The international teaching field is saturated with the same destinations… Surely you know what I mean? With every second person and their dog moving to Dubai, Shanghai and Bangkok, it can be hard to imagine that there are international teaching jobs available in other places. I recently moved from Doha, Qatar to Belgrade, Serbia. If that sounds like a weird move to you, read on to find out why you should choose a lesser known destination for your next teaching assignment…

Better financial packages

Schools based in less popular destinations know that they need to entice teachers to move there so what they offer usually goes above and beyond what schools in popular places are offering. It’s a simple case of supply and demand: if schools know there are an abundance of applicants because everyone wants to move there, they don’t need to provide as many incentives. When schools know they need to sell candidates on making the move, they will offer more. And I don’t just mean more money; I’m talking retirement contributions, shipping costs, dependent benefits, comprehensive worldwide insurance, free lunches and so on.

Lower cost of living

Although this might not apply for every single less ‘popular’ destination, often the cost of living can be a lot lower than a popular place. Tourism – and by extension, gentrification – raises the prices and cost of living in a short amount of time. If you’re moving somewhere where fewer people want to relocate to, you’re usually going to find a reasonable cost of living. Couple that with a great financial package and it’s a winning recipe for international teachers.

Expat panda international teaching

Increase your chances of finding a job

I am sure there are thousands of applicants for every teaching position in Abu Dhabi and Ho Chi Minh City. But in a lesser known place, there will be fewer teachers competing for jobs. What this means is that you might have an easier time finding a position you love. For those interested in growing professionally, this can also lead to greater opportunities for professional development and leadership roles. I know someone who moved to Bahrain as an English teacher and 15 years later is now the school director! All because he took a chance on a small island that few people have ever heard of. 

Sense of community

Although places like Abu Dhabi and Seoul have large expatriate groups – which means you can find a tribe of people in a similar situation to you – this might hold you back from meeting local people. In my experience, when foreigners are in the minority – in a place where few foreigners want to live – locals appreciate your presence and include you in their community. As we all know, having a local support network in a place where you’re experiencing culture shock and language barriers is invaluable. 

Expat Panda

Unique living experience 

It seems to be a trend now that people are chasing after ‘hidden gems’ and ‘off the beaten path’ experiences. Well even if you haven’t jumped on that bandwagon, moving to a lesser known country will provide a very unique experience that many expatriates may not have the opportunity to encounter. You will be surprised at how much you will learn about a culture you may have known nothing about before moving to because it’s easier to immerse yourself in a place where you’re in the minority. Though… you may encounter some confusion when you tell people where you live and they have no idea where that place is (or, in my case, keep confusing Serbia with Siberia!). 

Less popular destinations make for excellent teaching abroad destinations, with so much to offer teachers who are willing to take a chance. You’ll have the opportunity to discover new places, cultures, and experiences that most people miss out on. Remember that while you may be location driven (choosing your job based on where it is), a miserable work environment will wear you down no matter how good your personal life – or a country – might be. My experience teaching in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Doha taught me that! Embrace the unknown and who knows how you will grow when you take a chance. 

If this post resonates with you, here are some unusual teaching destinations with Teacher Horizons partner schools: Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uzbekistan and many more

You can connect with our guest blog author, Aneesa, on her website Expat Panda and Instagram

photo of author
Aneesa (Expat Panda) is a traveller by passion, a writer by choice and a teacher by vocation. With a Master’s in Educational Psychology, Aneesa works full time as an expatriate teacher at international schools, teaching high school Psychology, and has taught in seven different countries. In between her career in education, Aneesa’s website showcases her travels across the globe, sharing resources to encourage women with ‘weak’ passports to travel and/or teach abroad. Through her career in education and a passion for travel, Aneesa seeks to understand various cultures and history, while encouraging diversity through her writing, teaching and speaking engagements. Her current PhD research is focused on international teacher experiences, particularly in the Global South, from a social justice vantage point, utilising a cultural lens, and through comparative analysis, from a national and global perspective.
Explore. Connect. Share.
We're the world's leading community of international teachers. More than just a job search, Teacher Horizons is your online home, wherever your journey takes you.