Top 10 Lists

Retirement: Nine International Schools With Excellent Pension Plans

July 30, 2016


It’s never to early to think about your retirement plan. As many of you know, we have a wealth of information on the International School Community website.  There are now over 17500 reviews and comments submitted on over 900+ international school across the globe. We’re certain to reach 20000 by the end of this year! A number of schools have reached the 100 comments milestone (with a few even going over 200 comments!).  Check out this blog article regarding the most-commented schools on our website from July 2016.

saving for retirement

A number of our members are curious about their future, especially if their future is to become a “seasoned international school teacher“.  Part of our future is planning for retirement. Many of us have unfortunately stopped contributing to the retirement plans we were paying into before we moved abroad.

In turn, we now are hoping that international schools will help us do the saving. But not all international schools are a great help in this area; the truth is that some have non-existent retirement plan options for their teachers.

There are a few though that are leading the way in terms of helping you save something for when retire. Using our unique Comment Search feature (premium membership access only), we found 203 comments that have the keyword “retirement”.  After scouring through these comments, we would like to share nine of them that highlight some schools that appear to have some excellent retirement benefits.

1. Seoul Foreign School (Seoul, South Korea)
“SFS is a treasure amongst international schools. It is not spoken of as much as other “top” Asian international schools–this is what keeps it special. This school has allowed me to grow professionally and in my faith, has set me up with a hefty retirement for my future and plush savings for the present. The amount of on site training, college certificates, and international conferences I have been allotted to participate in haa been fully funded by the school. The package retains teachers and the demand of hard work keeps the professional teachers here for the long haul. It is a living, learning, and growing community with lots of busyness and potential to never become stagnate.”

2. American School Foundation of Monterrey (Monterrey, Mexico)
“There are 2 things:
1. Mexico has a “social security” plan and you pay into that so you pay in for your years, leave, and you can come back when you are 65 to collect.
2. The school has a 13% matching program that you can collect 1 or 2 times a year based on your choosing. This is the retirement plan but it is up to you to do move the money somewhere.”

3. International School of Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
“We get paid monthly but receive July’s salary in June also. Salary is paid in RM with up to 40% at a fixed USD rate. Tax is around 21-23 % depending on salary. Average for 8 yrs experience (max entry point) and an advanced degree would be appx 5000 USD after tax and deductions (this includes travel and housing allowance) Additionally 11% is previously deducted for retirement fund with an extra 17% added by the employer. On same criteria this would be 1500 USD per month into a retirement plan.”

man thinking about retiring

4. American School in Japan (Tokyo, Japan)
“The school provides a retirement plan and contributes 5.27% of base salary in each of the first two years, 11.57% in year three, and increasing each year up to a maximum of 16.82%. The school does not participate in US or Japanese social security. The retirement age at ASIJ is 65 years old.”

5. Escola Americana do Campinas (Campinas, Brazil)
Retirement plan is 8% school contribution a month. School pays 8% of salary to local savings plan for employee.”

6. United Nations International School (Vietnam) (Hanoi, Vietnam)
“In lieu of a school-established retirement plan, the school currently reserves an annual salary supplement of fifteen percent (15%) of the annual base salary and disburses the total amount of this annual salary supplement to the expatriate professional staff member upon termination of employment with UNIS. Alternatively, this supplement may be paid to the employee on an annual basis.”

7. Hong Kong Academy (Hong Kong)
“With a reasonable mix of some travel and eating out it is possible for a single teacher to comfortably save anywhere from 8,000-12,000 US$ per year not including the 10% +10% of base salary matching retirement plan.”

8. American School of the Hague (The Hague, The Netherlands)
“The school offers a retirement plan which is open to all employees on a voluntary basis. ASH offers two different plans: Nationale Nederlanden (pre-tax) and ECIS. ASH contributes 8% of the pensionable salary to the plan. Participation in the ECIS scheme on a pre-tax basis is only possible if one has vested and contributed regularly at another school before coming to the Netherlands. The teacher may make additional pre-tax pension contributions based on his/her age, ranging between 0.2% and 26% of the pensionable salary for employees. The pensionable salary is the gross annual salary minus about € 12,500 (on a full-time basis).”

