Trailing Spouse Solutions

Teaching teams are tops & going it alone is fine, but recruiting with a non-teaching spouse poses its own unique set of circumstances. Travel, shipping, medical insurance, housing & visa procurement issues top the list of concerns  for any school recruiter considering a teacher with a trailing spouse.

Also to be considered is what will a non-teaching spouse do with their time? Will they be content to be on the sidelines of the school environment & collegiality? Can they seek employment within their profession? What happens if they feel like the odd-person-out in a foreign land & want to return home?

The ISR Trailing Spouse Blog offers candidates with a non-teaching spouse the opportunity to dialogue with each other, provide support, & brainstorm solutions/ideas for overcoming these potential obstacles to being hired.

91 Responses to Trailing Spouse Solutions

  1. There's Always Hope...I Guess says:

    The American School of Asuncion in Paraguay hires teachers with trailing spouses!! (A friend on Facebook informed me of this as I was looking into jobs overseas with my wife). From what I gathered, some of the spouses have done substitute teaching or become aides in the elementary. This is a great deal considering many schools in South America, in my interviewing experiences, will not hire teachers with trailing spouses due to whatever reasons.

    Of course, the “top/tier 1″ schools in Latin America are more selective (because they can be) and less likely to hire teachers with trailing spouses unless there’s something really special/unique about that teacher or someone knows someone. I’ve heard that’s how it works. Who knows? But this school in Paraguay is worth investigating. Gives us teachers with trailing spouses some hope. Yeah!!! :)

  2. nans says:

    This is a very important question. Basically, to make this a career, a teacher must teach, at some point (and for many years), at a tier one school. Do these schools care about the spouse or dependents ? If they discriminate against them, then it is unlikely that any non-teacher couple could ever squirel away enough cash to retire by the mandatory 60 years of age in most countries.

  3. Blackie says:

    I have been teaching internationally for around twelve years. In that time, I have taught in three schools. I have had a trailing spouse all the way through. Indeed, I’ve just been hired by my fourth international school. There are MANY schools who look for the best teacher, it doesn’t always feel that way, but they are out there. I’ve been to quite a few Search Fairs, but to be frank, I’ve NEVER gotten a job through them. I love the info they have on their site, but going to a fair, for me, has been an exercise in lowering my self esteem to my shoe laces! However, I’ve NEVER had difficulty being hired by good schools by applying directly, funny that really.

    I teach elementary physical education and my wife is the TP, I have 2 little kids. Some schools pay my spouses way, others not. My new one will cover all of us fully (YAYYYYY!) I have to love that!

    My advice, stay positive. Don’t say ANYTHING about a TP until they ask. It’s not a bad thing, you’re not lying and you’re not hiding anything. I have a family picture on my Skype, FB and my website, so schools can see if they are keen. Stay positive, there are many great schools out there that love having families. TP’s ALWAYS can get work, either at the school as an assistant, in the office or whatever, or they can work for themselves etc etc… Many options! For me, my wife stays at home and works hard looking after our youngest and the house!

    Happy hunting!

  4. Positive realist says:

    Hello. After reading some of the posts in here, I am somewhat concerned. I am in my mid 30’s and about to embark on my certified teaching qualification in the UK in Primary, after spending a year teaching English overseas with a CELTA qualification. I intend to teach overseas as soon as I am PGCE qualified.

    I have a trailing spouse and an eight month old daughter. I like to think I am being realistic as to my employability, i.e I am right at the bottom of a hirer’s list. I am reasonably open as to my choice of country, including most Middle Eastern Countries, and the whole of Asia and South East Asia. ( excluding Thailand as that is where we lived when I taught overseas and would like to try somewhere different.)

    Does anybody have any specific suggestions as to countries I should be focussing on in particular as a Newly Qualified Teacher with a trailing spouse and baby daughter???

    Any other advice is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks

    • Kim says:

      Go to the Middle East. Doha is meant to be the new Dubai. (poor cousin to Dubai) and had my husband and son accompanying me. Good pay and trailing spouse is generally not an issue. I worked in Sharjah UAE. The lifestyle took a little bit of getting used to, but in the end I loved it there. Wish I’d had British School experience as I’m sure that would have allowed me to get into other schools. They work you hard, like you to tow the line and some schools don’t treat you too well. But if you’re lucky you’ll have a great time. Do your research on the schools though!

      • Positive realist says:

        Thanks for your reply Kim. Doha is certainly a favourite, and is high on the list.

        I have heard good things about Oman. Do you know whether they are trailing spouse friendly also?

        Thanks again

      • Shelley says:

        Not sure NQT’s can get a visa for Doha…good luck

        • Positive realist says:

          I hope that isn’t the case. I have seen a British school in doha noting on their website that they welcome applications from strong nqt’s.

          • Shelley says:

            I hope so too, we were applying earlier and my husband is a NQT and they said they couldn’t get him a visa, we have since got positions in Sudan and are now there.

            • Positive realist says:

              Strange, as I know an NQT who is working in Doha right now. Maybe this is a new rule they have brought in……..

