Your School’s Housing Policy Could Reveal More than Meets the Eye

for-rent45171661 ..Something that has bothered me no-end about teaching overseas is the housing situation. I’ve taught at 3 schools & only one of them provided school-owned housing. The other 2 supplied a monetary allowance barely sufficient to rent a very “modest” apartment.  This moderate sum, unfortunately, did not cover the rental agent’s fees or the $600 I shelled out in the form of a “security” deposit. Nor did it cover any of my out-of-pocket expenses for furniture & the basic essentials of a kitchen, bathroom & bedroom. All this stuff set me back financially & it irked me that I had it all back home.  I even had to buy a refrigerator in one country! It all adds up super fast.  I consider it  unreasonable for a school to expect this of us & would say it  makes a strong statement about those that do. If we were relocating permanently, then okay — but for just a couple of  years? Really!?!

When I moved on to my new school (surprise, surprise) I lost my cleaning deposit at each location & sold everything I had bought at a big loss.   When you’re leaving & you have to dump the stuff, you’re in no position to hold out for the highest price. I figure I lost at least $2000 or more at each school. To add insult to injury, one school covered only 3 days in a hotel room upon arrival. After that I paid the bill until I found an apartment. It took 6 days to close the deal even after I said I wanted the place!

As you can guess, the first couple of months at the 2 schools that offered no school-housing were a disaster for me. I spent far too much energy looking for an apartment, furniture, arranging deliveries, getting utilities turned on & moving in, etc. I received no help from the school. This rough beginning set the tone for the school year & I will tell you the tone was “flat” at best.

Apartment hunting is difficult enough in your own culture, but you’re at a huge disadvantage when you don’t even know the neighborhoods or the laws that govern rentals in your new locale. I figure most schools avoid house renting for teachers because they know that landlords  can be money grabbers.  So, instead of going to bat for us with these tyrants, which would in turn allow us to focus on setting up classrooms & preparing for our students, they throw us to the ‘wolves’ when we’re fresh off the boat.  I will never again work at a school that does not provide housing. I now consider no-housing an omen of what is to come. At the 2 schools that didn’t provide school-owned housing it turned out to be a very bad omen for me.

Have you had an experience to Share or do you have some insight into this situation?

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40 thoughts on “Your School’s Housing Policy Could Reveal More than Meets the Eye

  1. I get why so many people get hung up over housing subsidy/provisions, but for me it’s one factor in the overall decision whether to work someplace or not.

    Currently I have a full-time university position on a multi-year contract, with the possibility of tenure at the end of it. Expense account for school supplies, freedom to design classes as I see fit. Quiet suburban location, and I have two offices on campus. 9-yes, you read right-teaching hours a week. Decent salary; not top-ranked, but good enough to save and live comfortably on. No pay raise this year but next will be expecting one. I can at times leave early and/or make up my own hours (I do put in significant overtime at certain points of the year, so it’s tolerated to a degree). Commuting allowance to and from my home, as well as pension, medical insurance, etc. Not to mention the 3 months (at full salary) paid vacation I get every year.

    The one thing I don’t have is subsidised housing. So I ask myself-on balance against everything else my position has to offer, is having subsidised housing a make-or-break proposition? The answer is of course not; sure it would be nice but given everything else I have it is something that I can live without. Most expats in the country I am in would kill for a position like this, with or without housing included.

    On the other hand my very first teaching job overseas (same country) offered “subsidised” housing, which turned out to be anything but. They charged exorbitant rates for a one-room apartment which I later found out was owned by a shell company of my employer-in essence, they were ripping off their own employees. So employer-provided housing is not always all that it would seem to be.

    If I had to choose between a position with comparable salary that had subsidised housing or my current one with everything I have got, my current job wins hands-down. Housing should only ever be one consideration in your decision making process. If it is the make-or-break factor, then it suggests that there isn’t too much else that your potential employer has to offer so it’s best to consider employment elsewhere.


    1. A.G, your position sounds perfect. It sounds like your employers care about their teachers and actually want to keep them, seeing you as more than a warm body to fill a spot for a year or two. Your statement, “Housing should only ever be one consideration in your decision making process,” is wise advice.

      May I ask, how did you find this position?


