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Work Life Balance. Quality of Life - Where have you achieved them?

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by MsOnline, May 25, 2019.


Has your WLB improved since teaching overseas

  1. Yes

  2. No

  3. About the same

  4. Unsure

    0 vote(s)
  1. MsOnline

    MsOnline Occasional commenter


    lack of WLB can be a drawback of teaching in the UK. Also coupled with working and earning but not having much to show for it due to the high cost of living.

    - do you think a better WLB is associated with particular curriculums or countries? E.g less planning with IB? Or is it easier to plan and teach the National Curriculum overseas?!
    - what tips would you share?
    - best questions to ask schools to help to determine this?
    - cultural differences e.g. is working on Saturdays or compulsory clubs the norm in some places?

    Some teach abroad for the £ but for others WLB can be a major factor when applying for roles.

    Teaching is a great profession (or calling?) which is hard work but rewarding! Teachers deserve a decent WLB and QoL.

    What are your experiences?

    Have a great half-term and don't answer work emails :)
  2. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    Apart from when i worked in Spain, which was truly horrible, i have had near perfect work life balance and earned good money, extremely good money in some cases. Spain was British curriculum, all the others have been IB. i dont blame the terrible nature of the Spanish school on the curriculum though.
  3. Ne11y

    Ne11y Occasional commenter

    It doesn't have to be IB: I've done quite well with the British curriculum.

    One big help for me as a primary teacher has been the habit in these parts for specialist teachers. I suspect the idea is it looks more prestigious to have people with exceptional backgrounds teaching certain subjects.

    It's bit sad that I don't teach things like art or music anymore, but it means I have an insane amount of PPA, which I can use to actually get my marking, planning and preparation done. The only time I've brought work home has been when it's tests to mark, reports to write or I choose to plan ahead for the following term.

    This would have been the same in the UK though, plus I would have been marking books after work, planning and preparing at the weekends and probably attending an extra meeting or two.

    On top of that, my salary vs cost of living is good (not as amazing as some, but good), so I don't need to take on extra lessons (although some of my colleagues choose to in order to fatten their pay packets).

    I came out to save a bit (✅) and have a better work-life balance (✅) so all in all, it's worked.


    Check if there are specialist teachers for primary subjects.

    Also, check the school calendar. We have no half term or Easter break, but a fair few public holidays and the school year ends in 3 weeks :). So while the final two terms are a bit of a slog, they're short/broken up by long weekends and it'll all be over soon!
    MsOnline likes this.
  4. MsOnline

    MsOnline Occasional commenter

    Was the horrible experience due to WLB? Where have you had good WLB?

    Interesting as I thought it might be the British Curriculum as most teachers here say the same about WLB. Do you think it's just a coincidence that you had better WLB in an IB school?
  5. MsOnline

    MsOnline Occasional commenter

    Thanks Nelly. Do you mind stating which countries? I've read alot about Chinese schools with UK links being poor for WLB so it'd be interesting to know if this is generally just a sweeping generalisation or not.

    V.useful top tips about calendars and specialists. You had this time out on top of PPA! I've worked in places where teachers have to sit in on specialist lessons just for the sake of it really.

    I'm glad it's worked out for you on both fronts! I vow never to take sets of books home ever again :)
  6. RoadToRags

    RoadToRags New commenter

    There is a super simple reason for the better WLB in my Chinese school. Teaching a 60% timetable, as opposed to a 90% timetable. I have time to plan, I have time to mark, and I have time to think and breathe. Schoolwork mostly stays in school except for a few pressure points in the year. School no longer dominates my thinking, and I have time for other things.
    Teachallover likes this.
  7. MsOnline

    MsOnline Occasional commenter

    What is a 60% timetable - using specialist teachers and still having PPA?
  8. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    I dont think it had anything to do with the curriculum. I was just unfortunate enough to end up in one of the many many many terrible schools in Spain.

    I have now worked in 3 IB schools on 3 continents. What i do notice between IB and British is the significant reduction in paperwork with the IB. i also get more than enough time to do all my work during school time. I honestly only have to work at home about twice a year, and that is my own choice to do it that way.

