Let’s get your budget for teaching English in Vietnam in tip-top shape!
Can you swing it with your current finances? Do you need to make some changes in your spending habits now to afford your dream-life teaching English in Vietnam? How do you need to prepare for your early weeks abroad, when that first paycheck has yet to hit your bank account?
Don’t start teaching abroad without a plan for your money. Here’s our best advice on how to figure out how much to budget for teaching English in Vietnam!
Ask yourself these questions
1. Where am I headed?
Are you set on teaching English in one of Vietnam’s more expensive cities, like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City? Or will you be calling the countryside of rural Vietnam home?
Keep in mind that within Vietnam, the daily cost of living will vary considerably. You can likely stock up on phở for cheap in less populous areas, whereas major cities will likely mean you incur a tourist tax.
How do you find this information in advance? LMGTFY. Research typical expenses once you’re in-country, such as rent, transportation, cheap meals out. Keep a running tab of what you find out to more accurately project your monthly expenses. The internet will be your BFF in evaluating your typical expenses once you’re in-country. Pay attention to numbers relative to average rent (even though this included in your program benefits), the cost of transportation (compare public transit vs. private shared rides, like Grab), and the cost of a cheap meal out. Consult the Big Mac Index for an amusing, but helpful take on how to suss out your anticipated cost of living.
2. Do I have savings?
Figuring out how much to save before teaching in Vietnam isn’t rocket science. Ideally, you’ve already been saving up in preparation for your move to Vietnam—and now you’re planning for how to cover your upfront costs (new backpack, TEFL certificate, visa application, flights) on top of your expected first month expenses.
Once you’ve calculated your estimated expenses for a month of living in Vietnam, multiply that amount by at least 1.5—this will give you a practical nest egg for the beginning of your teaching gig abroad. If you want to play it ultra-safe, plan to have the equivalent of at least three months of your expenses already handy in your savings account.
Pro tip: Save a little extra in advance so you have a cushion for when you return home. You don’t want to be worrying about your budget when you’re having reunion drinks and celebrations, and revisiting all of your old haunts for the first time in ages!
3. What will my income be?
You’ll be earning around €625 monthly from your teaching job. Keep in mind that your daily expenses will be quite low since you’ll be living with a host family and having your meals provided. This money can be saved up for adventures, weekend trips, splurging on extra churros, or a visit to the local museum.
If you want to make more money while teaching in Vietnam, you can supplement your teaching income by working as a private tutor. It’s very manageable to tack a few extra classes on each week, and you can earn up to €20 per hour easily with this teaching arrangement.
Be sure to factor in your intended earnings as you lay out your budget for teaching English in Vietnam!
4. Do I have expensive taste?
If you know that local street food and corner phad Vietnamese isn’t going to cut it for dinner daily, then make sure you pad your savings account with extra dough. Part of living and teaching in Vietnam is LIVING IT UP, and no one will fault you for spending a little extra on a meaningful experience or a delicious, western meal.
If you have expensive taste, you’re going to need to save more in advance of your trip to Vietnam. While it can be cheap as chips, there are also activities, restaurants, and experiences that can ding your budget quick. That’s the beauty of Vietnam: from luxury to local, you can find numerous lifestyle choices to fit any budget.
Heads up: If you’re able to adopt a truly local lifestyle—i.e. eating in local restaurants or markets, taking the bus rather than an Uber, hand-washing your laundry, etc.—your budget will likely thank you.
What to budget for
Before you go’s
Your teaching in Vietnam budget should include line items dedicated to costs you’ll incur prior to that cross-continental flight. This can include, but isn’t limited to, items such as travel insurance, passport processing and visa costs, kitting up for the experience (you might need a new backpack, for instance), etc.
One of your largest up-front expenses for teaching abroad will be your flight! Unless you’re hopping to Vietnam from another country in Asia, you can expect to pay hundreds (if not €1000+) to even get to Vietnam.
Will you live walking-distance from your school or students, or will you need to hop on the bus or motobike everyday to get to your classroom?
Many cities in Vietnam come with a ready-made train system, but they’re often for inter-city transit. Otherwise, you can count on tuk-tuks, buses, and peer-to-peer car rentals for your daily transport.
Luckily for you, teaching English in Vietnam with Premier TEFL means accommodations are included—and not rubbish ones, either (they’re valued at 3,000 THB monthly!). You know what this means?! A bigger “fun” budget!!!
If you opt out of provided accommodations, you can expect to pay 9,000,000-10,000,000 dong monthly (~$400USD) for an average apartment.
Food, glorious food
If you’re anything like me, half of the reason to travel the world is to experience it alongside your taste buds. Since you’ll need a lot of grub to fuel your work in the Vietnamese classroom, plan ahead for daily expenditures related to food.
We’re already drooling thinking of all of the tasty, tasty dishes on offer. Bánh mì. Bánh cuốn. Bun cha. VIETNAMESE. ICED. COFFEE. The list goes on—and we’re not even counting the delicious seafood! There will also be plenty of chances to take your tastebuds out for a gastro-adventure. Be sure to budget for this!
You’re not just going to Netflix and teach, right? RIGHT?
Do you simply *have* to see the sunrise over the Gulf of Vietnam? Bask in Himalayan foothill culture while sipping on a freshly cut coconut? Figure out how to find bargains at the market?
Make a list of popular things to do in Vietnam up front that are “must do’s” for you. You should absolutely plan for your adventures and if you have a clear sense of your non-negotiables, your activity budget will be all the more helpful.
Be sure to add extra to this budget, too. You’ll want to do spontaneous group trips to Angkor Wat with your new teaching pals or splurge on that elephant conservation visit. There’s lots of fun to be had that you didn’t plan for, and you’ll love knowing you can be a “Yes man” while teaching abroad.
You’ll want to make sure that your Vietnam teach abroad budget isn’t planned for down to the very last cent. Make sure that you also cushion your budget with additional funds to cover any unplanned expenses, too.
Teaching abroad budget example
Let’s say you’re planning to teach abroad in Vietnam with PremierTEFL* for four months. Awesome! Here’s a quick example of what your teaching abroad budget may look like:
- Before you go’s: €1200 to cover new hiking boots, passport renewal, travel insurance, and program cost
- Round trip flights London to Hanoi: €700
- In-country transit: €30 monthly; ~€120 for four months
- Accommodations: €0! It’s included
- Food: ~€60 per week; ~€1000 for four months
- Must-have activities: €1200 (~€300 monthly)
- Ideally, you’ll write out and make a rough budget for these attractions so your total budget for activities more accurately reflects your goals
- Unplanned for’s: €400 (~€100 monthly)
These are your debits, but be sure to be mindful of your credits, too! You’ll have an income of ~€625 monthly, which sounds like a GREAT way to subsidize your fun, food, or unplanned for’s.
*These teach abroad budget figures were correct at the time of writing. Be sure to research current data for more accurate figures.
Your budget for teaching in Vietnam is set
Congrats! You’ve gone through the hefty first step of figuring out if your budget game plan is strong. While it is not impossible to cover the costs of teaching English in Vietnam, having a plan and being prepared for unexpected expenses will serve you well over time.
Now that you’ve built your teach abroad budget and know its feasible from a finance-perspective, the time has come to apply!
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