Teaching English abroad changed my life.

Seriously, it did.

It wasn’t the kids; it wasn’t some magical revelation; it wasn’t even the easy access to incredible Thai food (I taught in Thailand!).

It changed my life because it was an amazing opportunity that led me to even more amazing opportunities… thus, changing my life.

I was supposed to move abroad for a year, and here I am, eight years later, still living abroad and being a #boss—of myself.

Yep, and it was because I went abroad to teach.

Ever since the day I moved abroad to teach English, I have been furthering my life in the direction I want it to go. Of course, I had no idea where I would go or what I was doing with my life at the time, but teaching abroad surely helped me “get there.”

It opened doors I didn’t know existed, and I ended up living in Thailand for about four years.

That said, Thailand isn’t the only awesome country to teach abroad, and not every country is for every teacher. So I compiled this list in the hopes that it opens your eyes to all the opportunities for finding the best countries to teach English abroad.

And that if you are even a little bit interested in a life of travel, this piece will help you “get there.”

Best Countries to Teach English Abroad


So which of the places will you choose? When I was deciding, I have to admit, I didn’t really know what I was doing. It was many years ago, almost a decade, and the internet wasn’t as robust with info as it is now.

Luckily for you, you have ALL the info at your fingertips now. Below you’ll find an extensive list of the best countries to teach English abroad ordered by the ratio of income to cost of living.

Remember, just because income seems “bad” in some countries, doesn’t mean you should dismiss them! This is why I’ve also included the cost of living, which in some places, can be so cheap, your pay is actually pretty reasonable. You may even save some money.

Another thing to note is that you may even have time for extra work. When I was teaching in Thailand, after getting a few months under my belt, I was able to teach English online, which afforded me even more money. I then also took on freelance writing work.

There is also the opportunity to make extra income through tutoring. Most countries will actually pay more for this type of work, and it can really boost your teaching English abroad salary.

So keep an open mind when looking at the income vs. the cost of living in these places to teach English abroad.

A Few Notes on the Best Places to Teach English Abroad:

  • All “job recommendations” are provided as additional skills/certificates/experience that will increase your potential of getting hired and/or increase your salary. “Requirements” are what is usually requested from all teachers.
  • All cost of living averages factor in food costs (including groceries and eating out once or twice a week), rent for a one bedroom apartment, utilities, transportation (bus pass), and the occasional latte. These averages are dependent on how much you spend on groceries and entertainment and can run much lower or much higher depending on how you cut or add to these costs.
  • Everything was true at the time of writing. This post is meant to help turn your wheels as you decide on the best places to teach English abroad. There are links provided for further info as rules are always changing.
  • All visa info should be double checked on the official website of the country as things are, again, ever-changing and, of course, it would be an effort in futility to display every single item that may be needed for a visa.
  • Keep in mind sometimes visa rules and teacher requirements are dependent not only on the country but by the particular school as well, below is an overview and not a comprehensive list of what you need (or don’t need) to be a teacher. A complete list would be impossible to include since there are so many factors.
  • These are some of the best countries to teach English abroad as they are popular, relatively easy, pay well and or are cheap to live, etc… It’s not exclusive and there are plenty more countries we could add. The “best” is relative and of course, we are all different. Feel free to let me know in the comments about another country you feel should be on this list!
Important! You’ll notice many of the following countries to teach English abroad will want a TEFL certification. DON’T get reeled in by the wrong, overpriced course like I did! Read about how I almost got screwed over. Then take my advice on choosing the right course, and grab my discount code!

Countries to Teach English Abroad: High Salary Low Cost of Living

These are some of the highest paid teaching jobs abroad. High salary, low cost of living is the ideal. You want to make good money and have to spend very little of it, either because you want to save or you want more disposable income to play tourist.

1. Teach English in South Korea

South Korea is all the rage for English teachers right now. Food, fun, and foothills.

Sanbangsan South Korea

Teaching English in South Korea is quite popular

The visa requirements are pretty basic, the teaching English abroad salary is awesome, and the cost of living is cheap, primarily because your employer will cover your rent. It’s also a small country, so you can really explore in depth in your downtime.

