“...and that makes me, a millionaire” - Chris Stapleton
“You don’t have to be a millionaire, to live like one” - Tim Ferriss
Being a country music lover in Asia can be tough at times, with the lack of country bars of music scene here whatsoever. And please don’t hold my music tastes against me, or let it influence you continuing reading this article. As I am about to relay some very interesting and important information about how teaching English abroad in Asia can change your life.
Originally Dan had asked me to write a financial piece on how to make a boatload of money teaching ESL in China and South Korea. Easy, I thought. I’ve got plans to retire a millionaire within a decade myself, all from teaching ESL. But the more I think about it, you don’t need to slave 70 hours a week, 7 days a week like myself teaching English to ACTUALLY reach 7 figures. The lifestyle that teaching ESL provides and the compensation - no matter how hard you work- allows you to live like those sappy instagram travel couples.
In this article I will touch on how you can work your tail off to save tens of thousands of dollars a year or more teaching English. And how saving so much of that allows you to reach a millie real quick. I will also discuss how you don’t need to work that much, and save so much to live incredibly well while teaching ESL in China or South Korea. Thousands of dollars of disposable income each month, months a year to travel the world.. All from playing with children a few hours a week. Intrigued yet?
RELATED: Why I love teaching English in China
How to make a million dollars teaching English.
What a preposterous idea; that you could become a millionaire teaching English. When this gig is widely considered something travelers do for extra cash. Well in Southeast Asia, it might be, but in China and South Korea, teaching is a real job. It’s respected, and professional. And paid accordingly.
With most salaries starting around $1,800 USD and rising up towards $4,000 USD per month or more., you can easily save between 50-75% of your salary if you are smart with your money in any case. Don’t be ignorant to assume it would be easy to save this much, and there will be many sacrifices, like skipping weekend trips or going out for food and drinks multiple times a week. But if you want it, it’s possible.
Besides your primary salary, there are incredible amounts of side work such as private lessons in your city, teaching online, or even model work or other various paid side jobs. Especially in China, the opportunities are endless. Private lessons pay around $50 USD per hour, teaching online pays around $20 USD per hour. Do the math for how much you’d like to work. A note; most of these positions are untaxed, be aware of local and international tax laws for your personal situation, complications and potential consequences.
The Millionaire English teacher.
Seeing is believing, so here is a fictional scenario to prove how much someone might have to work and save to make a million teaching. This teacher works at a public school in China, it is there second year and they make 15,000 RMB, the also get a housing allowance which covers rent. They spend 8,000 RMB a month on food, living and bills / tax. They do 6 hours a week teaching private classes (7,000 rmb) and 15 hours a week of online teaching (7,000 rmb).
Salary: $2,200 USD (15,000 rmb)
Expenses: $1,200USD (8,000rmb)
Savings: $1,000 USD (7,000 rmb)
Side work: $2,000 USD (14,000 rmb)
Total Savings $3,000 USD Monthly.
You are saving $36,000 USD per year. Ever imagined that possible for yourself? 8,000 rmb is plenty of money to go out on the weekend, take some trips about the country and buy clothing or material objects. You won’t feel living frugal on that. Spend even less or work more to generate even more money. There are people making and saving much more.
Now, you can save that $36,000 USD a year for 15 years and that would be half a million dollars. But if you had invested that money in a ETF index fund, that on average over 15 years gives a 7% return, that money would be almost a million dollars. If you are interested in learning more about investing, read here.
Live your best life teaching ESL abroad
My current game plan is the above. I’ve been teaching for a few years, and I’ve seen many countries along the way. It wasn’t always this way, and for many of my colleagues working that much would not be of interest. And they would rather spend their money seeing more of the world, or enjoying all the activities that these countries they teach in have to offer. And thats fine.
The quote above from Tim Ferriss, more or less a paraphase from one of his best selling books; the four hour work week. It brings up an excellent point, you don’t need to have or even wait for a million dollars to live well. Why do people want to be rich? To buy things that make them happy, to do meaningful work or little work at all, to see the wonders of the world, and to travel whenever they please. Well teaching English in China and South Korea deliver all those things without the blood sweat and tears of acquiring the millions most thing they need to live well.
Most teachers only teach about 12-15 hours per week at their main school job. Leaving plenty of time to pursue passions. Public school teachers get nearly 3 months of holidays each year. And flights to some of the most exotic countries in the world are cheap and only a few hours each direction. Cost of living in these countries are cheap -MADE IN CHINA, anyone? And teaching children can be extremely rewarding and exciting if you let yourself open up to it.
Since I’ve started teaching I have pretty much zero worries, abundance of time and money, and have learned/experienced so much. I truly feel like a millionaire already.
Make stacks, see the world, create an impact. What are you waiting for?
About the author
Colby is currently teaching English in Shenzhen, China and aggressively pursuing financial freedom. He writes about world travel, personal finance, teaching ESL, and self development at That Charles Life. Feel free to reach him there with any questions or concerns about any of the above topics.