Thursday, January 19, 2012

How to Save Money While Teaching in London, England

Yesterday I interviewed a teacher who admitted that the biggest concern she had about moving to teach in London, England was her finances.  She's not alone.  Most teachers I interview have the view that London is an extremely expensive city to live in, and want to know how Canadian teachers afford living there and making a teacher's salary.

It is true that London used to be the most expensive city in the world to live in, but as of today, it's dropped to 18th in the world.  Below Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong, Zurich... But still - we think of London as one of the most expensive.

It is also true that teachers don't get rich off teaching (sad, but true!).  Most teachers in London make at least 115 pounds/day and Classroom Canada teachers tend to start out at 120/day and then go up as they gain experience & long term positions in our schools.  Our accommodations are around 500 pounds/month (including bills) and right in the centre of London (Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road & Picadilly Circus tube stops - literally in the centre of London).  So it's affordable.  Which is a relief.

There are of course ways to save money while teaching in London.  Most of you know about Groupon and DealFind - coupon sites that allow you to save 50% or more on eating out, gym memberships, haircuts and travel.  Signing up for those sites is a great first step to saving money while teaching abroad.

Teachers can also tutor in their spare time - earning as much as 40 pounds/hour to tutor students in their homes or in the local libraries.  You can either advertise on your own on sites like Gumtree or Craigslist, or put up posters in your local library, or you can sign up with a tutoring agency that will find you the students you're looking for.  I personally made an extra 800/pounds a month tutoring on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings.  I loved it and always highly recommend it.

While traveling, most teachers choose to stay in hostels instead of hotels, as European hostels are actually quite nice, affordable and great places to meet other like minded travellers on a shoestring budget.  The great thing with hostels is you can read reviews online & find the right hostel for you. So if you like to party and actually prefer a party-hostel, then read the reviews and find the right hostel for you.  Or if you're like me and prefer a smaller hostel, with only a few beds in a room - you can find those too.

They fly discount airlines like Ryan Air and Easy Jet.  My favourite trip was to Barcelona, in which I paid ONE pence to fly from London to a town just outside Barcelona and then took a shuttle into the city.  Taxes brought my flight to 13 pounds.  Cheaper than seeing a movie!

The downside to these airlines is they charge for your luggage, water, snacks - anything they can charge you for, they do.  They're obnoxious in their sales tactics, and you might be unlucky enough to be in the same seat as someone who just vomited on their last flight - which is a traumatic experience to say the least!  But you get what you pay for - and most teachers are willing to take the one pence flights and risk the bad smells and tacky experience of flying a discount airline.  Hopefully you won't have the horror stories to share after the fact!

Teachers also save money by using skype and google phone to keep in touch with their families back home.  They buy mobile phones with amazing plans, or unlock their smart phones when they arrive in London and do pay as  you go (in which you top up your phone as you need to - it's as easy as visiting an ATM and adding money to your phone!).

They do free (or almost free) activities, like jogging with the Nike Store, or taking dance classes in Hyde Park.   They read the Time Out magazine, and sign up for their subscription in which they give your first 8 issues free (watch for that one, it's a steal as the mag sells for almost 4 pounds a week!).

Here's a little tip I've never shared before: Time Out and TNT magazine often run contests on their websites, which so few people submit to that it's ridiculously easy to win free stuff.  I won tickets to Beyonce (which I then sold for 100 pounds!), The Killers (amazing!), and a few plays in London.  I won free books and movies - my office mates always laughed as I received random packages in the mail from contests I had entered and won.  I tended to sell most of what I won because I liked cash more than the items, but hey - free stuff is awesome!  You have to enter every single contest & not care what you win, because eventually you will win something.  And that's awesome.

One last thing - museums and art galleries in London are free!  Out of all the things I love about London, I think this is #1 on my list.  Not only are the galleries absolutely incredible, but free too?  Amazing.

I know I'm forgetting so many more great tips to save money while teaching in London.  Help us out and share your tips below!

Resources for Teaching in London 
Classroom Canada
 website Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians ebook 
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January 26 2012
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1 comment:

  1. Scour your neighbourhood for the cheap eats! Even in Central London, you'll find loads of (very!) inexpensive restaurants and cafés if you look for them.


Thanks for sharing your two pence!


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