Requirements for Teaching English in South Korea:

  • BA
  • Criminal Background Check
  • Drug Test

Job Recommendations:

  • TEFL
  • Native English Speaker

Teaching English Abroad Salary Average: $1800

Cost of Living Average: < $1,000

2. Teach English in China

Highly accessible! You can be pretty much anyone looking to teach English in China, and you can qualify. China is one of the best places to teach English abroad. Some jobs will require a BA. Others will only ask you to have a TEFL certificate. Still others only require you to be a high school graduate.

Busy streets of China.

Busy streets of China.

Obviously, the pay varies based on your experience and degree level, but it’s gonna be a decent income compared to the cost of living regardless. You technically need a BA or higher and a TEFL certificate to get the Z Visa you need to teach English in China. People do work on tourist visas, but it is not legal, so this approach comes with risk.

Requirements for Teaching English in China:

  • BA or TEFL
  • Criminal Background Check
  • Aged between 21 and 55
  • Native English Speaker

Teaching English Abroad Salary Average: $1,400 – $4,300 (depending on whether you work part-time at a public school or full time at an exclusive private school or university, or anything in between.)

Cost of Living Average: $1,200

3. Teach English in Vietnam

Come for the pay, stay for the beauty. Vietnam is spectacular in terms of landscape, views, and all that cultural history to dig through. The visa requirement is pretty standard, the jobs are pretty abundant and the pay is decent, especially compared to the cost of living.

Ta hien street Hanoi Vietnam

Street view in Hanoi

There’s really no downside.

Requirements for Teaching English in Vietnam:

  • BA
  • Criminal Background Check
  • TEFL

Job Recommendations:

  • Two to Three years of experience

Teaching English Abroad Salary Average: $800 – $1800

Cost of Living Average: $500 – $700 (Quite often employers will pay for your visa and travel expenses as well as a housing allowance, which contributes to this low cost of living.)

4. Teach English in Japan

Japan holds massive appeal for many people. The culture is fascinating for westerners, and you can expect a high standard of living as well as a completely different kind of beauty from what we’re used to in the west.

The pay is awesome, and the cost of living is pretty affordable to the pay, so you can save. The visa process in Japan can be a bit more challenging than elsewhere.

Requirements for Teaching English in Japan:

  • BA
  • Criminal Background Check
  • Age Limit (Retirement age is 60, so getting a job if you’re over 60 can be super challenging)

Job Recommendations:

  • Two years of experience minimum

Teaching English Abroad Salary Average: $1700 – $5,000 (Depending on the type of job and your location. Cities will pay more than rural areas. Universities and International Schools will pay more than public schools.)

Cost of Living Average: $1,200

Countries to Teach English Abroad: Salary Equal to Cost of Living

Yes, high salary low cost of living is one ideal. But these are some of the best places to teach English abroad in terms of location, location, location. If you’ve always wanted to live in Spain, does it really matter if you don’t make a ton of money?

If Poland is on your bucket list, do you really care if you don’t save buckets of extra cash? These countries are totally worth considering, based on your own specific must-haves.

5. Teach English in Turkey

Depending on who you ask, Turkey can have high salary low cost of living, or you can end up breaking even. So I put this one on the top of this list because it’s kind of “in the middle.”

Why Turkey? It is one of the most visually stunning places you can visit that also happens to ride the line between Europe and the Middle East. It’s a cultural hodgepodge. Greece is literally right across the Mediterranean.

Sailing in Greece while on a group trip

Greece would be amazing to teach English in, but I’d probably blow all my money on olives, feta, and boat trips.

Almost nowhere else in the world can you go and have such close access to so many other widely varying regions. To get the work visa (and the ESL teacher salary that comes with it) you must have a BA and a TEFL certificate.

