How NOT to Save Money

How NOT to save money when working as an international school teacher #2: Go out to eat all the time!

March 16, 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 #2 – Go out to eat all the time!

IMAG0333 When you are on a trip, it is easy to spend lots of money going out to eat. I mean most likely you are staying at a hotel or in a room at some hostel and not able to cook a dinner for yourself there.  So you can justify going to a restaurant for both lunch and dinner when traveling.  It is a luxury, that’s for sure, because you wouldn’t normally being going out to eat for lunch and dinner where you are living.  Not unless you are an international school teacher though!

In some locations in the world, you can indeed justify going out to eat for most meals during the week.  I mean it could be that you are living somewhere where the food is really ‘cheap’.  Even if you are making a lot of money (and have your housing, etc. all paid for), it is always nice to get a bargain for your meal and you would be a fool to not take advantage of this supposedly cheap and good-tasting food while you are living in your host country.

You could also justify going out to eat a lot in your currently location because going out to eat is more convenient than going somewhere to buy groceries, and then going back to your home to cook them (for maybe 1-2 hours let’s say…maybe you are short on time as well).

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Some international schools in Shanghai have deals with nearby restaurants which allows for easy ordering if you want to buy a lunch from them.  It is a nice perk if your school is waaaaay out in the suburbs somewhere.  And because it is cheap, why not go for it?

But even in these types of locations where many international school teachers eat out a lot, it can start to get a bit excessive.  All your pocket-money might start to dwindle away.  Additionally, in locations where there is cheap food and you are also making a nice salary, there are also going to be more expensive places to choose to eat at as well.  It is nice to live it up and take advantage of the expat life in most cities in the world, but there is a price to pay for that kind of lifestyle and you must be mindful of the amount of money you are actually spending!  At some of these ‘expat-priced’ restaurants you pay a premium to get the style of food that expats like.  Problem is that you most likely would NOT pay the same price for that same food in your home counties.  A ‘you deserve it’ attitude comes into play and your wallet pays the cost.

IMAG0117Now to the locations where it is ridiculously expensive to eat out, let’s say Norway.  What is an international school teacher to do then?  Going out to a restaurant in these expensive cities will really take a toll on our bank account.  Some people though still choose to do it.  I think it is related to the idea that they are still ‘traveling’ in their host country.  Like I said before, when you are traveling, you go out to eat all the time.  Not all teachers do it in these expensive cities, but some do and it can get out of control real quick.  Gotta be careful so that you are saving some money as well.

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To save you some money, we do have a comment topic on our website related to this theme.  It is in the city section of the comments and information tab on the school profile pages. It is called: Name your favorite restaurants, favorite places to go to and favorite things to do in the city.

‘Spanish Stairs is the great place to hang out. It has many nice shops, restaurants and a beautiful view, especially in the sunset. For restaurants, I recommend Pastaritto-Pizzaritto in Via Quattro Novembre. Prices are decent and the food is delicious.’ – Marymount International School (Rome) (Rome, Italy) – 7 Comments

‘I like “Witwe Polte”. It’s a small restaurant in the 7th district. It’s called the Spittelberg area, where you can also find a beautiful Christmas market in winter.’ – AMADEUS International School Vienna (Vienna, Austria) – 13 Comments

‘There are some great places to eat near and in the main market, Mahane Yehuda. There are always people around there and it is very lively. Though it can be a bit touristy, there are also a lot of locals that are here as well.’ – Jerusalem American International School (Jerusalem, Israel) – 8 Comments

‘It is a bit touristy, but there are many restaurants around the Dam tram stop. Just a short 5-7 minute walk in many directions you can find some cozy restaurants to eat at. There are Christmas markets already set up right now, it is nice to walk around during the evening.’ – International School Amsterdam (Amsterdam, Netherlands) – 26 Comments

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How NOT to Save Money

How NOT to save money when working as an international school teacher #1: Go travel crazy!

November 30, 2013


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

1269203_10151627517416587_2134762640_oHow NOT to save money when working as an international school teacher #1 – Go travel crazy! (Take a trip during every break opportunity you get!)

We feel uncomfortable when we don’t have our next trip planned. Some of us even feel uncomfortable when we don’t have 2 or 3 trips planned to look forward to.

It is even worse when your colleagues have their trip planned and you don’t!