            • SAM1CH says:

              You are able to work in Doha as an NQT as I have two in my team BUT you will not attain your QTS until you move back to your mother country or to a Western country which will endorse your NQT by you doing a further year.

      • Lynne Nigalis says:

        Hi Kim, Just a question: You were able to sponsor your husband in UAE? I was told that I would not be able to go there with my husband as he would not be employed by the school and I could not sponsor him.

    • Anonymous says:

      If you are willing to go to countries that are less attractive to most than you should be fine. Ie. stay out of Europe. Consider Iraq or other middle east countries. I am a trailing spouse, I think these moves have been harder for me than my teaching wife, this is what you need to be thinking about – what will your spouse do. You can always find work somewhere, likely not your top choice countries however.

      • Positive realist says:

        I thought I had considered most places, but I had never considered Iraq. Have you lived there? Are there parts of Iraq that are genuinely safe? Would you be able to recommend any schools? Any info much appreciated. Thanks.

        • anonymouse says:

          Not as dangerous as Afghanistan, but…Iraq? I had friend teaching in Iran and they liked it. I traveled in Iran and loved it.

        • Anonymous says:

          I have a friend who teaches in Iraq, not near as dangerous as you might think. I also had a friend who worked in Kuwait, might be another option. Member in the countries not everyone is willing to go you have more options and likely good pay. Did you consider registering with Search associates?

          • Positive realist says:

            Thanks. I have not registered with Search associates yet, but I had a quick look at the reference requirements ( I think four references are needed from memory), and I cant fulfil those requirements yet with being new to the profession. I aim to become registered by this December though. If I am wrong on this, please let me know.

            • Anonymous says:

              Search Associates have different requirements for those new to teaching. Email your Search consultant to check the details. Don’t let that stop you from registering.

  5. Shelley says:

    I have a masters degree in education with honors and over 20 years experience and 11 years of that in a leadership position.. My husband however graduated at the end of 2011 and has only one term’s experience. The issue we are finding is that he cannot get a via to work overseas as he does not have two years experience. What chances would we have if I secured a position overseas of my husband being able to get work once we got over there?
    Thanks

    • McSpirk says:

      I’m surprised no one has offered you guidance on this.

      There are several different points/questions. You and your husband can both be hired if you are flexible about geographic location. There are schools who will hire you with only a bachelor’s. Hell, I worked at a school that hired someone without a college degree at all, but that’s another story, and a sordid one at that.

      Depending on the country, he won’t need a work visa to come with you. He can come in on a dependent visa and do subbing, etc., until a full-time offer comes up, and then it’s the employer’s job to the the visa;

      Depending where in the world you are, you can’t bring in a dependent husband. The Middle East allows dependent female wives but not dependent husbands.

  6. Knowledge is power says:

    Can anyone assist, 1.For a male TS, what is Bangkok like? We have done China which was interesting but restrictive. Plus USA, UK, Europe but only ever holidayed in Thailand. As to schools and TS it would be fair to say we have been very lucky with schools.But my wife has targetted very specific schools, there is a lot of chaff out there. I too agree with an earlier comment about loss of identity, a big problem in retirement with high suicide rates 18 months into retirement, jolly thought,hey !!! Access to courses both to hit the books and the ball, is that easily available in Bangkok? They tell me Australia and NZ can be fun to work as a teacher but with the RWC soon could be dangerous for a Englishman !!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Bankok is interesting, but a bit dirty and one needs to look past the seedy. But for a non teaching spouse there are things to do that are not work related. Not working very much depends on one’s attitude. If the NTS can be content sight seeing or picking up a hobby great, taking online or in class university courses are another way to feel useful, though not contributing financially. I personally did not last long in Thailand, when I was not employed but I was young at the time. I think the problem with NZ and Aus is that they are desirable places and more desirable places are hard to get work. Big generalization but go to a more obscure the country the easier to find work, and the higher the pay, seems logical but one has to finger out what can the teaching spouse and the NTS tolerate.

  7. Ceegee says:

    What to do when you are the experienced 20 year teaching vet and your hub has been in business for over 20 years? Does his career go to pot accommodating your international teaching fix? What about obtaining work Visas? Employment possibilities? He is not a teacher. Has no desire to work at a school or teach. Is this a dead end for both teacher and spouse??

  8. Mike says:

    Traveling spouse here…

    Things I have done to keep myself busy and employed:

    1. Became a personal trainer. Got my certification from AFPA. Only need recertification every two years.

    2. Worked at my embassy. Many embassies will hire locally. Give them a try.

    3. Coached, even at the school.

    4. Teaching at the college level. There are many local universities that will hire local foreigners. Or you can teach at one of the many online universities. Yes, I know it is teaching based, but there are many international schools that hire one spouse and hope “something comes up” for the other once the contracts are signed. If your spouse is a teacher, they may look at the college leve if something does not materialize at the school you work at.

