Before we moved here, we were asked this question quite often: Why Korea?! Well, you asked and we've answered! Ultimately, we wanted to teach ESL and while researching more into which countries are best to do so in, we found that South Korea has some of the best benefits for ESL teachers. Here are our top 5 reasons why.
South Korea is one of the only Asian countries that provides you with housing. Upon arriving here, we were immediately taken to our new apartment that was already partially furnished with a couch and bed. Some countries, like Japan, may give you a housing allowance, but you are on your own to find a place to stay. Typically, you are given single housing, which is the equivalent to a studio apartment. Couples are usually given bigger apartments, or officetels that have a loft or a separate bedroom. We actually were given single housing, but it has it's own huge balcony (which is unheard of in South Korea) and mountain views, so we are happy with the arrangement. We will be posting an apartment tour soon, so you have an even better idea of what to expect.
Free Roundtrip Airfare
Round trip airfare is included in your contract. That's right, your school will pay you back for your flight to Korea, and upon completion of your contract, most will give you a choice of a paid flight or one month's salary. Most schools will pay you back within your first month or so of work. We actually had a coworker who couldn't afford his flight here, so our school bought the ticket for him outright. Many other Asian countries such as China, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia don't offer this.
Higher Salary Jobs
South Korea has higher salary jobs! The salary range is anywhere between 2 million won to 2.8 million won ($2,000-$2,800) per month depending on experience, location, and school. This is actually comparable to the beginner teacher salaries in the states, plus free housing! We considered Japan for a while, but South Korea has a cheaper cost of living. Food, transportation, and entertainment are all very reasonably priced. Japan has a higher salary range, but with high cost of living plus housing, this doesn't really translate into much savings.
This brings us to our next point: SAVINGS! As recent college graduates, we have our fair share of student loans. We needed a job that was going to help us pay off our debts and also secure some decent savings along the way. Having a job with a good salary and paid housing helps easily do this.
Most of the contracts here offer 50% health insurance coverage and a pension program. The health care system here is really nice and is already extremely cheap, but if something major did occur, you would get 50% coverage from your employer. The pension program is also a really amazing way to save more money. Basically every month, you put in 100,000 won ($100) and your employer matches it. By the end of the year, you can go to the pension office and collect 2. 4 million won ($2,400).
If you are considering teaching ESL in Asia, then South Korea is a really good option! All you need is a bachelor's degree in any major to get started. If you are going through a recruiter, make sure they are reputable before signing any dotted lines. Head over to Dave's ESL Café for more information and job postings!