It’s just another way of saying that you’re not suppressing everything anymore. You’re beginning to feel again, which brings you one step closer to being able to deal with those feelings in a real way.

4. A lot of annoying clichés are starting to make sense.You’re seeing why hard work is important, and being present matters and positivity is a choice. You’re seeing how love is something you create and your life is what you make it and everything else that seemed like vapid, useless fodder is now the answer to everything, if only you could master it.

5. You’re becoming hyper self-conscious. It’s just a side effect of becoming more self-aware. Alternatively, you’re finally reaching a healthy equilibrium of being able to recognize both the positive and negative aspects about who you are, without denying or inflating either/or.


6. The changes you desire in your life surround wanting to feel more like yourself, not less. In the past, you may have dreamt of a life where you were über successful or incredibly beautiful or completely loved, all in an effort to combat feeling proportionately shitty about yourself. When you’re more in your center, you want your life to reflect who you are, not who you wish you were.

7. You feel “lost,” which is just another way of saying you’re detaching from your old ideas about what your life should be, or what the future should hold, and so on. Living in the present feels an awful lot like being “lost” before we get used to it.

8. You’re seeing your hardships as portals to a better understanding of yourself. Rather than battle off your emotional trauma or low self-esteem – or worse, try to control something else in its place – you’re beginning to realize that on the other side of the things that most deeply plague you is a deeper truth about who you are.

9. You’re beginning to realize that if you have a problem in your life, the problem is you. Aside from the fact that people love to project their issues onto other people and deflect from their own faults, whether or not a situation was your fault, if it is affecting you, it is your responsibility to change. The blame game is an irrelevant one. It’s as simple as that.

10. You know you’re not getting enough out of life, but now you’re starting to that maybe you’re not giving enough, either. You complain that you don’t have love but you don’t actually go out and try to date. You hate your job, but you don’t look for a new one. You’re always stressed, but you don’t work on being better about regulating your emotions or being able to focus harder and work more efficiently. You both recognize that you want more from your life and understand that it’s time you start making that happen.


 It’s difficult to know what apps will be useful for China, especially if you haven’t been there before. As when it comes to travelling or living in China, anything to make life easier is usually welcomed with opened arms.  One way of making things just that little easier is simply by downloading country specific apps, and since China is such a large country, with such a large market, it’s difficult to know what the best apps are for China. This fact is compounded even more if you don’t know Chinese.  To make life a little easier for you, we’ve compiled a list of the most useful apps for China, with these apps being applicable to whether you’re simply travelling or living in the Middle Kingdom!




When it comes to talking and communicating in China, this is the app that everybody uses. Apps like Viber and WhatsApp never really took off in China, instead the Chinese messaging app of Wechat is used instead. If you meet somebody new in China, they’ll ask for your Wechat number to stay connected. Wechat can translate Chinese text during conversations if you hold the persons response and select translate, this is what makes Wechat very useful.


On top of Wechats usefulness in translations, if you can manage to connect your bank card to your Wechat account, you can transfer money to other Wechat users, much like Paypal. This means that you can simply scan a QR code to pay for food or events, and no need for actual paper money. You can even pay for hotels and even order food and taxis. Using Wechat will make your time in China a lot simpler and easier.


Price: Free

Compatibility: Android, Blackberry, and IOS


QQ And QQ International


Once upon a time QQ used to be the dominant communication app in China, however recently things are moving towards Wechat simply because the alternative offers more. However having said that, QQ is still very popular, and is used as an email server for most. This is where the joke of long  and confusing Chinese email address come ll QQ address are a string of 8 to 9 numbers.


QQ also has a feature called QQ groups. Mind you the majority of these groups are in Chinese, with a very small spluttering in English, which is dependent on the town your in. But using the group feature in QQ is a possible way to meet others in the area.


Please note that the original QQ app is only in Chinese, however if you download QQ International it will be in English.


Price: Free

Compatibility: Android and IOS




This is another app which was made specifically for the Chinese market to replace an existing Western app. Tantan is a dating app and was created as an alternative to Tinder. While Tinder is used in China, Tan Tan is the main dating app which is used in China.



Price: Free

Compatibility: Android and IOS



Weibo is a micro blogging app, it’s best to be viewed as the Chinese version of Twitter. The majority of content is in Chinese, but if you can manage to navigate it, than it’s quite a useful tool for understanding what’s happening in China.