    • mike says:

      5. If your school has a US/UK based PO Box, is a traveling spouse able to use Ebay/Etsy? She/He can buy local goods one can’t get back home and sell them. Same with making stuff within local market and selling it. However, that is a big IF if the school allows its PO box to be used for such reasons.

      • anonymouse says:

        The other advantage of each spouse having a different orbit of work and personal life, is a) a much wider and interesting circle of friends and aquaintances and b) much healthier relationship to work and friends – some distance – not with co-workers constantly (work and play). often important in small posts with small expat communties that know your business.

  9. Duras says:

    I’m curious to know what positions everyone is applying for. As an elementary teacher with a trailing spouse, I think the chances are slim to none.

    I think most of the people with trailing spouses who are getting jobs are in specialized/desired positions. I would think that makes a huge difference. Elementary positions are so easy to fill, so I probably wouldn’t stand a chance.

    What does anyone think about this? Am I right or wrong?

    • Anonymous says:

      I am a counselor with a trailing spouse. I pay 100% of her expenses…travel etc. So there is zero expense to the school. Since I am in a great location I don’t plan to change schools and take the chance of not getting a job.
      If I were interviewing for a job, I would not state that I had a trailing spouse until the last interview. Then I would let them know that I would cover her expenses.

    • Anonymous says:

      At the last job fair I attended I was offered elementary positions in 4 different schools. I was surprised I didn’t have more difficulty because of my non teaching husband. The school has been incredibly supportive of both of us (my husband sells his jewelry at school and local craft fairs and now works part time in the library). A lot of schools are looking for quality educators with advanced degrees.

  10. globetrotter1 says:

    I have a trailing spouse husband and he has been with me for 3 international contracts – the first we had to pay flights but nothing else, the second he was covered for everything and got flights home annually and with both jobs there was no issue of having a trailing spouse. The third job had advertised as not hiring with trailing spouses but a look at their school profile with another recruiter was different and they advertised as accepting trailing spouses but they don’t pay anything for my husband. After talking to someone at the school they told me that other couples with trailing spouses had been hired previously so it was obviously not a problem for the school. They were concerned that my husband might not adapt but once I assured them that he can work anywhere in the world they dropped their concerns. So it seems that some schools have flexibility and that if you see advertisements with trailing spouses “do not hire” this may not be the reality. You just need to stay positive.

    • Anonymous says:

      Other than teaching english as a second language or working online what are other displaced spouses doing for work in foreign countries?

      • anonymouse says:

        World Bank, ADB, UN (like 800 sub agencies: Unicef, UNDP, etc), International NGOs (Care, Save the Children, MSF, Winrock), Ministry of Health, WWF. I have a friend that plans to work for the Veteran’s administration remotely; another is a graphic artist, accounting positions, etc. etc.

        You neglect to imagine that the trailing spouse actually has a better career opportunity, but is taking a back seat because its the other person’s “turn” to make the choice on the next move.

  11. hereandthere says:

    Have you ever seen a spreadsheet that lays out the hard data of the monetary commitment between hiring a teaching couple with no kids, compared with a teaching couple with kids, compared to a teacher with spouse and then for good measure by all means throw in the kids? In what universe would you want a school with any sense in this economy to not take all those factors into consideration?

    • I don’t look at spreadsheets or hard data re: teacher costs. I teach. Thanks though.

      Important to note, my past int’l school paid zero toward my spouses expenses and I have no children. So, their her cost to the school is nil. In the future, I’ll lie and then pull the old bait and switch, they’ll be none the wiser.

    • Anonymous says:

      Out of curiosity, can one find these figures online?

  12. http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/qanda.html

    Also, since I feel discriminated, and have evidence of said discrimination, I decided to investigate my options. People have been very sympathetic. Yes, they are Int’l schools and hence not subject to our Federal Laws, but the recruiting agencies are. They foster this environment, apologize for it, cover it up, etc… Funny how cavalier the recruiters are about it. They should hide it a bit better and in the future, I bet they do.
    If you feel like we do, I’d visit this EEOC link and make a few phone calls.
    http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/qanda.html

  13. My “trailing spouse” and I just returned from the AASSA fair in Atlanta. From 80-ish to 240-ish candidates in only 3 years! Speaks volumes about the US economy and education problems, IMO. In this “fish in a barrel” employment market, I’d say if you are in our boat, you’re doomed. Of course there are exceptions, but few. I was stunned by the number of unemployed teachers and “trailing spouse” couples at the fair, some even brought their kids. It was very, very sad. My “trailing spouse” and I decided to maximize our savings potential (US unemployment pays more than many Latin American schools annually!)in the US rather than take repeated rejections based SOLELY (direct from the source)on my marital status, so sorry UNI. Also, many of these school’s data sheets are not to be believed, re: “trailing spouses”, they cast a WIDE net. Just my opinion.

    Are you a good teacher with a solid marriage? Stay at home, we need you, especially now.

    PS… My “trailing spouse” and I got lucky at our first fair. Ironically, when I had zero years int’l experience and only 1.5 years of full-time teaching experience. We spent four years in one of the biggest cities in the world with no problems. The economy was MUCH different then, I doubt I’d be hired today.

