Life Before International Teaching
To say that living comfortably in the United States as a teacher is difficult, would be the understatement of the century. In Richmond, Virginia, my home for seven years before moving to Chile, it looked like I was living the “American dream.” However, looks could be quite deceiving
If you looked past the 2,000 square foot home that I owned, the job teaching math at a great school in Henrico County, and the wonderful group of friends that I had, you would realize how difficult things really were. After paying my mortgage, car insurance, utilities, etc., there were some months where I had less $100 to get through the entire month.
The Amazing Benefits Of Being An International Teacher
Fast forward 4+ years and my life has changed drastically. I have been able to increase my savings rate substantially, and I no longer have the same worries about money that I once did. I am able to travel frequently and have seen much of this beautiful country/continent. My move abroad definitely jumpstarted my path to “financial independence.”
This is not uncommon, however. Below are many of the potential perks that an International teacher might find.
Most schools offer either a housing “stipend” or free staff housing. The stipend can be over $1,000 USD and a teacher can use all, some, or none of this money on housing since it is often paid directly via my paycheck. The staff housing is usually located on the campus or in a nearby neighborhood. This convenient housing makes the initial transition abroad much easier (no need to look for an apartment/house to rent).
Salaries can be a substantial raise from those in the US and Canada. Teachers at top-tier International schools can easily make between $60,000-$100,000.
Many schools offer a once per year round-trip flight home to see family/friends.
100% (or near 100%) healthcare coverage. Many schools have International plans that cover you both back home and where you are residing.
Yearly re-signing bonuses are not uncommon in the International School world. $2,000- $7,500 is quite a large sum of money for a veteran teacher. However, a school would still pay less money than it would cost for the typical “onboarding” expenses for a new hire. Yes, you heard that right. Most schools will give you money to ship belongings/ purchase new items when you first arrive in your new home.
Many schools offer new teachers both a shipping and a relocation allowance. These monies vary widely (and are not always offered) but can substantially offset most (if not all) of the costs associated with picking up your entire life and moving it thousands of miles away.
The icing on the cake is the fact that the effective tax rate here in Chile is low and due to the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, I pay $0 in US federal taxes! Additionally, there are some “high level” moves you can make that will have major benefits down the line. I have taken advantage of both “Tax Gain Harvesting” and “Traditional IRA–> Roth IRA Conversions” as a result of the low tax bracket I am in.
My International Path To Financial Independence
Still trying to figure out why you are teaching in the States??? My conservative estimate is that it would have taken me approximately 30+ years to reach FI in Virginia, taking into consideration my expenses and my previous savings rate (around 20% if I was lucky). At that point, I would have two new knees, possibly a new hip, and with some luck, a vacation every few years to get these joints lubed up. Also, there is a 0% chance that I would be able to embark on the adventure of a lifetime, with Kristen!