Is it possible to move abroad with your children? The short answer: YES, but… There’s already a lot to consider when moving abroad as a solo traveler looking for a new adventure, but throw a family in the mix and things can get even more complicated.
However, this shouldn’t scare you away from living your dream of packing up and moving to a new country to teach – there are SO many perks to being exposed to new cultures, languages, & environments – but there are certainly some things you should be aware of before you hit the application stage. We’ve compiled a list of things to think about when considering such a big move with your family in tow!
1. DO YOUR RESEARCH (AND THEN SOME..)
No matter who you are or what circumstances befall you, it’s super important to do your research. You’re going to see stories. Good ones, bad ones, exaggerated ones. Don’t believe everything you read online as one person’s experience will likely be far different from your own. Find some trusted sources and people who will encourage and support you yet, still provide unbiased advice (like us, hint hint!).
2. DEFINE YOUR QUALIFICATIONS
If you’ve just received your TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate & have limited to no teaching experience, you will likely find it awfully difficult (or next to impossible) to encounter a school that will be willing and able to support your family. Should you wish to proceed anyway, be aware of the cost of educating your child abroad. Homeschooling is an option, but also may require a specific license.
Unfortunately, teaching abroad with a family simply isn’t feasible for everyone. A teacher with years of experience and a teaching license (state certified, QTS, SACE, etc) will have much better luck in finding a school that will be able to support teacher, spouse & the little one(s).
Remember, just because you’re certified to teach in your own country doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll meet the requirements of your desired country or school.
3. FIND YOUR DESTINATION (AND BE AWARE OF THE CULTURE)
Due to teacher salaries and benefits, you’ll find that the Middle East and China are two wildly popular choices for teaching abroad. Many times these locations provide salary enough for living, traveling, and even saving.
There’s more than just money at stake however. Don’t forget, your goal is to move your family to a new country, with a new culture, away from family & friends. It takes a certain amount of flexibility and adaptability as schools may not be managed in the same way you’re used to at home. Not to mention, it’s going to be mentally tough at first- on all of you.
Additionally, for women, if you are a single parent or only planning to bring your husband (what’s known as a “trailing spouse”), you may find the Middle East a difficult, if not impossible place to find a job. This has to do with strong, conservative Islamic views. A “traditional” family is important if you’re planning on moving to the Middle East. Alternatively, in China, you’ll be less likely to run into this scenario
4. BE REALISTIC ABOUT YOUR BUDGET (EVEN BEFORE YOU LEAVE)
You’ve done it! Found a job that will provide schooling for your kids and visas for all of you. This is not the end of the road however, not only are there a lot of upfront costs with visas and flights (that will typically be reimbursed to a certain extent), but it can also take a toll on your savings when you’re fresh off the plane. You may need to put a deposit down on an apartment or in rarer cases, actually furnish an apartment too.
While of course a tax-free salary (Middle East offers) with an apartment provided sounds incredible and it truly does have its perks, but fairly often if you find a job in the UAE in particular, you may even need to find a school for your kids as they cannot attend school with Emirati children and will need to go to an international school, which may have a high price tag and the tax-free salary may not take you as far in this case.
Something else to consider, if your children are not of schooling age, they may need a nanny. In China, you can hire a live-in full-time nanny (a-yi) for a fairly inexpensive price of about 1500 RMB/month (maybe more, maybe less). In the UAE, a nanny salary would be anywhere between 1,000-2000 AED/month.
5. BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF
Traveling and working abroad is often glamorized, but if you start to feel the stress and pressure only after you make the move, you’re ultimately going to feel you signed up for something you didn’t really want. It’s important to be honest with yourself (and your kids). Can you adjust to the differences in management styles? Are you open to learning the language? Are your children excited to move? These are all questions that need honest answers. Be sure to talk it out as much as possible.
I’d be the first to tell you all of the positive things about moving abroad, but nothing is perfect. As they say, “nothing worth having comes easy”. Be flexible and be ready to take on the challenge because you could be in for one of the best adventures of your life, so long as you can overcome the fear that may hold you back.
About our company: Teaching Nomad is an American owned and operated education recruitment company based in Shanghai, China. Our goal and purpose is to help great teachers find great teaching jobs. Year round, we have hundreds of teaching job vacancies. Whether your goal is to be an ESL teacher or teach in an international school, we have a teaching job for you. You can browse jobs online at www.teachingnomad.com/job-search for the latest job openings. Teaching Nomad is here to make teaching in China easier, so please feel free to reach out and contact us with any questions or inquiries!