9. Seoul International School (Seoul, South Korea)
“I have 14 years experience and my Masters. I earn about $1,500 per month in Won (about $400 of that is taken out of my paycheck for a retirement plan which is matched by school which I have access to at the end of the school year), and then another $2,000 in US dollars which is sent to my US account every month. I pay no taxes. The school takes care of it. I am paid 12 times a year although we get the summer pay all at once, in May.”

retiement piggypank

It’s never too early to think about retirement.

Of course there are many more schools that have attractive retirement plans for their teachers, but the nine schools we’ve highlighted here sure do seem nice! It all depends on what stage you are at in your career and how old you are, regarding how attractive a retirement plan would be to you. But we suppose that any retirement plan option is better then none at all!

Please share what you know about the retirement plans of the international schools you’ve worked at. Login to our website today and submit some comments here!

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Top 10 Lists

Top Ten Tips For International School Teachers To Build A Solid Retirement

December 17, 2014


Many international school teachers don’t think enough about retirement.  And that’s understandable.  The whole concept can seem confusing.  Andrew Hallam, however, says it isn’t.  He says that those who fail to plan are planning to fail. That could mean eating dog food instead of gourmet, during your golden years.

So, what are the top 10 tips for international school teachers to build a solid retirement?

8593533521_f6c29c0913_z#1 – Work at a school that allows you to save at least $18,000 USD as a single or at least $25,000 USD a year as a couple.

If you can’t save at least this amount, and you’re not just “experiencing” international teaching for a year or two, then go home or find another school. Otherwise, you might be eating dog food when you retire.

At private international schools abroad, you won’t be contributing to Social Security (for Americans) or its foreign equivalents. Nor are you contributing to a defined benefit pension plan, offering guaranteed income for life. Don’t glibly suggest that Social Security or your home country equivalent won’t be around when you retire. In one form or another, it will.

No, you don’t need to work at a top-tier school to save these amounts. Meet Andreas Clesle. He saves $20,000 a year teaching in Myanmar.

#2 – Work at a school that doesn’t FORCE YOU to invest in an offshore pension. How can you tell?   Ask this one question: Can I pull my money out, at any time, without penalty? If the answer is no, find another school. These are usually expensive, inflexible products. They cost so much in hidden fees, that the only person they make rich is the joker who’s selling the product. Unfortunately, many international school administrators haven’t caught on to the racket. When their recruitment pools start drying up, perhaps they’ll start asking why.

#3 – Pay off your student loans, car loans and credit card debts before investing. Then, invest at the beginning of every month. Those that invest while carrying credit card debt are categorically insane. They’re paying interest of 18 percent per year (or more) and expecting to make 9 percent per year in the stock market.  Enough said.

5206199427_b32a919a36_z#4 – Buy low-cost index funds. Avoid buying actively managed funds. Active funds are pricey.

The Alexander Beard Group is a favorite among financially illiterate administrators. The firm sells actively managed funds. But Jeri Hurd, at the Western Academy of Beijing, is one of the smart teachers who refused to invest. Including the company’s platform costs and actively managed fees, investors pay more than 3 percent per year. So if global stocks make 6 percent, investors will be giving away 50 percent of their profits to the firm. If global stocks average 3 percent in a given year, investors will give 100 percent of their profits to the firm. If you think bonuses, paid by your school, can offset this leakage, think again.

#5 – Don’t let anyone convince you to trade currencies. Trading currencies is not investing. It’s speculating. The only person who makes money, long-term, will be the broker or the bank. And they’ll be making their money from you—not for you. Here, I describe a woman at my former school. Her bank decided to trade currencies on her behalf. It’s a very foolish move indeed.

