We’ve spent the last few weeks trying to transfer the bulk of our hard-earned teaching dollars safely back to the UK. After four trips to Vietcom bank, multiple phone calls to our English bank and the help of a Vietnamese colleague to translate, we heaved a huge sigh of relief when the money finally landed in our account. That is, until we saw that we’d lost £300 in the hefty exchange rate. Oh, and we still have another instalment to transfer next month but hey, we’re halfway there!
We’ve provided information in this post about how much we’ve earned and saved during nine months of teaching in Hanoi, Vietnam. So, if you’ve been wondering where to teach in Asia or how to save up some cash fairly quickly, perhaps this will help you make a decision.
Teaching in Vietnam – Earnings and Living Costs
We moved to Vietnam to earn back the money we’d spent during the first year and a half of our travels. Although we’d researched where to teach in Asia, Vietnam was a bit of a gamble as it’s not a very common teaching destination. I’d say that the gamble paid off as high wages and demand for English teachers, combined with a low cost of living, has allowed us to meet our savings target.
We are extremely lucky to earn a high wage in Hanoi; after tax, Andrew earns $23 per hour and I earn $22. Our working hours throughout the academic year have fluctuated due to schedule changes and personal preferences; at one point I was working 22 hours a week but exhausted, I’ve now dropped down to around 15. Andrew’s hours have varied from 19 per week to as much as 26. This sounds pretty measly, especially when compared to the 40 hour work-weeks I was used to in London, but it feels like we’re working much more than we are here because our hours are so spread out. Our longest day is from 8am till 8.30pm but we actually only teach for a three-hour block in the morning, two hours in the afternoon and three hours in the evening. We also have to add in time to lesson plan and gather resources on a weekly basis.
Although we live far more extravagantly here than we did in London, as our living cost breakdown shows, we spend on average just £700 to £800 a month. We have a lovely apartment, eat out regularly, get weekly massages and take trips away whenever we can. Dinner for two in one of our favourite restaurants, including drinks and dessert, comes to less than £10. Our apartment costs just £280 a month to rent and transport in the form of our motorbike rental, petrol and taxi trips cost around £60 a month. We pay approximately £30 a month for electricity, which sounds high but we’ve had to run either the heating or air conditioning on a regular basis.
How Much Money have we Saved in Vietnam?
We still have two pay checks left to collect, but we are finally able to calculate exactly how much money we will have saved after nine months of teaching and living in Vietnam. While we haven’t earned a spectacularly high amount per person (the table lists figures for two people), we have managed to save over two-thirds of our income due to the low living costs in Vietnam. We will combine this money with the savings we already have in the UK to fund our future travels.
|Month||Income in GBP||Savings in GBP|
There are a few things to note about these figures:
- The money was earned by two people over nine months from September to May, following the Vietnamese academic year.
- We are paid for teaching through a combination of US dollars and Vietnamese Dong; the Dollars went into a savings account with Vietcom bank and Dong was used for daily living costs.
- It cost us £35 in fees to transfer money back to the UK and high exchange rates mean that we ended up with slightly less in our UK savings accounts than we’d anticipated.
Find out more about teaching English abroad in these posts:
We have big plans for our savings; in just seven weeks’ time we leave Vietnam and head for a three-week holiday to Thailand before flying back to the UK for a summer break. A large chunk of our savings will go towards a highly-anticipated three-month trip to America in the autumn. After spending December back in England we will be heading to Europe – exciting times ahead!