And even worse than that is when your colleagues copy the same trips that you are going on.  Ha ha!

So if you have enough money to travel with (because you are not paying for a car, car insurance, cable tv, etc…), then why not take this opportunity in your life and explore the world?  But all these trips can indeed add up and deplete your bank account, and you can’t necessarily be traveling to the Maldives during every break you have.

It depends a lot on where you are living too; how expensive these trips that you may be buying.  You might have to spend a lot of money if you are traveling from a rather small airport or from an airport that is in the middle of nowhere.  Flying out of those cities can really ‘break the bank’ in your feeble attempt to travel and also save money at your international school.

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Some say too that the day of finding cheap trips is over with.  Low cost airlines are not really so low cost anymore with all their extra add on fees *e.g. to check in a bag.  If you are not smart about when you buy the flights and what websites that you use to buy them on, then you will be paying a lot more money for your flights than you could be paying.

How sad when your friend has found a good airfare and then 5 minutes later when you buy the exact same trip, the price has gone up.  Flight prices change all the time and can change rather quickly.  Buying at the right times can help you save at least a little bit of money as you go travel crazy.

So, how many flights a year are international school teachers taking each school year?  It is probably between 15-20.  And to make things

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worse, we feel like any number less than 10 flights a year is hardly traveling at all (‘Groan’…said all your friends in your home country).  Maybe to save a little bit more money, we can try and cut down our number of trips a year, but that seemly is….unlikely!

To save you some money, we do have a comment topic related to this theme.  It is in the travel section of the comments and information tab on the school profile pages. It is called: Sample travel airfares from host city airport to destinations nearby.

‘Just paid $2000 for round trip to U.S. in Dec.’ – Okpo International School (14 Total Comments)

‘It’s not the cheapest destination to fly from. Expect $1000 to fly internationally, and during holiday periods airfares to popular destinations (Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia) can get close to that.’ – Beijing BISS International School (32 Total Comments)

‘Since Bangkok is a major travel hub, airfares to surrounding countries are almost always available at less than US $1000, and deals can be found with just a bit of work.’ – Wells International School (Thailand) (17 Total Comments)

Checking out these comments before taking a job at an international school can give you a better idea of the amount of money that you can expect to pay for flights out of that city.

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Surveys

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.

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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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Surveys

Survey results are in: Which international school teacher conference do you prefer to go to?

January 19, 2013


The survey results are in, and it seems as if most visitors and members of International School Community who voted have had the most success at IB conferences.

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IB conferences/workshops can prove to be a very motivating and enlightening experience.  Isn’t that what going to conferences is all about?  Most people might say that teaching is viewed as a career, and with careers comes professionalism.  Many international school teachers aspire to be the best professionals in the field.  The IB (PYP and MYP too) teachers definitely have similar aspirations as well; to learn more and more about the new ways of thinking and teaching using inquiry.  They are also looking to learn more about how to make their students’ thinking visible.

But like many workshops that you may attend at international school teaching conferences, the benefit of the workshop you attend greatly depends on the instructor that you get.  It can also be said that the success of your workshop depends on the people that attend it as well.  So many different factors come into play, but when all of them line up correctly, you are most likely in for an enlightening experience.  Those types of workshops can really inspire you throughout the rest of the conference and stay with you when you return back to work.

In terms of staff development benefits, the IBO requires that the teachers working in approved/accredited schools get on going PD in the IB philosophy and latest strategies on how best to instruct students in their inquiry programme. Instead of using your own PD monies to attend IB workshops, very often the school will take the costs involved out of their own monies.

There are many factors to consider when deciding on which international school at which to work.  Knowing about the professional development allowance (or lack there of) can prove to be helpful information to know; just to see what you can expect in terms of you getting the opportunity to attend workshops and conferences while you work there.  Luckily on International School Community, we have a Benefits Information section in the comments and information part of each school’s profile page that discusses this very topic.

• Professional development allowance details.

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Taken from International Community School Addis Ababa (35 Total Comments) 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 Mef Int’l School Istanbul: “IBO certified IBDP and PYP training provided. Outside speakers such as Virginia Rojas brought in to provide in house PD.”

Another member said about working at Western International School of Shanghai: “Most teachers don’t get any out of school PD their first year of contract. Depends on the needs of the school.”

