One of my goals in life is to become financially independent. This means that assets I own produce enough income (passively) to support my basic living expenses. I was well on my way to accomplishing that goal until 12 months ago…
I made the decision to quit my job and move across the world.
Why in the hell would I do that?
I have no clue.
If I had to answer (at least this is what I told my mom), I would say that I was at a personal “cross-roads” at my old job. I had to internally commit to a career there, or look into pivoting into something else. Shit or get off the pot.
I looked at my coworkers, mainly the ones who worked with the company for more than 5 years… and I knew it was time to get off this pot.
In the back of my mind I reached another dilemma. I wanted to keep my dream of financial Independence moving in the right direction, but I also had these dreams of travel and experiences in my 20’s.
So… I did like every other millennial does… I googled “how to travel and make money”. And there it was… staring me in the face. “Teach English in Asia and make your travel dreams come true”.
For the next three months, I became obsessed with the ESL (English as a Second Language) industry. I could quote estimated salaries from countries all over the world. I could even tell you dozens of second hand stories about other peoples experiences, good and bad.
Fast forward 6 months and I am on a flight headed to Shenzhen China. I wish I could say I never looked back, but if I did that would be a lie. I constantly find myself thinking where would I have been financially if I didn’t decide to move to Asia.
This post is to help you…, well mostly me, understand the true cost of Teaching English in Asia on your journey to financial Independence.
I hear all kinds of estimates about what a wage can be teaching English in Asia. I personally have made anywhere from $2000 – $4000 USD per month teaching English. The caveat is that my income isn’t coming from one source. It is coming from three different places: my main teaching gig, VIPKID, and a few other jobs.
My Main teaching Gig
My English teaching job makes me about $2000 a month working only 20 hours per week. The job itself is low stress, pretty fun, and rewarding. Kids will make you laugh when you least expect it and they will amaze you at how quickly they can learn and retain information.
If you noticed, I said that I only work 20 hours a week at my “main teaching gig”. Therefore, I have plenty of time to fill my schedule with whatever I like. Since my goal is to reach financial independence, I choose to spend my time moving that goal forward. For me, that means making more money to dump into my NetWorth. So I teach about 38 additional classes with VIPKid per week. That time produces about $1500 a month.
I also have an in person student that I tutor weekly that makes me about $37 per lesson.
So… all in all I’m grossing about $3,700 per month teaching English in Asia. Eeek. Not looking very good. I might need to pack my bags and go home.
But first, lets compare that to what I was making in America.
Full Time Job
When I left the United States (US). I was making about $55,000 gross per year ($4,583 per month) from my full time job .
This job wasn’t rewarding and as I got promoted and given more responsibility I started increasing my hours. “More money more problems”. I saw my risk of going bald by 30 increasing at this place.
This is a no brainer. My gross pay in America is much larger than my gross pay in Asia.
Well… before packing my bags let’s take another moment to look at expenses. We all know controlling your expenses is a huge part of the journey Financial Independence.
After tracking my expenses for 30 days I determined that almost everything is cheaper abroad. The chart below breaks down a list of the major expenses in Asia.
So all in all, my basic expenses are $1300/month living in Asia.
Let’s take a look at what my expenses are living in the United States.
Wow! I spent a total of $2,250 per month in America! Looking like I might not need to come home just yet. That’s $950 more than my expenses in Asia!
Disposable Income Comparison
So after income and basic expenses what’s left? That’s where the magic happens (and I’m not talking about in the bedroom). I’m talking about disposable income. Money that you can choose to spend on whatever you want. We use this money for all sort of things: boats, clothes, shoes… Chickfila.
I choose to spend my disposable income on smashing debt and increasing my Net Worth. Only because there’s no Chickfila in Asia.
So lets see what I have left over in America. When it is all said and done I have a total of $16,054.00 dollars remaining in the United States.
In Asia, I have approximately $21,000 dollars remaining. Wow that’s amazing, and… well… surprising!
My disposable income is even more than it is at home!
The purpose of this article was to help me understand the true cost of my decision to move abroad. Specifically, how far off-track did it take me from my journey to Financial Independence. This article helped me realize that it didn’t take me far off-track at all.
This article definitely helps me put things into prospective. But it would also be naïve not to consider the following things:
- Living abroad means I am away from my family and loved ones (As cool as it may sound)
- Teaching English is not a “resume booster” (unless you want your whole career to revolve around teaching English)
- I’m missing out on my salary potentially “compounding” overtime
- There are costs to actually moving abroad (flights, rent deposits, etc.)
- Teaching ESL in Asia can be a Hustle
But hey… So far I feel confident with my decision. My Networth is growing, and I’m filling my life with amazing experiences and memories. And I’m not working a job that is making me want to pull my hair out. Isn’t that what reaching Financial Independence is all about. Having the freedom to do something you want to do and avoid the things you hate.
I just had to move to the other side of the world to do it.