How NOT to Save Money

How NOT to save money: Transferring money back to your home country multiple times and at the wrong times

November 2, 2014

We all hear about the big possibility of saving money while working at international schools, but the reality is that many of us don’t save much of any money.  So, why aren’t international school teachers saving money?

How NOT to save money when working as an international school teacher #5 – Transferring money back to your home country multiple times and at the wrong times

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 5.24.22 PMWhen you have three or more bank accounts in three or more different countries, you know you are an international school teacher.

It is exciting dealing with multiple currencies.  Suddenly, you are quite interested in the exchange rate of EUR to USD and can quote how it has changed over the past 3-5 years, or longer.  Knowing about the value of currencies is super important when working abroad, especially if your goal is to transfer that money into bank accounts that are supposed to help you save.

International schools pay their teachers is a variety of ways.  Many schools just pay you in their local currency, quite simple.  Other schools will pay you one percentage in your home country currency and the other percentage in the local currency (thus possibly elimating the need to transfer any money at all!).

There are also schools that might pay you all in USD (even though you are teaching in Uganda for example) and transfer your salary to your home account each month for you.  Another example of how international school pays their teachers is when they might pay you all in EUR (even though you are teaching in China for example) and send that to your home bank account each month.  money-transfer-onlineIf your home bank account isn’t in EUR, then that could be a problem.  The problem is that each month you will potentially be receiving a different amount each time your salary is transferred. If the school doesn’t lock in an exchange rate for a year (meaning you get the same amount each month) and if the exchange right in question starts to change in an unfavorable direction, then you will find yourself getting less and less money each month.  Of course it could fluctuate in a positive way as well, which will definitely make you smile and rejoice, but the risk is maybe not what most are willing to take.


It is nice when your international school will do the bank transfer for you; nice and convenient for you. However, when you have to do the bank transfers yourself, it can be a bit of a headache for you.  Knowing that most international bank transfers completed at the bank itself are more expensive, your best bet it to do the bank transfer via online banking.  You are lucky if your online banking with your host country bank is in English (or your own mother tongue), but most times it is in the language of the host country.  Some advice: get a local friend to help you figure out and translate your bank’s website or call your bank’s customer service number (most times they will have somebody that can speak to you in English).  Remember to get all the right numbers in order to make a successful international bank transfer (SWIFT code, bank account number, etc)!

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 5.25.00 PMEven when you initiating your own international bank transfers, you need smart about when you do them because of fluctuating exchange rates and all the fees involved. You will most likely need to pay a transfer fee at your host country bank as well as a receiving fee in your home country bank.  You also don’t want to be transferring many times throughout the year, sending only little amounts. Your best bet is to transfer the maximum amount each time your do a transfer (hopefully when the exchange rate is favorable for you!), so that you can minimize the bank transfer fees.

Usually international bank transfers will take 5-7 days to get into your home bank account, so make sure you don’t this money immediately and plan ahead.

We all have our reasons for transferring money back home and for transferring money from home to your host country.  Maybe you need to make a monthly payment for a mortgage that you have.  Maybe you decide to use your home country credit card for big purchases that you make while living abroad (e.g. capital one has a good credit card that doesn’t charge fees for international purchases and you can also earn points for free flights!) that you need to pay off.  With all these things that we need to transfer money for, we need to be smart about when and how we make these bank transfers.

How often do you have to make international bank transfers? Please share any advice about how you do it, so that you are not wasting your money away.


We do have a comment topic on our website related to salaries and the currency/currencies in which they are paid (some also discuss transferring money).  It is in the Benefits section of the comments and information tab on the school profile pages. It is called: Average monthly salary after taxes and in what currency (explain taxation situation). How often do you get paid throughout the year?

“Many teachers don’t need to have a local bank account as your salaries are just transferred in your home country one. – International School of Tanganyika  (Dar es salaam, Tanzania) – 60 Comments

“Staff are paid in LKR, which is near on impossible to transfer out of the country. Especially if you want to send it back to the UK.” – The British School in Colombo (Colombo, Sri Lanka) – 35 Comments

“Salaries are at a competitive level, varying according to the teacher’s qualifications and experience. They are paid in addition to fully furnished housing, a local transportation allowance, health insurance, annual tickets for repatriation, and a discount of 50% for teachers’ children in the school. Salaries are paid at the end of each month by being transferred into the teacher’s bank in Saud Arabian Riyals (SAR) which can be converted easily into the currency of choice and sent elsewhere or maintained there, as the teacher chooses. All salary and benefits are free of tax in Saudi Arabia.” – Dhahran Ahliyya Schools (Dammam, Saudi Arabia) – 60 Comments

“Salary is paid on the last working day of each month. Salary is paid in Euro, whilst wage slips are in Sterling. Italian bank accounts are opened for the transfer of salaries. The school assists in this process at the start of the academic year.” – The English International School of Padua (Padova, Italy) – 12 Comments

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Survey results are in: Which region in the world would you most NOT want to move to next?

July 14, 2013

The survey results are in, and it seems as if most visitors and members of International School Community who voted have the Middle East as the region in the world they would most NOT want to move to next.

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Well, what is so undesirable about living in the Middle East? The really hot weather basically all year round?  The vast difference in the culture in comparison to your own?  The local food is not to your liking?  It could be any number of reasons why most of our members voted that the Middle East is the place they would most not want to move to next.

Being that many people don’t want to move there may present a problem for international schools in that region.  How can the schools find quality candidates to move to their Middle Eastern country and work at their school?

