10 Best Countries to Teach English Abroad

There are many countries around the world that hire foreigners to teach English in local schools.

It's a great opportunity to live in another country, make good money and immerse yourself in a new culture. There are so many reasons why you should consider teaching English overseas, but once you've decided to pursue this adventure, you've got an even more difficult decision to make. 

How do I choose which country to teach English?

This is a difficult question to answer, and each person is going to have a different preference. 

There are many aspects that you should take into consideration when picking which country to call home for a while. You're going to have to ask yourself some preliminary questions:

  • Is saving money a top priority?

  • Do you prefer living in the city or surrounded by nature?

  • In which region of the world would you prefer to live and travel?

  • Are you willing to work hard or would you prefer to relax?

  • Does it matter if there are other foreigners living near you?

Once you have the answers to those questions, you will have a much easier time choosing the country that best suits you and your priorities.

The country you choose is completely personal, and what is best for one person might not work well for another.

We'll go through some of the top countries for teaching English as a foreign language. We will discuss what makes them good choices and well as some aspects that might be deal-breakers depending on your priorities.

But before you decide on where to go, you will need to get yourself TEFL certified. We have a complete guide that explains why you need a TEFL and how to get your TEFL cert.


FREE E-BOOK ON WHAT IT'S REALLY LIKE TEACHING ENGLISH

If you’re considering teaching overseas, you MUST read this. Most bloggers and TEFL providers don’t like talk about these 13 things, because they’re not fun to hear. 

But taking the leap to teach abroad is a big, life-altering decision, and we think it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting into. The good, the bad, the UGLY. All of it. 


What country did we choose to teach English?

We spent hours and hours (and hours!) researching our options for teaching English overseas, and we had quite a few things we were looking for.

  • We have student loans, so we'd need to be making a decent salary.

  • We also had dreams of traveling after our year of teaching, so we wanted a country with a low cost of living where we'd be able to really grow our savings without missing out on everyday fun.

  • Another thing we were looking for was a country we could easily explore on our weekends.

  • We were seeking a place with an interesting culture and delicious food.

  • We also were hoping to have a strong expat community so it would be an easier transition to life abroad.

So what country checked all those boxes?

Drumroll, please....

South Korea!

With a rich culture and excellent (and cheap!) public transportation, South Korea is a great country to explore. Plus, with a low cost of living, high wages and perks like free airfare to and from the country, it is a perfect place to watch your savings grow.

Pros of teaching English in South Korea

  • high salary and low cost of living means you can save a lot of money (Pssst! Find out how we EACH saved $22,000 in one year!)

  • benefits like pension and bonus opportunities

  • free housing

  • Korean language is easier to learn than other Asian languages

  • free flight to and from Korea

  • being that it is a small country, getting around is easy

  • teaching English is very popular in South Korea, so there are many other foreigners living there that you can befriend

  • secure a job in advance

Cons of teaching English in South Korea

  • strict vacation schedule means it can be difficult to take days off outside of school holidays

  • the culture in Korea values hard work, and some schools have a strict work environment

Related Posts: If teaching in South Korea interests you, you're in luck! We have tons of resources about teaching, living and traveling in this country. Check out our South Korea page and feel free to send us a personal message if you have specific questions that aren't answered on our site.

We know South Korea isn't for everyone, so let's go over some other countries that make great places to teach English. We're going over options in Asia, Latin America and Europe.

*Note: Each teaching situation differs. For instance, Ben and I both went through the same teaching program and were placed at schools less than a mile apart. However, we had very different experiences with our school environments. That said, some things remain rather constant, like salary and benefits. 

Japan

The "Land of the Rising Sun" is a wonderful place to teach if you're looking to earn high wages and experience a rich culture. The high cost of living means it can be a bit harder to really grow your savings than in countries like Korea or China.

Pros of teaching English in Japan

  • high wages

  • clean and efficient public transportation

  • excellent standard of living

  • lots of incredible places to travel all around Japan

  • secure a job in advance

cons of teaching English in Japan

  • high cost of living means you really have to budget if you want to save money

  • application process is more in depth than many other countries

  • airfare to and from Japan is not reimbursed

Read more about traveling in Japan

China

If you're looking to find a teaching job that will allow you to save money, China could be a great choice. With a high demand for English teachers all over the country, you could be based in a modern city like Shanghai or Beijing, or a more rural town in the countryside.  

Pros of teaching English in China

  • many teaching opportunities all around the country

  • wages vary depending on your program and placement, but they are relatively high and paired with a low cost of living, it is a great country to save money!

  • free housing and airfare to and from China

  • secure a job in advance

Cons of teaching English in China

  • the Chinese languages can be difficult to learn, and communication with locals can be tricky

  • being that it is a huge country and transportation isn't always the greatest, you will have to plan your travels a little more carefully than in Japan or South Korea

 
 
 

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Thailand

With lush jungle-covered mountains and beaches straight out of a postcard, Thailand is a popular vacation spot. But imagine being able to call this country home for a year! You'd have the opportunity to explore hidden gems that visitors seldom see.

However, English teachers in Thailand make low salaries compared to that of teachers in any other Asian country on this list. Cost of living is low, but don't expect to pay off all your student loans or come away with a bundle of savings.

Related: Read up on what to expect as a teacher in Thailand.

Pros of teaching English in Thailand

  • low cost of living

  • laidback lifestyle

  • while some people do face-to-face interviews, it can be possible to secure your job in advance

cons of teaching English in Thailand

  • low wages

  • you must pay for your own accommodation

  • airfare to and from Thailand is not reimbursed

Read more about traveling in Thailand

Vietnam

If you're looking to save money while also enjoying a laidback lifestyle, this Southeast Asian gem is a great compromise of the two and could make a great place for you to teach English. With a super interesting culture that changes drastically from north to south, you'll have an incredible time exploring this country.

