Save Money Anywhere

Save $$$ at International Schools ANYWHERE: Tip #5 (Network with other Super Savers)

January 23, 2022

As a career international teacher, I am happy to continue this series on Save $$$ ANYWHERE! Last month we introduced the Extravagant Vacations topic as a way for international teachers to save $$.

Helpful Hint #4: Network with other Super Savers

In any country, there is always a way to live economically and save. Asking teachers and administrators is rarely helpful, as they are all part of the same “elite” group. To find ways to live well and save, you must source out locals or other foreigners that have lived in that country for a long time.

If they’re not part of the upper crust of society, they’ve learned how to live like one, without spending like one. This should be part of an international school’s induction program, but unfortunately, they are rarely helpful, as they assume all foreigners are wealthy and don’t mind spending money. Make local friends, search the internet for long-term foreigners, every country has a strategy to live well and save BIG.

It all starts with the understanding that savings is a choice. If you want to experience the high-flying expat lifestyle, with fabulous vacations, and a Starbucks latte every day, you can do that, but that is a choice. A higher salary is not a license to spend money.

Schools that offer high salaries, are usually located in countries with a very high cost of living. Buying from local markets, avoiding the foreign import section in the grocery store, taking the local buses, and network with people OUTSIDE our school community, have helped us exceed our saving goals.

We pride ourselves on being global, and by stepping outside of our comfort zone, we’ve learned that to live well, we don’t have to sacrifice our savings. Pay yourself FIRST, live well, and save like an All-Star!!!

Stay tuned in the future for Tip #6 on Save $$$ ANYWHERE!

This article was submitted by an ISC member and veteran international school teacher. If you are interested in being a guest author on our blog, please contact us here.

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Comment Topic Highlight

Teacher well-being and high staff morale at int’l schools: How to get there.

January 16, 2022

We all want to work at an international school that is a positive working experience and where there is high staff morale.

High staff morale means that you are happy to go to work, all your basic needs are met (e.g. you have good benefits and you get paid well and on time), and you are excited to work together with other staff members, the admin, the students, and the parents.

But keeping a high staff morale at an international school is not as easy as one might think. There are many factors that can affect this. And with ever-changing staff and students, the strategy needs to be ongoing.

Internationals schools can create a harmonious state of well-being by putting time and effort (and probably money) towards a number of different areas. Some of these areas being: sending out care packages when times are rough (e.g. remote teaching), giving Happy Teacher’s Appreciation Day notes/gifts, providing free (really nice) lunches and opportunities to relax with friends and colleagues, offering a well-organized onboarding process, etc.

But it is not just the admin that has the responsibility to do these things to promote a harmonious state of well-being, the other stakeholders can also play an important role in this effort.

Some international schools have a Sunshine Committee that provides a number of positive things to staff and also hosts events/parties throughout the school year. Even parents can offer different things to promote high staff morale like holding teacher appreciation buffet lunches on special days.

Each international school is on its own journey with creating a harmonious state of well-being amongst its staff. Before taking a job at an international school, it might be a good idea to find a way to ask about the current state of staff morale, why it is that way, and what is the school doing to address this topic.


Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this topic of staff morale and well-being. In this comment topic, our members can share what their experience has been working at various international schools around the world. There are a total of 510 comments (January 2022) that have been submitted by our veteran international school teachers on this specific comment topic (one out of the 68 in total) called – “What does the school do to create a harmonious state of well-being and high morale amongst its staff?”

Here are a few of those submitted comments:

“Morale is good at the school currently even though we have had a roller coaster of both face-to-face and online learning due to the rise and fall of Covid. Teachers have been given shared planning time and we meet weekly on Wednesdays (early dismissal for students) as a staff to work on both professional development and other school/staff priorities…” – The American School of Kinshasa (Kinshasa, Congo (DRC)) – 84 Total Comments

“The school tries to place an emphasis on a work and life balance. It is trying to promote a healthy working community. With almost all the staff living on campus, this is very much needed as there can be a working all the time feeling and that you are always at work. The Christmas holidays is a welcome break after a long semester…” – Keystone Academy (Beijing, China) – 143 Comments

