Teaching Abroad as a Couple
So you have decided that you are going to set out on a working journey of discovery, adventure, and excitement by teaching English abroad. Fantastic! But wait, what’s this? You’re currently in a relationship in your home country? Why not take your significant other with you so you can share your experience together as a couple?
I’m here to tell you about all of the pros and cons that can go into teaching abroad as a couple, highlighting things you may not have previously considered. I have taught in Bali and in Taiwan with my best friend, so I know some of the great aspects and struggles you can face teaching abroad as a couple.
One of the things a school considers when looking at candidates is how likely they are to do a runner. Teachers can go through the whole hiring process and land that job and then realize once they are at their school that it is just too overwhelming and they flee the country and go home or somewhere else.
As a couple, this feeling of needing to leave or take flight can be drastically reduced because you have each other to lean on. You also have a familiarity of home, so you never entirely feel like you are miles away from someone who loves and cares for you, which, in turn, reduces culture shock. Culture shock can be a huge contributing factor for teachers leaving their jobs suddenly. I have personally found my best friend to be my rock during any challenges I faced in my teaching countries, and having her here with me has definitely helped me through those hard times.
For those long term or married couples you have the option of sharing a 1-bed apartment. Halving your rent on a larger space will allow you to save extra cash at the end of the month.
In terms of food it can often become pricey to cook for just one person, which can lead to large meals and waste. However with another person there you can split the food bills and the grocery shopping to live a low cost lifestyle.
Overall, it’s very reasonable to expect that you can both live comfortably on one person’s salary and bank the rest.
If you can head to another country with a friend or loved one, face the daily challenges of language barriers, culture clash, and finding your way around new Cities, and still come out the other end without killing each other, then I would bet you my yearly wage that you have struck up an unforgettable bond.
Personally speaking I can vouch for this point, although there have definitely been times where we both had dark thoughts involving trip wires, swinging axes, and spear pits; we have come out very much on top with a bond built on the foundations of near misses, unique experiences and times where we could barely breathe through laughter.
So you just left your home country with your partner, leaving behind that spacious apartment where he has his space and she has hers. Well, I’m here to burst that bubble. Depending on where you travel to you can usually expect smaller apartments, with a bedroom, bathroom, living area and perhaps a kitchen (especially in Asia).
For those who have not lived together before, usually friends or recent partners, be warned. Living together can be tough, but working together also can be near fatal. For many going to work is a nice escape from any issues that may be going on at home with your roommates, friends or partner. So working together can take away that escape and cause major tensions.
If you are teaching abroad as a couple then I would suggest either working at the same school but living in separate apartments, or living together but working at separate schools.
Always research the job market for the country that you are heading to. If you are going somewhere that has minimal teaching positions available then don’t expect to both be placed in the same school or even the same region. Furthermore, more and more schools these days are deciding against hiring couples. The reason for this is that they have to cover for two teachers when you go on vacation. Again, this is another good reason why you should consider working at different schools.
A good tip is to follow the hiring seasons for countries. If there are going to be a wealth of jobs in September then use that month to throw yourselves at the job market to really give yourselves a fighting chance. If you’re applying for teaching positions in April, be aware that you might not find much. The best time for couples to apply for teaching positions together are January, February, June, July, and August.
It is well known in the ESL job market that the more flexible you are, the more opportunities that will open up to you. If your expectations are rigidly stuck on being placed at the same school and sharing the same apartment, then you may be looking for jobs longer than a couple who doesn’t mind being placed at different schools.
The death of a relationship
Living abroad with your significant other can present a lot of challenges, and sometimes those challenges can be too much for a couple to overcome together. I’ve seen couples move abroad, only to have their relationship draw to an end. Make sure you talk openly with each other about some of the things you’ll be facing together. Will you be teaching next to each other at the same school and living together? Will you be able to handle being together 24/7? What happens if you teach at different schools and one person has a better job than the other? What happens if you’re on opposite work schedules? These are all things that should be discussed ahead of time.
Have you taught abroad with your best friend or a significant other? What are some things that you would avoid couples to watch out for if they’re considering moving abroad?
Above are just some of the things that you should definitely consider if you are thinking of travelling abroad with your loved one or friend. Really think hard and question the reality of what you are heading into. Often how you think it will turn out and how it actually turns out can be very different things.