When researching for big trips, you’ve got to do your homework, and lots of it. However, what you want to know is what country if the best to teach in. As well as which country you can save money whilst having fun. Because after all, when you aren’t working in the classroom, you are out having fun or taking time to relax and you’ve got to consider where you will feel most at home. Because being a teacher, at times, can be hard…
In this article we will go through 6 of the best countries-in our opinion to teach and therefore live in. Obviously, the world is a beautiful place and the list is becoming what seems endless…so we have looked at the 6 countries we loved the most. We looked at Asia, Latin America and Europe (you can look at other countries under our programs tab. I’m sure you are super excited, and want to be more educated on what the countries have to offer, the fun, the living costs, weekly budgets, the food (oh man, the food!). And, we are basing all of this information on a life of ‘living on a shoe string’ too, so it really doesn’t get much better. But once you start earning, imagine the money you can save!
Thailand – It goes without saying that Thailand screams fun, and as someone who has visited, I can concur. Not only is it fun, but Thailand also has many stunning beaches where you can relax; with the picture-perfect white sands and turquoise seas. The famous long tail boats with the colourful ribbons on the tips all along the bay, definitely finalises that picture postcard image.
It isn’t just beaches though, that makes Thailand popular, as it also is in touch with nature with its great diverse national parks filled with wondrous creatures. If you aren’t the hiking type, then you could just jump on a “Tuk Tuk” through the towns and you’re sure to get an equally adrenaline levelled experience. If you are getting on a “Tuk Tuk” at night-time, get them to drop you at a night market. They’re the perfect place to soak up the culture.
You would have also heard about the famous fiery food of Thailand, probably the pad thai and the spring rolls. But it doesn’t end there, you are bound to find many new favourite dishes for a cheap price if you are brave enough to try it, whilst wondering round the food markets. Whether you are in the hustle and bustle of the centre of Bangkok, or all down south, island hoping across the legendary beaches, or up in the gorgeously green, rural northern cities like Chiang Mai, Thailand will not fail to disappoint you.
But how much does it cost to live in Thailand? So let me start by saying, the cost and quality of living differs from where you are in the country, the cheapest places being up north and the priciest being in and around Bangkok. There is a great blog on the ‘Cost of Living in Thailand’ here. However, an over view cost for 2020, you are probably looking at around USD $1,250 a month, give or take, which comes to approximately 39,262 Thai Baht. Partying dependent, a weekly budget of just over $300. It can be done!
Vietnam – Now, Vietnam is hugely versatile, I think anyone in the world could find a place to live in Vietnam, a place where they find that the pace of life matches their own needs; making them feel comfortable yet totally alive. You are bound to find sunshine somewhere in the country at any given time…it could be argued, that Vietnam has it all.
You have the beaches, not only are they stunning (much like most beaches in Asia) but a lot of them are undeveloped, you can find yourself taking a stroll down the beach with no one else around. There are so many hidden gems around Vietnam shorelines, pluck up the courage to rent a moped and get off the beaten track – and discover your own private beach.
Talking of mopeds, Vietnam is famous for this mode of transport…not only is the moped rides around the shoreline’s fun, there are many famous loops that tourists love to endure. Most famously, the Hai Gang Loop in the northern hemisphere. Or if you are feeling REALLY brave, take a bike ride around Hanoi or Saigon…dare you! (Disclaimer – the cities are only really appropriate for experience drivers) equally you can get a feel for this experience on the back of a Grab Bike, let the pro’s do the work whilst you hold on tight and soak in the hectic scenery!. However, in Vietnam you can be submerged in the jungle one day and then within a matter of a famous night bus ride, the next day you can be boating it through the stunning limestone islands on junk boats soaking in the sun.
Vietnam isn’t all about the pho, although pho is amazing and their national dish, there are many other fabulous dishes that will get your taste buds tingling. Dumplings, summer (spring) rolls, fried fish and banh mi’s. I found that a banh mi is perfect alongside a 60c beer, whilst sat on the plastic yellow chairs in a “Bia Hoi” in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Don’t be alarmed when the waiter puts ice in your beer glass, once you’ve had it…you’ll never go back. One of my personal favourite things about the Vietnamese culture is eating outdoors on the busy streets on crooked tables, small chairs and 1000s of people walking past. If you look around you can see groups of families socialising and eating late into the night.
