Summer Vacation Dilemmas for International Educators

Luggage4591033-smallWhen summer rolls around, all of us living and teaching around the world face the same dilemma; do I travel for June, July and August, return to my home country, stay put, or embrace a combination of all three options? On the surface, this decision sounds like a problem half the world would love to face, but in reality the summer months can be stressful on both the psyche and budget of international educators. Read complete article

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14 Responses to Summer Vacation Dilemmas for International Educators

  1. Sheri Hinsvark says:

    What a wonderful and sooo easy to relate to article. This has been our dilemma for the past 5 summers. Not quite in a position to purchase a house but definitely on the “next thing to invest in” list. Thank you!


  2. Simon Hill says:

    Four years ago my wife and I bought a six-bedroomed house in the mountains in Bulgaria for £20,000. (Yes, that is right. Twenty thousand pounds sterling.) Every summer we go back to Bulgaria and usually we have some friends over from England. When I was teaching at the British School in Bucharest, it was easy (and fairly cheap) for us to get on an overnight train to Sofia. Now we are in the UAE and Bulgaria seems a lot further away, but it is heaven to escape the heat of the Middle East and to enjoy the cool mountain air, the greenery and the very good Bulgarian wine! I just do not understand how any teachers can live and work in the U.K.


  3. celticsong says:

    I solved this problem by buying an apartment in Budapest, my first overseas school. Unfortunately, I have not been successful in renting it out when I am not there. I could write a book about the tenants who took full advantage of the owner living out of country. I had what turned out to be, a squatter, although I had paid a good bit of money to a property manager who assured me after six months of no payment for the rent, the “renter” had been asked to leave as I requested and was told this had been done. Imagine my surprise a year later when I went to Budapest for the Christmas holidays, to be greeted at the door by this stranger!!! (Who insisted that I go to a hotel! I insisted that she leave instead! She did, but the beautiful apartment was knee deep in garbage…..what could be broken was, and this “lady” was getting her electricity from the building outlets outside! ) So, these situations are not ideal, and I spent that particular vacation deep cleaning, but I was also happy to have the apartment back. Sometimes in Hungary, as in other places in the world, a squatter is most difficult to get out! I continue to go there each summer and it does provide a good base for traveling.I purchased this apartment 12 years ago out right, so it does offer a good alternative with no further out of pocket money for the privilege. And I still love Budapest. It will also give me a place to retire to next June while I figure out the next phase of my life.


    • Another Music Teacher says:

      So Celticsong, have you retired? I need to work a couple of more years. I too am a music teacher. Do you have any suggestions?


  4. Savyjobseeker says:

    I still own a place because when I went to sell the market had fallen too much to make a profit. I have had tenets this time for two years but it is a challenge to keep it up and leased. I feel homeless as there is no place to stay except with friends and a short visit with my daughter. I don’t like the stress of the revolving visiting and it is expensive. This summer I arranged to take care of friends’ pets while they returned home in exchange for staying in their place. I got a change of scenery and they got great care for their pets.

    I no longer need to go home…as it is where ever I am. My children taking care of me???I would not count on it…they will be struggling to take care of themselves with all the debt from this recession.


  5. Mike Walker says:

    This is often a big problem especially with families. Sometimes house swaps can be arranged with teachers and academics overseas. University Accommodation is often very cheap during student holidays and places like London University offer some great deals in some great areas. I believe many Universities offer these deals in July, August and September in most major cities.


  6. JAM says:

    I have a wonderful summer cottage in Ontario. It’s large enough to accommodate guests. Why visit everyone else when they can visit you????

    It is also great for my kids. Since most people on my lake are summer residents, they have made loads of summer friends and never get bored with swimming, raspberry picking and biking. It is close enough to a city for my shopping but it is too far for a daily trip. That way I am not inundated with consumerism and malls, which also helps my budget!

    As for a car, I have made friends with a local slimy used car dealer. He sells me a car every summer and then buys it back when I leave. I pay about 5-600 and have the convenience of a car and he makes a nice little profit.


  7. me too says:

    Hey Louis,
    That doesn’t necessarily apply after the first year. There are two ways to qualify. Check with the IRS website and I suggest and Accountant. Mine checks every year and makes sure that I am in compliance. BTW they have recently changed some wording for IRA contributions so I would no longer contribute to those.


    • Louis L says:

      Find the link to where you think you can be home more than 35 days and still claim the exemption and post it for us. I suggest you check.

      Here is the link to the FAQ on it:

      The taxpayer must meet one of two tests: the bona fide residence test or the physical presence test.

      You meet the bona fide residence test if you are a bona fide resident of a foreign country or countries for an uninterrupted period that includes an entire tax year.

