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Novice questions about moving abroad for savings: 2 teachers 2 kids

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by charlieeh, May 26, 2020.

  1. charlieeh

    charlieeh New commenter


    I've been reading forum posts on here for days to learn more and wonder if anyone would mind answering a few questions?

    My husband and I are both teachers at well-known independent schools in the UK (Physics and English teachers). We have 2 very young children and despite being on generous salaries, are finding we are spending ridiculous amounts on childcare; as a result we are currently spending more than we earn and will be for a while.

    So we are interested in moving abroad just for a few years - I'll be honest and admit that our main reason would be to save money. We dont hugely mind where we go as long as the package is worthwhile, and we're used to living fairly frugally. We want to save for a few years then potentially return to the UK with some money in the bank (instead of being in the red, which is what will happen if we stay!).

    However, I don't know what schools / countries we should be focusing on. If anyone could answer some questions I'd be very grateful and I apologise if they seen basic but I honestly have trawled through forum posts for hours!

    Where are we most likely to get a very good package? UAE? Singapore? (We are confident our CVs are decent- PhDs and leadership experience etc).

    Are we being unrealistic by trying to find positions in the same school? We'd be very wary about one of us accepting a position without the other... would potential employers be happy to employ us as a package deal or are we being silly to hope for this?

    I see most schools seen to start at age 3 minimum. Are there any starting at age 2?

    I've seen people talking about 'black gold' and 'top tier, tier two', and 'Big 3' schools in Singapore etc and I have no idea what these are. I know individual schools may not be named on here- is anybody able to direct me to anywhere where I can find out more about which schools are considered the 'top' schools to work at?

    Is there any merit in working at a British International School connected with a top UK independent school or is there no benefit whatsoever? For instance, one of us works at a very well known UK independent school that has a school abroad too; are these schools 'better' to work at for any reason (package, conditions, reputation?) or is it purely a name?

    Many thanks to anyone who can answer any or these questions (please pm me if you prefer) and apologies if anyone feels these questions are basic or been answered before.
  2. 4019775

    4019775 New commenter

    If one of you is an experienced physics teacher (and also has a PhD) then you will be, more or less, able to pick where you want to work. English I have no idea. Apply and wait on the interviews and offers arriving. (I am Maths Chemistry with IB experience and training and had a 50% offer rate, 6 jobs, when applying in 2018. Physics is at least, if not more, in demand than chemistry/maths). Getting the right package, or a school that behaves in a decent, honest way are other matters. You will find the behaviour and morals of circuit schools to be very different from your well known UK independent.

    You also need to watch if you intend to return to the UK. Many top drawer UK independents will not touch someone from the circuit. I got back in because they were looking for IB experience but top drawer UK independents look down on the circuit.
  3. charlieeh

    charlieeh New commenter

    Thanks for your reply. Sorry, but what exactly do you mean by a 'circuit' school? Also do your comments about top independent schools not touching you if you've worked in 'the circuit' (does that just mean British international schools?) apply to the 'sister' schools of UK independent schools? So if I currently work at School X in the UK, if we went to work at School X Dubai (for example) for three years, are you saying we are likely to struggle to get a post in decent UK independent schools again?

    Many thanks for your help - massively appreciated. It's quite daunting to be moving away from what we feel we know pretty well, to the complete unknown and we just want to make sure we aren't making foolish decisions.
  4. PuRe

    PuRe Occasional commenter

    I think you would be fine if it’s a sister school as you go always go back to your original if it was possible. Normally people don’t go back .

    Look at countries that are children friendly, that’s easy enough to google & then come back to research the areas on here. You can also look at American schools too, they and others hire British teachers too.
  5. Morena123

    Morena123 New commenter

    In response to the school starting age question - some will be flexible (if they have space). My school has a Nursery starting from age 2 but my son started just shy of 2 and will do his first year twice, and this is common for staff children at my school. An oversubscribed school will obviously not be able to offer this. There are some schools in the UAE that go from 2 as well.

