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Teach English in China Salary Details

One of the questions we get asked most about is cost of living in China and how much an English teacher needs to make to live and teach in China and have a good time doing so. For many, teaching English in China is a great way to get paid work abroad and to support yourself while seeing the world and exploring new cultures. For others they can pay off debts from back home while still making enough to live a comfortable life, while others find that teaching English abroad allows them to live the high life, indulging in good food, regular shopping trips and plenty of other activities that they might not be able to afford back in their own countries.

Whatever the motivation, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be compensated fairly for the work you are doing and getting the best deal for the educational services you are providing. So what should be aiming for when sifting through the job offers to teach in China? Well to start with, the cost of living in China is significantly lower than in the west. With 2 dollar lunches, 6 dollar haircuts and a monthly mobile phone bill of 15 dollars your pay goes a lot further than you might first think. Bear in mind, local English teachers (Chinese citizens teaching English in the same school as you) will be earning between a third to a half of what you are earning and still have enough to live on.

It is also worth mentioning that, on top of the ESL teacher salary, most schools offer free accommodation, flight allowance and insurance. Some provide free meals, monthly bonuses and Chinese lessons so the vast majority of what you earn goes straight in your pocket. Typically your monthly costs might be 100 RMB or so for house bills (gas, electricity, water, phone) and that’s it. Although a lot of schools quote their salary net (after taxes) some will deduct taxes from your salary. For English teachers in China, the first 4,800 RMB per month is tax free. Anything earned over that is taxed at 20% so for a salary of 8,000 RMB you would pay 640 RMB in taxes.

The average ESL teacher salary in China is now at between 6,000 – 8,000 RMB per month. Depending on your spending habits, expect to be able to save between 20 – 50% of that and still have enough to enjoy life. For more details on the salaries offered by 4 of the major language schools in China have a look here.

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