    I would like to point out though, you dont have to make a choice between earning money and work life balance. It is very very easy to have both.
    v_merrick90 and Ne11y like this.
  9. rideemcowboy

    rideemcowboy Occasional commenter

    It certainly helps if you enjoy your profession.
    snitzelvonkrumm likes this.
  10. CoastTeacher

    CoastTeacher New commenter

    In addition to work demands, one MUST consider location. I would happily take a 20-30% pay cut to NOT have to leave in a cesspool city. When I leave work and on the weekends, it is so refreshing to be able to enjoy being in a culturally vibrant city than being locked up in my apt. I wouldn't ever do a hardship post again despite the high pay. It was like being in jail! Life is too short and you never get those years back! You only spend about 40 out of 168 hours a week at work so you better choose your city wisely. My mind always runs the following calculation when choosing a new teaching post:

    Net saved AFTER expenses per month X hardship factor = Y (Quality of Life Score)

    The higher the value of Y, the more optimal the position.

    Everyone's hardship factor will vary but for me it would look something like this:

    Barcelona = 1.7
    Paris or Rome = 1.5
    Hong Kong or Singapore = 1.2
    Washington D.C = 1.0 (My home country's capital which I index at 1.0. If you are a Brit you could use London as your centering point)
    Beijing = 0.7
    Dubai = 0.8
    Saudi Arabia = 0.4
    Nigeria = 0.2

    Now lets factor in some amount saved's per month for a single person with no dependents who is fairly frugal:

    Barcelona or Rome = 1.7 x $500 = 850
    Paris or Amsterdam = 1.5 X $1000 = 1500
    Hong Kong or Singapore = 1.2 X $4000 = 4800
    Washington D.C = 1.0 X $1000 = = 1000
    Beijing = 0.7 X $4000 = 2800
    Dubai = 0.8 X $2500 = 2000
    Saudi Arabia = 0.3 X $7000 = 2100
    Nigeria = 0.2 X $6000 = 1200

    Based on these calculations, my best fit would be Hong Kong or Singapore. Sure a western capital city would have an amazing quality of life but the pay is quite frankly **** which is why the QOL score is under 2000. Likewise, oil rich dumps like S.A and Nigeria pay quite nicely but not so the lifestyle which pulls down the QOL score. Its all about finding that happy medium!
  11. Ne11y

    Ne11y Occasional commenter

    @MsOnline I have started a conversation with you.
    MsOnline likes this.
  12. james_1979

    james_1979 New commenter

    No.. My home posting had a much better work life balance, teaching load et al because our union was, still is very strong.

    In saying that, I don't mind working for the salary I take home. If it means several 6pm finishes and a few Saturdays here and there then so be it. I balance it all out with the family being able to travel every holidays with weekend visits and staycation here and there.
  13. doteachershavesuperpowers

    doteachershavesuperpowers Occasional commenter

    Since teaching in Mexico my WLB has increased dramatically compared to my last school in the UK.
    Less marking. Go home after my kids have gone home (apart from the one after school activity that I do). Plenty of time to relax and enjoy my leisure time and not worry about book scrutinies.
    MsOnline likes this.
  14. Mr_Frosty

    Mr_Frosty Established commenter

    My work life balance is way better here in the UAE. This year has been the heaviest teaching load I've had and it's still a rarity that I have to do any planning or marking outside of school. On top of that the cost of living here is around 20-25% higher than the UK (or so I read this weekend) but my salary from MPS 3 more than doubled which means I have been able to save well and still enjoy the extra free time I've benefitted from.

    Downsides - our vacation time is less than many teachers here (and generally) I suspect.
  15. makhnovite

    makhnovite Established commenter

    All this is relative, and very personal, its not the country/location which determines the work life balance its the school and what it asks of you in return for the package it offers.
    Mr_Frosty, 576, tb9605 and 3 others like this.
  16. rouxx

    rouxx Lead commenter

    At my previous school my work/life balance was probably about the same as the UK, but I enjoyed it far more and my quality of life was significantly better. I was also paid very well.

    Present school both work/life balance and quality of life, much better.
    576 likes this.
  17. SnorkelingTeacher03

    SnorkelingTeacher03 New commenter

    I'm interested in answers to this question, too.

    Does anyone have any advice?
  18. MsOnline

    MsOnline Occasional commenter

    Thanks for this! I think we're similar in that WLB and QoL are so important. There's no point in being miserable for money so all the things you mentioned strike a chord.

    Out of interest - where was your 'hardship' job?

    Also your savings in HK and Singapore!! I take it you're not a class teacher?

  19. MsOnline

    MsOnline Occasional commenter

    Is 'home' the UK? Also would you mind saying where you teach now?
  20. RoadToRags

    RoadToRags New commenter

    This means that as secondary teacher, out of a possible 35 lessons in a week, I teach 60% which is 20 lessons. Actually it is a little less than that. The rest are free periods.

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