Requirements for Teaching English in Turkey:

  • BA
  • TEFL

Teaching English Abroad Salary Average: $800 – $1800

Cost of Living Average: $500 – $800

6. Teach English in Costa Rica

Easily one of the best countries to teach English in Latin America, and that’s saying quite a lot, Costa Rica also has the highest cost of living in Latin America. It is the retirement haven for expats from North America for a reason.

The ESL teacher salary is decent, and living accommodations are good. The catch? It is almost impossible to get a work visa to teach in Costa Rica. While it is illegal to work, without a work visa, you can, technically, as in many, many people do, work in Costa Rica on a tourist visa.

In order to get a work visa, you must be either a citizen or a permanent resident, which requires years of living in the country first. It can be notoriously difficult to get a work visa in Costa Rica, so most companies will hire you with your tourist visa. To work around this impossible system without creating paperwork and immigration troubles, make sure you hop out of the country to a neighboring country to “renew” your tourist visa every 90 days.

Requirements for Teaching English in Costa Rica:

  • One year contract with a company that hires you for a job that cannot be filled by a Costa Rican. These are really difficult to get. If you are caught by the government working without a work visa, you can be immediately deported back to your own country and banned from reentering Costa Rica for 10 years.
  • However! When it comes to teaching English without a work visa, all research shows that the government tends to “look the other way.” You teaching English to Costa Ricans in Costa Rica actually makes the citizens more marketable and potentially better citizens able to contribute to the economy. The few people who have reported being caught were simply asked to leave the country and return as tourists, not to work. Bottom line: yes, people do it. Yes, people get away with it. And finally, it is illegal, so do it at your own risk.

Job Recommendations:

  • BA
  • TEFL
  • Native English Speaker
  • Experience

Teaching English Abroad Salary Average: $600 – 800

Cost of Living Average: $600 – $800

7. Teach English in the Czech Republic

In the Czech Republic, English teaching jobs are abundant. Sure, it’s freezing cold in the winter, but the summers are nice, the pay is good, and the cost of living is comparable to the pay.

Beautiful candid shot of the Prague, Czech Republic.

One of the unmissable views in Prague, Czech Republic.

You’ll also be welcomed with warm arms by the locals. It can be difficult to compete with EU residents, as jobs and accommodations are easier to attain for them, but the competition is not too stiff. You can enter the country on a tourist visa and begin your job search and your work visa application at the same time. You also have to buy Czech health insurance once you arrive. Plus, the fees for the visa can be pretty hefty.

Requirements for Teaching English in the Czech Republic:

  • Bank Letter proving resources
  • Proof of accommodation (where you live)
  • Criminal background check

Job Recommendations:

  • TEFL
  • Experience

Teaching English Abroad Salary Average: $1,000 – $1300

Cost of Living Average: < $1,000

Here is everything you need to know about teaching English in Prague.

8. Teach English in Spain

Spain is a tough one! Because it’s in the EU and highly competitive, it can be challenging to get the work visa. Your best bet, if you’re insistent upon Spain, is the Working Holiday Visa, which, unfortunately, Americans do not qualify for.

Americans, and others, do however qualify for a one-year student visa program. It will allow you to take Spanish classes part time, and teach English legally. But if you’re from New Zealand, Australia, or Canada, and under 35, you should be fine.

Spain city view

Spain may be one of the best countries to teach English in but they aren’t the easiest.

Americans and Canadians can also apply for the Cultural Ambassador program, which will allow you to travel to Spain as an English teaching assistant, which you can do for a couple of years to gain some residency time.

The bottom line with Spain is that you really must do your research to figure out how to make it work for you based on your specific credentials OR simply sign up with a program like this one which takes away a lot of the headache.

Requirements for Teaching English in Spain:

  • Bachelors Degree
  • Most people are going through programs to get the coveted visa
    Here’s more info on teaching English abroad in Spain since this one is a bit more confusing.

Teaching English Abroad Salary Average: $800 – $2500

Cost of Living Average: $1,000

9. Teach English in Poland

Another European location that may allow you to teach English and get your foot in the EU door. For Poland, you will likely have to get a job before you enter the country if you are not an EU citizen, so start looking now. Also look into which schools will sponsor your work visa. Some schools are looking particularly for American English, which could be your way in.

