The Fastest, Easiest and Cheapest Way to Reset Your Life in a New Country

Asuka Village in Nara, Japan

Asuka Village in Nara, Japan

Many of us dream of quitting our jobs and moving to an exotic country to have completely new experiences. What better New Year’s resolution then to completely restart our lives abroad?

The Problems

Leaving everything behind for a new life of adventure seems like a great idea but then fear shows its ugly head.

  • How will I make money?
  • I don’t have enough savings.
  • What do I do with my things?
  • What if I can’t find a job when I return?
  • What if I get sick?
  • How will I find a place to live?
  • What about language barriers?

After a quick run-through of all the worst case scenarios, staying home and avoiding any risks seems to be the wiser choice.

Fastest Way to Work Abroad

Moving to a foreign country doesn’t have to cost much money or be particularly risky. In fact, you can have someone in your new country sponsor your visa, help you find an apartment, get set up and even pay you a salary. Relocating to a foreign country can be almost risk free if you choose the right path.

The secret that worked for me when I came to Japan, and has worked for countless others all over the world, is to teach English. There is no easier or faster way to move to a foreign country than to take a job as an English teacher.

Some people may not want to be an English teacher. Some may not like having to work for another company again. I understand those complaints, however I think working in a new job, in a new country with completely different customs, food, and environment is unlike anything you have ever done before. Living and working in a new country will give you insights and a connection that travelers will never experience.

It is quite possible to move abroad and save $500 to $1500 per month in countries like Japan, Korea and Taiwan. If you are happy to just cover costs, then other countries like Thailand, China, The Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Argentina, etc. also become viable choices.

If you have any university degree finding a suitable employer can be a quick and easy process. Reliable teachers are hard to find so if you follow some commonsense professionalism you will likely stand out from all the mediocre job applicants. As a former school owner, I can attest to the low quality of job applicants.

$2000 to $3000 and a few months of lead time are all that is necessary to get set up and working in a new country.

The Typical Process

Step 1 – Spend some time researching what country you would like to work in. Check out for detailed information on teaching English Abroad. I have done several interviews with English teachers in countries around the world on the site so read what experienced teachers have to say.

Step 2 – Start looking at job sites for the country you are interested in. There are many positions for schools around the world here, but a quick Internet search will likely show the best sites for jobs in that particular country.

Step 3 – Start applying for jobs.

Step 4 – Consider taking a TEFL Course.  Teacher training programs like TEFL and CELTA can help you learn how to teach English and make your transition to a teacher easier.  A training program will help you stand out from other applicants but they are not a requirement in most countries.

Step 5 – Research the companies interested in hiring you to make sure they are reputable and offer good working conditions. Some schools will reimburse airfare, some schools provide free accommodations, some may provide contract completion bonuses, some will have longer vacation times. Make sure you evaluate the entire employment package and benefits when considering an employer.

Step 6
– Accept an offer. Once you accept a position, you will likely have to send a certified copy of your degree, sign a contract and possibly get a medical check up. Once this information is sent, it will probably take 4 to 8 weeks to process and get sent back to you.

Step 7 – Go the nearest embassy and get your work visa validated in your passport.

Step 8 – You are now ready to go and teach. Have a great trip!

The Fast and Dirty Way

This is not the most recommended way, but in countries like Japan and Taiwan it is quite possible to show up on a tourist visa and look for work in the country. This can be a little faster and will allow you to evaluate schools and locations in person. However you will likely need more money upfront to start. When you arrive in the country there will be no one to help you, leaving you to find accommodations and get set up on your own.

Once you find employment you will have to leave to a nearby country to have your visa validated in your passport. This is relatively inexpensive because foreign countries are so close.

This is how I came to Japan and many others have followed this same path but your life will be a lot easier if you have your employment and visa sorted before you arrive.

Your Future

Even if teaching is not your calling in life, living and working in a foreign country can open your eyes to a whole new world of opportunities. Sometimes it is important to make a quick and clean break with old habits and routines. Start teaching and earning some income, travel frequently in your free time and start working on your true passions. Teaching English is not for everyone, but I can guarantee that you will be better for the experience if you are willing to embrace the opportunity.