Live better for less overseas! Many Westerners who live in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City get by spending as little as $500 per month, but it’s a no-frills lifestyle. Whilst $500 is said to be on the low end of the range, you can live on from that to $1000 and still have more than enough to enjoy the beautiful lifestyle that Vietnam offers. This gives you a weekly budget of $250, which is around 5,800,000 (5.8 million) Vietnamese Dong. If you are going to compare the two places so far in regards to expenses, research shows that Vietnam living costs are a bit cheaper…
Cambodia – Everyone at least once in their life has to experience the purity and kindness of the Khmers…it is just a bonus that Cambodia also comes alongside beautiful ancient temples, idyllic islands and exciting jungle and mountain adventures. Although the country is well known, to me, Cambodia still felt that tiny bit undiscovered and it didn’t disappoint.
You may have heard of Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious monument, and it is true what they say, it certainly deserves all the attention it gets. Cambodia is scattered with glorious floating villages, Jungle Rivers and mangroves. It certainly has its own ‘buzz’ whilst being subtly spiritual across the entire country. You don’t just have to travel up and over the Cardamom Mountains to find some headspace, you can choose to be in amongst the action or within your self-discovered private space all throughout Cambodia.
Only whilst here did I find white talcum powder like sand that squeaks between your toes as you walk, the offshore islands are pure joy. The islands of Koh Rong and Samloem are great places to relax, but if you are feeling wild, you can party too.
The joys don’t stop there…wait until you try the food. Or even better, take a cooking class and try cooking some of the famous dishes yourself. Must tries are an Amok Curry or a Lok Lak curry, or even their own take on the famous spring rolls which are done in a crispy lattice type pastry. I can tell you now, getting the ingredients for dinner from the market is an indescribable experience, it will certainly make the shop around your local supermarket seem boring, take in the exotic smells and exquisite colours.
When it comes to food, you can eat a typical meal at a Cambodian restaurant that could cost you less than $2, or if you want to stick to your roots there are western restaurants, which are a bit pricier. The cost of living in Cambodia really depends on what you want your cost of living there to be and whether you are seeking creature comforts or if you want to experience the local way of life.
Much like Thailand and Vietnam, the housing prices change depending on where you are in the country but in Phnom Penh you can rent a luxury, serviced apartment with a pool, gym, 24-hour security guard, and cleaning service for anywhere from $400 to $3000, or live in a comfortable Cambodian style apartment for under $350.
However if you stay in Phnom Penh, you can probably look at spending around $1,150 a month or 5.093,000 Cambodian Riel, which is $312 a week. Which makes it the second most expensive after Thailand, but do you get what you pay for? Go find out.
I will add here, that many prices are given in dollars all around Cambodia and you may be told dollars are worth more, I didn’t! Take local currency and barter remember cash is still king here!
Mexico – Mexico is known for their long stretches of white sand beaches and coastal resorts, their cuisine, tequila and Margaritas, jungles, deserts and bustling fiestas but what else does Mexico have to offer?
Mexico also has: Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead that falls on 1st November, Plaza de Toros the biggest bullfighting ring in the world, chocolate! And you might not of known this, but Mexico ranks very high as some of the best producers, religion, 83% of Mexicans are Catholics and it can be referred to as a city of faith, faith comes hand in hand with beautiful places of worship, and there are some stunning ruins scattered around Mexico too.
It is claimed that Mexico has some of the most amazing beaches in the world and with very hot summer months with an average of 35 degrees you won’t be lacking opportunities to sunbathe down by the beach. On the other hand, the most famous landmark of Chichen Itza, the tempe-pyramid of El Castillo will give you a whole different feel of the country. Much like Asia, you can be on the beach and in the jungle within a hot trek and there is an abundance of wildlife species in there ready for you to discover.
Apart from Burritos and Tacos there are many other flavourful dishes that Mexico has to offer, and the array of flavours is what makes it so famous. The meals include a lot of healthy ingredients like avocados, beans and the spicy chillies chucked in with different types of meats. Unlike what most of us are used to, the biggest meal of the day is eaten around noon and it is somewhat celebrated, and then dinner is usually just a light meal and eaten quite late.
I don’t think it will come as a surprise that living costs in Mexico are a little higher than those in Asia. But similarly, there are places that are cheaper than others like San Miguel Del Allende or Guanajuato. The average rent is around the $430 mark, but you can find accommodation that suits you. With all intricacies included, like Internet and mobile bills, you can presume have a monthly total of $1,890. This creates a budget of $472 a week, which is approximately 9,492 Mexican Pesos, which ranks Mexico the most expensive so far.
