Got a teaching degree or biting travel bug? Consider teaching overseas for the following advantages:
- Tax FREE Income!
This has to be the number one perk for overseas teachering. Just to be clear, the income you earn overseas is free of US income tax up until you gross upwards of $90,000 a year as stipulated by the Tax Reform Act of 1986 (readjusted by later legislation). This means that you take home everything you earn, unless you decide to make investments for retirement. I earned one-third more in salary working as a certified NYC public school teacher with a master’s degree than I currently do now as an international teacher in South Africa, but I save almost three times a much per year despite travelling like an wanderlust nomad over school breaks. Look up Foreign Earned Income Exclusion on the IRS website for more information.
Some schools choose to express appreciation for the teacher who stays past the end of their contracted time for another year in the form of retention incentives. These schools are usually in countries that are considered hardship posts (Bangladesh, Pakistan, Iraqi, etc.). Incentives bonuses are tacked on around contract renewal time and may vary, ranging between $1,000-$2,000 US.
Settling In Stipend
Here’s a lovely way to get settled in to your new home. Some schools may offer you a lovely stash of cash to settle in, as it may be the case that accessing your US bank account might present a challenge with theft alerts and foreign withdrawal blocks, and le struggle to simply finding a non-sketchy ATM. Stipends may vary, ranging between $1,000-$4,000 US.
- Meet Dynamic People
Expatriates, by sheer virtue of being bold enough to venture from their homebase for an extended period of time, are dynamic human beings. Before I decided to leave NYC, I was feeling suffocated by the routine of hanging out with the same people. And though I loved and adored my NYC family and friend circle, I couldn’t manage another conversation that started with: “You remember when we…” What’s different about being an expatriate amongst expatriates is that we all eagerly seek to build new relationships. Expats make friends a LOT faster than folks back home. Some say this is because we know we’re short on time and don’t approach people we meet out in the world with the same defenses we activate when we meet strangers on the homefront. Others theorize that expats live with social vulnerability that comes with the territory of being foreign, humbling us to be more accepting, inviting, and even entertaining. We empathize with each other: dishing humorous stories about the frustrations of being lost, confused, and misled. We enthusiastically want to build a community to supplement for the support systems we surrendered by leaving home. Furthermore, expats are exceptional people who live dynamic lives. Everyone has a story to share, bejewelled with rare life finds, and a thirst for the unexplored. And for some of us who just want to let our social fears go, the rejection and shame that sometimes come with not conforming to the fit of the communities we call home, it’s nice to invite new inspiring people (sometimes also nonconformists) in to our lives.
- Shipping Allowances
When living the transient teacher lifestyle, you may find that you can’t let go of your pretty little things as easily as you could the first time you packed your bags. Fortunately, as your collection of worldly possessions accumulate, your next school may offer a shipping allowance. Shipping allowances vary depending on the school and location. The best I’ve heard come from schools in the Middle East, India & Indonesia. A set dollar amount may be offered, averaging $3,500 US per teaching adult, and range up to $15,000 US for a family of 4. Pretty cool!
- Travel Opportunities
Overseas teaching comes with the advantages of being a foreigner in a new land. Obviously, you went overseas to discover a new world. Expect that your travel inertia will accelerate with each conversation. You’ll be burning to venture off to local cities, towns, sites as well as nearby and accessible neighboring countries. Vacations are typically frequent and may vary depending on the home country you work in. Keep in mind that American International Schools follow the American academic calendar year. This means that you typically get off for every American national holiday and the national holidays of your host country.
- Access to Professional Development
Since overseas schools, private schools namely, do not have to worry so much about the high stakes testing that dominates professional talk in the US, teachers can focus on craft. International schools serve transient multinational expatriate family communities. These schools want to keep curriculums aligned and student performance expectations at a similar standard from school to school, country to country. Moreover, diplomatic, embassadorial and business families want quality and consistent education for their children. International teachers at top tier schools are expected to be up on the latest research and practices employed in the world that are highly acclaimed as effective and meaninful. Teachers, as the top priority, are encouraged to teach well, and receive access to all the world’s teaching resources.
- Learn a New Language
I don’t think I understood the importance of a greeting until I travelled Tanzania. And it wasn’t until I studied poetry in Spanish that I discovered the my inner romantic.
Living in a new environment usually comes with the need to acquire a new language or a new dialect at least. Enjoy the challenge of expanding your communication skills by picking up a new language, perhaps even to discover a new you.
- Reinvent Yourself
Enough said. Chances are that if you are reading this, you’re looking for a big change. Nothing changes life like new scenery. Relocating to a different world allows you all the exploratory space to try new things, learn new perspectives, be creative with your look and expand your interests. Even if the world you pick to move to isn’t so different from the one you currently live in, you still need to figure out where to find a reliable source for…everything. You have to find a new favorite spot for breakfast on Saturdays, and new go-to for Friday Happy Hour. Maybe you discover that highwaist pants aren’t as comfortable or as necessary as full length skirts from Big Blue, like I did.
- Good-bye High Stakes Testing
This may not apply to you if you teach International Baccalaureate or Advance Place courses for transparent reasons. Teaching in the international academic school setting generally means that you are free from the pressures of teaching to the test. Instead, units of study are generally based on school designed curriculum, and usually this leaves room for you to explore your craft and learn from the expertise of your colleagues.