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International Teacher Accomodation : What to expect?

Being an international teacher often means that you are one of those lucky buggers that does not have to pay for accommodation. A lot of international teaching contracts include flights, accommodation and quite a generous salary. So besides travelling the world, meeting loads of new people and discovering cool places, you actually get to build up some savings! But what can you expect from your accommodation? What does a teacher’s apartment look like and what will you need to keep in mind when signing a contract and moving abroad? Let me take you through it.

Basic, Basic, Basic

If you think the life of an international teacher is laced with luxury, this might not be for you. Most accommodations are basic. No skyline views of Dubai, no infinity pools in Thailand and no 300 square meter palaces with designer furniture. You might be snickering at this thought, but trust me: on my quest through forums, YouTube videos and blogs I noticed that these are indeed the standards some people expect… And fair enough! There are indeed schools and institutions that will offer you amazing apartments you would never ever be able to afford in a place like – let’s say London, but this is more of an exception. Also keep in mind that luxurious and generous packages will often mean that you need to commit more of your personal time to your professional life. If you are just starting your international teaching career – and since you are reading this blog post, I assume you are – you will most likely end up in a basic but nice apartment. Most apartments are one-bedroom apartments with a medium sized kitchen and a bedroom with a double bed. Most apartments are semi-furnished (which is something we will talk about further in this post) which means you will be able to live, sleep and eat in your new home right away. Do read the job posting and ask about accommodation in your interview or before you accept the job. Some schools prefer to cut costs and put 2 or more teachers into the same apartment. If house sharing is something you would rather not do, it is best you decline the offer as you will most likely have to live like this for 2 years.

What about pools and gyms?

Whether your apartment has a gym or a pool depends greatly on the housing standards of the country you are looking to settle in. In Dubai for instance, there will be a 99% chance your building has at least a pool. If having a pool is not a deal breaker for you, it is safe to ask about this after you have signed the contract, but if you are desperate for some splashie times – do ask the school before you send them a signed contract. Buildings boasting gyms is no exception in Asian countries. However – these gyms will not always be up to your standard. In fact: most of them will be nothing more than some treadmills, some weights and a few other basic machines. Don’t let this hold you back accepting a job as there will always be great gyms around. When moving to a hot country, having a pool is way more important than having a flashy gym.

How to get better teacher’s accommodation

Most – but not all, schools will offer you the choice between the accommodation or a housing allowance. Depending on the size of the allowance you can start looking for other and (maybe) better apartments or houses. Also keep in mind that the higher up you are and the more experience you have in (international) teaching, the better your accommodation, your contracts and your schools will be. Some schools prefer to keep everyone except for senior management in the same apartment block, other schools upgrade their subject heads to better apartments or offer them a bigger allowance. It literally is a matter of starting at the bottom of the ladder and working your way up. So how to get better teacher’s accommodation? You can wait and rise in the ranks of international teaching, you can take your allowance and look for a better apartment, or you can apply to expensive and prestigious international schools. But as I said: these expensive and prestigious schools will often ask a lot more of you then you’re used to at home.

What about furnishing?

as I said before in this post, most – if not all, accommodation is half or fully furnished. This does not mean that you won’t have to put in a massive Ikea order though. In fact: there will be tons of things you will need:
  • Pots and pans
  • Bet sheets
  • Towels – both bath towels and kitchen towels
  • Cutlery and dishes
  • Drying rack
  • Extension cables
  • Cleaning tools and products
  • Storage boxes and baskets
  • Any storage or surface furniture you might miss
  • Personal Hygiene products
  • A TV and maybe even Internet
You will probably need to spend close to £400 on essential items in the first few weeks as it is quite hard for the school to provide you with these items. Do mind that they will definitely try! This video is actually a great representation of what to expect:

Always make the best of your apartment!

I know not everyone will be happy with the apartment he or she got, but we need to make the most of it. My husband and I were quite lucky and received a great basic apartment. We were used to overpriced, grimy London apartments and thus our Dubai apartment was quite a breath of fresh air. In the end, you became an international teacher to travel and see the world, and that is what you will most likely be doing. Weekends are for outings and city trips; longer holidays are for discovering (not so) neighbouring countries and visiting family back home. The time you will spend in the apartment will be minimal since there is a whole new country and culture for you to discover. Are you a (new) international teacher? Are you looking forward to seeing your apartment? Or what are your experiences with international teacher accommodation?

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