    2. Malay;

      Actually, the position found me-ten years spent working in a metro area of 18 million allows one to build a considerable network of contacts, and one of my previous employers came across it. He put the two of us together, I interviewed for the position and they liked my background and experience. The rest as they say is history.

      And yes, I have to say this is pretty much the best teaching job I have ever had. Aside from the tangible benefits I’ve listed, you are spot on when you said they genuinely seem to care about investing in me as an asset to their institution. They’ve gone out of their way to accommodate me, routinely ask me for input on matters that in my mind are well above my pay grade and allow me a degree of latitude that most people would never have. From Day 1 I have felt like I have been accepted as an equal member of the faculty.

      As you so aptly put it, it is perfect.


  2. The best result I have found is when the school up front states that accommodation is supplied or an allowance of X………….. If you do not like staying around school accommodation because it appears that you see the same people day and night then you can research and get a good idea of what accommodation near or not so near if you do not mind driving each day costs. If the school is credible then they will describe the accommodation or put a picture on their website. Also research the reputation of the school as many comments are now available in lots of places.


  3. Seriously if the school is going to be cheap on the housing there will usually be other problems at the school that are even more serious. I fully agree, just like at Keerapat in Bangkok – can one call this an international school? You must be joking!!
    They give you nothing, thats ok if that is the deal but i went there 2x to find a place to stay, at the end of the previous school year as well as before the school started, and the staff was not helpful at all, lied to me, passed the buck. It really sets you back big time once the school has started and you have to organize your teaching as well as finding a decent place to stay. Very unsettling.

    My advise: if they cant support you even a little bit in an honest way, dont go because most probably much more is wrong at the school, exactly like KEERAPAT which belongs to a Thai/Chinese family who runs it as a business not like an educational institution. Ask me details and i can write a book.
    And beware there are more schools like Keerapat in Bangkok.


  4. I will not work for a school who does not provide single, furnished housing. I will not share accommodation with anyone because there are too many international teachers who have very different lifestyles from mine and it could lead to an uncomfortable living situation.

    For example one of my friends who is teaching in the middle east was asked to share a villa. She agreed to share it with one other female teacher.

    The other female teacher had a drug/alcohol problem and often invited men she did not know back to the villa. My poor friend felt unsafe in her own home because she never know who would be inside the villa or what illegal activities would be going on in her own home. She also felt like she could not complain about it because the activities were illegal and she did not know how her employer would respond.

    Seriously if the school is going to be cheap on the housing there will usually be other problems at the school that are even more serious.

    If we as professionals all demand the same standard of housing then schools will not be able to be cheap and treat us poorly with respect to housing. We teachers are too nice. We allow sealed references where we do not know if heads of school are being honest when they talk about our teaching, etc. etc. Time for us to band together and ensure that workplaces are as fair as possible. This also means we should act as professionals at all times.


    1. Yes, schools sometimes save on costs. Another thing to watch out for: don’t assume, even on Search, that housing is paid for up front, or your ticket is bought by the school, even if they say transport provided. They say they will reimburse you, and no matter how honest they are, it is still you taking the risk if there are any unforseen political issues.
      This just happened to me. After signing the contract, was informed I have to buy my own ticket, and housing is reimbused at month end! Kind of shady….


  5. I think the poster above (who made the backpacker teacher comment) has some valid points. It is true that many of us international teachers who have been teaching abroad for years are frustrated by teachers who come in for just 2 years and then take off again. Most are young and right out of university (cheaper to hire). They spend the first school year getting settled (often partying with other young teachers) and the second school year already looking for a new job. By January of that second school year those who have found new jobs, in general, are already emotionally gone. That does not help staff or students build relationships. A two year contract requirement does not mean a teacher should be looking to only stay two years. The person who wrote this initial complaint (posted by ISR) was clearly disgruntled about not being totally taken care of by the new school. He or she was “irked” by coming up with the basics of a bathroom and kitchen? Did this person’s university set them up with such things or did mom and dad? Why would an employer? Yes, of course there should be some support systems in place for international hires but that was not really what this post was about. Without question the tone of the poster to this ISR story was very whiny and one that invited people to respond with a bit of finger wagging.