Another member submitted a comment about working at American School of Barcelona: “The PD amount is 390 Euros a year. You can roll over this amount for 3 years. But the reality some people get more, it is not so clear cut on who gets what amount and who gets to go to what PD opportunity.”

If you are currently a member of International School Community, please take a moment to share what you know by submitting some comments and information about the PD allowances at your international school. 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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Surveys

Survey results are in: How many more years do you expect to keep teaching abroad at international schools?

November 21, 2012


The survey results are in, and it seems as if most visitors and members of International School Community who voted expect to keep working abroad at international schools for at least 1-3 more years.

For many of us, I suppose teaching abroad at international schools is a temporary circumstance in our lives.  Some of us have international school colleagues that move abroad to teach, and after their one and only international school posting, they are now living and happily working back in their home countries. Sure, there is a chance of them moving abroad again, but it likely to not happen again.  Many people look for stability in their lives, and many people ultimately find that stability back in their home countries.

For other international school educators, when they start working at international schools, they can’t seem to get enough of this life.  Working at international schools and moving from country to country can be very addictive.  10 total people out of 23 voted that they will be working at international schools 7-10 more years and even maybe for forever!  The salaries/benefits, work conditions and standard of life must be quite attractive for these people. If things are going well and you are not having to worry about money, why not choose to stay working at international schools?  It is nice to not have to worry about paying for housing or any utilities for example.  It is also maybe nice to not have to clean your house or wash your clothes as you may be able to hire a house keeper to do those things for you in your current position.  These people might have met their partner while living in their host country and now have decided to stay abroad for the long term!

Then there are the teachers that have made the all-important (and possibly difficult) decision to make this year their last one (3 people in our survey have said that this is what their future holds for them).  To say goodbye to the international school teaching world is sometimes not an easy decision to make.  Livin’ the ‘good life’ will soon be ending for you, and you may not ultimately want things to end.  Also, the anticipation of reverse culture shock is not necessarily welcomed with open arms.  Cringe!

On the other hand, your current situation might just be a very bad fit for you, enough of a bad fit that you have decided to not take the risk of working at another international school.  A very negative experience at one international school might have you come to the realization that this life really just is not a good fit for you.

Moving back home has it pros and cons, and one must look at them carefully.  One reason to not move back to many of the states in the United States is that the job market for teachers is not so good right now.  There are many, many teachers applying for one position still right now.  Hopefully as the U.S. economy improves, more money for staffing and for school districts in general will become available which may lead to more jobs for prospective teachers.  I think the same thing is happening at many international schools right now.  Many international schools are looking for and actually finding more families with children to attend their school.  More students typically means a higher need for more staffing.  How nice would it be if the power was back in the candidate’s hand at the recruitment fairs; more options and opportunities for us!

There are many factors to consider when deciding to stay abroad or move back home.  Knowing about what kinds of teachers work at an international school and the average staff turnover rate can prove to be helpful information to know; just to see what others are doing who maybe from the same country and situation as you.  Luckily on International School Community, we have a School Information section in the comments and information part of each school’s profile page that discusses this very topic.

• Describe what kinds of teachers work here (local vs. expat, nationality, qualifications [or lack there of], etc.) and staff turnover rate.

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 Khartoum International Community School: “You will find a range of teachers from New Zealand to Canada, via UK, Egypt, Palestine, South Africa, Australia, France and more. Most teachers are expat hire. Local hire teachers are well qualified. The school is still only 7 years old so turnover rate is hard to reflect on. It ranges from 1-7 years at current time.”

Another member said about working at Tsinghua International School (Beijing): “Can’t really comment too much on this as things may have changed. When I was there lots of staff were from North America, but what could be called “old Chinese hands.” They’d lived in China a long time. Other staff were Chinese with American passports. All were great, but at the time, not many were what you’d think of as north American trained teachers. Very high turnover when I was there.”

Another member submitted a comment about working at Colegio Granadino Manizales: “The school has both Colombian and expat teachers. All of the expat teachers are North American and all are qualified teachers. The Colombian teachers are also well certified. There is not a high turnover rate at the school. Many expat teachers, though young, stay three or four years and some have been at the school much longer.”

So how many more years do you expect to keep teaching abroad at international schools? Please share what your plans are!

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

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