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Can a family really survive on a NZ teacher's salary?

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by roamingteacher, Jun 23, 2009.

  1. roamingteacher

    roamingteacher Established commenter Forum guide

    I've just put in the $42K salary in one NZ teacher's post in to a currency converter and it's peanuts! Can a family of 4 (2 adults, 2 kids) really survive on that and actually have a life?
    [​IMG] Or have I got it totally wrong?
  2. msnessy

    msnessy New commenter

    How far the salary goes depends on where you live. I'm curious where mrswallow is living? Those rents sound like country town rents not rents of the city. Furthermore school housing is getting rarer and rarer as the houses are being sold off. Many schools have fought to keep their housing as an incentive for recruiting staff, but these are schools that struggle to recruit due to isolation or other factors.
    The salary you quote is the starting salary for beginning teachers, yes you could live on it but I'd say your budget will be tight and not sure feasible if planning to live in a city.
  3. roamingteacher

    roamingteacher Established commenter Forum guide

    Thanks to both of you for that info - particularly the details. We would have 2 young kids and would prefer an urban / suburban lifestyle so I don't think we would really survive. We were in NZ a couple of years ago and met a couple who were returning to the UK as they couldn't make ends meet and encountered prejudice as Brits (particuarly in the schools). We still had an overall positive image of the country, but it does sound like we would struggle and the idea is to improve our time with the kids rather than having to work every hour sent.
    So many thanks again and if anyone has anything to add for future readers, please feel free.
  4. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    I am currently teaching in Doha and there are quite a few Kiwi teachers here. They all say the same thing: teachers' salaries in NZ are awful. My Kiwi colleagues are not over-impressed with the delights of Qatar and the marvellous scenery, but they do seem to think that being in Doha is better than being paid peanuts.
  5. msnessy

    msnessy New commenter

    One other point I forgot to make is the long hours that we kiwi teachers work for our peanuts like salary. In most primary schools we teach all curriculum areas, there are no specialists for art etc and most teachers I know devote hours before school, after school and the weekend to the job. Its certainly easier for us overseas with higher salaries and lighter workloads.
  6. As a teacher in Auckland you could NOT live on that. Most rents for 3 bedroom houses are around $600 - $700 a week. We spend $150 a week on food for 2 adults so I think with two kids as well it would be heaps more. We work stupidly long hours for little money. I will certainly be heading back overseas for a better lifestyle and pay.
  7. MyOrchid

    MyOrchid Occasional commenter

    Hi roaming,
    My wife and I moved to Auckland in 2003 with our young son. I was teaching. We lasted 18 months, with no money, before we very sadly left . We just could not survive on one salary. I was being paid top of the main scale, by the way.
  8. mrswallow

    mrswallow Occasional commenter

  9. You haven't got it wrong. I've been teaching a couple of years and am on about $50k but only because I get some management units.
    NZ is fantastic but you both need to be on about that amount to live comfortably.
    A weekly shop for two is about $120, rent of a 1 bed apartment in Auckland is $400 pw, electricity about $50 pw, Internet (which is essential to keep in contact with family) $18 pw.
    It is totally worth coming out but you must be prepared to make a few sacrifices like meals out and sweets.
    We came out about 10 weeks ago and feel like we are just settling in. There are so many beautiful places to see but a car is a must for these things which means more expense.
    If you want to have a chat and ask some more questions because I don't want to call you off feel free to give us a call at the weekend.
    My mobile number is 0064211621584
  10. roamingteacher

    roamingteacher Established commenter Forum guide

    Wow - thanks everyone for all that info. It's good to get a range of views. Ultimately, I agree that NZ is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen with such a breathtaking range of vistas, but unfortunately we are looking for an easier life work-wis and it doesn't seem that it's particularly realistic as a teacher.
    Thanks again and of course, keep your opinions coming as I'm sure others will find them as useful as I [​IMG]
  11. mrswallow

    mrswallow Occasional commenter

    Personally, as a Secondary teacher, I think the work life balance out here is much better than in the UK. Having read some other posts, the thought that occurred to me was I don't know many families in the UK who could survive on one teaching salary, and that the comments made by a NZ teacher about being paid peanuts and working long hours could equally apply to um, UK primary teachers. So, swings and roundabouts I guess folks.
    (I am still looking for a teaching job that expects little and pays lots, instead of the other way round. If anyone hears of anything don't keep it to yourself eh?)
  12. Wow. I'm stunned.
    Firstly, yes, $42,000 is the lowest step on the scale. The top is $69,000. This is basic scale - without management units.
    Secondly, I'm in Auckland, which has the highest cost of living in NZ and is therefore the most difficult place to live on a teacher's salary. But still, some of the figures quoted were amazing.
    You can get a good, 2-bed flat in a decent part of Auckland for $300pw. And my MONTHLY electricity bill doesn't get over $70. I get phone and Internet with call waiting, voice mail and caller ID for $60pm. And local calls are free.
    Living costs in other parts of NZ are far less than in Auckland due to lower rents, especially rural or provincial areas.
    I do quite well on my salary and could quite easily support a family on it. And yet, as a single, I struggled with a London salary and work hours. Aren't teachers over-worked and under-paid everywhere? (Except for International jobs, of course).
  13. The question I can't seem to get answered is whether I would have to start at the bottom of the pay scale in NZ or would my experience mean I would start at (or near) the top of the payscale? I'm on £42,000 in UK (with TLR) and couldn't imagine dropping to NZ$42,000.
    Would love to return to NZ as I did a few months there back in 2004 and as a PE teacher found the work-life balance much improved to the UK with workload of teams spread well amongst the whole staff enabling me to concentrate on my examination classes better. However, with a wife and 2 children now in tow I'd need to be able to make ends meet!
    Appreciate any help anyone can offer.

  14. Basically, if your work history is analagous to working in a NZ mainstream school, it will be recognised for salary placement purposes. This means UK primary or secondary and likewise for international schools with UK/US/IB curricula.
    A former colleague originally from the UK was very angry when five years of her experience wasn't recognised, but that was because she was teaching ESL in a language institute.
    It is also worth mentioning that pay scale placement is completely independent of qualification recognition/registration placement. I went overseas before I did the equivalent of my NQT years. I went back seven years later to find myself classed an an NQT for registration purposes yet near the top of the scale for salary purposes. I must have been one of the highest-paid beginning teachers around!
    You do have to be careful with the letters of service though, as their requirements are torturously bureaucratic and can lead to months of squabbling if you don't get it right.

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