Pros of teaching English in Vietnam

  • high wages for Southeast Asia

  • low cost of living

  • more laidback lifestyle than some other Asian countries like Japan, South Korea and China

Cons of teaching English in Vietnam

  • you must pay for your own accommodation, except for some smaller cities that offer housing stipends

  • airfare to and from Vietnam is not reimbursed

  • most people do face-to-face interviews in Vietnam, but in some cases people are able to secure a job in advance

Read more about traveling in Vietnam

Middle East: UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait

There is a high demand for English teachers in the oil-rich Persian Gulf. High wages make moving to countries like the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait very tempting. However, there are typically much stricter requirements for applicants, and they often only accept certified teachers with experience. 

Pros of teaching English in the Middle East

  • high wages

  • high cost of living, but it is still possible to save lots of money

  • high standard of living

  • free housing

  • airfare to and from is reimbursed

  • secure a job in advance

Cons of teaching English in the Middle East

  • jobs are very competitive, and usually they only accept certified teachers with prior experience

  • most teaching jobs are in big cities like Abu Dhabi and Dubai, so you likely won't have easy access to nature

Costa Rica

If you'd like to learn Spanish and spend your free time exploring nature, Costa Rica might just be the perfect pick for you. However, don't expect to save much while teaching here. The cost of living is quite high for Central America and the wages are such that you'll likely spend about as much as you'll earn. 

Pros of teaching English in Costa Rica

  • enjoy the laidback, "pura vida" lifestyle

  • explore nature or learn how to surf in your free time

  • great opportunity to learn Spanish

Cons of teaching English in Costa Rica

  • cost of living is about the same as your salary, so you won't be able to save much money

  • you might be able to snag a job in advance, but interviewing in person is not uncommon

  • pay for your own housing and flight

Read more about traveling in Costa Rica

Czech Republic

If you're set on teaching English in Europe, the Czech Republic might be a good choice. With a relatively low cost of living compared to some of its Western neighbors, you'll get to experience the magic of living in Europe. That said, the wages for English teachers are low, and you likely will be spending just about everything you earn.

Pros of teaching English in the Czech REpublic

  • great jumping off point to travel around Europe

  • modern standard of living

Cons of teaching English in the Czech REpublic

  • cost of living is about the same as your salary, so you won't be able to save much money

  • finding a job before you move can be difficult, and it is most likely you will need to interview in person

  • pay for your own housing and flight

Read more about traveling in Czech Republic

Spain

Living in Spain sounds like a dream, and working as an English teacher is a wonderful way to turn it into reality. Immerse yourself in a rich culture, learn a commonly-spoken language, and have a home-base from which you can explore more of Europe.

However, this dreamy lifestyle comes at a cost. The wages for English teachers aren't high, so you will most likely break even or possibly dip into your savings. But many teachers in Spain do tutoring on the side to make some extra money. 

Pros of teaching English in Spain

  • enjoy the laidback Spanish lifestyle

  • Spain is a great hub from which you can explore Europe

  • excellent opportunity to learn Spanish

Cons of teaching English in Spain

  • cost of living is about the same as your salary, so you won't be able to save much money

  • you will most likely need to interview in person

  • pay for your own housing and flight

Poland

The demand for English teachers in Poland is on the rise. And with modern and interesting cities like Krakow, Poland would be a fun place to live. But as with most other European countries, the salary is about on par with the cost of living, so don't expect to save much as an English teacher here.

Pros of teaching English in Poland

  • great jumping off point to travel around Europe

  • it's possible to secure your job in advance

Cons of teaching English in Poland

  • cost of living is about the same as your salary, so you won't be able to save much money

  • pay for your own housing and flight

Read more about traveling in Poland


What country is best for you?

This is a question only YOU can answer. But here are some guiding thoughts that can help push you in the right direction... Also, click the infographic to enlarge and find more details. 

If you want to save up money to pay off student loans, you'll want to choose a country where the wages are high and the cost of living is low. The best countries to save money are South Korea, China or Japan.

If you want to have a laidback lifestyle and be surrounded by nature, you'll want to pick a country where the work-life balance is good, like Costa Rica, Vietnam or Thailand.

If you are a certified teacher with credentials and have teaching experience, consider countries in the Middle East, as these competitive and highly lucrative jobs will give you the opportunity to save lots of money.

If you want to learn Spanish and aren't concerned about how much money you save, Costa Rica or Spain are good options.

If you are set on living in Europe and have some money in savings you can use to explore, consider Poland, the Czech Republic or Spain.


I don't see the country I'm interested in...

Just because a country is not listed here doesn't mean it's not possible to teach English there. However, it might be difficult to find a teaching job, or perhaps the wages are quite low. 

For instance, we were interested in teaching in a Spanish-speaking country like Argentina. However, after doing some research, we found we would have to move there without a job and interview in person.

Also, with the wages around the same as the cost of living, it would have been impossible to pay student loans, explore the country and save money while teaching. It just didn't work with our priorities of being able to save money.

The situation is similar in many European countries like France, Germany and Italy. Expect to interview in person and not come away from your job with any savings to speak of.

That said, if you've always dreamed of living in one of these countries, teaching English could get your foot in the door!

Make sure to continue reading about how to get your TEFL certification, which you need if you want to teach English in any of these countries.


We'd love to hear from you in the comments!

Have you taught English overseas? Which country fits your personality and priorities most? What questions do you still have?

We will do our best to answer all your questions, so comment away!