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FAQs for Living and Working Overseas:

Written by a former Peace Corps Volunteer living overseas since 1989

The Expat Guy: FAQs for Working and Living Overseas

How much can I earn or save working overseas?

Expatriates, in many countries, tend to earn at least what the average wage-earner in that country makes - and often more - or even much more.

Even mediocre wages can often be offset by benefits such as free housing, airplane tickets to and from your home country on an annual basis, very low or even no income taxes - or tax holidays for a year or two.   These benefits can often make a modest wage turn into significant savings - as if you were earning two or three times the basic wage.

The lifestyle afforded by working overseas typically exceeds that of the common woman/man in most developing countries and is generally comparable in some developed countries.

That said, what people often really want to know is:  Can I save any money working overseas?  And, the answer is, "Yes, sometimes, and in some countries."  Really, it depends on the country in which you choose to work - and your lifestyle.

How much can I save?

It dends on your occupation, but - for example - English teachers in Korea and Taiwan, typically can save as much as US$1,000 per month or more.  Your lifestyle, of course, will affect your personal bottom line.  Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (TEFL or EFL) professionals in the Middle East can sometimes triple the savings of Korea.  But the Middle East will generally require advanced degrees and previous experience for better positions - Korea and Taiwan want only a degree (in any field!).  Skilled professionals can do as well in other areas too.

Again, as an example, EFL Teachers in China report a good lifestyle on their wages - but that they are unable to save significant money.  The same is true of Thailand and Mexico and many countries in South America.  Their wages earn them a modest but comfortable living - but savings are difficult to come by. 

So, as you ponder the decision about working overseas, you'll also need to consider your financial situation and that will affect what countries you want to look at.

If you have student loans or other debts, consider only countries where your likelihood of success is great and you are able to comfortably save at least the amount of your obligations.


The author's experience is that he started overseas with very little in the way of assets - and over a period from 1992 to 2005 was able to buy several rental properties in the USA and pay them off.  All the while teaching English in four different countries and traveling to many others. 

Overall, for the author anyway, it was an excellent lifestyle combined with an ability to save.  But, it was not all roses - he would have preferred to always work in a country like Thailand - but had to make some hard choices and spend some significant time in countries like Saudi Arabia and Korea - which are not everyone's cup of tea.  But working overseas provided him with the opportunity to both travel AND save money for retirement (He is now retired).



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