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The Three Highest Paying TEFL Destinations: Part One

Part One: Saudi Arabia

We all know that heading overseas to teach English as foreign language is all about travelling the world, having amazing experiences, meeting new people and generally having a full-on, life-changing, globe-trotting, eye-opening experience. But it does help to have a few dollars, dirham or dong in your back pocket doesn’t it?

So here’s our guide to the top three highest paying TEFL destinations on the planet. Places where you should be able to make enough cash to live well and have a good travel around without emptying your bank account every month.

Teaching English in Saudi Arabia

A pretty strict interpretation of Islam is fundamental to all aspects of life in Saudi, but in recent years the sheer number of foreign workers has brought about better inter-cultural understanding and a slightly more relaxed attitude to Western modes of behaviour, especially in libertine Jeddah.

Get away from the big cities and you’ll discover that Saudi is a surprisingly beautiful country – there are vast dune-filled deserts out in the Empty Quarter, spectacular coral reefs lining the Red Sea coast and the slopes of the Mountains of Asir are lined with beautiful juniper forests. If you decide to teach English in Saudi Arabia, do it with an open mind and you will be constantly and happily surprised.

Overview: Teaching English in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s top TEFL destinations. Expatriate packages are attractive and often include free airfares and accommodation as well as generous holidays and tax incentives. 

TEFL Jobs in Saudi Arabia

In the past Saudi was one of the hardest places to get work unless you had completed an MA course in TEFL and a good few year’s experience. Those strict criteria have eased off a little recently and people have been known to find work teaching English in Saudi Arabia without a university degree.  But competition is still fierce and expectations still high, so in order to land the best jobs you’ll need a little experience, a university degree and a recognized TEFL certificate.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Saudi Arabia is roughly the same as you’d expect in places like Western Europe or the USA. However, unlike back home you’re probably not going to be paying any rent or utility bills and a tank of petrol (gasoline) is a fraction of the price you’d pay back home at a Texaco garage. To give you a better idea of what you can expect, a nice meal out costs around $25, a bottle of Coke around 45c and a loaf of bread around $1.


You won’t have to pay any taxes on anything you earn as an employee. If you set up on our own as a private tutor you’ll have to pay around 20% tax.

Potential to Save Some Riyals

You can expect to earn around SR8,000 ($2,100) to SR12,000 (US$3,200) a month if you have a comprehensive TEFL qualification and a couple of years’ experience. If you have an MA in TEFL, you will obviously earn much more.

Those wages are obviously tax free and include lots of extras such as free accommodation, utility bills, transportation, flights home and bonuses. So you’ll be earning lots of cash and not paying much out. All of which means you should be able to save a pretty hefty chunk of your monthly wages.

Make sure to check out parts two and three too!

TEFL destinations

Photo one by images of money and  photo two by Ali Mansuri

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  • Paul Andrew Dixon

    this was a very nice read – i just hope that part 2 or 3 do not mention japan!!!

    Pay in japan was once very high, cost of living cheaper than the uk and the exchange rate very good for british people to send savings home.

    unfortunately this has changed – the average salary for new starters has decrease – the first year can be ok but if you stay longer than a year you must pay city tax and pension, which along with national insurance, gradually increase each year…average second year monthly out going it 17,000 on health insurance, 24000 on city tax, 15000 on pension…plus about 2% tax on all earnings…average rent is about 60,000 and sometimes higher (bear in mind when you first move in you pay the equiv of 3 months rent)… and the average new coming now will earn about 230,000