Price: Free

Compatibility: Android and IOS


Pleco Chinese Dictionary


Since Google products are banned in China, Pleco is a great alternative. Pleco is a dictionary with both English to Chinese, and Chinese to English translations. Additionally the Chinese translations are shown in both simplified Chinese, and pinyin, while also having an audio component so you can hear how the word is pronounced.


Beware though. Even though Pleco can translate small sentences, it doesn’t always have the best of luck doing so. It’s best to use Pleco for single, or several words. For longer sentences try Google Translate. 


Price: Free

Compatibility: Android and IOS


Learn Chinese Mandarin Phrases


Another great little app to have in China. The app has a quite a few basic phrases and an audio component for each phrase as well.. This will help make your initial days in China all the more easier. The app contains some simple phrases on how to greet yourself, transport, and even a few tidbits for ordering food.


Price: Free

Compatibility: Android and IOS


Waygo Visual Translator


This and Google Translate will probably be your go to apps for translation services in China. While Waygo is very helpful, and can translate large texts from signs or menus. The problem is that you can only use 10 free translations per day. If you’d like more, you’ll need to upgrade. I normally jump between using both Waygo and Google Translate.


Waygo can translate text from Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. The usefulness of this app cannot be understated for travelling or living in China.


Price: Free (10 translations per day)

Compatibility: Android and IOS


Google Translate


This seems like the most obvious choice to have, and while Google Translate is very useful in China, the problem is that for most it simply doesn’t work. What I mean by this, is that you need a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to access Google Translate. Without a VPN you wont be able to use Google Translate, or any Google product, including maps and gmail as well.


If you can manage to download a VPN, then Google Translate is phenomenal. Google Translate is free, and it can translate large bodies of text from English to Simplified Chinese, or vice versa. It can provide an audio sample of what was translated, it can also translate spoken speech, or have somebody write the character physically with the scribble tool.


While those features are very helpful, the most useful feature in my opinion is the visual translator component. Like Waygo, Google Translate can decode signs or menus from Chinese to English. Incredibly helpful. But once again, you need a VPN in order to use any of these features in China.


Price: Free (But need a VPN to use)

Compatibility: Android, Blackberry and IOS




When it comes to booking anything in China related to travel or accommodation Ctrip (now renamed is the app. The only thing you can’t book on Ctrip relating to travel are buses. Ctrip covers both domestic and international flights, high speed and slow trains all across China, along with accommodation in any city in China. You can pay for purchases using either an international or a Union Pay.


The app is available in both English and Chinese.


Price: Free

Compatibility: Android and IOS


China Metro


Catching the metro in any new city can be a little daunting. Thankfully this handy app takes some of the stress out of the equation by planning routes for you. Simply type in the name of the station your starting at and your final destination, and the app will select the easiest route for you.


The app works for most cities in China from Shanghai, Beijing, Nanjing, Hangzhou, and Guangzhou. It even works for cities which aren’t on the mainland like Hong Kong and Taiwan.


Price: Free

Compatibility: Android and IOS



Google Maps


Once again in order to take advantage of any Google product in China you’ll need a VPN. Most maps which you bring up on Baidu (the Chinese Google) will be in Chinese, so it makes it a little difficult planning routes and sight sighing when you can’t read the map to begin with. Google Maps has the name of the major sightseeing locations in English and Chinese, along with hotels, and metro stations.


Price: Free (need a VPN to use)

Compatibility: Android and IOS




Since Uber isn’t available in China, instead there is the app called Didi. Unfortunately the app isn’t available in English, but if you can get a Chinese speaker to connect your card and run you through the app, it really is quite forward. The app works much in the same way as Uber and is a great way to guarantee a taxi during peak hour times, or if your in a location where there aren’t too many taxis driving pass.


Price: Free (Only in Chinese)

Compatibility: Android and IOS




Like Wechat, Alipay is another app which you can use to pay for most things in China with. Using Alipay you’ll be able to pay for just about anything, from restaurants, taxis, shopping, groceries, movie tickets and plenty more. The app isn’t essential for getting around China, and you can certainly pay for things without it. But it does make things easier.