  6. My first experience teaching overseas was hideous. The package they offered at my school in the UAE at first looked good. Wheni arrived, my principal drove me to an apartment complex where there were two flats for me to choose from. One had just been vacated unbeknownst to me by another teacher from the school. The other was already occupied by another teacher. Both flats were two bed flats. And although I was “given a choice”, the decision had already been made by the principal as she had purchased a bed set and placed it in the spare room. My rent was to be deducted from the housing allowance attached to my salary and I was to pay back the cost of the furniture and bedding that was purchased. Was I asked if I wanted this? No. I had arrived by myself and my husband was to join me after the Xmas holidays. The principal expected me to remain in the flat with him and my roommate . When I told her I was going to leave and find my own place she freaked out. From that moment on I was on her target list.

    Luckily for me friends who had been living in the UAE for sometime helped me with the deposit until I could get my cheques for the lease. By this time hubby was with me and we purchased furnishings for the new place. Overall it was a hideous experience.

    My new school in Egypt gives a separate housing stipend and we were able to rent an apartment that is fully furnished.


  7. Lots of helpful comments here. I can really sympathize with those who have difficulties. I have been in both school and private housing and it differs enormously from country to country. However settling in and getting ready to teach at the same time is incredibly stressfull especially when your school provides a full on orientation week. One solution I have resorted to several times (really useful when I had a child too) was to request or arrange to arrive early. In one case I arrived one month ahead, In two other places, I made a quick return trip ,as it wasnot far, to rent a place to be ready upon arrival and was allowed to use the hotel allowance then instead of when I arrived. Although there were disadvantages sometimes of other staff not being there etc it gave me time to get over jet lag, and spend time choosing a location. I know this will not be possible for some but for me it was worth a little extra expense and the school may be supportive- and even allow you to move into the school accomodation early if its vacant.


  8. The comment by International Teacher is very sensible as she explores what is provided and the choice that is available or the price that the school will pay NOT CAN AFFORD TO PAY FOR DECENT CLEAN ACCOMMODATION. There seems to be a trend sneaking in whereby schools have stopped providing accommodation in some of the most expensive places because they do not like the expense and turnover of staff. This will continue until they reveal the true situation to the applicant and they show and can show pictures of the accommodation. of course a picture can provide a false impression. They are wanting the best some of them and reducing their costs by putting the load on a new arrival. It all gets off to a poor start and usually gets worse after that. Teachers ask questions and if you do not get the answers that give you vital information then assume it is being withheld for a reason.. Be aware!!


  9. No housing allowance at Newton College, Lima, Peru. The apartment hunt is supported by the business of one of the director’s wife, who is overcharging for rents. The security deposit is 2-months rent, and mostly likely you won’t get it back in the end of your ocntract. Beware! The apartments run for about 1000 USD per month.


  10. If you are new at the expat life and you do not know what questions to ask you are in a crap shoot. My first housing was arranged by the school, the next again by the school, the 3rd by the school and also the 4th. Then in Egypt the school gave 3 days in a hotel and one realtor for 40 new teachers ..The realtor had us “over a barrel” as did the owners of the apts as all the other school’s teachers arrived at the same time. You could do school housing but the rent deal could be better. The school had teachers helping but still it was a shock what you could get for the allowance…not much. I settled in one and then moved several times. This is the way it is in many schools in Egypt. With patience you can get a great place..just very stressful when starting a new job. Don’t let others put you is a stressful time and the game is rigged. Embassy and aid groups provide arranged housing choices for a reason…to help new ones get adjusted easier. Good luck and have a little extra cash for emergencies before you go. Ask for help from teachers and they should be able to give it…if not the colleague is not a colleague but a dinosaur.


  11. Yes I am in a similar situation I am going to a school that I have to find my own housing and since I have never been there before I did not know what questions to ask at hte interview. I am now coming to find out that I will have to pay 3-6months rent up front and a deposit that may or may not be returned to me when I leave. I also had to pay for my plane ticket up front and again I have found out from current teachers that I will not be getting the exact amount I paid for the ticket and some of the teachers who arrived last year got half of what they actually paid for their plane ticket. We must negotiate with teh landlord the school does not help us with this they take us around to look for apartments but then wash their hands of what we pay or any problems we encounter. Staff have left due to this because the school used to provide housing but took that perk away and only now gives a housing stipend.