  14. hereandthere says:

    There are some excellent resources dealing with this very subject. One specifically focuses on creating “portable skills” addressing the loss of identity that can happen when becoming a part of community that does not necessarily place value in who the trailing spouse might have been in another time or place. It is one thing to talk about the ‘exciting opportunities’ and new adventures that a spouse might discover but it depends on so many factors. -Is there a vibrant community outside of the school? –Is the country so fascinating that there are plenty of cultural experiences to be had? –Personally, is it palatable for the ‘trailing spouse’ to take a back seat to their partner. I have seen it be the demise of the strongest of relationships. –are there young children who take up much of the time and energy that might otherwise be spent on dwelling on a loss of self.–Did the spouse sacrifice much to make the adventure happen for their significant other.–Is language a barrier? –Is the school culture opposed to spouses working together or was it a choice?–are there tax issues that make it not worth the teacher with the lesser degree working?

    There are infinite scenarios. I think that having a trailing spouse/dependent makes it all the more important to ensure there is a strong bedrock before the stress and challenges set in. Marriages and relationships can suffer.

    It can be equally difficult working side by side with your partner, wiping the brow and returning to the fray on equal terms. Who settles the household in? Who deals with the workmen or the internet installation? Neither is better, it just presents a different set of challenges that new overseas hires should be made aware of, and granted the resources to lessen the stress and anxiety–the loneliness and seclusion that can happen–and replace it with understanding and compassion. The school year starts, teachers are off and running. Everything is new, learning curves are high, and sometimes the trailing spouse’s adjustment gets completely overlooked. Some can cope and others struggle. At the end of the day, it is not always a healthy situation to leap before understanding the possible challenges and is aware of skills for coping. Transition is always tough. I guarantee that transitioning without a solid identity is even tougher.

  15. Dr Doctor, PhD says:

    Good for you! I think the original intent of this blog post was to hear from trailing spouse types and what they did to deal with it. Anybody?

  16. mdcarver says:

    I think everyone forgets that this is a business. Any business in any industry has to do proper research to be successful. This industry is no different. You go to the job fairs so you can gage the job opportunities available and see if one fits your situation. The schools do the same. It does not matter if you are single or have a trailing spouse. If the match is there the two parties will find a way to accommodate each others needs. You can also reduce the risk of a mistake but doing proper networking with other teachers at the fair. I have a trailing spouse and a school aged child. The school I am at now talked openly about this in the interviews and they went the extra mile to find employment for my spouse in the school in a non teaching position. I now find myself in a very happy accommodating position for myself and my family. We are living the dream!!

    • wondering says:

      What area of the world are you now teaching in? It sounds lovely!!

    • Mark says:

      I think you are right on point. My wife is the teacher and I’m the trailing spouse, we have a 2nd grader and I’m heading to the San Francisco job fair this weekend with my wife. We are looking at the Far East, India, or Indonesia. What school are you currently at? I have a 16 year career ill be leaving and am totally cool with that and will be happy doing anything. I love to travel and am excited about the adventure. Being a stay at home Dad would be cool and exploring a new city would keep me entertained for months. Did your wife go to the interviews with you. I’m going to be on standby if needed but should I just plan on going to all of them with her?

      • Anonymous says:

        How was the San. Francisco job fair?
        I have a trailing spouse and 2 kids. Lots of doubts that we’ll get a job (other than the middle east, which we’re not really interested in) but willing to give it a shot.

      • anonymouse says:

        Good for you!! :)
        Our experience is that my husband is frequently told point blank or subtley that he is not a viable candidate (math/sci) with a trailing spouse and child.

        I always get frustrated in the cases where the trailing spouse (me)is likely to be quickly employed (INGO world, consulting), and not a drain on the school – because as soon as employed, the visa costs coverage, home leave, and additional benefits will kick in. A lot of schools actually have clauses stating, in effect, that if the spouse of the teacher works for an organization that covers tuition costs, etc., then they must do so, and the school will no longer support the child’s tuition (or even half of it).

        Now, tho, I am the alpha career, and so the schools get a great deal when they get my spouse for salary only!

    • Anonymous says:

      Wow, fantastic. “and they went the extra mile to find employment for my spouse in the school in a non teaching position.” For the school to find your non teaching spouse employment is fantastic and almost unheard of. My wife has been teaching internationally (IB) for more than 10 years (Asia, Europe, NA) and has not heard of this nor have I. I am currently researching this option for our next move. Out of curiosity what school?

    • Lookingforoppt says:

      What area of the world are you in? Please share!

  17. Pat says:

    I am single, and on the international job market for the first time. I am in a relationship with someone who is a citizen of a different country. We have had a long-term mostly long-distance relationship, but we’re thinking of eventually marrying. My partner would be using the time abroad to pursue an online degree and is very good at keeping occupied.
    Two questions: Does anyone have experience with starting as a single and marrying mid-contract? The timing is uncertain enough that I hesitate to bring it up with schools during the interview.
    Also, anyone have a spouse who isn’t from the same country they are? Does this complicate the visa situation?
    Thanks for your help.