    However, many of the countries you are likely to consider will have VERY affordable nannies/helpers, so if you're worried about childcare, don't be! Of course check the situation in the countries you apply to but in much of Asia and the ME you will be able to afford a full-time nanny, and you may well decide to keep one even after your youngest is in school. I can't imagine life without our nanny now! (I'm in Thailand) I was in a similar position to you in the UK and actually didn't go back to work after my second child for financial reasons, which is crazy. No such worries here.
  6. Mitochondria1

    Mitochondria1 Occasional commenter

    Ignore him, if you look at all of his posts they are either attacking somoene, or putting down the international circuit in favour of his 'top drawer' independent school.
    If you get into a good international school (look for BSO's) you'll be fine if you want to go back (although why would you want to go back!?)
  7. blitz18qb

    blitz18qb New commenter

    We are in the process of paking up and moving to Bangkok in August (fingers crossed). Both myself and my wife have securred jobs at the same school. Although I'm definitely Hanging onto her coat tails, as her CV reads alot better than mine. We are a family of 4 with 2 girls aged 5 & 3. Although the potential to save money was a factor, it wasn't our main reason. Hoping for a better life style, travel options etc.. but motivated by the chance for my children to have opportunites that I didn't have or can provide in this country. Nearly all the schools will provide places at the school for a least 2 children. On the childcare front...we are looking to employ a nanny/helper. These are alot less than the cost of childcare in the UK.

    Jobs generally are advertised from September for a start in the folowing July/August. We looked for schools that had vancancies that covered both of us (EYFS/KS1). Most of the application forms have a section that ask if you are applying with a partner. We would also mention it at the start of our covering letters. One thing I will advise on is how tiring the application process is.... it takes a lot of time and effort filling out the forms etc.. We made 4/5 applications...between Singapore and Thailand, Had 3 interviews and got 2 jobs offers. Salary wise yes there's an increase...but it's also about the overall package. If both of you are working and you get management scales etc... then you'll be doing ok. Obviously there's a trade off with teachers pension scheme if your in it. We also attended 1 of the TES careers fairs....it was OK, but the calibre of schools was not as high... As the schools we applied to directly. We didn't sign up with any agency's.

    We're now in the process of packing and selling our stuff and hitting the circuit (whatever that is!??)
    Hope that helps.
  8. norwichred

    norwichred Occasional commenter

    Married teaching couple with two children aged 4 and 2 here.

    We have been in Kuwait for a year moving into the second year next year. This year hasn’t been the gravy train we were expecting financially as my wife had zero experience and ended up being employed on a local hire contract at a terrible school that treated her like s**t and really soured her experience. She does, admittedly now have cold feet about coming back.

    However, next year we’re both on overseas contracts and her at a different school and let me tell you (as long as her cold feet doesn’t overwhelm her) the money we are going to be on jointly next year is insane. Let’s just say, after paying for the nanny, the beach front three bedroom apartment with the sea view, the 4x4 we bought and our monthly commitments (internet, phone etc) we will have the equivalent of £3500 a month disposable income. It’s insane frankly. But do make sure you get on those international contracts.

    Nice indemnities lined up as well particularly as I am entering the second year at my school. Even if I leave at the end of the next year (no guarantees of course) I will get a £3500 tax free lump sum and my wife will be close to that as well.

    trust me, this year we’ve struggled to see where the money was that everyone was reporting? Now - we can see it.

    Just hope my wife’s cold feet don’t overwhelm her :( :(

    Now - be aware that I’m not holding Kuwait up as an example of where you should go. It can be a tough place. But there’s certainly money to be made here.
    agathamorse likes this.
  9. norwichred

    norwichred Occasional commenter

    Oh and even though it hasn’t been a great gravy train we still haven’t suffered even this year. Kids think eating out is normal now, we’ve been back to Europe twice, to Dubai for a long weekend renting a luxury apartment overlooking Burj Khaleefa and had a luxury resort booked in Hurghada for two weeks all inclusive before Covid came along...
  10. teachersn

    teachersn New commenter

    I’ve heard that it is easier to get jobs as a couple - me and my wife are both secondary teachers and if there is a school that has a position for both of you then it is a cheaper hire - which I imagine makes a difference to most schools.