Price: Free

Compatibility: Android and IOS




Taobao is huge in China, it’s the Chinese eBay. In fact Taobao and Alibaba on singles day in China (the 11th of November 11/11) is one of the biggest trading days in the world, if not the biggest.  This app is more applicable for those who’ll be in China for a longer time period as you’ll need to have time for the items you order to reach you for shipping. It should be noted shipping in China is usually quite fast and only a few days most.


Taobao is known to have everything, and anything. So if you have a hankering for some Western packaged food (chocolates, crisps), than there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find it in China.


Price: Free

Compatibility: Android and IOS



While Taobao is great, and you can find just about anything on there. The problem is that it does have quite a few fake products on there, so it can be a little hard to know whether you’ll be buying the legitimate product or not. Because of this there is a solution and that is Tmall.


Only legitimate sellers of brand products are allowed on Tmall, so you can shop on Tmall with confidence knowing what your buying is real and certified and not a fake.


Price: Free

Compatibility: Android and IOS




For the same reason on wanting to use Tmall, offers the same thing for electronic products. While it is possible to buy electronics and camera gear from Taobao (which is where I bought my camera lens), thorough research needs to be conducted before doing so. offers the same certified products as Tmall does and is strongly recommended for electronic products.


Price: Free

Compatibility: Android and IOS


Waimai Meituan


This is my new favourite app for use in China. It is simply amazing, and changes seriously changes living or travelling in China. Waimai Meituan is a delivery service app with a range of products on it.  You can order meals, drinks, and even fruit and vegetables to be delivered to your address.


The app is in Chinese, but if you can someone who speaks Chinese to link your international or Chinese card to the app, you’ll be able to navigate simply using the pictures. The drivers will bring the items straight to your doorstep for only the small delivery cost of around 3 – 4 RMB, which is less than $1USD.


Price: Free (In Chinese)

Compatibility: Android and IOS




Dianping works in a similar way as does Yelp! It offers reviews on food and restaurants, and can even suggest and find restaurants around you. If you happen to find something which tickles your fancy, simply show a taxi driver the address.


Price: Free

Compatibility: Android and IOS



Air Quality China


It’s no secret that the air quality in China isn’t the best in the world. Whether you call it pollution, smog, or fog, either way it isn’t good for your health. This free app tracks the amount of fine particles (PM 2.5) in the air and rates the air quality within most cities in China, even some of the smaller cities as well.


The app not only tells you what the air quality in the moment, but it also tells you what it was in the previous 12 hours. Additionally if you’d like further information on an area, the app can also tell you the avergae air quality per day for the past month.


Price: Free

Compatibility: Android and IOS


Various VPN's 


If there was one app which I’d recommend as being the most useful as an expat, or simply a Western traveller in China, it would be a VPN. Growing up in the West and coming to China, you’ll quickly learn how reliant you are on Western products, apps, or websites.


The problem is that most of the social media platforms which you use back home are banned  in China, and you won’t be be able to access them without a VPN. If you type in the address for Facebook or Google directly, all that will happen is that the request will time out.

With a VPN you’ll be able to access Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, Youtube, Google, Google Translate, Google Maps, Gmail, and even Skype. On top of those some websites which you visit may just be banned for some unknown reason. A VPN really does make living or getting around China all the more easier.


Price: $8 – 13 USD per month

Compatibility: Android and IOS



Which apps do you find the most useful for your daily life in China? Which apps would you recommend to other expats? Let us know by commenting below!! 

Don't miss these strategies to boost your education job interviews

Following are several tips you can follow to ensure your resume is up-to-date and top-notch:

1. Check your career objectives. Are they the same as they were during your last job search?

Ensure that your resume will reflect the industry or profession that you are pursuing. It is important to remember that a resume is not just simply a history of your employment, education, professional development and associations. The resume and cover letter needs to reflect and target the position that you are seeking. Most career changers have a tough time with this. That is why they seek the help of a professional resume writer. 

2. Is your resume format outdated and uninspiring?

It is important to remember that as you grow in your profession, you must also have a resume that will reflect your professionalism. The days of the old, boring, standard resume formats are history. There are so many great sophisticated formats today that will allow you to highlight your achievements. You need to stand out from the hundreds of resumes that are received by an employer on a daily basis. Creativity, eye-catching formatting, and the ability to use keywords effectively is what will get you in the door. 

Extensive education resume writing tips and help.