Requirements for Teaching English in Poland:

  • BA
  • TEFL
  • Proof of resources (bank statement)
  • Proof of employment

Teaching English Abroad Salary Average: $750 – 1050

Cost of Living Average: $700 – $1000

10. Teach English in Brazil

Fun and fast-paced, pretty much anyone can make a decent teaching English abroad salary in Brazil. The trick though is that you will be doing it on a tourist visa, which is “technically” not legal. Work visas are almost impossible to get as you’ll need a multi-year contract with a school that will take responsibility for you.

That said, tons of people head out to Brazil on a tourist visa and start looking for English teaching work. You can get hired at a public or private school, and you can tutor. It is definitely one of the best countries to teach English.

Requirements for Teaching English in Brazil:

  • Passport good for at least six months beyond entry date
  • Proof of resources (bank statement)

Teaching English Abroad Salary Average: $800 – $1300

Cost of Living Average: $800 – $1300

11. Teach English in Chile

Chile is one of the wealthiest countries in Latin America, which means the cost of living will closely match your income.

The visa system here is not that difficult, but it can be lengthy. You will likely enter on a tourist visa, or, for Americans, just a passport, which is good for 90 days, look for work, and then have your company sponsor your work visa, which can take months. It is much easier to get the work visa from inside Chile, so this route seems best all around.

Requirements for Teaching English in Chile:

  • Passport
  • Registration with Police Department
  • Work Contract

Job Recommendations:

  • TEFL
  • BA/BS Preferred
  • Native English Speaker

Teaching English Abroad Salary Average: $750 – $1000

Cost of Living Average: $750 – $1,000

12. Teach English in Ecuador

Another Latin American paradise. You can arrive with your passport and get a tourist visa upon entering the country. Then look for work, of which there is typically plenty, and whichever school hires you will usually help you file all of your work visa paperwork.

As processes go, Ecuador’s is pretty simple. You won’t make a ton of money, but you won’t spend a ton either.

Requirements for Teaching English in Ecuador:

  • Work Contract
  • Passport
  • Resume

Job Recommendations:

  • TEFL
  • BA (preferred, not required)

Teaching English Abroad Salary Average: $500 – $800

Cost of Living Average: $500 – $800

Countries to Teach English Abroad: Low(er) Salary Low Cost of Living

The following countries each have selling points – beauty, great job market, etc. But they are best known in teach abroad terms for being easy to live in on a lower salary.

Remember that the more experience you have, or even the more you gain while abroad teaching, the higher the salary you can demand. And there are always additional ways to make money on the side as well. I’ve got a great list of ways to make money online that could supplement your teaching salary.

13. Teach English in Thailand

Thailand is super inexpensive and offers a ton of English teaching jobs. A lot of newcomers to teaching English abroad start here.

Beaches and boats in Thailand

Your teaching English abroad salary in Thailand isn’t much but the cost of living is low.

You can typically find work from outside of the country, which is nice, but unless you go through an abroad program that will take care of all your visa paperwork for you, you’ll have to enter on an immigrant visa once you get to Thailand, and then change it to a work permit, which can take time and patience. The pay is pretty low, but the cost of living is really low, so it works out.

More information on teaching English abroad in Thailand.

Requirements for Teaching English in Thailand:

  • BA
  • TEFL
  • Criminal Background Check
  • Bank Statement
  • Letter of acceptance to work at a school

Job Recommendations:

  • Master’s Degree if you plan to work at the university level
  • Native English Speaker

Teaching English Abroad Salary Average: $950 – $1300

Cost of Living Average: $550 – $800

14. Teach English in Colombia

A thriving city like Bogota offers tons of English teaching opportunities, but so does the rest of the country, and you can likely save money outside of the big city. Travel to Colombia on a tourist visa, which is easy to get, look for work, and a reputable school will help you with your work visa application.

