Costs to Consider When Teaching English Abroad

If you are planning to teach English as a foreign language then there are numerous things to think about. Financially, it can appear a daunting prospect. Not only do you need to consider your flight (or whatever’s the most reasonable mode of transport) over, but also cash for your first month away, documentation, living arrangements…

Again, it can all seem a bit intimidating, which is why we have compiled this brief guide to help smooth over some of the details and hopefully clear everything up.



Before you can think about jetting off, it’s vital to get yourself properly qualified. There was once a time where finding a job teaching English really was as easy as rocking up to the local schools and offering your services – no longer.

As demand grows around the world and economies develop, so do industry standards rise. This means that schools asking for at least the basic TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) qualifications are becoming the norm, leaving those without in the dust.

There are so many qualification providers out there that it can be hard to choose who to go for. They’re not exactly the cheapest things to attain, either. As a rule of thumb, the more hours a course has the better the qualification (i.e. 120 hours is seen as more advanced, generally, than a smaller 20-hour course).


One of the most advanced, and prestigious training courses in the industry is the CELTA course. This is 4-weeks long and classroom-based. While great for employment, particularly for those searching for a job at a university or something, they are also highly expensive and often not worth the cost (lots of work and training for a job that could have been landed with a cheaper qualification).



On the other end of the scale are Groupon courses. These can be found online with seemingly incomparable and often irresistible price tags. Don’t be fooled. These courses have little to no accreditation and usually end up a complete disappointment. In this case, you really do get what you pay for.

What we recommend

For affordable and accredited providers, there are several options. However, The TEFL Org Ireland is the most accredited provider in the which means you can trust their courses to be of the highest quality and recognized by employers worldwide. On top of that, they offer some of the best prices in the industry. Take a look at their 120-hour combined course – not only is it well-priced, but it will open up many doors and help kick-start your TEFL adventure.

The average cost of a TEFL course: $200 – $700

The TEFL Org’s 120-hour Premier Online course: $509



So, you’ve spent the best part of the last few months toiling away to become the most experienced, knowledgeable, and qualified teacher possible. You’re good to go and live out your teaching dream, right? Not exactly… There’s still a bit to go. Every country, more or less, has its own policies regarding immigration and visas. It’s necessary you research prior to finalizing commitments and booking tickets lest you end up wasting a lot of money.

Here are the main pieces of documentation to be aware of:

Criminal background check

These are nearly always compulsory for a visa to any country. Usually, they don’t cost much and are fairly simple to process. If you’re UK-based then the cost is only $32. For those in the US, check with either the local police or the FBI for costs.



Yes, more paperwork – don’t worry, we’re getting there! You are going to need to get your documents, including your certificate of teaching qualification, authorized and legalized. Every country will have a slightly different process from one another. It will usually involve going to your local solicitor to get things done. It shouldn’t cost too much; for example, the entire process is only$35. Research the process for where you live – relevant information should be on your respective government’s website!


The cost of applying for a work visa and the process to get one can vary hugely depending on the country you’re aiming to teach in. Visa fees can range from around $30 to $200 and it’s very important that you acquire the correct one for working abroad.

Of course, for EU citizens traveling to another EU country, the process is much simpler – and cheaper! Thanks to the Schengen Area, you can travel without the hassle of visa application.

Travel to destination


The cost of travel to your desired destination can easily leave the biggest dent to your savings. Booking outside of the holiday season and not too last minute can soften the financial punch.

It is not totally uncommon for employers to offer either flight ‘assistance’ or even reimbursement. These sorts of benefits are most commonly found in East Asia where demand is the highest and many schools are well-funded.

Living costs

The average cost of living varies massively from country to country. Even within a single country, rent, groceries, and other costs can differ from one region to the next. Generally, more developed nations will come with higher costs; cities will be pricier than rural areas.

Numbeo is incredibly useful for comparing countries and cities.


There are several options available to you when it comes to accommodation: go solo and find an apartment on your own, partner with a like-minded expat or local willing to buddy up or, if you’re really lucky, land a job at a school willing to provide a roof over your head.

For the first two choices, make sure to have enough cash saved up for rent plus deposit. If you hit the jackpot and find yourself working for a school whose benefits package includes accommodation then you don’t really have to worry too much!

Overall, not too expensive, eh? If you’ve become infatuated with the idea of traversing the globe, earning as you go, then becoming a TEFL tutor could be for you.

About Henrietta Milanovska