Everything takes a little longer in Mexico, so if you are looking for a chance to learn how to slow down and change the pace of life, then immerse yourself into the beauty of Mexico.
Argentina – It is said that Argentina is an amazing place to visit, but an even better place to live as the way of life there allows you tonnes of freedom. That is whether you are in the cultural capital of Buenos Aires or the desert region of Salta or even Jujuy in the north, Argentina has something for everyone.
From all the way up, to all the way back down, Argentina is known for having a wealth of delicious food, which changes, due to location. This creates the perfect excuse to travel the entire country – why not! You can try food in the north that can be unheard of down south, for example fried empanadas with a spicy sauce (mmm). However, kicking back by an open fire watching your fresh river trout or mountain lamb cook is more a way of life down south. For fellow wine lovers out there, in Argentina they serve a glass of wine with every meal, perfect right?
It isn’t all about gorgeous foods and wine in Argentina, it is covered with beautiful landscapes, from deserts, mountains, wetlands and jungles all leading back to exciting large bustling urban centres. You’ve got some of the world’s most amazing waterfalls and the unmissable road trip opportunity through the world-famous Patagonia. Many people come to visit Argentina and decide to stay because of its great climate, to experience mild winters and hot lengthy summers. Immerse yourself in the history and cultural landscapes.
Dancing is a huge culture in Argentina, the Zamba and Tango being the worldliest known and the nightlife is bombing; from night city tours as newbie to scope the area, cooking classes, interactive dinner parties and copious amounts of wine tasting. Whether you choose to settle in Buenos Aires, the most populous province with the popular beautiful beaches? Or closer to nature in Mendoza, I am sure you can find somewhere perfect for you.
Many a traveler has landed in Buenos Aires and within less than 24 hours started to ponder the question, “Could I find a way to live here?” Some don’t just ponder it; they actually move to Argentina. Although we are aiming to be living on a shoestring here, knowing that you can pull off a middle –class average life on around $1,500 a month, it makes us feel a lot better knowing living cheaply with some level of quality can be done over in Argentina. Say you do live a little plusher than you thought you would on $1,500 a month, that’s $375 (23,411 Argentine Peso), which still makes it cheaper than Mexico and close to living costs as Cambodia. Latin America or Asia?
Spain – Spain is famously known for its traditions, music, flamenco, alcohol, football and delicious tapas. Don’t forget about the Siestas, who doesn’t want to live in a country where it is nationally accepted to be so laid back you can nap every afternoon and it be ok?
I know it seems all these countries seems to be bragging about beautiful beaches, but Spain has them too…and it can’t go unmentioned. Spain has more than 8,000 kilometres of coastline, and you don’t have to go to the famous Costa Blanca or Costa del Sol to reach the best beaches, as there are gorgeous beaches lining the country on every single corner of the coast. And all of the beaches have room for sun, surf and sunbathing, what more do you need?
Unlike the other places we’ve spoken about, Spain doesn’t have the jungle. However, in north-western Spain, there is natural woodland in Navarra. If you are lucky you could even spot an Iberian Wolf whilst discovering the depths of the woodlands. Don’t worry though, there isn’t a lack of animals in the area, there are also seven species of whales and dolphins that are regularly spotted in the Strait of Gibraltar including Bottlenose Dolphins and Orcas.
Spain could be said to hold some of the best cities in the world, from the likes of Madrid, Barcelona, Seville and Valencia. Inside those cities you have ground breaking places of worship, historical monuments, street art and markets. Or you could hop over for a party to Ibiza, Tenerife or Alicante to have a mix of city and beach. Spain is hugely versatile with different lifestyle choices – you can choose the life you want.
My personal favourite aspect of Spain is the food. And I know I’ve spoken about the food in these countries a lot, but food for me is the heart of a country, and when you’ve finished working hard you need a good meal to finish the day. In Spain, you’ve got croquettes, fresh fish, tortillas, gazpacho, cured meats like jamon and chorizo, paella and stews and tapas, and in some places, tapas is free, if you are drinking. You’ve got it all – food really is the centre of Spanish life, get involved, you won’t regret it.
Cost of living in Spain is one of the lowest in western Europe even in the big cities mentioned above. The average cost of living for one person in Spain is $900 a month, this is around $225 a week = €199. On this type of budget, you’re looking at the same costs as Vietnam, weird isn’t it? How two countries so far away from each other, and so different from one another can cost a similar price to live in. It’s safe to say it probably makes the decision a little harder!
Where is the world going to take you and your teaching skills?
Written by Eve Feeney March 2020