Substantial academic application letter writing tips and help.

Career change to education OR out of education tips and help.

Don't miss this in-depth post on resume writing tips to please the reader's eye
Speaking of formatting don't forget to use the correct application letter format, if is vital. 

You can review our resume and cover letter samples by clicking on this link:

3. Have you added new employment, skills, and accomplishments?

Keeping your resume fresh and up-to-date is essential; you never know when an opportunity will arise. Do you really want to miss out because you were not prepared? Ensure that your added responsibilities or promotions have been reflected in your resume. Accomplishments are critical to include in your resume. Don't miss this important ingredient. 

4. Are you using up-to-date education keywords?

Most people find it hard to believe but industry jargon, buzzwords, and technology change almost daily. Make sure that your resume is peppered with these keywords. It helps to review job postings and even school district websites. This will keep you updated on the latest trends in keywords and even in interviewing techniques.  

Nowadays, when resumes are submitted online, they are first 
processed and scanned electronically by an automated 
applicant tracking system (ATS) which “reads” the resumes 
for the human resources staff before they do.

When the ATS scans your resume, it is looking for specific keywords that the school or school district has specified for the positions they are hiring for. If your resume contains enough of the desired keywords, your resume will be advanced onto the next stage of the process — getting to be viewed by actual human eyes.
Understanding how applicant tracking systems screen education candidates using keywords will make all the difference in your job search.

You may wish to read this in depth post on how to write an education consultant resume and market yourself. 
Or here is detailed information on how to write a education literacy coach resume to secure job interviews. 

Keeping your resume and cover letter updated  and “ready to go” is a great way to make sure you  do not miss out on career opportunities.

Teaching English abroad actually changed my whole life. Honestly, I look at the things I like about my life today and can attribute almost all of them to my decision to teach ESL abroad. I learned incredibly marketable skills, built a career path out of pretty much nothing and got to travel more within one year than I ever dreamed. So, in an effort to empower more people to take this leap and change their lives, I have decided to profile some pretty amazing programs that help people teach abroad.

Taking the first step towards even understanding what TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) is all about can be intimidating, let alone actually figuring out the step by step process. Maximo Nivel, a program specializing in training and placing ESL teachers, works to guide prospective teachers through the process. Not only do they provide a detailed guide of why teaching TEFL is beneficial, but they also lay out the answers to questions that have probably been on your mind.

TEFL Certification

Getting certified is typically the first step and can often be looked at like a hurdle or a deterrent. While there are plenty of TEFL certification options, Maximo Nivel actually offers one of their own. Through the program, students will learn:
• Teaching theories

• ESL techniques

• Understanding the English language structure

• Understanding language skills and systems

• Classroom management skills

• Creating effective lesson plans

• Engaging and motivating ESL learners

• ESL teaching methodologies

• How to assess ESL learners’ English levels

• Introduction to resources, tools, and materials

• Introduction to international English exams like IELTS

• Career assistance and a job finding workshop

In addition to all of these skills, students will receive a recognized accreditation, observation by experienced teachers, the chance to teach real ESL classes and constructive assessments. The entire experience goes well beyond learning as students will get to meet each other, live in close quarters and socialize in their time off. It’s a great way to make connections in the industry.

Finding a Job

For those who have successfully completed the course and obtained the certification, there is usually a big feeling of relief and accomplishment. It’s then that the next step sets in, one that often times can intimidate new teachers as well. Maximo Nivel stands by all of their students and actually works to place them in schools around the globe, taking out the worry and guesswork for students. You may have heard horror stories of shabby living situations and schools that overwork their teachers, but by being placed through the program, you can be assured that you are getting quality schools.

They offer a lifetime guarantee of help for their students which includes:

• Resume and CV preparation

• A list of language schools in the destination of your choosing

• Job boards and internet sites specializing in ESL positions

• Introduction to ESL recruiter partners

• Job offers and contract advice

• A reference letter

Just their website alone holds enough information to ease your mind and get you started on your journey. 
Teaching English in Asia taught me a whole lot about myself and what I wanted and didn’t want out of a career. I met friends from all over the world who I still visit with and talk to today. While I got my experience in China, I was able to use it to easily find teaching positions in Vietnam and Thailand too. My travels opened up and so did my career choices!

If you want to know a little more about my personal experience teaching ESL, check it out.