    • RCA says:

      I signed on with a good school and inbetween the job fair in Feb. and moving here I got engaged before arriving and subsequently married mid-way through my first year. There were no problems for her in terms of visas, but the laws of my current country weren’t as unfavourable to her passport as they are to others or as some other countries may be. That is really a country to country issue and should be dealt with as such; for example if you marry a Columbian and move to Peru she will have an easier time getting a visa than an American would. However, if you move to the MidEast, it is a different story.

      As far as the school is concerned, I signed on a single and there was no change in contract when we married and when I renewed for a third year. Their argument being that the contart I signed was the contract they were renewing. They covered her health insurance and that is it. No bump in the housing allowance, no home leave. Basically I have the contract of a single buut I have a dependant. This is the case for another teacher who just started this year. I think that , generally speaking, most schools adopt the same policy in that ‘you got married? Good for you. You don’t get any changes in your contract’. Which, I fell is fair enough.

      That having been said..I will stay for a fourth year and maybe a fifth. My wife found work in the city and we are comfortable enough in our small apartment. The home leave would have been a nice sign of good faith, but times are tight and I see why they wouldn’t want to set that precedent. We are fine living off the single contract, thanks to her job.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes I started single and married after I arrived at my school. My wife is not a US citizen. I have paid all of her expenses. She lives with me on campus. My school director and school staff were great in helping to get her visa. But again, I gladly paid all of her expenses. She does get bored but she will only be here about 5 months out of the year. The rest of the time she will be in her home country. So she is really a non-entity to the school. We keep our lives private and on the down low. Though she does go on school trips to help with the students. Other than that she is out of sight. She did make a couple of friends with girls from her country so she visits with them 2 or 3 times a week. plus I take her out several times a week as well. I am just really thankful for my director who has been really great.

    • Carol says:

      Hi Pat,

      My husband is a trailing spouse and he is from Trinidad and Tobago. I find that it is an additional issue when it comes to finding the job but it is our situation so we just keep searching until we find the place where we can and will fit. Right now we are in Egypt…it is December and I am still waiting for my HR department to get his passport visa where I have had my work permit/visa for about 3 weeks. They are doing some kind of inverstigation which is strange since we were here all last year and did not experience this delay. Fortunately, we are traveling within Egypt and not going abroad so it has not hampered our movement. we were going to go to Ethiopia but changed our plans early in the school year when it became apparent that neither of us would have the passport in time to make the plans. He has to go to the embassy of the countries we go to where, as a U.S. citizen, I can usually just buy mine at the airport when I land in a country.
      Bottom line is YES, there is a bit more of a complicated situation when your spouse is from a different country but it should not deter you from making the commitment if you want to be married. Just expect that things may be harder to accomplish and then you will accept whatever happens.

      • Pat says:

        RCA, Carol and Anon,
        Thanks for your replies. I don’t know anyone on the international teaching circuit, so your messages meant more than you might suspect. I think it’s time to be brave and jump into the market and the marriage.
        Pat

      • Caribn chica says:

        Hi Carol,

        I understand your plight being a trini myself :-) I too work in Egypt, but my husband is Egyptian.

        This is my final year in Egypt and whereas being trini means you have to get a visa for a lot of the North American and EU countries, it’s fine for me as long as i provide proof of my employment and salary (thank God for savings in the middle east).

        I have been accepted at 3 schools so far, but of course the issue now is my trailing Egyptian spouse. Iv’e found out however that places like Saudi are quite welcoming to people with families, and KAUST has accepted me for the upcoming year. Europe however is another story.

        You spoke about your husband having a hard time with the visa in Egypt, you know he does not need one for Egypt just like you, if he needs to get the resident permit is another story. Other than that he could just hop on down to Mogama and renew his ‘tourist visa every 6 months.

        I have residency because of my husband, school didn’t do squat.

        you can email me if you like :melcassar@gmail.com

        Oh i live in Maadi by the way.

    • Anonymous says:

      My wife and i got married mid her contract. We were broken up when she took the job and eventually got back together and married. It worked out fine. We have passports from different co’s and this did not cause any diff. either. I am the non teaching partner and husband and yes it can be tough. I pursued a MBA online in our last posting. To do something (work) online the non teaching spouse has to have significant experience and TESL jobs are hard to get. For me in Japan anyway. My wife did comment in the last fair she went to it was harder to get interviews having a non teaching spouse. It does depend very much on where you are in your career and what the school is looking for. I suspect low time class room teachers would have difficulty.

    • Pat says:

      As the Pat who started this sub-thread, I’m happy to say that I did get married, started a job in Asia, and after a couple of visa-hiccups for my spouse, we’re now living in a great place. The school paid for the flight, we have more spacious housing, and both have insurance. Like many couples posting here, we’re having to adjust to having a single income earner, but it seems like it’s going to work out. I was offered three jobs, and went with the school which seemed the most “trailing spouse friendly”. Good luck to everyone in the same boat.

