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Accommodation expectations

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by Matt29x, Aug 19, 2019.

  1. Matt29x

    Matt29x New commenter

    Hi there,

    I am an early years teacher in the UK (3 years) and I am desperate to teach somewhere outside of the UK. I have narrowed my interest down to Shanghai, Tokyo and the UAE (I like big cities). I am curious to know from families out there their experience with accommodation. We are having our first baby within the next few months. I want to know the expectations in accommodation for a small family.

    Many thanks,

  2. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    What sort of accommodation you might get varies enormously from school to school and from city to city. There is no standard rule and different schools do things differently. Some schools will provide teachers an apartment, while others will give you an accommodation allowance and then arrange for you to meet some rental agents. You will view some properties and then decide which one you like. That is how things worked for us in Shenzhen.

    When I was teaching in the UAE, the school provided an apartment for Mr. and Mrs. Hippo, but it was more or less empty. We had to BUY lots of second-hand furniture from the school. The plural garden implement school did not reimburse us when we left!

    In Qatar, you could receive an allowance if you did not want to live in the accommodation provided by the school. The bad news was that the allowance was well below the market rate for something even half decent.

    When we were in Kenya, the school gave us a lovely bungalow with a big garden. I can still remember writing my end-of-term reports to the sound of the hyenas yelping in the Nairobi National Park.
    Bentley89 likes this.
  3. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    Hippo is right as usual. There is no standard expectation.
    I would add that the UAE has no large cities, only medium ones, but lots to offer in other ways.
  4. Ne11y

    Ne11y Occasional commenter

    I cannot specifically comment for the places you have mentioned, but if a school offers no obvious help, say no.

    I was once told something along the lines of "most new teachers stay in an airbnb until they find something. Some of the parents help because they run property companies".

    That was not ok.

    Whatever the local practice is, a school that wants to retain teachers will actively help with housing. You are a stranger in a strange land and need help, lots of it. Housing is such a key need to ensure happiness and satisfaction that if a school ignores this, it's a red flag in my opinion.
    suem75 and blueskydreaming like this.
  5. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    From what I've seen, it varies. Some schools will provide on-site accommodation, even in Shanghai, for at least the first year (or even longer), others will provide accommodation for a period while you sort yourselves out which might be in a serviced apartment or just a hotel room. Some will have arrangements with landlords which enable them to have an interest in the contract, helping you a little by protecting your rights, others just let you handle it all on your own.

    In your situation, I'd agree with Ne11y that if the school isn't holding your hand through this process then it probably isn't worth considering - it will be a lot of hassle for you while you are trying to adjust to a new school, city, country and culture. Remember - moving, starting a new job, and having a baby are three of the most stressful events in your life, and you're doing them all at once!
  6. norwichred

    norwichred Occasional commenter

    It varies. My school offers furnished accommodation or an allowance which would help but absolutely nowhere near cover renting somewhere - but my school is geared towards single people and we’re a family so knew the situation before we came.

    in the first year you are strongly encouraged to live in and not take the allowance which makes sense. The accommodation is four minutes walk from school, and help is in place if anything goes wrong in the apartment. We have us and our two kids in the apartment - most here are pretty surprised negatively by that, as by Middle Eastern standards our apartment is small, but it gives us a chance to scope the lay of the land for the first year and save up enough money that if we do decide to rent in the future money won’t be an issue.

    and we feel relaxed and happy, when there have been issues they have been resolved speedily and our maid loves having a smaller place to look after.

    Everywhere varies, but a positive attitude helps with everything I believe.
    suem75 likes this.
  7. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    Here in Shanghai the majority of schools give 2 weeks hotel accommodation and assistance finding an apartment. The appartment comes fully furnished but ovens in the kitchen are like hens teeth to find.

    The schools do offer a loan to cover the 36-45000rmb 2 month deposit and 1st months rent.

    Some schools do offer accommodation for the first year with the option of moving out with an allowance for the next year.

    The schools that having boarding have appartments on each floor of the students accommodation so staff can supervise in their free time.

    But be warned in the next couple of years, staff in China will lose the tax free allowance so expect a 3 to 5000rmb increase in tax per month.
  8. GreenGlover

    GreenGlover New commenter

    Ignore the comment about tax in China in two years time, as most local tax experts (Big 4) think there will be another interim solution
  9. shazzamac

    shazzamac New commenter

    I've lived in all those cities. Every school is different, but I got the biggest apartment in Shanghai surprisingly. Although we are right on the outskirts of the city. 1 beds in Tokyo and Dubai, 3 beds in Shanghai.
    Shanghai is by far the cheapest, (unless you insist on living downtown in huge swanky apartment). Things in general here are half or less than Dubai, but salary is about the same! However, preferred the sun in Dubai!
  10. wrldtrvlr123

    wrldtrvlr123 Occasional commenter

    As everyone has said, what is provided/feasible on the allowance will vary wildly by location, school, year (due to housing market fluctuations).