We’ve had lots of emails and comments sent to us about the cost of living in China. With practically everything being made in China due to the cheap cost of labor and materials, most people envision China as being a very affordable place to live. If you’re one of those people, you would be correct…mostly.

We live in Yangzhou, China, a not-so-modern city of about 5 million people with a little draw for foreign tourists and not many expats. So, the cost of living here is much less compared to the more commercialized, metropolitan cities of Beijing and Shanghai. For the major cities, take these numbers and add 50% or more. Check out this website for the cost of living in Shanghai and other parts of China.


Here’s a breakdown of our cost of living in China (all costs are per month unless stated, and are quoted in US dollars):

Apartment Rent (88 square meters):   $322.58

cost of living in china
Moving in to our new apartment in Yangzhou, China.

Agent Apartment Finder’s Fee (one time payment, 1/2 of one month’s rent):   $161.30

Property Management Fee (1 rmb/square meter):   $14.19

Internet:   $16.12

Utilities – Water:  $5

Utilities – Electric:  $50

Cell Phone:   $4.00 (Pay as you go plan. This amount allows for lots of texting and some local phone calls.)

Health Insurance / Year (basic coverage):   $242

Haircut:   $5.65 ($1.80 at a barber)

cost of living in china
Us on our new bicycles!

New Bicycle:   $56E-Bike:   $245

Taxi Fare:   $1.13 to start, plus $0.32/km (after 3 km)

Bus Fare:   $0.16

Gym Membership / Year:   $240

Dinner At A Nice Chinese Restaurant With Beer:   $7.25

Local Snack Food (dumplings, steamed buns, soups, etc.):   $0.80

cost of living in china
Fresh fruit for sale in the market

Purified Water (18L jug):   $0.97

Bottle Of Local Beer At The Shop (650ml):   $0.36

Bottle Of Imported Wine:   $10

Fruit & Vegetables From The Market (a big bag full):   $3

Groceries (including buying imported western foods):   $325

There you have it. The cost of living in China in a nutshell. Surprisingly, the cost of buying new clothing isn’t as cheap as you would assume. A new jacket or a pair of nice boots are about $100 and the cost of name brands such as Nike or Levis are the same price as they would be in a western country.

Imported foods and goods are also quite expensive. Do as the locals do and shop online, that’s where the best deals on clothing, books, some foods and other random items can be found. Check out or for deals.

***Goat Note: We have a combined income of $3,000/month. We take day trips to nearby cities, frequently eat at restaurants, drink lots of wine & beer and buy imported western foods. We are able to save half of our earnings each month. China is definitely affordable!

Hopefully this helped answer some of your questions about the cost of living in China. If we missed something, let us know!



Let’s say you want to travel abroad -- for years, even -- but you don’t want to drain your bank account or leave any huge gaps on your resume. Let’s say, too, that you’re a native English speaker. Turns out, as English continues its rise as the world’s lingua franca, schools in countries around the world are hiring people like you, often at competitive salaries.


What awaits may be a legit adventure that can make you bilingual and help you further a career when you return to the States.


Adjusting to a new language and a new culture in a faraway country makes TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages) instructors more rounded people -- and valuable educators. “When you come back, it makes you more marketable,” said M. Sedique Popal, an adjunct faculty member and program coordinator for the University of San Francisco’s TESOL department.

There are a number of ways to teach overseas based on your experience. Universities such as USF, NYU, and Columbia offer masters degrees in TESOL, while organizations such as The International TEFL Academy offer credentialing programs to people without teaching experience. Whichever way you decide to get out there and spread knowledge, how do you choose where in the world to go? Your mileage may vary, obviously, but here are some suggestions depending on your end-goal.

Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

To get out of your comfort zone and save some serious cash

massive number of people are heading to this southeast Asian destination for its stunning scenery, colorful street markets, 2,000 miles of picturesque coastline, and a remarkable food scene that’s gotten the nod from both Anthony Bourdain and Barack Obama. The market for English teachers is growing in parallel with its tourism. Ho Chi Minh City is home to hundreds of language schools that regularly hire international teachers.


The International TEFL Academy credits Vietnam for good salaries ($1,100 to $1,700) and a low cost of living ($650 to $900), allowing most visiting English teachers to sack away $500 each month. Vietnamese schools prefer teachers with a bachelor's degree and an accredited TEFL certification; most job interviews are conducted in person. Instructors are typically responsible for their own airfare and the very affordable housing expenses.