    I am very concerned about being able to afford this move now. It is too late at this point I have already bought my $2,000 ticket there. Oh well.If I had known all this I would not have taken this job. Ask questions at interviews dont be afraid it can cost you a lot of money and stress in teh end and sometimes it is not worth it.


  12. Hi

    I am just completing my first year in the UAE. I am working for a very wealthy government school who pay a generous package.

    But when I arrived I initially had a 5 night hotel stay but since they flew me in to arrive on a friday I lost 2 days as did not meet anyone on arrival till the Sunday. Previous to flying I had asked why they had me arriving on a weekend wouldn’t I lose 2 days and they had said no.

    Ths first week we spent not in our campus but in Dubai with all the new recruits they only took those who would be living in Dubai to find apartments.

    Luckily one of the other new recruits had found an apartment already as she had the advantage of preciously having lived in UAE.

    The things they didn’t tell me and that isn’t common knowledge is to get an apartment in UAE you need a cheque book, to get a cheque book you need a bank account. But you also need your first months salary to be paid in which we didn’t get till the end of septber and we arrived 16th Aug… My visa was eventually secured after 4 weeks due to a family emergency which I wil tell you about later but others took more than 2 months.

    They also told us we would get iur relocation cheques on arrivale which was around £3500 but this wasnt forthcoming for nearly 10days… And although it was a large sum of money it wasn’t enough to cover the first rent cheque and all the deposits and buy furniture.

    I was blw to negotiate and have an extra 4 nights in the hotel due to literally having no money and nowhere to live.

    The girl who helped me grt my apartment in the end actually gave me the cheques to secure my apartment or I would probably have given up. By the time we got paid in Sept I had maxed out both my credit cards and had around £10 to my name and all i had done was buy a bed and a fridge.

    To add to ny stressful start my father passed away at the end of august havin only arrived 2 weeks. When I tried to fly home I couldn’t as the school had my passport and would not return it. It took over 10 days for them to give me back my passport and allow me to fly and even then I was ony entitled to 5 days emergency leave. When I went in to tell my boss his first response was we will need the death crrtificate before you can leave. My father had been dead less than 7hrs at his point and I was half way across the world on my own!

    Dont get me wrog havig my own apartment is really nice but having known the difficulties I would face would have made the situation less stressful and I may have been able to be more prepared financially for what was to come.

    The school were very unhelpful and did not make settling in a nee country easy. We were working from 7am till 5pm and then apartment hunting in the wvening after also having to travel back and forward to Dubai everyday on a small ricketty bus..


  13. First international experience, school accommodation all utilities paid and settling in allowance, we paid for tv and internet. Great savings. Were shown photos of typical apartments that teachers lived in. In our second year we didn’t need to move but looked for a place ourselves and found a mansion with all the bells and whistles.
    Second all paid. Villa
    Third we paid water, electricity and gas,electricity, cheap as…apartment small
    4th all paid even the internet huge apartment
    5th we paid for the lot didn’t save much there. school helped us find a place though they were getting cash backs in return. yuk yuk
    6th we paid water , gas and electricity cheap cheap cheap large apartment
    7th we pay electricity very expensive. apartment small

    Still we don’t always ask the questions we should, as saving little when the salaries might be a bit higher but expensive to live and not shared at interview can annoy you some what.


  14. There are certainly some very pompous remarks on this topic.. This is exactly why sites like this exist and as a suggestion it would be great if a list was prepared as to what is reasonable to expect from an employer in a International school overseas. They have done it very successfully in relation to age and Visas and it is a wonderful help. When you a couple and have 2 wages and years of experience to build up assets and save you cannot compare yourselves to new NQT graduates or others who have no International experience. If you advised and mentored it would be a help instead of being smug.Some schools (read many) have the word international in their name and also false accreditation’s on their website etc and it is all a sham., Others treat all newcomers based on a few bad experiences with past staff..It is a huge problem
    and I always tell new staff when they complain that it is not what the recruiters tell you it is what they DO NOT TELL YOU.. I have also been told by HR staff in personal conversations that they use a yardstick that if you ask too many questions at the recruitment stage then you will possibly be trouble and they often just stop communicating with you.


  15. I agree with the author. My new school provides great housing in a great location, and a $10,000 settling in allowance! It’s a non-profit school… I think that summarizes everything pretty well. For-profit schools will always get you on the little things. I will never work for a for-profit school again if I can help it. I’m all for capitalism… but not so much in an educational setting.