    I must admit that the grind of working to pay bills and childcare is getting very tiresome - it’s so refreshing when you hear people working abroad are able to work, save and travel whilst essentially doing the same job as me. I’d love to know where is a good place to go to achieve this as a family of 4 - but I honestly would hope not to return, but build a stable life abroad for the family.
  11. taiyah

    taiyah Occasional commenter

    @charlieeh English and Physics combo?

    You and your husband are in a great position to pick the school that will be the best option for your children. I understand your ££££ goals but not picking the right school environment inside and outside the school should be high on the priority list.

    Asia was our intro to international teaching. My husband and I couldn't ask for a better start for the kids. Our kids grew up (youngest was 3 at the time) surrounded by nice, active kids in a good school. Money was good because we landed a job with a black gold company.

    We moved to the ME 7 - 9 years ago. Salaries are very good. But my husband and I thank our lucky stars everyday that our kids didn't grow up here and only spent one academic year. No school issues. It was all about the culture and lack of competitive weekly sport.
  12. percy topliss

    percy topliss Established commenter

    @charlieeh I have sent you a personal message.
  13. teachersn

    teachersn New commenter

    Another one of those black gold comments - what is it?
  14. percy topliss

    percy topliss Established commenter

    Oil company schools....

  15. teachersn

    teachersn New commenter

    Thought so ️‍♀️
  16. TeacherMan19

    TeacherMan19 Occasional commenter

    With regards to how much you can save. You can get paid less in one country but the cost of living might be extremely low so you're take home pay will be high. Whereas you could live in Dubai, earn a lot but also spend all that on living a normal life so have much less to save.

    Check out Numbeo as a rough price guide on the cost of living in different countries.
  17. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    For some strange reason, one or two misguided people to find an ancient swamp-dwelling beast that is rumoured to wander around this forum.
  18. yasf

    yasf Established commenter

    A few generalisations that may help:
    a) non profit schools pay better than for profit schools.
    b) Western Europe and North America don't provide as good opportunities to save. It's more about lifestyle. (What price do you put on the health of your child's lungs ?)
    c) the Middle East, Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa have some amazing opportunities to save money. They also have some shockingly awful schools - be careful.
    d) American or all through IB schools tend to pay more than British curriculum schools - there are some notable exceptions.
    e) @4019775 has a point, although they overstate it.
    f) the 'rent a name' schools have very little to actually do with their parent schools in the UK. There have been some fairly horrendous stories that have come out of some of these schools - which is a shame.
    g) Children of teachers can have real problems integrating into some schools when the majority of the students come from the host culture.
    h) Be flexible on location.
    i) don't be obsessed about getting a leadership position. They usually prefer people with overseas experience, and in some cases from within the school. Many of your colleagues will be exSLT, exHoD etc. It can often be more lucrative to take a classroom teacher position overseas than a position of responsibility in the UK.
    j) Many people go out for a few years to make some money, then never return to the UK.
    Last edited: May 27, 2020
    tb9605 and rouxx like this.
  19. percy topliss

    percy topliss Established commenter

    Should there be a "hic" in this one Hippo?

  20. charlieeh

    charlieeh New commenter

    Wow. Everyone, thanks SO much for all this. I really really appreciate it and will be re-reading all your posts with my husband later on with interest. It is daunting to know so little and to be taking such a leap into the unknown.

    Black gold - oil, of course! Silly me.

    I still don't really know which schools are good ones though! I know we're not allowed to mention schools by name on here but how can I find out where would a) give us a great package, and b) a decent place to work? I've been reading mumsnet too and they do name schools but that's mostly from parents' perspectives. How do I find out about top tier schools etc? I feel like I know this so we'll I'm the UK independent sector... it's making me uneasy not having a clue with schools abroad, and the sister schools are seeming to be red herrings...?

    Thanks again - massively appreciate your time helping a stranger.

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