Being financially stable is a dream for expat teachers living and working abroad.
Imagine a world where you don’t have to worry about whether you have enough to pay for your bills and your personal expenses. How would you like to earn more than enough that you can save for your future?
Many work in a different country, far from family and friends, so they can earn more than enough to be debt-free. Being financial stable does not mean you are rich, it means you are confident with your financial situation enough that you can focus your time and energy on other things.
We collaborated with Sorcha, an expat teacher in the Middle East who also runs a powerful community that aims to help fellow expat teacher achieve financially rewarding lives. Sorcha has been featured in BBC, The Irish Times, and TES.
Could you introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?
My name is Sorcha Coyle. I have been an ex-pat teacher in the Middle East for the last nine years. I am Irish, and I trained initially as a Spanish teacher in the UK. However, since moving abroad, I have taught English as a Second Language to local students.
Besides teaching full time, I run a wonderful community called Empowering Expat Teachers. Our organisation aims to empower future and current ex-pat teachers to lead personally, professionally, and financially rewarding lives!
How did you initially get into teaching abroad?
Several things inspired me to teach abroad. First of all, I had come back from six months of travelling in Argentina. I had also been doing supply teaching in Ireland for half a year. Even though the school, staff and students were outstanding, the experience made me realise that I was not ready to settle down at home—I still craved the adventure that comes with living abroad and travelling frequently!
Secondly, Ireland was in the middle of an economic recession in 2011. I wanted to find a teaching job that would allow me to make significant savings. I successfully secured a position in a prestigious British school in Doha, Qatar. I ended up staying there for four extremely happy and successful years. I had to move back to the UK for a year to finish my MA in Applied Linguistics and English Language Teaching at King's College in London. After that, I flew back to Dubai to teach at another reputable British school, which is where I still am now!
What do you like best about working with children?
I really enjoy nurturing positive relationships with my students. I am a believer in implementing Carl Rogers' "unconditional positive regard" approach. The system allows students to be themselves. It also lets them make mistakes, so they could talk about it and learn from the experience.
I believe in the Irish saying, "Mol an Óige agus tiocfaidh sí," which means "praise the young and they will flourish." I also love the fact that every day is different when you work with children and young people.
And what do you personally find most challenging about teaching overseas?
Being away from my family is always somewhat challenging, but this has exacerbated since COVID-19 restricted our ability to fly home regularly. Another dilemma I have is of not knowing when it is time to go home and put down roots, because not every ex-pat wants to be living the transient lifestyle when they're in their sixties.
What do you feel is your single greatest achievement in this field?
My greatest achievement is securing my jobs in the two reputable British schools I've worked in Qatar and Dubai. My jobs allowed me the opportunity to be financially stable and save six figures from them.
Now, please tell us more about your website and how you wish to empower ex-pat teachers.
You can visit my website at www.sorchacoyle.com. I regularly publish articles that aim to help teach future and current ex-pat teachers how to lead personally, professionally, and financially rewarding lives, including:
What tips might you have for teachers or childcare staff looking to save money while they travel?
While working abroad, we are fortunate enough to be earning enough money to save each month AND take regular trips to explore the globe! You need to make a few changes to your habits to keep your travel costs low.
Here are some of my top tips:
How about any tips for career progression, in the Middle East and further afield?
All childcare and education jobs require you to be a lifelong learner and continuously strive to update your knowledge and skills by undertaking regular professional development courses. In addition to improving your craft, showing self-development is an essential part of your CV when you apply for different jobs overseas or at home in the future.
Can you make any recommendations for teachers who are looking for a change of scenery?
Do your research to make sure it is the best job, school, and package for you. Do not just accept any job you are offered- negotiate if the offer is less than what your experience and talents are worth.
What is the one piece of advice you would have given yourself before becoming an ex-pat educator, given a chance?
I would have decided on a fixed amount of time to live abroad (e.g. ten years) rather than taking it year by year. I also wish I had chosen one path to Financial Independence sooner (e.g. property or investing or entrepreneurship) and just stuck to it, instead of trying different methods! You live and learn!
Where is the best place to connect with you and find out more?