    In Beijing we had a beautiful furnished 3 bedroom apt. (180 m^2) in a western friendly complex. In Tokyo (outside of downtown, which is where the school is) we have a 1500 ft^2 house with a nice little yard, 2 space driveway, grill area (which we had to furnish ourselves). Similar housing would be available if you were at one of the bigger schools outside of downtown Tokyo or at the IB school in Yokohama.
  11. makhnovite

    makhnovite Established commenter

    Most of it has been said, its up to the school what they offer. It can also depend on the amount of hand holding required, in Asia lots is required as most new staff cannot speak or read Mandarin, Vietnamese or Thai. In some Spanish speaking countries (wait for it?) less, because of a perceived familiarity with the culture and possibly language. In Western Europe and English speaking countries, in my experience, virtually none. But once again this is only my experience and it varies from school to school.
  12. 576

    576 Established commenter

    My 3 experiences were.

    1. A week in a hotel, booked and paid for by the school, and a recommendation for a real estate agent. Overseas govt school.

    2. On site accommodation provided. Rural school in a developing country.

    3. School rents housing for you, or after initial contract you can find your own home and there is an allowance.
  13. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    The "hotel" the head booked us into in Shenzhen turned out to be the local knocking shop. I had various cards put under the door and one or two mysterious phone calls from young ladies. Mrs. Hippo was not amused.
  14. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    The only possible solution is if the school owns the appartment property. Since some schools will have to purchase 100s of appartments this seems unlikely in the short term.

    The reason for the tax change is that foreigners will be on the same tax rules as Chinese workers. So you will be allowed 1500rmb/month tax free rent allowance.

    The interesting change is on reducing the tax free school fee from 250000rmb per child to just 12000rmb. So teachers with children getting free school places for their offspring will be getting a big tax demand.

    Why should the Chinese government support foreign companies by continuing with tax incentives from 20 years past.
  15. frogusmaximus

    frogusmaximus Occasional commenter

    :eek: Guess you don't teach too much Geography.

    As an aside, why limit yourself . . . so many great cities out there: Hanoi, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Hanoi, Manilla, Hong Kong, Istanbul etc. and each have their own characteristics that can make one very different from another but often hard to predict whether you'd enjoy living there until you actually get there.
  16. makhnovite

    makhnovite Established commenter

    ':eek: Guess you don't teach too much Geography.'

    Maybe he means Dubai?
  17. frogusmaximus

    frogusmaximus Occasional commenter

    Maybe he isn't expecting a child but taking on a dog

    Maybe his name is 'Shirley' and is wife is 'Stan'

    The truth is out there. ;)

    Reminds me of the time, my wife and I arrived at Schiphol Airport for a brief stay. She had required a visa for the visit and when asked where she was going as we went through customs, she said 'to Holland'. Fortunately, I was with her, could explain the error and we all laughed. At the UK point of entry she no doubt would have been taken off into a side room without me and grilled for 30 minutes.
  18. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    'My wife and I arrived at Schiphol Airport for a brief stay.'

    Very wise. I try to make my stays in airports as brief as possible. The staff tend to get uppity when I put up the tent. Even more so when I light the campfire.
  19. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Yes, Captain, and I did not know that the UAE was a city. Well, you learn something new each day. (Actually, some silly people think that it is a country, when really it is just some shopping malls divided by motorways.)

    Frogus, old fellow, If she were not going into Holland as she walked through the customs at Schiphol, then please could you tell us which country your dear wife was going to. Peru, maybe? Saudi Arabia?
  20. carrickally

    carrickally New commenter

    With my current school, there was no available 3 bed accomodation but they did arrange the housing allowance for us. This worked out quite well as we were able to source our own apartment and also top up slightly. It's massive, in a good location and with plenty of facilities compared to the usual staff accomodation areas. Plus our contract is up for renewal and we are looking to move so we have been doing the enjoyable househunting that we used to do in the UK many moons ago!

    Please be aware that in the UAE the standard (don't laugh, we all know there is no standards) procedure is to pay your own utilities bills. School accomodation will probably be furnished to a student digs level but if you get a housing allowance there may be options to rent decent fully furnished accomodation, especially in dubai.

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