For both newly qualified and experienced teachers, one common concern when planning to teach English abroad is how to find accommodation that is comfortable, in a safe location and suitable for your personal needs. The good news is you are unlikely to be the first foreign teacher in the area you are heading for, so you will probably have several options to choose from. Here we break down the most common aspects of organizing accommodation when teaching abroad.
When is accommodation included in a TEFL contract?
For many teachers, accommodation is not an issue as employers often provide housing as part of the teaching contract. Schools in countries such as China and South Korea, as well as many countries in the Middle East, routinely provide some form of free or subsidized accommodation. If you sign-up for a government-run recruitment scheme such as Japan's Jet Program, you can also expect to have your housing taken care of for the duration of your contract.
What if accommodation is not included in my TEFL contract?
Although many teachers have their accommodation organized by their employer, the majority of those teaching English abroad do not have housing benefits as part of their contract. In this situation your employer is still likely to be the best place to start your search for somewhere to live. Chances are they have employed many people in the same situation before, so they should be able to recommend reliable landlords or housing services in the local area. It is also common for new teachers to move straight into a house or apartment recently vacated by a departing teacher. If you plan to look for a job once you are actually in your country of choice, it is common practice to initially stay in a hostel, guest house or hotel until you secure employment. Once employed, you can then look for long-term accommodation within easy reach of your place of work. Your new work colleagues are likely to be a great source of knowledge in this situation. You might even get an offer of a shared house or apartment with one or more of the existing teachers at your new school.
What else can I do to find accommodation?
If word of mouth doesn't solve your housing issue then there are plenty of other simple ways to find a solution. Local newspapers, yellow pages and notice boards are all typical places to start. Many big cities also have websites dedicated to the expat community which offer all manner of advice and guidance, not only regarding accommodation. When planning to teach English abroad there are many things to consider; not least, where will you end up living? However, by utilizing the local knowledge of your employer and workmates, and conducting some research, you should find it is not as big an issue as you initially think.