Your teaching abroad budget in Myanmar will be a handy, helpful tool while planning for your upcoming adventure. Can you swing it with your current finances? What changes do you have to make to your lifestyle now to ensure you live your dream and teach English in gorgeous, sunny, awe-inspiring Myanmar?
Don’t start teaching abroad without a plan for your kyat (that’s the local currency, and it’s pronounced “chat!”). Here’s our best advice on how to figure out how much to budget for teaching English in Myanmar!
Ask yourself these questions
Where am I headed?
Are you set on teaching English in one of Myanmar’s more expensive cities, like Yangon or Mandalay? Or will you be calling the countryside of rural Myanmar home as a TEFL teacher?
Keep in mind that within Myanmar, the daily cost of living will vary considerably. You can likely stock up on tea salad for cheap in less populous areas, whereas major cities will likely mean you incur a tourist and expat 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.
Pay attention to numbers relative to average rent and your anticipated income (teaching with Premier TEFL will land you ~$700-$1200 USD monthly). Consult the Big Mac Index for a slightly funny—but still helpful—take on how to suss out your anticipated cost of living. Numbeo is one of our more sensible faves too.
Do I have savings?
Figuring out how much to save before teaching in Myanmar isn’t rocket science. Ideally, you’ve already been saving up in preparation for your move to Myanmar—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 Myanmar, 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!
What will my income be?
You’ll be earning ~$700-$1200 USD monthly from your teaching job. Keep in mind that your daily expenses will be quite low since the cost of living is favourable to western currencies like the dollar, pound, or euro. Your money can be saved up for adventures, weekend trips, splurging on extra helpings of Palm Sugar Sago, or visits to popular museums (we’ve heard great things about the Bogyoke Aung San Museum!).
If you want to make more money while teaching in Myanmar, 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 abroad in Myanmar!
Do I have expensive taste?
If you know that local street food and corner pancakes aren’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 Myanmar 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 Myanmar. 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 Myanmar: from luxury to local, you can find numerous lifestyle choices to fit any budget.
Pro tip: If your goal is to adopt a “local lifestyle,” your budget will thank you. Keeping meals simple, taking public transit, and shopping for groceries at the local market, rather than the international chain, will all help you keep your costs down.
What to budget for when teaching in Myanmar
Before you go’s
Your teaching in Myanmar budget should include line items dedicated to costs you’ll incur prior to that cross-continental flight. This includes things like a new backpack, your travel insurance, your visa (~$50 upon entry at the time of writing; ~$70 if needed in advance), and more.
One of your largest up-front expenses for teaching abroad will be your flight! Unless you’re hopping to Myanmar from another country in Asia, you can expect to pay hundreds (if not $1000+) to even get to Myanmar.
Will you live walking-distance from your school or students, or will you need to hop on the bus or subway every day to get to your classroom?
Many cities in Myanmar come with a ready-made public transit system ready for you. Trains, city buses, taxis, and peer-to-peer car rentals (yes, even Uber is in Myanmar!) will be easy to come by. You can also take a ferry to get around if you want a taste of old Burma.
Luckily for you, teaching English in Myanmar with Premier TEFL includes accommodation guidance, so you’ll never be stuck in a sketchy neighbourhood or uncomfortable digs.
Rent in Myanmar is 46.15% lower than in the United States; you can expect to pay ~$600 USD in the city centre for a one-bedroom apartment, but that number drops ~$300 if you widen your search to outside of downtown. Of course, having a roommate lessens the cost even more, and is recommended for all TEFL teachers in Myanmar.
Pro tip: Private apartment rentals in Myanmar can look for a 3+ month deposit, so many teachers opt for hostel-style housing. If you’d like a more plush pad, Premier TEFL in-country team will help you negotiate with landlords.
Food, glorious food
If you’re anything like me, half of the reason to travel the world is to experience it with your trusty taste buds. Since you’ll need a lot of grub to fuel your work in the Myanmarese classroom, plan ahead for daily expenditures related to food.
We’re already drooling thinking of all of the tasty, tasty dishes on offer. Fermented tea leaf salad. Shan-style rice (fish rice). Burmese curries. FRESH. TROPICAL. FRUIT. 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 from the vantage point of a hot air balloon over the valley of pagodas in Bagan? Sail away from Mandalay to Bagan? Cruise the lazy waters of Inle Lake?
Make a list of popular activities to do in Myanmar upfront 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 Hong Kong with your new teaching pals or splurge on that Hutong tour in Beijing. 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 Myanmar 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 Yangon, Myanmar with PremierTEFL* for five months. Awesome! Here’s a quick example of what your teaching abroad budget may look like:
- Before you go’s: $1000 to cover new backpack, passport renewal, travel insurance, vaccines and program cost
- Round trip flights Los Angeles to Yangon: $900
- Daily expenses in Yangon (Food, transportation): ~$30-60 daily depending on your lifestyle
- Accommodations: $400 monthly; ~$2000 for five months
- Startup items (toiletries, towel, SIM card for phone): ~$60
- Must-have activities: $1000 (~$200 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: $750 (~$150 monthly)
These are your debits, but be sure to be mindful of your credits, too! You’ll have an income of at least $700 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 Myanmar is set
Now that you’ve planned how much to save and budget for teaching English in Myanmar, a word of caution: The key to true budget success is to track your spending. We’d hate for you to run out of cash somewhere in the middle of it all! Keep a pulse on your accounts and don’t be afraid to say “No” to that treat every now and then if it means healthier finances in the long run.
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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