So you're exploring some options about teaching in South East Asia, and Vietnam is on your list. Let’s be real, money and saving potential definitely play a big part in the decision making process. So I’m going to share everything with regards to money and the saving potential while teaching and living in a small town in Vietnam. Pay special attention to the words, small town - far away from major hubs like Hanoi, Saigon and Danang where you can earn roughly the same as I do but the cost of living and your expenses increase. There really isn't much to it, its simple: you can earn and save a lot teaching in Vietnam. And if you need to do some serious saving, then small town Vietnam is just the place for you. The figures and savings in this post is going to be based solely off of my first hand experience. You might have different needs so that will influence your expenses.
Before I get into what I earn, I thought I’d give you some perspective. It might look like you can earn a higher salary in China or South Korea but please consider that Vietnam is one of the cheapest countries in the world. Food is so cheap it often doesn't make sense to cook for yourself because it is literally cheaper to eat out for every meal (unless you're vegetarian or vegan and need more variety in your diet). Where I live, I never spend more than US$2 on a meal and glasses of tea are provided everywhere for free so I never spend money on drinks - not being a coffee drinker has its perks! To be honest, I cook most of my own food because I have special dietary needs but everyone else gets away with eating out everyday. I buy 19 litre bottles of water for less than a dollar and my town is small enough that I only use a bicycle to get around. Rent is free as I live in an apartment connected to the school itself. So in short, I spend money on food and water (and toiletries when needed). Nothing. Else.
I’ll be honest and let you know that I tend to “splurge” on imported and expensive goods like peanut butter, strawberries and organic oatmeal but even so my groceries never amount to more than $200 a month. If you had to work out expenses based on eating out every day, for every meal, it would be closer to US$175 a month. While you let that sink in…
Some of the other teachers do have motorbikes and will need to pay for that, others go to the gym regularly and they have those expenses. But lets say your sole purpose for coming here was to save, you could get away with losing a lot of those extras like I have.
Okay, now that thats out of the way - what do I earn? I earn roughly the same as what I would in the major cities: $1,300 a month teaching 30 hours a week. You could probably get a better deal in terms of teaching less hours but keep in mind I don't have to pay rent, or buy a motorbike because the streets aren't as crazy or far away and I’m used to 40 hour teaching weeks so this is a breeze. Since I teach 6 days a week and live in the middle of no where its also really difficult for me to travel to other parts of Vietnam (or abroad) while I’m teaching, so theres literally nothing else besides food to spend my money on.
So how much can you expect to save by teaching in a small town in Vietnam? The answer is roughly $1000 a month, living extra comfortably with a motorbike, gym membership and short trips when you can whilst still eating out everyday. It still stumps me how more teachers aren't doing this!
If you are looking for a job in Vietnam and are considering living in a smaller town, my language centre is always looking for teachers year round! Get in touch and I’ll put you in contact with the director (this is not sponsored).