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Need some advice re location!

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by els26, Nov 13, 2018.

  1. els26

    els26 New commenter

    Hi everyone
    I’m in need of some advice and I’m getting confused and overwhelmed by all the different websites I have visited so I’m hoping i can get some answers from people experiencing these things first hand!
    I’m a primary school teacher with 8 years experience and recently me and my husband have decided to take the leap and work abroad for a few years. Our primary motivation is money as we are thinking about our future and financial stability for our children,but of course the experience is extremely important and I want all of us to get the most we can out of it.
    We were originally looking at Abu Dhabi given the tax free salaries and attractive packages,but have since found out that because my bachelors degree is in law,we may struggle to get a work visa.
    So we are broadening our search,and despite the attractive packages in China,I am drawn to south east Asia just because that part of the world looks so beautiful. I’ve been looking into Phuket,Thailand and Penang,Malaysia. From what I can gather,certain international schools in both these places pay salaries that allow for a decent saving to be made. However,my research so far suggests that the cost of living in both these places is increasing. I suppose my questions are these:

    Am I being foolish in ignoring China as a possibility because of my longing for a beautiful warm country,or are there parts of China that are not all skyscrapers and traffic but that still offer great packages?

    Are Phuket and Penang viable options in terms of savings?

    Are Phuket and Penang good places to work in terms of quality of living and working conditions?

    Are there any other parts of the world that I haven’t even considered that could offer a similar experience and a decent package?

    I’m sorry if it sounds like I’m so focused on the money,of course I’m a teacher because of my love of the job and an experience like this is one to be treasured,but I’m just trying to make it a worthwhile experience in terms of finances as our quality of life in the future will be affected by this.
    Also I apologise for the very long post!
    Thank you very much in advance
  2. rosiecg

    rosiecg Occasional commenter

    There are huge swathes of the world that you are missing out from your lists where you would certainly be able to have warm weather, decent schools and good money!

    I have been in Malaysia for 2 years now and can safely say it meets your requirements. Penang is lovely but the salaries will be lower than in Kuala Lumpur. Obviously cost of living is higher in KL so it balances out.

    If your school is part of the EPF scheme (Employers Provident Fund) then you will be able to save a decent amount without noticing - schools should pay around 11% of your salary in and you will probably pay similar. It will vary slightly depending on employer. You can only access this money when you finally leave the country, and some people have concerns about the security of this fund, however I have had a few colleagues leave Malaysia recently with no issues.

    In terms of quality of living conditions etc then Malaysia is fab. It can be very racist in some places, and the laws and customs can be baffling, but overall I've had no problems and have really enjoyed my time here once I settled in.
  3. 1stSgtWelsh

    1stSgtWelsh New commenter

    Hi els26,

    IMHO, you could do worse than look at opportunities in Brunei with CfBT. Tropical climate, regular holidays, easy to travel to other parts of Southeast Asia, tax-free salary, lots of support, good place to raise kids, etc., etc.
    els26 likes this.
  4. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    Firstly - yes, you will have a problem with UAE. My wife is in the same boat, so despite having 10+ years experience teaching she won't get a visa for there.

    It kind of depends - what age are your kids at? There are definitely areas of China which are less busy, but not all of them have the good schools - there are some parts in the South which may be worth looking at, and even with Hong Kong and Shanghai not all the schools are in the city centre areas (Suzhou might be an option.)
    els26 likes this.
  5. Ms_Love_

    Ms_Love_ Occasional commenter

    I'm in southern China. It is our first international post as a couple. Just a quick synopsis:

    - We have both cleared overdrafts and all our credit card debt within the first 3 months here
    - We have traveled to 4 amazing locations so far in SE Asia/China
    - We easily save half our salary each month, we could save more but we like to travel and eat out lots
    - We never take work home or have the dreaded Sunday night panic over the battle that used to be Monday

    Happy searching!
    els26 likes this.
  6. els26

    els26 New commenter

    This is really helpful,thank you so much! Is Kuala Lumpur quite similar to London? I have been discounting it because of my understanding that it’s extremely busy.
  7. els26

    els26 New commenter

    Thank you,I will definitely look into this
  8. els26

    els26 New commenter

    Thank you for this,very helpful indeed! If you don’t mind me asking,whereabouts in Southern China are you based? Is it inevitable that I will have to work in amongst the busier parts for a decent salary (similar to London vibe) or is it possible to find international schools in the quieter parts of Southern China that pay a decent salary?
  9. migratingbird

    migratingbird Occasional commenter

    Penang is a gorgeous place to live...but I very much doubt you'd save much, unless you have a good EPF providing school!
  10. Ms_Love_

    Ms_Love_ Occasional commenter

    From my (very limited) knowledge, it all really depends upon the school and their package. I'm in GZ in southern China in the suburbs of the big city but the air is cleaner and I'm not surrounded by big shopping malls where I'd be tempted to spend all my kwai . . . ! But the fact that it isn't bustling here makes the air cleaner and the prices very low. Living in the 'burbs isn't a glamorous London lifestyle but it is really pretty and quiet!

    This is my first international post and it has worked out well. Housing is cheap and provided by the school, utilities are very low and a yummy bowl of noodles for lunch costs 80p. Some people say the bubble in China is going to burst soon due to the Trade War and the wages won't be as good but until this happens I'm enjoying riding the wave! Of course if you live in central GZ or SZ or HK then you'd probably be worse off when the bubble does burst as rents are eyewatering in those locations.

    So in short - pick through the offer and package very carefully!
  11. rosiecg

    rosiecg Occasional commenter

    It really depends on exactly where in KL you are! It is a huge sprawling city with many suburbs and distinct areas within it. KLCC (city centre) is like London zone 1, with lots of construction of skyscrapers and condo buildings going up everywhere, traffic to match etc. Outside of KLCC there are lots of lovely places that are not so busy and built up.

    My advice is look at finding the right school first then look for somewhere to live within 30mins drive. 30mins drive becomes up to an hour at rush hour, no matter where you live. Last year I lived around 40mins from my school, but went in really early before rush hour started, so would get there in about 20mins. The way home always took longer though! Even now I live 15mins from school if I leave at the wrong time it can take 45mins+.... And I live waaay outside the city as my school is in a suburb.

    Remember to check with the school what happens with housing - some provide staff with housing, so you won't have a choice about where you live (but the commute will probably be less), whereas others (like mine) give you a housing allowance so you can choose to spend it where you want.

    Finally - no matter where you live in/around KL you will have a fab time and there is always so much going on culturally that you won't mind the 'city-ness' of it all. I lived on the 16th floor of a condo in a very expat area last year and decided I'd had enough so moved to a landed house in a very local area and really enjoyed both years for different reasons....

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