#6 – Diversify your assets. This means buying a variety of low-cost funds (preferably indexes) allowing exposure to a multitude of different markets: your home country stock market, international stocks, and a bond market product for added stability.

#7 – Don’t base investment decisions on economic outlooks or predictions. Most of them prove to be wrong. The average person listens to forecasts. Often, it’s their broker’s. But consider this. U.S. stocks averaged more than 9 percent per year from 1994-2014. According to Dalbar, the average investor in U.S. stocks made about 5 percent a year during the same time period. Why? The biggest culprit is behavior. They listened to their gut, and to investment speculators.   Remember what Warren Buffett says: “Stock market forecasters exist to make fortune tellers look good.”

Financial injection

#8 – Share your annual savings goal with your friends. Studies show that if you want to succeed, write down your goals and track your progress. If you don’t want to save enough for retirement, keep it all to yourself and ignore your expenses.

#9 – Write down what you spend each month. By writing down your spending, you’ll simply spend less.

#10 – Remember that you aren’t on a holiday. You’re working overseas. And your future is in your hands.

TAH in Lod Cavehis top 10 list was submitted to us by a guest author Andrew Hallam.  He is the author of The Global Expatriate’s Guide To Investing. He’s a columnist for AssetBuilder and for The Globe and Mail. He’s also the author of the international bestseller, Millionaire Teacher. He taught at Singapore American School from 2003-2014.

 

Check out the pension plan details of 100s of international schools on our website.  Currently, we have 336 comments that have been submitted on the comment topic “Pension plan details” on our school profile pages. Here are just a few of them:

“There are 2 things: 1. Mexico has a “social security” plan and you pay into that so you pay in for your years, leave, and you can come back when you are 65 to collect. 2. The school has a 13% matching program that you can collect 1 or 2 times a year based on your choosing. This is the retirement plan but it is up to you to do move the money somewhere.” – American School Foundation of Monterrey (Monterrey, Mexico) – 34 Comments

“For certain nationalities, the required contributions for staff member and school into the Employee Provident fund are locked in until the age of 60 so people leave without this money and no hope for ever retrieving it.” – Kodaikanal International School (Kodaikanal, India) – 53 Comments

“The school provides no pension, but 9% is deducted from the monthly paycheck to pay into IPS, which is sort of like Social Security. If a teacher retires in Paraguay, he or she will receive money through IPS. So for the most part, saving for retirement is in the hands of the foreign hires; they must have the discipline to do it themselves.” – American School of Asuncion (Asuncion, Paraguay) – 58 Comments

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Blogs of International Teachers

Blogs for international school teachers: “Cliff Jumping: Risk-taking and New Beginnings” (From a retired international educator)

June 3, 2014


Our 37th blog that we would like to highlight is called “Cliff Jumping: Risk-taking and New Beginnings”  Check out the blog entries of this retired international school teacher that currently is back living in her home country (United States).

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 9.59.04 PM

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 9.59.03 PM

A few entries that we would like to highlight:

Cracked

“I’ve slowly dealt with the red tape of health insurance, car purchase, phone decisions, computer, internet, cable, condo painting/remodel/furnishing, and getting my household shipment through the delays of NY homeland security exams, Mpls. customs, and condo association regulations. Each step has been fraught with exasperation.  Why am I so thin-skinned, so impatient? How could I deal with daily power rationing, hideous traffic, and oppressive heat in India, and not be able to accept the processes I must go through here more easily? I feel as though I’ve been in a time warp for 40 years, and I don’t know how to do things in this new age. I’ve lost my confidence…”

Are you a veteran international school teacher thinking about retiring soon?  We have a very popular article on our blog that discusses this issue.  An International School Community member shares her experiences about working for 30+ years in international schools and what her plan is for her retirement.   It is called ‘Where do international teachers go when they retire and what do they do?‘. Check it out here.