    1. In which country do you work? It sounds amazing! Would love to know the name of your school? Do they have any current opportunities? Thanks!


  16. I have been working in Baku, where I was given (rent-free) the most luxurious apartment of my life time- 3 beds, two baths- for me alone. But that’s Baku. Oil-rich countries can do that. I am now negotiating for an int school position in Tlibisi Georgia, where they neither provide a free apt nor pay all that well. The difference is that it’s Tlibisi- a fairytale by most accounts, with a low cost of living. Nicer job, too. But this topic is well worth taking up, and I would at least expect my new school to assist me in finding a low rent place and help avoiding the massive down payments. My sympathies!


  17. International schools should have a responsibility to help their teachers get settled, if not monetarily, at least with translations, negotiations, and steering them to better neighborhoods. The schools I have been in have all provided housing, some extremely nice, some not so nice. One school even paid rent and utilities for the teachers. My current situation stinks. The school “provided” the housing, in that they chose where I would live. I have to pay my own rent. For whatever reason, my apartment is the farthest from the school of all the other teachers, the most expensive of all the apartments, and by far the smallest.

    There should be some balance. I don’t mind paying my own rent, and I’m glad I don’t have to live on campus, but help, at the very least with translation and negotiation, in finding an appropriate apartment should be part of the package.


  18. It is interesting that expats in other fields are usually provided with a serviced apartment for a month, a generous housing allowance and more than adequate shipping allowance. Not to mention many I know who have their furniture storage in their home countries paid for as well as a spending allowance for new furniture when they arrive. I can only recall one school out of 5 international schools I have worked at where the shipping allowance had been adequate for basic personal effects and where I have not had to contribute greatly to my housing costs.


  19. I’m am facing this situation now. I am leaving for my 1st position. The school is providing a housing allowance that should cover the rent. However, when I accepted the position I was unaware that I would need to pay a deposit 3 times the actual rent plus the 1st months rent. And, then after turning in the receipt I would be reimbursed for the 1st month in September. This came as a shock to me, 2 weeks ago. I know someone will say that I should have asked. But it’s hard to know what you don’t know and what you should ask- when you don’t know. I had no idea that I would need to pay that amount- which comes to over $6,000USD dollars. The school told me I would have to negotiate with the Realtor and the landlord to get my deposit back. Sometimes they are returned and sometimes not. This is very different from the US, so of course I had no idea. I have 3 days in the hotel paid for by the school before they start taking it out of the 1st months rent. I’m already stressed about the situation. When I should be excited about setting up my classroom.

    The school is also giving me a settling in amount, but not until I have made my purchases. Again, I will be reimbursed upon turning in the receipts. This was not how it was presented to me when I accepted the offer. Again, I didn’t know the specific questions to ask. So, August will be tricky month for me financially. But, you live and learn.


    1. Oh dear! red flags in every sense. I would not even be going. How can you prove they will reimburse you? Have you Ben in contact with other staff from the school to find out the real situation?


    2. I have talked to other teachers at the school. That’s how I found out. Apparently the money is reimbursed when you turn in the receipts. It just came as a shock because I didn’t know.


    3. It’s in Shanghai. It will be a lot of money and all that I have. Very stressful. But there’s nothing I can do about it. I will know the next time what to ask before accepting a contract.


    4. The school that you are working for may not be an international school. I work for an international school here and all of the housing plus shipping and flights is included or reimburse upon arrival in the first pay check. Many schools in Shanghai say they are international but they are not. Your school my just have the word ‘international’ in the name or may just have an ‘international division’ in the title.
      Check out your school first.


    5. I’m moving to Shanghai and I found out I would also have to pay first and last months rent and a deposit. Luckily my school sent us a new employee packet letting us know this a few months back. It would be nice if the schools would let you know this upfront so you can start saving right away. But the other day my school sent up a housing questionnaire and did give us the option for them to pay the move in money but we will have to pay the next 3 months ourselves. So maybe there is a chance your school will do this at the last minute.


    6. Yes this school is in Shanghai too. But I haven’t received any questionnaire about the options so it must be a different school. I do have some savings about $7500. I just wasn’t prepared to spend it on these costs. I thought I would be using it to set up my classroom, linens and household items, etc. Now I just feel stressed hoping I can make it to the first paycheck.