    • Globetrotter says:

      I know of one teacher in my school who married mid-contract and they had big problems with their landlord because she couldn’t have more than 1 person living in the apartment according to her lease but the school was supportive of her.

  18. Trav45 says:

    Just to discuss the other side of this issue…

    While I don’t agree with the standard practice, as the comments here show that non-teaching partners can successfully adapt, I do understand a directors dilemma. 1) a non teaching spouse costs money and doesn’t provide anything directly for the school, 2) I have seen too many cases where the NTS was seriously unhappy because of so much time, w/o the work day to adjust , make friends, etc. In at least two cases, their unhappiness caused serious distress for the teacher and led to breaking of contracts. So, all else being equal, it’s easy to see why directors with a choice avoid that potential hassle.

  19. Sharon says:

    I am currently at my first overseas teaching position and have a trailing spouse and a daughter. My husband is retired so we get some extra income from his pension and he was able to find part-time work here. When I interviewed some countries would not even look at me. When I asked the directors for the reason I was told that there would be problems with getting them visas and they would not be able to work. Other schools just don’t have it in their budgets. My current school pays for one dependent including airfare, housing, and medical.

  20. Jeff says:

    I have a non-teaching spouse and a child. I’m in my second overseas position now and personally have not had a hard time finding jobs. The issue is important for schools though and I believe should be discussed in an interview. A school needs to know how the spouse feels about going abroad, financial concerns are relevant also, and what they intend to do with their time. Packages for dependents vary, but it seems most top notch schools offer at least flights and insurance for the hire plus 1.

    The location is very important to the happiness of a non-teaching spouse. I was in a small city in Turkey in my first job and my wife and daughter were generally miserable. They felt isolated and bored to death. It was a very difficult time for our family but we made it through. Something that kept us going was travel. We realized that having a car is absolutely a must! Without the ability to get out of a place and move about freely our family gets stir crazy. Anyway, just looked back at the blog so let me get a little more on topic.

    When I went to the job fair my wife came with me and sat in on most of the interviews. I think this is was helpful because the directors had a chance to meet her and ask questions face to face. It also really shows that the spouse is happy with the decision to go abroad.

    Also, just because a school might advertise as not hiring, or prefer not to hire those with non-teaching spouses doesn’t mean they won’t hire you. Most directors are reasonable people who won’t pass on someone because of this issue alone. As for those who do, you probably wouldn’t want to work for someone so closed-minded anyway.

    My family and I are in Dubai now and i can attest to the fact that this is a great place for families to be. My wife can find work in her field (and while she searches she is doing substitute work at the school). There are endless opportunities for recreation, ranging from free to outlandishly expensive (Dubai is not nearly as expensive as so many people make it out to be, though). My daughter attends school (free because of my employment) and has friends from all over the world in her kindergarten class.

    • wondering says:

      This sounds great, I just posted above about where I should start my search. Which school in Dubai do you work at?

      thank you

      • Jeff says:

        I work at Dubai American Academy. It’s a great school. The only issue you might run into is that (as I read above) you have 2 children. Are either of them school age? They actually have a preschool here for 3 year old, KG1 for 4’s and regular KG2 (kindergarden) for 5 year olds, but the school will only pay the tuition for 1 child per teacher. There may be other schools in Dubai that pay for more children, but I’m not sure.

        I have heard that many schools in Saudi Arabia are welcoming to families. The Middle East in general I think is the region most likely to bring on teachers with families.

        Good Luck!

        • Randall says:

          Thank you Jeff for this information. Having talked around, the Middle East keeps popping up as a very likely spot for my situation. Question: Is there a problem with Dual Citizenship, or the spouse having another Citizenship?

          • Jeff says:

            There’s certainly no problem with dual citizenship here in the UAE. Many families here hold 2 or 3 different countries passports. And there are teachers here with spouses from different countries than their own. Just depends on what country I suppose.

  21. Brian says:

    I am currently teaching in Egypt and the school we are at has a strong need for English speaking substitutes. My wife and three or for non-certified spouses are full time substitutes. Not only does it give them something to do, but they’re paid a housing allowance, insurance and a salary.

  22. Russ says:

    I’ve been to one job conference so far and beginning my second international job search so far. I’ve found that if you teach in a need area or are in administration having a dependent spouse is not a problem.

    The school where I work, International School of Belgrade, is quite accommodating to non-teaching spouses, providing health insurance, annual flights home, increased shipping allowance, etc. It really depends on the school.

    I think a lot of times a school doesn’t want to hire a teacher with a dependent spouse, because they know the cost of living. Schools do not want finances to be a burden on the teacher and to affect the level of teaching in the classroom.

    Some schools recognize the additional avenues of employment in their country and accept non-teaching spouses, because they’re sure that the spouse can find something to do.

    By and large at my first recruiting fair in San Francisco in 2009, I found the Central and South American schools wouldn’t even consider me with a non-teaching spouse, while schools closer to Europe were more open to the possibility. The Asian schools assured me that there was plenty of ESL work for my wife, but they also added that she wouldn’t need to work unless she wanted to.

