The Lowest Paying TEFL Destinations 2013

The Lowest Paying TEFL Destinations 2013

By Cocu (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

What’s tempting about a low-paying TEFL destination? Well, if you’re after the big bucks… not much, but, if it’s the lifestyle, the experience, friends and the cultural experience you get at the end of it then low-paying TEFL destinations definitely shouldn’t be overlooked. It is important to bear in mind that there is a difference between countries with low-paying wages and countries with a low cost of living. Normally, the two run hand in hand – if a wage seems particularly low then, more often than not, this is because you simply don’t need to be paid much money to live comfortably.

*Top tip – If you’re looking to save money whilst teaching English abroad make sure to pick your destination appropriately, i.e. do the conversion, does what you’re earning in-country amount to much in your native country?


China is known for its crazy cuisine, a billion+ population, and captivating culture so it is no surprise that China is one of the most intriguing TEFL destinations amongst TEFL teachers. However, by Western standards, a TEFL wage there might not seem particularly appealing. The average TEFL salary…varies. The sheer size of China means that TEFL wages can change drastically according to factors such as experience and location to name a couple. To give a rough idea, you can expect to earn around 6,000 – 10,000 RMB a month (£625-£1000).

This begs the question why someone might give up a well-paid job at home for a new destination on perhaps half the salary? The point here is that you don’t need to earn a stack of money to a) live comfortably in China or b) to be happy!

For most people, a large proportion of their wage goes on rent/mortgage/bills etc. but in China – most employers will provide accommodation for you meaning that your wage is entirely yours to spend on food, entertainment and travel! A three course meal in China will set you back a whopping 80RMB (£8) and a bus journey for 2RMB (20p). Life in China can be extremely comfortable indeed.


A theme is emerging… low cost of living = low wage. In terms of wage, Thailand is no different to China – what might appear a low wage by western standards, is in proportion with the cost of living. Bottom line, when the cost of living is so low, a TEFL teacher’s wage will actually allow you to live pretty comfortably, perhaps even more comfortably than you did in your home country!

In Thailand, TEFL teachers can expect to earn, on average, 27,000-36-000 Thai Baht (£590-£788) a month, and more with experience. In terms of living costs, although most schools/employers won’t provide accommodation for you, they will assist with your living costs. Costs of living, food, entertainment, transport are all extremely cheap. If you’re a foodie, a TEFL teacher’s wage will allow you to eat out every night of the week! Plus, the nightlife in the likes of Bangkok and the infamous full-moon parties of Ko Pha Ngan draw tourists from all over the world so you’re spoilt for choice!

When you’re bored of the bars? What else can you spend your money on? How about escaping to another part of Thailand for the weekend!


TEFL destinations across the planet will allow you to live comfortably on a low wage and South America is no different. Ecuador is a fantastic TEFL destination for non-degree holders and for those ready for a real adventure!

Expect to earn from $400-$600 (£250-£400) dollars a month teaching English in Ecuador. The cost of living in Ecuador, however, is extremely cheap – expect to pay around $100 (£60) a month for rent – TEFL teachers tend to live in a private room within a shared house or for real cultural immersion living with a local family is another great option (and for picking up some Spanish!)

A few costs: a slap-up meal will set you back a whopping $10 (£6), 25 cents (16p) for a bus ticket and 65p for a beer!

About The Author: Helen Hargreave is one of the TEFL Experts at i-to-i TEFL


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