Popal offered a caveat about taking the leap into Asia: “There are a lot of fake or private institutions that will usually get people with a certificate and make them really really work hard and not get much money in return.”

Taipei, Taiwan

If you want to be a world away but aren’t too concerned about saving money

Japan & Taiwan
Most jobs in Taiwan are in major cities such as Taipei, which is bursting with museums, skyscrapers, and night markets. Peak hiring season comes just after the lunar new year and salaries run between $1,400 and $2,100, while the average cost of living is between $1,000 and $1,400. Companies typically do not pay for airfare or housing.


The country is also an outdoor paradise with amazing beaches and watersports, as well as mountains stocked with natural hot springs and great trails for hiking and cycling. You’ll have a blast if you don’t go broke along the way -- and probably even if you do.


Japan offers a wide variety of salaries depending on experience. TEFL Academy estimates your salary will be around $2,250 and $2,600 with a cost of living between $1,700 and $2,600. Private companies such as Westgate Corporation may pay for your flight and provide housing at a cost.


Karah Parks, an instructor in San Francisco who taught in Japan twice -- once with a TESOL certificate and once with a master’s degree in TESOL -- said she was also able to see her students’ attitudes change during the course of the class.


“Generally, I liked seeing how my students evolved from people shy to share opinions or express emotion into laughing, expressive individuals when they spoke English,” Parks said. “It wasn't that their Japanese identities were wrong or the shyness unnatural, but it was fun to see them find new identities in English, and to see how language informs identity in that way. Our cultures are very different and the structure of the language is very different, so these changes were incredibly apparent.”


If your resume and making bank are the most important

United Arab Emirates & Saudi Arabia
Some of the highest paying ESL jobs are in UAE’s Dubai and Abu Dhabi, with salaries ranging between $2,400 and $4,000 a month; salaries in Saudi Arabia are more like $1,000 to $3,000. Many companies there have strict requirements for teachers, including certification in their home country and/or several years of teaching experience. While there are wildly luxurious accommodations should you want them, TEFL Academy estimates the cost of living between $700 and $1,000 monthly for both countries. Many of these companies will offer free housing or a subsidy for educators.


“Not many people want to go to Saudi Arabia or Dubai because of the weather and the restrictions that they have on teachers mingling with the local population,” Popal said. “People who want to just make money and are in so much debt because of student loans, they can go there for a year or two and make a bunch of money and have a down payment for a house.”


If you have the skills, can stand the heat, and don’t mind living in a wealthy but conservative country, UAE can be a Disneyland for the right teacher. Abu Dhabi once had a rollercoaster restaurant, after all.

Jiangxi, China

If you want to work hard and play hard

China, South Korea & Singapore
China has a huge market for English language teachers in both private and public sectors, as many students are required to have English skills in order to enter higher education. Educators who go to China can earn anywhere between $1,000 and $2,000 a month and pay maybe half of what they’d spend in the US for cost of living. Many companies also pay for housing.


South Korea hires ESL educators at every experience level to model speaking and pronunciation, and schools pay well. With salaries between $1,800 and $2,000, often paid-for housing, and living expenses that will run less than a grand, teachers will have plenty of extra cash to visit South Korea’s beaches, spas, and hip boutiques.


Schools in Singapore -- one of the world’s biggest financial centers, with a huge need for English teachers -- also pay well, with salaries between $2,800 and $3,500. The cost of living here is fairly high, so you’ll have to hustle to save up.

Krakow, Poland

If you’ve gotta get to Europe

Poland & Czech Republic
European Union countries typically do not hire non-EU residents, but a handful of countries that are less popular with tourists are hiring. It’s easier to get a legal work permit in Czech Republic as well -- interviews are typically done in-country and prospective educators can first enter with a tourist visa.


Average salaries are low here compared to the cost of living, so you’re likely going to end up dipping into your savings to teach here. If you can swing it, quintessentially European cities such as Prague offer gourmet dining, world-class museums, and Christmas markets. The country could also be a jumping-off point to visit Germany and Austria, or a few lesser-known cities locally.


