“Where is the best country that I could teach English that would enable me to live overseas?”

Where is the best country that I could teach English that would enable me to live overseas?

I am hoping to leave the U.S. in the coming year but I am still undecided on where yet. Both the Americas and Asia appeal to me. I am 45 and want to move somewhere to teach English while also living somewhat comfortably. Can you recommend anywhere?

Jason Holland – Roving Latin America Correspondent

Jason HollandHi Lisa,

Many Americans live in Costa Rica teaching English. Locals are eager to learn English to get jobs with the multinational companies that have operations here, as well as jobs in the tourism industry. Plus, many parents want their children to learn English, businesspeople want to learn… there is a ready market for it.

As a result there are many English schools. Most are concentrated in the capital, San Jose, and its suburbs, as this is the country’s main population center. This is where the best and highest-paying teaching jobs will be. One thing to remember is that to work legally in Costa Rica you must have special permission from the government. As a teacher this would be something your school/employer would work out. It’s not a big deal. Some schools try to slip by this requirement but if you are caught you would be deported. So avoid those opportunities.

The San Jose area has a very comfortable climate and while it is a big city, it’s safe and there are plenty of cool neighborhoods and areas to check out. Plus, the Pacific coast is only about 1.5 hours away and is easily reachable by public transport. it can also be a great base for you to explore the rest of Costa Rica as well in your off hours.

Suzan Haskins – Ecuador Correspondent

Suzan Haskins

It’s my understanding you’ll make far more money in Asia – especially China and South Korea – as there aren’t nearly as many native English speakers there. In Ecuador where I live, going wage is about $400 to $1,000 a month for English teachers unless you get into one of the prestigious private schools. Then you might make $1800 or so a month…

One place to start is at ibo.org. You can find a list of international schools there and then go directly to their websites to see if they have open positions.

Steven Lepoidevin – Thailand Correspondent

Steven LepoidevinHi Lisa,

Although I have been living in Thailand for the last three years, I am not sure I would recommend it as a place to teach English. In general, the ESL pay is very low compared to other parts of the world.

There are much better paying positions available in other countries such as South Korea and China. We lived in China for six years and ran across many Americans teaching English. You are much better off trying to find a job at one of the universities or International schools that have ESL programs built into their curriculums.

The smaller private schools are not always trustworthy and are notorious for trying to get away with hiring teachers without going through the proper channels in order to save money. ie circumventing work visas, etc. Any reputable school will look after all the required paperwork.

You can easily search for international schools on the internet and check to see what types of positions they might have. And be sure to look at the fine print. Most good ESL jobs include housing.

Although university English positions sometimes pay very little, the actual teaching time is small enough that you can usually make extra income with private tutoring. Positions in ESL jobs at international schools can pay upwards of $1800 per month.

Jessica Ramesch – Panama Correspondent

Jessica RameschHi Lisa,

There are many expats living and teaching English in Panama, which has a large bilingual (English-Spanish) population. There are a lot of young students and graduates that want to get ahead and since English is a major language here (after the national language, of course, which is Spanish) for business and trade, salaries tend to be double for locals who can include fluent English on their résumés. For that reason language schools and tutors have proliferated and the demand continues to grow. In Panama one can teach at language institutes or local schools/private universities or even offer in-home tutoring. You might even find it easy to start a small after-school English tutoring center of your own here in
Panama City or perhaps even the city of David.

Some of these would of course require a teaching certificate or ESL training, but I taught at a small center and tutored in private homes for several years without either.

Hope this helps.


IL Panama Editor Jessica Ramesch


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