One major attraction for candidates looking for a job at an international school is the salary and benefits package.  And it is widely known that many of the international schools in the Middle East (Non-profit ones and For-profit ones) offer excellent benefits with tax-free, very high salaries as well.  I guess though that disregarding how high the salaries are or how amazing the benefits package is, many international schools teachers will still turn a blind eyes to an opportunity to interview at a school in this region.

Let’s remember though that there are still many international school teachers that are interested in working in the Middle East; some might even put working in the Middle East as their number one choice.  Those who put ‘saving money’ as a top priority are likely to consider working at an international school in the Middle East.  Those who also are career-minded will find a number of ‘Tier 1’ school in that region which can even be quite competitive in which to even get an interview.

International schools in the Middle East are also known for their flexibility to hire single teachers with dependents, teaching couples with dependents, and single teachers with a non-teaching, trailing spouse. Not all international schools around the world will be able to hire these types of candidates.  Not every teacher with dependents though desires to have their children grow up in the Middle East region (i.e. they will most likely be living in compounds…which is not to everyone’s liking.).

If you are a single teacher, maybe the Middle East is also not the best place for you to move. It might be hard to find/going out on dates there.  It might be hard to meet the locals, but it also might be difficult to find other expat people to go on dates with since a high number of them might already be married.


Luckily on International School Community, we have a City Information section in the comments and information part of each school’s profile page that discusses many aspects of the city/region for each school.  One major reason to help international school teachers know more about where they would like to move to next is the weather.  Fortunately, we have a comment topic related to weather called:

• Describe the city’s weather at different times of the year.

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Taken from the school profile page.

There have been many comments and information submitted in this topic on numerous school profiles on our website.

One International School Community member said about working at : “For six months of the year, the Eastern Province has beautiful weather – from about mid-October to mid-April, ideal for outside activity. After that, it begins to get hot and from July to September it is very hot and sometimes very humid – generally oppressive. That is when everyone is very grateful for the fact everything is air-conditioned. Fortunately, school is out for much of that time and everyone who can leaves the area. From mid-October, the temperature starts to cool off and the Arab winter can be very pleasant, even requiring a few light wool sweaters and socks at night. In years when there is a fair amount of rain, especially when it comes in December or earlier, the desert blooms and everyone with a car packs up their tents and heads out to enjoy the flowers , watch the baby camels, and view the glorious night time sky undiluted by city lights.”

Another member said about working at : “Always good except for rainy season, which changes around each year. It can last for 1-2 months.”

Another member submitted a comment about working at : “From November to April, the weather is cool (22 to 28 Celsius), with little rain and lots of sunshine! You do get occasional thunderstorms though.”

If you are currently a premium member of International School Community, please take a moment to share what you know about the weather in the different regions/cities of the world at which you have worked. You can start by logging on here.

Stay tuned for our next survey topic which is to come out in a few days time.

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Recently Updated School Profiles

Recently Updated School Profiles #19: Dhahran Ahliyya Schools, Al Ghanim Bilingual School and Mef Int’l School Istanbul

January 27, 2013

Members of International School Community have written some new and informative comments on the following schools:

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21 Jan  Dhahran Ahliyya Schools (36 new comments)      Dammam, Saudi Arabia:

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One of the new comments in the school information section: “DAS does have high expectations of its teaching staff. The school is working hard to make the shift to a dual language program and it expects the teachers to participate fully in its efforts. Most of these efforts take place during school hours although, like in good schools everywhere, teachers do take work home to prepare lessons and grade papers. Most teachers have preparation time for approximately one-third to one-half of their time in school. Some of that time is taken up by meetings in the department and everyone has a few assignments of yard duty per week…”

20 Jan  Al Ghanim Bilingual School (15 new comments)      Salwa, Kuwait:

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One of the new comments in the benefits information section: “Although I recommend staying away from this school, if you are even considering working there, make sure that you get the following before making a final decision: 1. A copy of the contract. 2. A copy of the staff manual. If it’s the same staff manual that I received, you’ll find a list of things teachers should not do and the consequences including the number of days pay that will be lost. 3. Your assignment and schedule in writing. (There were teachers who were told that they would be doing one thing, and when they arrived they were told that they would be doing something else.) …”

14 Jan  Mef Int’l School Istanbul (27 new comments)      Istanbul, Turkey:

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One of the new comments in the benefits information section: “A flight every 2 years and at end of contract. 600 USD shipping at beginning and end of contract. Receipts at beginning but not needed when leaving. Free breakfast, lunch and snack…”

Check out the rest of the last 40 international school profile pages that have been recently updated on International School Community here.

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Recently Updated School Profiles

School profile highlights #8: Yokohama Int’l School, Brent School Manila and Dhahran Ahliyya Schools

September 16, 2011

Members of International School Community have written some new and informative comments and information on the following schools:

Yokohama International School  (4 new comments):

New information or comment: “In 2000, YIS became the first school in Japan to offer the Reggio Emilia programme for the early learners, and a year later became the first school in Japan authorized to offer the Primary Years Programme.”


Brent School Manila (4 new comments):

New information or comment: “There are 296 full-time employees at Brent International School Manila. Faculty members are credentialed teachers. Many have earned a Master’s Degree.”


Dhahran Ahliyya Schools (4 new comments):

New information or comment: “The Local Transportation Allowance is SR.600 for all employees who receive the allowance. Its purpose is to help with the costs of local transportation. It is paid throughout the year including periods of vacation and is included in the termination benefits.”

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