    In the end, you might find that just because you can be somewhere your spouse doesn’t have to work doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the best place for the both of you. Working and being busy can help with the stress of moving and culture shock. I think my wife would be much happier with something close to a full time job, which is why we are leaving our current post.

    • Eva says:

      I am sorry , Russ, I disagree about your point regarding South America. I work in South America. It is my first international job and I work in Early Years. My husband is an engineer and has worked in quite a specialised field, with limited work here. However, the school took me on without question. It does not seem to be a problem for any of us. My husband found some engineering work and also works in a bicycle shop (cycling is an interest of ours). He is also studying for a masters. I am glad that I could give him this opportunity.
      I must say though, that although helpful with advice, the school pays nothing towards med insurance, flight etc for him. We organised this ourselves. We always have money left at the end of the month, which is more than I can say for our time in the UK

      • Anonymous says:

        Can you tell me where you are in South America?

      • Anonymous says:

        I am looking for a teaching position in South America and have a trailing spouse who is self-employed and 2 dependents. Could you tell me what school you are at? I am a little discouraged about going to the AASSA fair next week because of the trailing spouse issue. I have international teaching experience, but when I was single, and teach math. Thanks!

    • gecko lover says:

      This is my second overseas teaching jobs, and in neither of them has my trailing spouse been an issue. We are in Central America now, and loving it!!

      • Lookingforoppt says:

        Please tell me where in Central America. Are you still able to save? Are your spouses benefits covered?

        Thank you for the info!

    • anonymouse says:

      I think its telling that the one school didn’t want to press the wife to work, while in another school, above, they were worried that the husband would get bored. Institutionalized gender bias….

    • anonymouse says:

      I disagree that the school doesn’t want a trailing spouse b/c they are worried the person will get bored or that it will be a drain on finances. More like a drain on the school’s finances – let’s be realistic. Home leave, housing, insurance, all suffer increased cost.

  23. John says:

    Forgot to mention anything regarding how we deal with everything:

    My wife is (fortunately) a very easy going person; she does not like to feel that she’s not helping out economically, but she always finds something to do (either studying or gets simple jobs to keep her busy). Some schools don’t help at all, but many of them do have packages which include some portion of the air tickets for dependents, medical insurance, etc. In our case, my wife gets half what I get of travel allowance, but she does get something, and school pays for our medical insurance…

    • wondering says:

      Hi,

      I am a teacher with a non teaching spouse and 2 young children. My husband would be happy to stay at home with both kids until they are in school. I do have International experience teaching at ASFM in Monterrey Mexico but that was when we I was single – although I did get married to my husband while there. I am thinking of looking at schools in the Middle East and Asia.

      Does anyone have any recommendations on what schools teachers are working at with dependents??

      thank you for your time

    • Sumner says:

      What program did you all sign with. It seems that your family is at least considered in this program. Most program we have found only cater to the teacher.

  24. Humph says:

    It’s appalling that employers have such an attitude. I came to my job with a spouse and 2 kids, and it has worked out wonderfully. If my spouse hadn’t managed to work, there’s voluntary charity work or helping out at school – surely no head teacher would turn down free labour!

    The upside of schools, such as the one Anne described at the job fair, is that if they are wnkrs in this respect, they’re probably not the sort of employers you’d want to work for. In a way, they weed themselves out, so you don’t have to! Best avoided I’d say.

  25. John says:

    I am very happily married, and my wife is not a teacher; we are currently working in my first international job, and although it was quite obvious some schools did not consider me because of having a non teaching spouse, the fact is that several schools were Ok with it… As many other things, it kind of depends on the particular school you’re talking about… If you have been married for some time, and you have already had international experience (while being married) it’s more likely for schools to be Ok with it as you’ve done it before.

    And I don’t think anyone can just generalize about whether single teachers are better/worse or more responsible than married couples; there’s some great single teachers and there are some great married teachers…

  26. patns says:

    I gave up applying for jobs because of this situation. My husband had already retired so his not working was not an issue. I have some in demand qualifications but the issue of the spouse not teaching came up all the time at interviews.

    I took a job in another province in Canada at a much higher pay than I had been getting. I am retiring next year but have put in 10 years since applying internationally and both hubby and I have been totally healthy all that time. I will retire at 60 and he is 5 years older.

    I wonder if it would have been different for a younger couple with children and the wife was the non-teaching partner? This is likely not an unusual situation. Actually that is why I was working longer than hubby, I had stayed home when the kids were small.

    I think we are likely to be the same teacher we would be regardless of our “partner” situation.

  27. anne says:

    I went to the job fair last year and although I was over qualified for most of the jobs I applied for I was turned down to even interview because I have a non teaching spouse and a child. One school even said to me “let’s stop the interview right now, even though you are the most qualified person for the job.” My husband who came to the fair with me felt terrible and penalized because he isn’t a teacher. His job could be done from anywhere in the world. It was very disconcerting but in the end we did find a place for us and are very happy.

