Teaching English as a foreign language abroad can be very rewarding, and at this romantic time of year, we wanted to look at some of the best TEFL destinations for a couple. Much of what we talk about focus on a single person; however, many teams are living life to the max, teaching English as a foreign language together.
So, we’re going to look at some of the best destinations for two and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about teaching English as a foreign language as a duo. For this article, we will assume that you both have a relevant TEFL qualification, passport and other pertinent travel documentation. It is possible that you can travel as a couple if only one of you has a TEFL qualification. Still, of course, the other person will need to figure out how they will generate an income, which will depend on the rules of tourists and non-residents working and earning money in the country you are headed for.
So, What are the Best Couple TEFL Destinations Abroad?
There are plenty of countries that are perfect for couples teaching English, and the few we will highlight are by no means the only ones that could work for you. Our recommendations are based on various factors, including building a good quality of life for foreign teachers, the accommodation on offer, as you probably won’t want to house share with other people, and safe countries for the LGBTQ+ community (sadly, in some countries, LGBTQ+ travellers could be risking their lives). We have also considered some areas with great romantic weekend activities for fun.
With all of that in mind, we have chosen to review and recommend
- Costa Rica
- South Korea
More on these later; this is not an exhaustive list.
What About the Middle East?
The Middle East does have somewhat of a reputation for intolerant attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community, women’s rights and unmarried couples. However, there are some very well-modernised areas with no laws to be broken regarding couples travelling together. That said, we can only really recommend Abu Dhabi or Dubai on that basis. Southeast Asia is much more progressive, and there are plenty of places where you will be very welcome.
Why TEFL Abroad as a Couple?
Why not? It is the perfect way to explore the world and be financially independent as you do so. Going together can make things less scary, and you also have your best friend and soulmate by your side. It’s an excellent way to see if you will be compatible permanently, as there will be a lot of cooperation, but the shared experiences are worth their weight in gold. It makes settling into a new culture and city that much easier. It’s also pretty good for the budget because you have someone to share living costs. You need to take care to find suitable accommodation, as many roles come with shared rooms and you may want to find somewhere slightly more private if you’re travelling as a couple. During your holiday and weekends, you can also go off and explore the area together, which some people find better than travelling alone.
You can also help each other out when settling into a new job. You may be working in the same establishment or two different locations in the area. But it’s always great to have a colleague to bounce ideas off and work through any problems. You must be aware of not isolating yourself entirely from your local colleagues. Otherwise, you could miss out on some of the immersive nature of travelling and teaching. It’s also great to have another person to plan lessons with.
What About TEFL with a Child?
While we’re talking about doing TEFL abroad as a couple, it seems like a good time to talk about teaching English as a foreign language with a child in tow. We do get asked this question occasionally. The answer is yes, it is possible to teach English abroad if you have a child to take with you. However, it slightly limits some of the opportunities, and of course, it will create a more expensive living arrangement. Childcare is one of the first hurdles you will need to overcome, especially if your child is not of school age.
Of course, if you are both travelling and working as an English teacher abroad, you can try and arrange your work schedule so that one of you is always available for childcare. Your child can attend a local school. Although the Middle East can be outdated in its thinking, they are incredibly family-friendly with the caveat that the parents are married in some areas and are more than happy to accommodate families as they have a vast population of people working there from other countries.
Your accommodation will need to be suitable for a family. This rules out the cheaper living costs that can be achieved in apartment shares. Renting shouldn’t be that much of a problem if you have two wages coming in. If you’re looking to travel with your family and teach English in a foreign language, it makes sense to take extra courses and gain experience first to take advantage of the highest-paying jobs. It’s also often worth one of you flying out first to get everything set up before the other follows later with the children.
The first destination for a TEFL couple abroad is Argentina. Argentina is a great TEFL destination, and there are plenty of opportunities in this stunning country. Of course, Argentina is famous for its Malbec wine region. So that’s always high on the list of places to visit and found in the province of Mendoza. In the south of the country are the Andes mountains, which offer fantastic skiing, and the potential for even more adventure if you feel brave by climbing the glaciers. If you enjoy high-adrenaline activities, you will also find white water, rafting, hiking and surfing on offer whenever you are not at work. The work ethos in Argentina is very much work to live; they enjoy the downtime and do not expect anyone to have to live to work.