There are also plenty of schools that will hire you on your tourist visa, but know that this approach is not technically legal. You can get by in Colombia with relatively little, so it’s not a huge deal that the salary is fairly low.

Requirements for Teaching English in Colombia:

  • Bank Statements
  • Work Contract

Job Recommendations:

  • TEFL
  • BA

Teaching English Abroad Salary Average: $500 – 1050

Cost of Living Average: $500 – $1050

15. Teach English in Morocco

You’ll be in for a bit of culture shock if you’re used to the west, but not too much. Morocco is pretty modern and quite forward-thinking in terms of employment.

Morocco has the best olives!

Perks of living in Morocco: Unlimited supply of olives.

Pay is fair and you’ll get perks like long lunches and plenty of vacation days. The visa process is simple, but it takes forever. You’ll need your employer to help you out.

Requirements for Teaching English in Morocco:

  • TEFL
  • BA

Teaching English Abroad Salary Average: $500 – $1000

Cost of Living Average: $500 – $1,000

16. Teach English in Egypt

Of all the places to teach English, Egypt might be the most interesting because it is one of the least common. The demand for English teachers is high, so you have a chance to make a relatively decent ESL teacher salary compared to the low cost of living.

The visa process is long and arduous though, so be prepared to tough it out.

Requirements for Teaching English in Egypt:

  • BA
  • Criminal Background Check
  • HIV/AIDS test
  • TEFL
  • Letter from employer
  • Proof from an employer that it was necessary to hire you as opposed to an Egyptian citizen.

Teaching English Abroad Salary Average: $250 – $500

Cost of Living Average: $250 – $500

17. Teach English in Mexico

One of the largest teach English abroad markets in the world, Mexico is home to over one million American expatriates, so you may, or may not, feel right at home.

Mexico city street view

Mexico City

The process is pretty simple—you’ll enter with your passport and get your visa once you’ve found work. Pay will range of course based on location, but you can certainly survive on a teacher’s salary. In fact, if you have a master’s degree, you could find yourself teaching at university.

Requirements for Teaching English in Mexico:

  • TEFL
  • Letter of employment offer from official school on letterhead

Job Recommendations:

  • BA
  • Native English Speaker

Teaching English Abroad Salary Average: $500 – $800

Cost of Living Average: $500 – $800

Countries to Teach English Abroad: High Salary High Cost of Living

Here you’ll find more of the highest paid teaching jobs abroad, but they are not easy to come by. You will get a great salary, benefits, allowances, you name it, in these countries. Precisely because the salary is so high and the benefit so great, the competition for these jobs is stiff.

18. Teach English in the United Arab Emirates

It’s warm, money practically falls from the sky, and English teachers are in high demand. The visa requirements are simple, and your salary is tax-free. If you’re the competitive type looking to cash in on your teaching skills, head to one of the 7 emirates in the UAE.

Requirements for Teaching English in the UAE:

  • BA
  • TEFL
  • Health Certificate
  • Employment Contract

Job Recommendations:

  • Master’s Degree
  • Experience (Strongly Recommended)

Teaching English Abroad Salary Average: $1800 – $5000

Cost of Living Average:  $1,000 – $1500

19. Teach English in Qatar

This tiny little country is the wealthiest country in the Middle East, and English is in high demand. You can make a great ESL teacher salary and spend relatively little on expenses, all while taking in a culture vastly different from ours in the west. The visa process is an interesting one, to say the least, but it is totally worth it if you’re looking for the great financial rewards offered.

Requirements for Teaching English in Qatar:

  • HIV/AIDS test
  • Criminal Background Check
  • Health Certificate
  • BA
  • TEFL

Job Recommendations:

  • MA
  • Experience strongly preferred

Teaching English Abroad Salary Average: $1600 – $4000

Cost of Living Average: $800 – $2000

Don’t forget! You will likely need a TEFL certification. Read here on how to choose the best one and get my personal discount so you have more money to travel with!

Need more info on teaching English abroad? I got you covered!

So are any of these the best place to teach English abroad in your eyes? Which? Let me know in the comments where you’re going!

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