“The staff has pretty high morale, and that is shown again and again at the end of the year climate survey. The middle school tends to be known as the happiest division. The school has been working to increase wellbeing by adding wellness options (fitness, culture, fun activities) at each PD day, allowing mid-day workouts in the school gym, mental health days in addition to sick days, and a surprise Thanksgiving bonus this year…” – American International School of Budapest (Budapest, Hungary) – 73 Total Comments

“There is a wellbeing committee that is allowed to host wellbeing days. But this feels artificial when we aren’t structurally creating an environment where wellbeing is sustainable. Teachers with more than 5 preps (sometimes multiple preps in the same class), teachers who have obligatory after school contacts year-round, teachers who are chided for taking mental health days, not hiring enough teachers to support the programs, and acquiescing to demanding parents to change courses/grades/teachers. Not the conditions for wellbeing…” – Shanghai American School (Pudong) (Shanghai, China) – 197 Comments

“Last year they provided a masseuse and a free one hour massage to all staff who wanted it. They also gave Christmas ornaments to teachers and presents to kids. There are staff BBQs, pool parties, trivia nights, and more…” – Schutz American School (Alexandria, Egypt) – 61 Comments

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Lessons From Your Country

Five Lessons I Have Learned From Living in Barbados

January 7, 2022

I regularly pinch myself, particularly on my commute to school, where I pass turquoise waters and white beaches, green monkeys crossing the roads, and fruit vendors offering coconuts and pineapples. Do I really work and live here? I do, but of course, like all places, there are always lessons to be learned!

Lesson #1: Barbados is not the place to save money

You will be told before you arrive: Barbados is an expensive place. Of course, like anywhere, it depends on your lifestyle, but it is true that most things here are pricey. Your rent, car, and grocery shopping will dent your balance the most and are unavoidable expenses. Not having a car here is not an option, and I quickly learned that my romantic idea of having a little scooter in Barbados is absolutely not an option due to the conditions of the road here.

Lesson #2: People do get bored

During my interview, the principal told me that people have left in the past because they got very bored here. At the time I thought to myself “Who in their right mind would get bored of living in paradise??”. However, what I didn’t consider is, that an island like Barbados might only be a paradise for people like me. I spend every spare moment in, on or under the water. I surf, scuba dive and sail almost on a daily basis and if I didn’t have all these hobbies there may be a chance that I would actually get bored, too. Leaving the island is not as easy as I thought when I first got here, which may have been another reason for people to seek other locations.

Lesson #3: You have to accept ‘island time’

I am a very patient and laid-back person, so this has not really
been an issue for me personally, but I know that some people
struggle with this. Whenever you need to go to an office or
government facility (eg. bank, car registration, national ID office),
it takes a long time. We are talking about hours and hours of
queuing, often outside the building you are trying to enter. This is
often due to the local processes, which still include the filling in
of paper forms, rather than the digitalisation of processes. You will
often find yourself trying to get any of the bureaucratic jobs done
during the school holidays, as it is almost impossible to fit it into a workday, without having to take time off.

Lesson #4: Stay connected

Barbados is a very small island and although there are some private schools, there is only one International School, so there are no local collaboration or networking opportunities. Although there are some international schools in the region, there are no existing links or connections to any of them, so I have had to make much greater efforts to stay connected to colleagues than ever before.

Lesson #5: You do get to live in paradise

Despite the few things that one might have to get used to, Barbados truly is a paradise. The sun shines every single day, even during the ‘rainy season’, the ocean is always warm and there is a lot of fun to be had, especially if you enjoy getting to know the local spots. I moved here as a single female, and I have had no issues making friends and feeling connected, especially through my hobbies. There may not be a huge package with the job, but one of the benefits is certainly that I live a fairly relaxed life in the Caribbean!


This article was submitted by a guest author and ISC member who currently works at The Codrington School (Int’l School of Barbados)in St. John, Barbados

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Information for Members

ISC now has over 2230 international school profiles listed

December 29, 2021

At International School Community, we now have over 2230 international school profiles listed on our website!