Digital Nomad Life Reinvention

One of the best parts of moving to a new country for me is that you can choose who you want to be without all the baggage of your previous life. I call it a digital nomad life reinvention. When you arrive in the new country, what you do is who you are.

  • Are you healthy? Then only eat nutritious food and get lots of exercise. When I go to Chiang Mai, Thailand I typically lose 3 to 6 kg in the first two months because of all the healthy vegetarian options, walking lifestyle, limited alcohol consumption and regular hikes up Doi Suthep.
  • Are you an entrepreneur? Then work on making money from your business every day. Again, I call Chiang Mai, the digital nomad capital of the world for good reason. Literally, thousands of entrepreneurs are working out of Chiang Mai at any given time because the low cost of living means you need less money to live and can devote more attention to growing your business.
  • Are you an artist? Then do art every day.
  • Are you outgoing? Then make time to meet new people, attend meetups and generally overcome your shyness. It’s hard to change your personality in your own city because so many people know you as your previous self. In a new country, you are free to be yourself.

Moving to a foreign country opens up a whole new world of opportunities, often at a fraction of the cost of living at home. It’s become so easy to set up online businesses and find online work opportunities that moving abroad has never been easier.

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My name is John Bardos. My wife and I gave up our business, house and possessions in Japan to search for more meaning and fulfillment in our lives. We've discovered that a satisfying life is about rich experiences, quality relationships and meaningful contribution, NOT consumption.

36 Responses to The Fastest, Easiest and Cheapest Way to Reset Your Life in a New Country

  1. Gordie says:

    Hi John,

    I have to agree with you, that for the right person, English teaching is a great way to start their overseas experience. I’m “retiring” from English teaching in July next year in order to move back to New Zealand and try my hand at business. It’s possible that I could come back to teaching later down the track, but only part time at most. One year in Korea and seven years in China teaching seems about enough for me. 🙂
    .-= Gordie´s last blog ..How To Use Goals, Autosuggestion, Commitment And Consistency. =-.

    • John says:

      Hi Gordie,

      I have also had enough for teaching, for now. I am still excited about some teaching related websites that I am creating but I need a break from the day to day teaching. I have been doing it for 13 years now.

      I hope that doesn’t discourage anyone out there. Teaching English in a foreign country is a fantastic start to a life abroad and a decent way to save some money.

    • Stacey says:

      Hi Gordie. Did you move to NewZeland?

      Me and my family would love to. Just don’t know where to start ?

      Please message me back

  2. Alan says:

    Well when you break it down like that, it doesn’t seem too hard! I’m still surprised that English teachers can save so much in some countries ($500-$1500/mo!).


    • John says:

      The biggest reason teachers save so much is that they don’t get caught up with all the consumption like they would back home. Everyone thinks they will only be here for a short time so they don’t buy things.

      Alcohol is a different issue. Many teachers have no problem blowing their paychecks in bars. 🙂

  3. Nate says:

    Really cool post. The teaching English idea has always fascinated me. I seriously contemplated it for a while but ended up going in another direction. My cousin teaches English in Costa Rica and is loving it. She recently came home and we got to talk about it for a while and it was really interesting.

  4. Ash says:

    Hey –

    For anyone out there looking into this, and would be interested in South America, the Chilean Ministry of Education in co-sponsorship with the United Nations Development Program has their English Opens Doors (EOD) program. In an effort to be more globally competitive, the need to learn English has been identified as a top priority, so they are recruiting tons of native speakers to spend either 3, 6, 8 or 12 months in the country teaching in either elementary, middle and high schools…although I do believe for those with more qualifications they are soon launching another program for teachers in the universities. It isn’t great pay (a stipend) but they do pay for your living expenses and/or will put you with a host family that covers food at no cost….so it’s a good option as a way to transition while perhaps looking for further work.
    .-= Ash´s last blog ..The One Thing That Can (And Will) Mess Up Your Life…If You Let It =-.

  5. Austin says:

    I couldn’t agree more with your post.

    So many people have no idea about the opportunities available to them by teaching English abroad. At first it’s a lot to swallow, but it’s a good job with a chance to travel, meet people, and make some good money.