      Example: If you go to a foreign country to work on a particular job for a specified period of time, you ordinarily will not be regarded as a bona fide resident of that country even though you work there for 1 tax year or longer. The length of your stay and the nature of your job are only some of the factors to be considered in determining whether you meet the bona fide residence test. You would basically need to have acquired “permanent residency” status (like a green-card to remain indefinitely.) Any visa with an expiration date would fail to meet this test. That means if your teaching visa is a one or two year visa, and you are not a permanent resident, you would fail this test. In addition, you would also have to have residency in a country that has a tax treaty with the USA:

      You meet the physical presence test if you are physically present in a foreign country or countries 330 full days during a period of 12 consecutive months.

      It seems crystal clear to me. Either you you are permanent resident of a foreign country — can live/work permanently/indefinitely — (bona fide residence test) or your are out of the country (USA) for more than 330 days (physical presence test).

      I would like to see an IRS link that gives more leeway or clarification, if you have it.


  8. Louis L says:

    Remember, if you go home to the USA for more than 35 days you will lose your foreign earned income tax exemption. By the 36th day (cumulative) in America in any year you have lost your exemption are are liable to pay US taxes on 100% of your foreign earned income.


    • Frannie says:

      Remember–for tax purposes you can have your tax preparer change your IRS dates to make it easier to split vacation time in the US. Many people think that the tax year must be from January through December, but instead you can split the summer so that you don’t exceed the correct number of days.


  9. John Wheaton says:

    I’m in Hunan, China. My original plan was to travel back to the USA in early July and come back for the July 22 eclipse. Finances and China’s reaction to the swine flu problem chilled those plans.

    My uni allows me to stay in my apartment over the summer, all expenses paid, so I’ve used the opportunity to do some traveling around China, earn some yuan tutoring a few students, and enjoy my summer holiday. At this point in my life, I am essentially homeless (in US terms). I sold my house and was renting before coming to China. My wife and I are separated. My kids are living in three different states. So if I go back to the USA, it would only be for a short stay — two weeks max.

    My Chinese friends can’t fathom this concept. Their customs expect children to care for their parents, so the idea that my presence might not be entirely welcome back home escapes them. I don’t mind it. I get paid for one of the two summer months, and my extra work more than makes up for the missing salary.

    I’m 53, and I feel more free than I did when I was 23. Though, I wonder whether I should establish a homebase somewhere other than my current residence.


  10. Judechina says:

    I am working in the Middle East, and EVERYONE goes home for the summer, it seems. However, this year I decided to take a couple of trips in the Nth hemisphere, and (Yes, partly because of the Swine-flu) skip the visit to my family in Australia and NZ. So I had about a month out of the country, but am staying in Kuwait for the rest of the summer.

    It is surprisingly nice to be here. I have stayed in the school apartment, and I am enjoying the quiet, restful days. It is so nice to sleep in, watch movies, go to the gym every day, read, and wander around the shops. I have had enough traveling to satisfy the urge to be somewhere else, but I do feel refreshed and rested.

    I sold my home in NZ before I left 2 yrs ago, so I do have those issues of staying with family members. I am always a little stressed when in someone else’s house, and Im aware that it is easy to outstay your welcome. Next break I will be very keen to get back home, but for this summer, it was a good decision to stay here. It is important to find out before you accept the job, are you entitled to stay in your apartment if you wish?


  11. Leslie says:

    This really is the “dirty little secret” they don’t mention at the job fairs, isn’t it? We were warned not to immediately sell our home, but when you need to rent it to pay bills and/or keep it lived in, you still haven’t solved the problem of where to live during the summer months. We decided after a couple of years overseas to sell our house to the people who were renting it. Now we were really “homeless”!

    Looking back, I can hardly believe we were gutsy enough to impose on our daughter and son-in-law for four years, literally wedging ourselves in their tiny house for 3 months out of every year. We wanted to be as close as possible to our granddaughter, and tried to be helpful by helping with house improvement projects and buying groceries, but the time arrived when we could tell we needed to find other lodgings to preserve a positive family dynamic.

    Luckily for us, we had enough cash saved from the sale of our house and were able to find a seriously under-market condo only 15 minutes away from the grandchildren. The pool is a great draw for the kids and we’re seeing them almost every day. The condo is behind a security gate and we feel comfortable leaving it for extended periods while we’re overseas teaching. In addition, we’ve been able to find short term renters through a vacation rental agency to offset some of the costs.

    All in all, it’s worked out really well for us. My advice? Don’t impose on family or friends as long as we did, and if you can buy now, you’ll get some excellent bargains in many areas of the country.


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