The last 5 schools to be added:

International School Palermo (Palermo, Italy)
Montgomery International School Brussels (Brussels, Belgium)
The Ostrava International School (TOIS) (Ostrava, Czech Republic)
The Aga Khan School (Dhaka) (Dhaka, Bangladesh)
Vittoria International School (Turin, Italy)

The top 5 schools with the most members:

American International School in Egypt (Main Campus)
(New Cairo City, Egypt) – 30 Members
International School of Kuala Lumpur 
(Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) – 29 Members
Copenhagen International School 
(Copenhagen, Denmark) – 27 Members
International School Manila
(Manila, Philippines) – 25 Members
MEF International School Istanbul
(Istanbul, Turkey) – 23 Members

The top 6 most viewed schools:

Jeddah Knowledge International School
(Jeddah, Saudi Arabia) – 202983 views
Al Hada International School
(Taif, Saudi Arabia) – 171363 views
International School of Chile (Nido de Aguilas)
(Santiago, Chile) – 81737 views
British International School Moscow
(Moscow, Russia) – 71509 Views
The Universal American School
Salwa, Kuwait –55548 views

The last 5 schools to have something written on their wall:

Berda Claude International School
(Phuket, Thailand) – 44 Comments
Montgomery International School Brussels
(Brussels, Belgium) – 0 Comments
American School of Marrakesh
(Marrakesh, Morocco) – 29 Comments
UWC East Africa (Moshi)
(Moshi, Tanzania) – 1 Comments
Wockhardt Global School
(Aurangabad, India) – 22 Comments

But check them all out yourself!  Get answers to your questions about the international schools you are interested in by clicking on the geographic region of your choice.  It’s a great way to learn about different international schools around the world and gather information!

International School Community has the following 2230 international schools listed on our website (last updated on 29 December, 2021)

Results: (185) Countries, (831) Cities, (2230) Schools, 
(42543) Comments

Asia (219)

Caribbean (39)

Central America (45)

Central/Eastern Europe (121)

East Asia (328)

Middle East (304)

North Africa (68)

North America (110)

Oceania (31)

SE Asia (343)

South America (102)

Sub-Saharan Africa (181)

Western Europe (339)

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Save Money Anywhere

Save $$$ at International Schools ANYWHERE: Tip #4 (Extravagant Vacations)

December 19, 2021

As a career international teacher, I am happy to continue this series on Save $$$ ANYWHERE! Last month we introduced the avoiding large purchases topic as a way for international teachers to save $$.

Helpful Hint #4: Extravagant Vacations

The final savings destroyer is extravagant vacations.

Now, these are far less common because of the COVID global pandemic, but revenge vacations are starting to emerge. We all need vacations, they are good for us physically, mentally, and emotionally. There is however a wide range on what international teachers can spend on a vacation.

A family of 4 can spend anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000 USD on a vacation. Following the Silk Road, exploring Japan tip to tip, and cruising the Galapagos Islands are memorable once-in-a-lifetime vacations. They will make your Facebook account look great, and will make you the envy of all your friends back home in the snow, but is it worth it? The answer to that is a personal choice. For some, those vacations are why we became international teachers in the first place, so the answer for them is YES – It is worth it!

As a super-saver, I’ve done all those vacations without breaking my savings pledge. I’ve backpacked the Silk Road with our 3-year old boy, I’ve hitchhiked across rural Japan, and used local ferries to ping pong around the Galapagos Islands. We got some strange looks, got lost more times than I can remember, and made great friends along the way.

When borders re-open, and travel begins again for you in your host country, look at your bank account and see how much you saved on not going on vacations last year during the big lockdown.

Finding a vacation that provides you the necessary physical and mental recharge is important, just make sure it doesn’t drain your bank account and put you in a financially vulnerable position. International school enrollment is down globally because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and schools are looking at any way to get financial relief. Having a good nest egg to carry you for 6 months can offer a lot of comfort in these unstable times. 

Stay tuned next month for Tip #5 on Save $$$ ANYWHERE!

This article was submitted by an ISC member and veteran international school teacher. If you are interested in being a guest author on our blog, please contact us here.

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