Teaching Abroad Guide: Making friends, Budgeting and Staying Safe!

You can live and travel in countries across the world by earning your TEFL certificate and starting teaching English abroad.  A career teaching English and a brand new life adventure is just around the corner for you. However, It’s hard to think about whether or not you should leave your comfortable surroundings as well as your friends and family behind and as exciting as it may seem to move abroad and start a new, life-changing adventure, it can also be a really daunting and scary thought. But you shouldn’t let that stop you! So here is the perfect guide to teaching English abroad.

Friends travelling

We have gathered the best advice for TEFL teachers looking to move abroad, from making new friends to staying safe during your travels, you can find out all the information you need here!

Click here for our blog on our top TEFL destinations to teach abroad!

Making Friends

When TEFL teaching abroad, you’re guaranteed to meet amazing people from all over the world, some of which will become your friends for life that you can share this unforgettable experience with! Down below are some of the ways you can make friends with both expats and locals while teaching abroad

Friends Travelling

Become friends with other TEFL teachers

Get to know your new English teaching colleagues! They’ll almost certainly be native English speakers from English-speaking countries, so they’ll be strangers in a strange world like you. They’ll tell you about their travels and fears, and you’ll bond over them. This is the most obvious person to associate with.

Get to know local teachers

Take the time to get to know your native employees. Most schools employ more than just English teachers, and they are as eager to meet you as you are to meet them. Getting immersed in a foreign culture means getting to know the locals, so learning more about the people you work with on a daily basis and how they live is a terrific way to gain insight into a culture other than your own.

Join a club!

An amazing way to get out and meet other people like you when abroad is by joining clubs! There are groups for just about any hobby, whether it’s photography, music or sport. When you join a group, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to meet friends, especially with others who share your interests! You can find these groups by doing research or posting in online community groups.

Never say no to invitations

You may have been taught not to talk to strangers at home; however, consider this: when you’re overseas, everyone is a stranger, so how can you establish new friends? Follow your senses and be cautious; if possible, make new friends in public areas and with coworkers. Be sensible; obviously, you shouldn’t go to someone’s residence when you’ve just met, without other people you know and trust. Invite people to events – Don’t be shy about inviting your coworkers and friends to events; they will most definitely return the favour. 

Take a class

When you walk into class, don’t be scared to strike up conversations with your classmates. Remember meeting new people and experiencing new things was one of the main reasons you chose to start teaching abroad!  Your classmates may become wonderful friends, especially if your class’s subject is something you all have in common, and you may cooperate on classwork or assignments, as well as socialize outside of class hours.

Don’t be scared to put yourself out there and take initiative to meet new people now that you know a few ways to make friends when teaching abroad. It’s often the people you surround yourself with who make the experience so unforgettable.


Once you start working, teaching English in another country might be one of the best financial decisions you make as a young professional. However, there are financial costs associated with moving countries and starting up somewhere new before you begin generating a stable income from teaching English.

Your first salary from your teaching job will not arrive right away, just like any other new job. Because you’ll have to wait a few weeks for payment, it’s critical to avoid arriving abroad with empty pockets. You’ll need to figure out how much you’ll need moving over, this is dependent on a number of factors. The country’s cost of living, If your flights and accommodation are/aren’t being provided, you’ll need to keep those costs.

An example of these expenses include

  •  Food
  • Transportation costs
  • Accommodation deposit 
  • First month’s rent 
  • Health insurance
  • Phone plan
  • Entertainment (going out, sightseeing)

You need to be 100% sure you can afford living costs before receiving your first paycheck.

You need to learn how to budget your money whilst travelling, of course you will be earning money but if you don’t learn to budget you could find yourself, in a situation where you are seriously stuck for finances. This means making a detailed list of your monthly expenses, including your rent, bills and groceries etc. If you stick to a budget, you’ll be more conscious of how you spend your money and will be able to identify areas where you can save and splurge appropriately. It all adds up in the end and planning ahead for your expenses will make your living abroad a lot easier. 

Some tips for saving while living abroad:

Learn to live like the locals:

The cost of living in many countries throughout the world can be significantly lower, especially in countries such as Thailand and Vietnam where food and transport prices are drastically lower. Avoiding tourist traps will save you a lot of money, and as you get to know the locals, they will be able to tell you about the best shops, cafés, and restaurants so you don’t overspend.. This will make it easier to save money for TEFL teachers abroad.