Latin America is trendy for those who want to work and travel extensively. Costa Rica could be an excellent starting point; it has incredible landscapes and many things to do. It’s famous for having active volcanoes, stunning stretches of coastline with impressive beaches, and some of the lushest rainforests you will ever see. This is also a great destination if this is your first gig teaching English abroad, as there is often no requirement to have any previous experience, provided you have a recognised TEFL certification. The locals are friendly and welcoming, and there is plenty of work available in private language schools, which pays a decent wage. It also has a very reasonable cost of living, and you should easily have a lovely home, plenty of food on the table, and a chance to explore the area in your downtime with two salaries coming in.
Many countries in Southeast Asia do require a bachelor’s degree to get work teaching English in one of their institutions. However, Laos is one of the exceptions, so if one of you doesn’t have a degree, it’s worth heading here. If you haven’t heard of it, you’ll find it incredibly culturally diverse between Cambodia, Thailand, China and Myanmar. The landscape is beautiful and offers some stunning mountain views. Laos is a very laid-back country, and the locals are amiable and welcoming to new people. If you enjoy the warm weather, this could be the perfect destination. You could do some hiking and trekking in your downtime, as there are some gorgeous trails in the local mountains. Most paid jobs are located in the capital city of Vientiane, and you will probably find it easiest to secure a role once you have arrived in the country.
Being Valentine’s Day, we just had to include the romance capital of the world, Paris. Famous for the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, the capital of France is a fantastic place to live and work. The closer you get to the city centre, the more expensive the cost of living, but at the same time it does offer the most culture. It is a popular destination for couples looking to TEFL teach English abroad, but it is easier if you are an EU citizen. If you’re not, don’t despair, as there are still plenty of opportunities available. In your downtime, be sure to take a romantic cruise along the river Seine and head into the cobbled back streets to check out stunning shopping and plenty of pavement side cafés where you can sit together and watch the world go by while enjoying a coffee.
Whether you are travelling as a couple or alone, South Korea is a trendy TEFL destination. There are plenty of opportunities for couples looking to teach English together, from internships to language schools. The cost of living is reasonable, and you will receive an excellent salary. Many of the programs offering training come with a studio apartment, which means that you can live alone together and not have to share with other teachers. South Korea offers a very laid-back style of living and believes in a good work-life balance, meaning you’ll have plenty of free time to explore the area together. Be sure to check out the Buddhist temples and, in complete contrast, the neon lighting in the streets of Seoul during rush hour.
If you are from a non-EU country, finding work in a European country can be more challenging, but Spain is a good choice and certainly worth a try. It offers a good climate and lots of delicious local food and drink. You’re lucky if you like the idea of an extra lunchtime nap. The siesta is well-known and followed by all. There are many places to find work, including schools teaching business English and language schools. They tend to operate evening and weekend classes, giving you free time to explore and take in the local sights. The good news is that you do not need a bachelor’s degree to teach here. However, the higher-paid roles will be reserved for those with university-level qualifications. Cities like Madrid offer a higher concentration of functions but bear in mind that living in a city is more expensive than living in a smaller town.
Thailand is another beautiful location in Southeast Asia, and you will find that the degree is pretty much mandatory for all jobs on offer. They are often looking for experience working with children or adults, depending on who you will teach and, of course, a recognised TEFL qualification. It is a beautiful country with many to explore in your downtime, including stunning beaches and dense jungles. There is a lot of history, including some fantastic architecture, if you enjoy looking at that sort of thing. Thailand is famous for its world-class shopping. It’s also a renowned food lovers’ paradise, with delicious local dishes and super-friendly street vendors offering excellent meals at a great price. Work can be found all over Thailand, but as you might expect, big cities like Bangkok will have the most opportunities. The final destination for a TEFL couple abroad.