    • Michelle S says:

      Anne, Where did you find a nice fit? My husband is a carpenter and I am worried about the same thing happening to us. Thanks.

    • Lookingforoppt says:

      Please suggest places that are “trailing spouse” friendly. I have 10 years of experience and I am trying to break into the international circuit. Thanks

      • Anonymous says:

        I have a trailing spouse and two children, and have never found it to be an issue until now. The school I am at is making cuts and we are first out of the door. Luckily, I have found an excellent job in the Middle East. They did not even question having a trailing spouse, and were more worried about him getting bored!

      • Anonymous says:

        I’m working in Vietnam with a trailing spouse and have had no troubles. We live very comfortably and travel all over SE Asia easily within our means. The school I work at provides me with NO benefits for him, however I do know that there are other schools here that will provide insurance and plane tickets for dependents, including trailing spouses.

  28. Mark says:

    I am a single teacher who is just as committed as the married couples that I work with. Not every single teacher feels the need to go out every night or needs to have someone at home to feel secure. Let’s keep this focused on solutions.

    I currently work with a married couple and they would like to continue working internationally. However, the wife would like to stop teaching, their concern is how do they present themselves to prospective employers. They are afraid that they will not be considered for jobs if one spouse is not teaching.

    My suggestion was to just be honest. Only one of them has a degree and the other has lucked out, if you can call it that, by being able to teach at a school that doesn’t ask for certified, degreed teachers. Are schools really less likely to hire someone with a “trailing” spouse? Can anyone speak to this without bashing single people?

    • Carol says:

      Mark,

      First of al I was not bashing, as you put it, single people. Merely saying that if one wants company you have to go out to find it is all. I did not say that you were out partying until all hours or anything, perhaps you are a bit too sensitive on the topic.

      Anyway,I am only speaking from MY experience as a working teacher with a trailing spouse. My experience will not be the same as anyone else. All I know is what a director told me about the reservations that they have in hiring teachers with the trailing spouse.

      I spent 23 years in corporate America before teaching overseas and the reasons seemed to be valid in making decisions based on paperwork. Once you have established yourself as a couple who deals with this situation without causing issues at the school, then you are probably OK in the world of “traveling trailing spouses.”

      I know that I will find the job that I am meant to have so I approach the search open and honest without worry.

    • Hope says:

      I attended the AASSA job fair in 2010. I speak Spanish and have taught ESL for sixteen years. My B.A. and M.A. are both Ivy League, and I have 74 credits beyond the M.A. I have several licenses and have presented in city, state and national conferences. My husband is an Argentine citizen and is self-employed and multi-talented, but we don’t need his income. Only after joining the organization and paying to attend the job fair did I get access to the profiles of the attending schools. Many said they prefer not to hire a teacher with a trailing spouse. But at the fair, when I got to the head of their lines, they informed me that they would not consider a teacher with a trailing spouse. I didn’t apply to schools in Colombia or Brazil, so I’m not sure what their policies are. When I got home I saw a job in India advertised on JoyJobs, sent my resume and cover letter, got a response in under twenty four hours, and was hired after an interview via Skype. There are at least three other teachers with trailing spouses here. My conclusion is that schools have rules and apply them rigidly. As long as there is another candidate for whom they don’t have to bend their rules, we are out of luck. Some countries also have rigid mandatory ages for retirement, so if you are over fifty, they can’t hire you. The age and applicability of such a law varies per country.

      • rimbaud001 says:

        You can find a job in any country with a trailing spouse, the trick is working at a good school. Did you check your new schools rep?

        • Anonymous says:

          Agreed! There are good and bad school everywhere, international or local. Internationally speaking it helps if you know someone already working there to figure it out. The same as anywhere networking is so important. We have found if you are a good teacher with good experience things always work out. I am the trailing spouse – for me getting things to work out is entirely different and much harder.

  29. Carol says:

    At first I was surprised that this was even an issue. Then I understood that it could be a problem and when one hires and all of the candidates are just a person on paper, it is just another way to trim down the choices. I find that we folks with traveling spouses are more committed, and are more responsible than the single teachers are generally. We do not need to go out every night because we have company at home, for instance.

    The hardest part for us at the beginning was figuring out the new managerial layout of our marriage. It was hard for my husband to not be contributing to the household income but once we figured it all out, gave ourselves a weekly allowance and got all the financial stuff in order we were fine. I have worried about him being bored but what is the difference of a spouse who stays at home back in the US? Nothing! He keeps himself busy with working out, exploring, reading, watching TV and lots of other things. I am super busy as I have a second job online so we are definitely OK when it comes to the money thing.

    I did not miss one day of work last year so I am as or more committed than most of my colleagues and if someone passes me up because I am lucky enough to have the love of my life willing to “trail” after me, then that is their loss. I know I will find a great job whenever I search for one.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have a non-teaching spouse. I pay for all of her expenses. Plane ticket, visa’s etc…I haven’t had to look for a job since I got married, but I would hope that the fact that I would pay for all of her expenses would help in the hiring process.

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