Get a roommate 

If your employer does not provide free accommodation where you’re teaching,  consider sharing an apartment with a roommate to reduce living costs.

Earning extra money

A common way that TEFL teachers abroad make some extra money is to start private English tutoring, you can usually make more money tutoring than you would at your day job.  many individuals or parents will pay the equivalent of $20, $30 or even up to $50 an hour or more for private lessons

Staying Safe

When preparing to teach English in a foreign country, feelings of excitement might be mixed with concerns about personal safety in an unfamiliar setting. Moving to a new city or country, especially one where you have never been and where you may not know anyone, can be intimidating, and one of the most common concerns is safety.   

You should always take precautions and develop good habits, just as you would in your own home. Here are some suggestions for staying safe when teaching English in another country to help you prepare for your trip abroad.


Learn about any destination to which you intend to visit and look into any safety issues that may arise. Try to figure out which areas are safer and what sorts of crime are prevalent. You should also research any political, religious, and cultural issues that you might come across. 

Common sense and always be aware of your surroundings

Use common sense and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Basic vigilance and caution can go a long way toward preventing yourself from getting into danger. The first line of defence is always awareness. Don’t ignore your common sense and keep yourself safe.

Don’t keep all of your Money and important documents together

If you lose or get your wallet stolen, containing all of your cash and debit or credit cards, you’re in big trouble, especially if you lose your passport, I.D. card, or other documentation. Always keep a separate credit card on hand in case of an emergency.

Additionally, maintain track of critical financial information such as account numbers, bank phone numbers, and credit card numbers so that if you misplace something, you have the information you need to reclaim it and get a replacement.

Scanned copies of crucial documents, such as your passport, should be emailed to yourself; this will come in handy if the original is lost or stolen.

Learn from Locals

The locals living in the area, whether it be co-workers, friends or neighbours can be a valuable source of information for advising on what to avoid, what neighbourhoods are safe, and other general advice. They can also teach you how to use public transportation and deal with many aspects of society that you may encounter on a regular basis, such as taxi drivers and shopkeepers, as well as tourist guides.

The only way to be able to start teaching English abroad is by taking the initiative to do so. This means doing some research, earning your TEFL certification with The TEFL Institute and planning your new adventure. Be practical and structured, but don’t be afraid to expand your horizons and take risks. Moving abroad is supposed to be an experience, so go for it!

For information on how you can get TEFL certified and start your new adventure click here!

Remember that you should research the requirements for any country that you’re interested in working overseas to teach English.

In general, you don’t need a degree to teach English abroad or online. Our certification stands alone and you can get employment without pairing it with a degree. However, some TEFL employers do prefer their teachers to have a degree. More importantly, for some countries, it’s a visa requirement. This means you can’t obtain a work permit without a bachelor’s degree or higher. Some of these countries include China, Japan, UAE and Vietnam. 

Our advice is if you have your sights set on a certain country, look into the visa requirements first before putting time and effort into finding a job there. This will save you time and disappointment. If it’s a school preferability, and not a visa requirement, there’s sometimes some leeway. 

You do not need any prior teaching degrees or experience to teach abroad. Once you have your TEFL certificate, you can secure work as a TEFL teacher. A BA in Education would enhance your CV, but it’s not a necessity. Completing a TEFL course that includes teaching practice, like our Hybrid TEFL Courses, will also help your CV.

If you want to experience different cultures and see the world, teaching English abroad is for you. Not only will you get to explore new places, you’ll also meet new people and get the chance to make a difference to the lives of language learners. A TEFL certification lasts a lifetime. So, you can dip in and out of teaching abroad whenever you feel like it. 

It is not necessary to speak any other languages. You’ll be able to find a job and work comfortably without knowing the language spoken in your chosen country. Of course, it is always an advantage, even if it’s just the basics. We recommend learning a few phrases before you move abroad like hi, thank you, goodbye and sorry.

You’re never too old to gain new qualifications! Some TEFL employers do have age restrictions, but there are ample opportunities for more mature teachers. There are also the options to teach English from home as a private tutor or online tutor.

We recommend one of our Hybrid TEFL Courses if you would like to teach English in Europe. These hybrid courses give you the best of both worlds. You’ll get the training and certification you need, as well as teaching practice through the 10 Hour Virtual TEFL Course. 

The accredited courses are the quickest way to get TEFL certified, and are accepted by schools and institutes worldwide. Choose from a 120, 180 or 240 hour accredited TEFL course depending on the level of training you require. 

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