We also have a few other articles on our blog related to this topic of going back to your home country and feeling a bit of reverse culture shock:
Culture Shock and Misplaced Normal (An int’l school teacher’s experience in Tanzania)
Going home for the holidays: No one cares about your international life
The summer vacation dilemma: To go home or to not go home…that is the question!

Elegy to my Beloved…Profession

“I have had the privilege of enjoying a 40-year career in the most exciting and satisfying field there could be: international education. It’s a vocation that young and old should consider, whether at the beginning of their working years, midway through as a ‘reset’, or after retirement. If you’re already a teacher and you’re bored, worried about getting ahead financially, tired of overcrowded classrooms, or wanting to see the world, this is for you. Take a leave of absence or sabbatical, or attend a recruiting fair, and take a job at an overseas school with an American or western curriculum. You’ll earn more money, experience more adventures, and probably never look back. If you’re young and unsure of your direction, love working with kids, feel curious about other cultures, and want to make a difference, this is also for you. And if you’ve already got a pension, going overseas could be icing on the cake. Or if you can’t find a job– get your teaching certification, and head on out…”

If you don’t already have a pension and want to know more about what pension plans are like at other international schools, take a moment to check out one of our 40 comment topics on the school profile pages in the Benefits Information section.  It is called: Pension plan details.  Right now there are 320 comments in this comment topic. Here are just a few:

“No pension plan, hopefully the school will address this issue in the future. (Although the school gives a bonus of one monthly pay for every year served at the school after 3 years and this may be considered retirement, but technically it isn’t.)” – Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China) – 54 Comments

“The school provides no pension, but 9% is deducted from the monthly paycheck to pay into IPS, which is sort of like Social Security. If a teacher retires in Paraguay, he or she will receive money through IPS. So for the most part, saving for retirement is in the hands of the foreign hires; they must have the discipline to do it themselves.” – American School of Asuncion (Asuncion, Paraguay) – 58 Comments

“There is a pension plan that is in accordance to the labor law. For every year you work you are to receive 12 days pay. After your 6th year you will get 24 days pay. (roughly 2 weeks pay for the first 5 years and a month for every year after 5). Now for clarification: Your pension (called indemnity) is to be paid at the end of service at your highest pay, according to the labor law. However, the school does not follow this and will pay it to you yearly when you return in September. This seems like a good plan until you realize after 5 years how much money you lose out on.” – American Creativity Academy (Hawalli, Kuwait) – 31 Comments

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If you are an international school teacher and would like your blog highlighted on International School Community contact us here.

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How NOT to Save Money

How NOT to save money when working as an international school teacher #3: Send money home every month (Mortgage, College Debt, etc.)

May 25, 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 these international school teachers saving money?

How NOT to save money when working as an international school teacher #3 – Send money home every month to pay your mortgage, college debt, etc.)

DSC_9710Not all teachers decide to move abroad because they have a sense for adventure. It is because they need to save some money to pay off their debts; which we all know is something hard to accomplish as a teacher back in your home country!

Do you have a similar story?  You just finish getting your Bachelor’s degree and teaching license at a good university (working part-time as well of course). Then you take out one loan (a big one at that) to do your 15-month Master’s degree programme (while continuing to work part-time!).  Finally you receive your license and luckily get a teaching job straight away. You just start getting into the world of the working adult while just starting to pay off your student loans. The payment is so small each month, you hardly see any of your loan amount going down. Then you hear about a programme that states if you work continuously in a school of high poverty for five years, that your government will take some money off of your total loan amount. Finally after working six years and getting a part of your loan paid off by the government, you find it is the right time to finally teach abroad like your friends are doing.  Unfortunately, you DSC_4746still have some of your student loan left to be paid (even after you receive the help from the government).  Also during this time, you bought a house and now have a mortgage payment as well.  Deciding it might be a good idea to rent out your house while you teach abroad, you continue to own it while you set off to your first placement.  To make a long story short, you have two monthly payments that are not going to stop anytime soon.

