Financial Planning for Your Teaching Job in China
Teaching English in a foreign country is a hugely enriching and rewarding experience, allowing you to experience a completely new culture, while also contributing your knowledge to the local community. Gold Star TELF Recruitment works to assist teachers in being able to secure jobs to teach within China’s leading schools.
Deciding to move abroad for a teaching role is obviously a big step and requires some serious thought. Additionally, it requires a certain degree of planning to ensure you are able to remain financially afloat during your stay.
Flights and Emergency Funds
Generally speaking, foreign English teachers in China will earn significantly more than local Chinese teachers, meaning that living can be incredibly comfortable with the right planning. Typical monthly salaries range from 6,000 – 16,000 RMB per month (1,000 – 2,500 USD) and most teachers find that they can live comfortable on 100 RMB per say, meaning that even with the lowest possible salary, your quality of living can be very high.
The recruitment process is free, meaning the first major cost you will encounter is the cost of your flight to China. Most schools in the country will offer you a flight allowance, which will reimburse you with flight expenses over a period of time. However, please note, most schools will pay half of the flight allowance after you have worked fo six months and the other half after you have completed a year. As a result, initially, you will need to have the money available to pay for your flight.
It would be sensible to take some emergency funds with you, in order to cover any unexpected costs you may encounter when settling into the country. In addition, it is important to keep in mind that you will be paid monthly by your school, so it would be wise to take enough money with you to pay for your cost of living for the first month. You can buy foreign currency online and the currency you will require for use in China is Renminbi (RMB). The overall cost of living for a month in China is generally less than it is in most western countries, but emergency funds of at least 500 USD would be ideal, on top of your flight money.
Accommodation and Bills
While teaching in China, your school will provide you with free, fully-furnished accomodation. Most free accomodation will be shared with one other teacher. Alternatively, if you would prefer to find your own housing, your school will provide you with a housing allowance.
As a result, a lot of the living costs you would usually encounter at home, such as rent, are covered by the school, leaving you with more disposable income. Typically, monthly bills come in at around 300 RMB (45 USD or 30 UK pounds), although these bills may be slightly higher for teaching posts in big cities like Shanghai and Beijing.
Other Living Costs
On top of the bills related to your accommodation, ideally you should allow for a monthly mobile phone bill of approximately 300 RMB.
Many schools will provide food for teachers, although food is relatively cheap anyway. As a guide, a local Chinese dinner can be bought for the equivalent of 5 USD or 3 UK pounds and local beers can be purchased for around 4 RMB (less than 1 USD).
Travel expenses to work are reduced by the location of your accomodation, although you will find that public transport is cheaper than in the west anyway. If you decide to explore the country during your stay, a train from Beijing to Shanghai will cost the equivalent of around 95 USD and both taxis and buses are easily affordable too.
Moving abroad for a teaching job can seem daunting and, understandably, finances are one of the biggest worries that prospective teachers have.
Yet, with some basic planning, living expenses in China are easily affordable, even with multiple luxuries. Many of those who go to teach English in China are able to save as much as half of their earnings, while still living comfortably and, overall, your standard of living will likely be significantly higher than that of the local Chinese teachers in the same school as you.