    Happy Holidays!

    Austin @ Foreigner’s Finances

    • Shay says:

      I know that this comment comes 7 years too late but I thought I’d ask anyway. It seems to me as though opportunities to teach in English as a non-native speaker may be a big hindrance despite the level of English the speaker possesses. How does one get through this challenge?

  6. Nomadic Matt says:

    Teaching English is one of the easiest ways to get overseas. I totally agree! It’s especially easy if you want to go to Asia…you just basically have to be white and string a few sentences together!

    Lovely post!

    ps- I hear you are moving to bangkok?
    .-= Nomadic Matt´s last blog ..Waitomo’s Glow Worm Caves =-.

  7. John says:

    Hi Matt,

    We won’t be moving to Bangkok, but we will probably go through there a couple of times in the near future. I really want to meet up with everyone there.

    Thanks for the comment.

  8. Phil says:

    But don’t you still need appropriate qualifications to meet the visa requirements? A TEFL diploma alone is not enough – as far as I know – to get into Japan (for instance). You need a University Degree as well.
    Isn’t this so?

  9. John says:

    Hi Phil,

    Thanks for the comment. Yes, a university degree is required to get a work visa and work legally in Japan and most other countries. Certifications like TEFL are not particularly necessary but they can help.

  10. Beth says:

    Hi – thanks for a great post! I knew the second I stumbled upon teaching in Korea this past summer that it was going to be the most painless way for me to start working and living away from the US. It was absurdly easy to find a good recruiter and sign with a school. I’ve allowed the process to take a few months longer to take a while away from work obligations, but the availability of a guaranteed way to make money was my tipping point. Hopefully after my year I’ll 1 – know if I ever want to be a for real teacher – and 2 – I’ll have an online income that will support me staying abroad for a long, long time!

    P.S. – just wanted to put a plug in for teaching in S.K. – not that I’m there yet – but you do NOT need to go through an English teaching training program, just a Bachelors degree, and many schools will pay your airfare over there! Also – take a great picture, sounds shallow but that’s how you get hired.

  11. […] Austin teaches English in Japan and writes about personal finance for twenty-something. He can be found at Foreigner’s Finances. For more information on teaching English as a second language abroad, click here. […]

  12. […] easiest,  fastest and safest way to leave your home country and begin a life in a foreign country is to teach English. If you have a university degree, a […]

  13. Ana says:

    Hi John,

    I’ve read your comments for some time now. I’m currently on my third gig teaching English in Japan and looking eagerly for my fourth, as this contract ends at the end of March. So I’m kind of in a hurry and it’s not as easy as it once was to find jobs. Also, I’m a lot older than the average EFL teacher (in Asia anyway) and don’t have a certificate beyond a B.A. Still, I’m finding some good ads so let’s hope I get a nibble soon.

    I’ll probably do this for only about a year more, at least here in Asia. At this age I’ve got to think of my immediate future. Hopefully I will have found other, freelance ways to earn income so I can move on to Europe where I really want to spend my life.

  14. […] but don’t have the bank account to match your ambitions? Consider teaching English. It is the fastest and easiest way to go abroad and you don’t need special qualifications other than a university degree. Nicky Wetzelberger […]

  15. […] Many of those people are looking to teach English. Despite all the opportunities to work online, teaching English is still one of the cheapest and fastest ways to move abroad. […]

  16. kenny says:

    I just had a few questions, I’m a private university freshman in Pennsylvania and currently started the path in business admin and English minor. I was just wondering if I continued this path following graduation with my credentials if I would be more set ahead then the average candidate. Currently at twenty years old I’ve already had two corporate jobs in the medical sales industry and during the summers worked as a wildland firefighter obtaining several other medical licenses. Is this background experience beneficial to this field? Sorry for the improper approach with my layout here, I’ve been swamped at the office and am really ran down.

    Also I’ve heard they like white applicants more? I know that is a very bad question but being russo-creole I understand it can be a different experience and challenge to land certain openings over seas.

    • John says:

      Hi Kenny,

      Any university degree is good. It doesn’t really matter what you specialize in. A TEFL or CELTA course is helpful, but your minor in an undergraduate degree won’t matter much.

