couples & Friends
Teaching abroad as a couple, can be very rewarding and fun! Having someone share this experience with you can bring you together and help you navigate through the ups and downs of teaching ESL. Over the last 10 years, we have placed a lot of couples and have watched them use their journey as a major stepping stone in building a life together. Dan & Aggie (founders of Teach ESL Korea) moved to Korea as a newly married couple, with their 8 month old son and it has changed their life forever. We LOVE placing couples and know what is important to them.
Couples in Korea
Many private schools in Korea shy away from hiring couples. Couples often mean more work for the school, since they have to provide them with a larger apartment. There is also greater risk that if the couple splits up, the school risks losing one or both teachers. On the flip side, schools who do hire couples, tend to realize that they can actually be more reliable and take their work very seriously.
Public schools do not officially place unmarried couples or friends together, but due to TEKs experience, we've been very successful in at least placing public school couples in the same city. Public schools usually only have 1 teacher per school, so it is not possible for couples/friends to work at the same school.
Korea is still a bit old-fashioned in the belief that unmarried couples should not live together. While this should not concern the school, the overall impression this makes is enough to influence their hiring decisions.
Couples tend to save more money in Korea, since they share most expenses equally.
Moving to Korea with a family is possible, but can be tough, especially with older kids. The majority of schools offer only a single apartment, which is not suitable for a family and the housing allowance they would provide, is not enough to cover the cost of renting a larger apartment. In addition, a large (returnable) deposit is required at the time of signing a lease. Schooling can be expensive and rarely will the school the parent is teaching at, allow children to attend for free. Late working hours in private schools can also make it tough to find and afford daycare.
Couples in China
Since the majority of teachers in China rent their own apartment, having a parter or friend to share this cost can be very advantageous. Couples tend to be more financially prepared for the initial set-up cost as well. It is possible to save some of the accommodation allowance when two teachers combine it and rent a nicer, bigger apartment.
Most schools, both private and public, are very happy to hire couples and can often place them in the same school or branch
Since teaching on the side is more acceptable in China, it can be quite lucrative for couples. Many young couples use this opportunity to save up for a downpayment on a home, pay down loans, or pursue further education. The opportunities for growth are endless.
Generous vacation time offered by public schools (paid or partially paid) opens up a lot of travel opportunities.
Moving to China with a family is possible, since you'll be in charge of finding your own, suitable accommodations. It is also possible to live off one salary, if the other parent decides to stay home as a caregiver. It is also possible for parents to work opposite schedules or pick up additional work. This way you might even be able to hire a caregiver for your children. As children get older, schooling can become tricky, unless they can attend public school or you are able to afford an international school (which is often outside the means of a teacher). For special positions, it may be possible to negotiate schooling into the contract.
WHAT TEACHERS SAY
Chelsea & Palmer, Gwangju
Going to Korea opened the world up to us to try more and see more. Now, we are teaching in Vietnam! When we began the process of getting to Korea to teach, I don't think either of us could fathom the idea of eventually continuing our adventures abroad in a whole new country after Korea. Korea provided an amazing stepping stone for us to keep pushing for more adventures and challenges.
Wendy & Caslon, Shenzhen
If you told me a year ago I would be living in China comfortably with my own apartment, a mode of transport, several plants of my own, able to eat out whenever I wanted to and enough time to pursue my passions like art + learning another language (in this case, Mandarin) I would say….”Wow, sounds like things are looking up.”
Kim & Max, Shenzhen
Over winter holiday we are going to Vietnam! We just bought our tickets! We will fly into Hanoi, and out of Ho Chi Minh City so we will see North through South. We have a few loose plans like seeing the Sapa rice terraces and ancient caves. We also hope to drink the super sweet coffee with sweetened condensed milk and ride motorbikes.