My husband and I have been teaching English in China for 3 years now, and it’s been a mind blowing experience. We were supposed to come here for only a year, but the year turned into three and we will be starting our 4th year in August. A lot has changed since we came here. Our beautiful city of Hangzhou is growing rapidly and it’s becoming more and more international by day. There is Starbucks around every corner. Nowadays I can buy almost anything online and get it delivered to my door. We can afford to live quite nicely while we save money.
Reasons to teach in china
1. Good Salaries
Salaries for teachers in China vary hugely depending on the city you work in and what kind of school you work for. Teachers at private and bilingual schools in Hangzhou and Shanghai generally make around 15-30k RMB/ month ($2,200-$4,400). Teachers at training centres generally earn 8k-22k RMB per month. Principals and coordinators usually earn a lot more. On top of that teachers usually get their rent paid for or they get a living allowance. In China it is customary to give bonuses for Christmas/Chinese New Year or sometimes just for work well done.
A lot of the teacher’s tutor kids privately on their free time at their houses or at the student’s house. You can make anything from $40-140 (300-100RMB) / hour (maybe even more) tutoring one or a few kids at a time. During my maternity leave I taught 2 sets of 2 kids on a Saturday making $180 for 2 hours of work.
2. Cheap cost of Living
The salary may not seem like a lot, but even $2,2 k in China goes a long way. The average wages here for the local people are around 4-8k / month. With $15 you can get a week’s worth of vegetables at a local fresh market. $20 feeds four people at a restaurant including beers. Even western restaurants aren’t all that pricey. There are promotions at many western restaurants throughout the week. Our favorite burger spots sells 2 burgers for a price of one and they have happy hour from 4-8 every night. The cost for a meal for two with drinks is about $20.
Rents vary a lot depending on the area and the size of an apartment. I have friends who pay about $300 for a pretty nice two bedroom apartment at an older compound. We pay about $650 for 2 bedrooms in a brand new compound right by The Grand Canal. Our compound has a beautiful garden, indoor swimming pool and a gym.
Taxi rides are cheap and uber even cheaper. 6 mile uber ride would cost you about $4. Not bad if you ask me. Subway fare is less 40 cents to a dollar depending of the city and the distance.
We can afford to dine out most days of the week, travel 2-5 times a year and we are still saving money. One year we paid for a wedding, traveled to Macau, Los Angeles, Korea and Finland on one person’s salary (I was on maternity leave) and we were still able to save.
3. There are plenty of jobs out there
For native English speakers with a teaching license there are plenty of good paying jobs available in larger cities like Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Hangzhou. There are jobs around the neighboring cities too.
For native English speakers with a Bachelor’s degree in ANYTHING and a TEFL certificate, there is a jobs galore in English Training Centers like EF or similar. Some Kindergartens are also happy to hire teachers without a license but they often prefer those with a degree in psychology or child development or something of that kind.
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4. You get paid to travel
Your everyday life in a new country will be an adventure. Once you have explored and got familiarized with your own neighborhood you might want to explore more of China or Asia can be found throughout the year. If you plan in advance and take advantage of the budget airlines you can book your flights super cheap.
The speed train network in China is extensive and the prices are cheap. A 50min train ride from Hangzhou to Shanghai costs about $11. Whenever we feel like some action we make a weekend trip to Shanghai and enjoy the huge expat scene.
If you get hired by an international school, usually you get, a week in October, a week or so for Christmas and New Year, 2 weeks to a month for Chinese New Year, and a few days for different festivals in the Spring Semester. Not to forget the normal 2 month summer break.
At Training Centers teachers get a little less paid holidays. They get at least 11 days per year, but most of the employers are happy to give you a few weeks off (unpaid) here or there if you want to travel around Asia or visit your family back home. Most employers even give you a yearly flight allowance for trips back home.