      If you want some relevant work experience, try volunteer English teaching to give you a head start.

      Yes, most Asian countries still value white teachers more. That is there stereotypical notion of what a Westerner is. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t jobs available.

      Good luck.

  17. Toka Awomi says:

    Hi, I have a desire to work in Japan as an english teacher plese guide me… I am a graduate student.

  18. Franck says:

    Hi John!
    Great read, thanks!
    I’ve been thinking about teaching English overseas for a while now, but I find taking the first step daunting, mainly in terms of preparing classes etc…
    Your article and everyone’s comments are definitely motivating me to pack my bags and give it a shot!
    Thank you!

    • John says:

      Hi Franck,

      Thanks for the comment.

      Don’t worry about preparing classes and figuring out what to teach. Every decent school will have teacher’s manuals where you basically follow the step by step instructions of what to do in the class. As you learn more about what students needs, you’ll be able to customize your lessons better.

      Teaching is a great way start a life abroad!

  19. Tanja Milton says:

    Hi, I am interested in teaching in Japan, but I am a single mother with 4 small children, does anyone have advice? I thought about bringing my Mom to help.

  20. Michelle says:

    I’m hoping to save the money I need to not work for a few years while my daughter and I move legally to Ireland but I’m finding it difficult to see if I can save the money needed to be self supporting for 5 years while I wait to be able to become a citizen. (I am a us citizen unfortunately so it makes it harder. I’m working on becoming a Registered nurse and open to move to other countries) any ides?

  21. Persephone Davis says:

    What about mothers with children, who is interested in moving to another country?

    • John says:

      There are plenty of travelling families. Find a way to make money online and anyone can live almost anywhere. We have a baby now and will be travelling with him for the first time very soon.

  22. kavya says:

    But what if an Asian wants to move to a different country? 🙁

  23. Do says:

    Hi everyone. I am not a native English speaker, but I do have a bachelor’s degree in English philology and a fair complexion. So it seems that Asia would be my destination. I would really appreciate if someone could contact me and provide with the details and experience.

  24. Claudia Marin says:

    How about for people that do not have English as a first language?? I’m not a native English speaker, so what other type of jobs you would suggest for people like ‘us’. Tnx

  25. Ian says:

    You can show up in most countries on a tourist visa without a job lined up. I did this in Taiwan, Korea and in China.

    It’s not that dirty or illegal. After you find a job you change the visa and as mentioned that means you usually leave the country. In my experience you can usually do that for around $200 depending on your location.

    The benefits of showing up on a tourist visa…

    You get to check everything out in person BEFORE you commit to anything. When you find a job there are usually people around who will help you get set up with a house, bank, etc.

    The drawback is that it can cost a bit more money and be a little scarier. But that’s the way I always did it. FACE YOUR FEARS! And do your research.

  26. Mag says:

    I,M a bit worried I,v left teaching abroad too late in life!
    I,m now approaching 54. I finished my BaSc in 1998 and my TEFL Cert in 2014. I just never found the courage to take the next step.
    I think its because I have Aspergers and the thought of being completely alone in another country was overwhelming for me but I so much want to do it!
    Anybody have any ideas of how to make the next step that bit easier.

    • JTrain says:

      It’s a bit of a cliche, but it’s never too late. I’m 42 and just did a round-the-world trip for “fun”- and now I need to make some money, but I also want to get out and about and immerse myself long-term in a new culture again. I found this blog today, but I’ve been researching for months as I prepare to get my TEFL cert.

      There are lots of stigmas about “older” people being able to teach English overseas, but frankly there’s a lot of advantage:

      You might be limited by age in terms of where you’ll be able to find work, but you will also have an edge over younger folks doing something like a “gap year.” You’re more experienced in life and you know better about what you want and how you want it.

      From my experience, would suggest you contact the school where you got your TEFL and see if they have or can recommend resources that would help you find job options. This might be a recruiter, a job board, or even another graduate of their program.

      Ian’s post is right. If you want something bad enough, at some point you have to face your fears! 🙂

  27. ichsan says:

    Hi john.
    i really agree with your post.
    but is there any job besides english teacher ? because my english skill not good enough 🙁

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