So the big question is, do you work abroad to save money to pay off your loans or do you work abroad to enjoy the wonderful expat life of traveling and exploring the world?  Can you do both?  Many of us try!

Your original goal of paying off your debt with all this extra money you are making teaching abroad might not happen as quickly as you had originally hoped.  I mean there is always another break coming up and a trip to be planned! And I don’t need to remind you that you might also find your travel money dwindling away as you continue to make those student loan and house payments.  Thus the cycle continues; whatever savings you start to have to help you pay off your loans just gets sucked away into whatever you need to pay for at the time.  There are always things that come up here and there that you need to put your savings towards: deposit for your new apartment, helping a family member in need, etc.

Of course, the easy answer to finally pay off your loans is to just simply stop traveling and going out to eat all the time, but of course that is easier said than IMG_0061done.  Maybe you can earn some extra money by tutoring some kids at your school, but then that takes away from that wonderful expat life as well…causing you to stay late at your school.  I guess there needs to be some give and take somewhere to help you achieve your goal. Where are those international schools again where you can have it all (paying off debts while continue to live the wonderfully exciting life of an expat)?  I’m not for sure they exist.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  Maybe after 8-10 years of working abroad you finally have your financial situation under control. You find that you have enough extra savings to make a one-time payment to pay off the rest of your student loan.  Yes, you’d rather use that money to take a trip to the Seychelles, but you know it is something you must do and the time is finally right to do it.

The goal of finally being debt free is a good goal to have. Can you just imagine the life of an expat international school teacher who is debt free?  Now at last you will be saving thousands each month!  {If only it were that easy!}

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10250675_670889319613030_1138008231_nTo save you some money, we do have a comment topic on our website related to this theme.  It is in the benefits section of the comments and information tab on the school profile pages. It is called: Average amount of money that is left to be saved.

‘Depending on lifestyle and housing expenses you could save around $10,000US a year.’ – Green School Bali (Denpasar, Indonesia) – 44 Comments

‘The amount that can be saved depends entirely on how teachers choose to spend their money. It’s entirely possible to eat at nice restaurants daily and stay in accommodations that cost 50,000 baht per month or more. However, it’s also possible to stay in a decent condo or apartment for 20,000 – 30,000 baht per month, and spend much less on food and other necessities.’ – NIST International School (Bangkok, Thailand) – 29 Comments

‘You can save about 1000 USD a month once you are settled and are able to budget yourself. Of course, the less you do, the more you save.’ – Canadian International School Bangalore (Bangalore, India) – 18 Comments

‘A single person, if they choose to live modestly, could easily save $1000-$2,000 a month. The EPF program also is an automatic savings (retirement) which is an additional savings of $1,000 a month through school and self contribution. That money also earns interest while you live in the country.’ – Mont’Kiara International School (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) – 27 Comments

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Surveys

New survey: Which benefit is the most important to you??

June 5, 2011


Survey number 2 has arrived!  Topic: Which benefit is the most important to you?

Some schools offer all of these benefits, some only offer 1 of them if that!  It is important to remember that some schools offer really high benefits in one area that help offset the lack of benefits in other areas.  Sometimes schools keep their actual benefits a secret until you have the real contract right in front of you.  Lucky for the people to finally get the chance to look, but for the other prospective teachers, they want to know that information too.  Many times teachers spend hours preparing CVs and cover letters for schools not knowing those important details about the contract.  Schools should be better with giving their specific details upfront.  Until then, the members of International School Community are doing that work for you.  Each member is encourage to leave really specific information related to the benefits at the schools they current work at or have worked at in the past.

So, which is it?  Do you prefer a nice housing allowance to a nice salary?  Do you prefer a nice settling-in allowance to a great flight allowance?  Go to the homepage of International School Community and submit your vote today!

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