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

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

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.

The Solution

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 YouCanTeachEnglish.com for detailed information on numerous countries around the world. 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 training program. 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 accomodations, 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 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.

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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.

16 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.

  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!).

    Alan

    • 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

  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 [...]

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