Poland -- famous for its croissant museum, of all things -- is hiring tons of TEFL-certified English teachers. But you’re not going to make much dough. TEFL Academy estimates that the average salary only just covers the cost of living.


In an interview with TEFL Academy, English teacher Elizabeth Rippon said the pay was reasonable for the work rendered. “We work about 30 hours/week and sometimes on Saturday, but just for an hour or two. If we work Saturday, we get the following Friday off,” she said. “I have always found it to be enough to pay all bills and rent and also have money left over for travel and going out. It is a really cheap place to live!”


Some schools in Poland will sponsor a work visa for Americans and other non-European Union citizens.

Cartagena, Colombia

If you’re doing it for the love of Latin America

Mexico, Brazil & Colombia
Most Latin America teaching jobs are at adult private language schools and don’t pay as well as some Middle Eastern and Asian countries. In Brazil, which has major demand for English language teachers following the World Cup and Olympics, average salary and the cost of living are equal; Popal suggested applying for a Fulbright teaching fellowship if you’re set on teaching in the region.


Jeff Moran, a PhD student at University of California-Davis and a community college teacher, received a Fulbright grant that funded his teaching on the Caribbean coast, in Cartagena, Colombia. “I absolutely loved my time there, after getting acclimated to the 95-degree heat and 85% humidity,” Moran said. “I could not recommend living and working in Colombia enough! It is such an immensely beautiful country and the people, particularly mis caribenos, are so loving and generous.”


With Colombia’s drug wars now past, the country’s among the fastest-growing economies in Latin America. Still, living in the region comes with risks. “Be aware that times are somewhat tumultuous -- as they are all over the globe,” Moran said, noting that Colombia shares a huge border with Venezuela, which is suffering an economic and governing crisis. “These issues are of most concern when traveling along the borders of Colombia, both east and west. However, in major urban areas like Bogota, Medellin, Cartagena, Barranquilla, and Cali, Colombia is a beautiful and peaceful place to live.”


If you want to teach in Mexico, Popal noted: “There is no money. If you have money and want to spend it and feel good about it, it’s a good place.” The cost of living is low, as are average salaries, so come prepared with savings to experience the enormous amount of underrated destinations Mexico can offer.


And if money isn't your first concern? You can always simply enjoy the culture. "I would 100% recommend teaching in Mexico," said Molly Mosher, who left a drab job at a Brooklyn real estate office to take a contract teaching English there. "The country has warm weather, warm people, and warm delicious homemade food you'll never forget. There's so much to enjoy there." 

Chefchaouen, Morocco

If you want to make a difference

Africa & Central America
First-time teachers will find more opportunities in north African countries such as Egypt and Morocco, where pay is low but the cultural history is enormous. Most jobs will be in private schools and language institutes.


Countries with former English colonial roots --  Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda, for instance -- hire fewer ESL teachers simply because English is already prevalent.


“Of course they hire teachers, but it’s the same story as south and central America -- there’s no money there,” Popal said. “Places colonized by France offer English as second language, but again there is no money.”


People interested in working in these countries may also consider humanitarian work, which often contains a large English teaching component, said Carol Lo, an applied linguistics and TESOL program associate at Columbia University’s Teachers College. “In that sense, it’s not just about teaching English but doing humanitarian work through teaching English,” she said.

Guangzhou, China

More pro tips on teaching abroad

Once you’ve figured out where to go, learn from those who came before you. Moran recommends asking very specific questions of your program and “be uber-prepared.”


“My biggest recommendation is to have some kind of structure in place to support you. I was extremely fortunate to be able to rely on the US and Colombian Fulbright commission,” he said. “They helped me on matters big and small -- when I had questions about the Colombian university system or just local survival tips and tricks.”


Moran also encouraged prospective educators to get out of their comfort zones by meeting new people, visiting new areas, and trying new things -- including avoiding English, even with students. “Try to immerse yourself in the new language. Yes, you will make mistakes. Yes, you will be frustrated because you can't fully express yourself. And yes, you will eventually hit the wall and need to watch some Netflix in English,” he said. “But this experience of struggling to communicate will really help you understand and empathize with your students. It will also make your experience in your new country a richer and more fulfilling.


“Getting the job,” he added, “is often the easy part.” 

 is a Thrillist contributor who would love to fine tune your syntax and dangling participle. Ask her how on Twitter at @JessicaLipsky



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