  20. I have been in both situations. My first school did not provide housing (or any kind of financial support), though they did set me up in temporary housing for when I arrived. I stayed in this city for six years and I moved a few times. I always had to do everything myself, including paying fees and deposits. It was a real pain. For my next assignment, I was in school housing which was amazing. I just moved in and everything was taken care of. I lived walking distance to school, and it was a very easy transition, plus I saved a lot of money not having to pay rent. I am about to now move on to my third school which provides a stipend for housing. Though I will have to find the place on my own, (though there is also the option for the school to place you in an apartment) I have been provided much information to make this transition as smooth as possible, as well as a serviced apartment for a month while I look. Though living in school owned housing was incredible, I am now looking forward to being able to choose the area where I want to live, which is sometimes lacking when the school only provides their own housing. School owned housing can be limiting in that regard.


  21. I am now working at my 3rd international school, and this is the 1st one that doesn’t provide school housing. However, this school assigned all new teachers their own real estate agent in April (I was in contact with him shortly afterwards and explained my wish list), the school put us up in a hotel for about 10 days and had us arrive a week earlier than all teachers to house/apartment/condo hunt (we were not allowed to go to school at all that week), sent us an emai specially about housing, rents, agent fees we would pay if we rented below a certain price range (over that the fee was paid by the landlord to the agent), etc. Additionally, our housing allowance is more than at least 4 other international schools here and I was able to find a place below budget and can use the difference to cover costs such as electricity, cable, internet, and phone. After those expenses, I still have a couple of hundred dollars left over every minth from my housing allowance. Since we got a good shipping allowance from this school, I brought many household items with me. I did have to buy somethings (beds, sofa, D/R table) fro. People leaving and from my settling-in allowance so lucky it didn’t cost me too much out-of-pocket, especially since my landlord provided all of the kitchen appliances included a washer and dryer. There are advantages and disadvantges to having school-provided housing and having to find your own. I know that I was lucky b/c my school did a very good job with new teachers and house hunting compared to colleagues who work at other international schools here. They had a much more difficult transition than I did. It all depends on the school and its process for new teachers. It can either go smoothly or be a nightmare. Your transition will depend on which category you fall into. Mine was easy overall.


    1. Wow, that sounds incredible! I have taught at three international schools and all of them have provided housing, but if I had to “do it on my own” I would love to have the support that your school provided.


  22. Why do you think your school (employer) is your mother? Most adults who have jobs in this world (and are not in the military) pay for their own housing and deposits and more. How many of your home countries pay for your house, deposits, etc because you chose to be a teacher? If you are not able to afford a comfortable place to live based on the salary offered then look for another school!! We have been overseas for years. First school has school owned housing (on campus) and we would NEVER want to be under a school’s thumb like that again. The second was school paid housing but also provided an option for a housing allowance after the first contract ended (which we chose not to take) and now this newest school provides either housing which they cover (too small and too far from the action for our taste) or a small housing allowance which we almost need to match to get what we really want. That however is our choice. We also get no other assistance since we opted out of their housing and will be paying entirely for a hotel at arrival plus paying for deposits, additional furniture (that we did not ship),utility deposits, etc. but guess what? We are ADULTS. For you to state you “lost your cleaning fees” at more than one place (hmmm) and that why should you spend xyz when you are “only in a place for two years” shows that you likely are of the “two and out” backpacker type teacher. We on the other hand are about to shell out about $10,000 to get settled in one of the most expensive cities in the world and plan to be in it for the long haul.


    1. It sounds like you’re of the mind that your are moving to the new location for, as you put it, “the long haul.” Those of us on the international circuit are not moving to the new location, but rather spending a couple of years there. There is a big difference. The only person who could justify spending $10,000 to get settled is someone considering the move to be on the more permanent side. That’s the difference between you and real international educators, which you have mistakenly identified as back packers. Can I interest you in buying the recipe to make ice cubes??


    2. Not everybody is in it for the long haul, and not everyone can afford to spend $10,000 to get settled. I don’t expect my employer to be my mother, but I do expect to be treated with dignity and respect. To me that includes help with finding a place to live. I have lived overseas for many years; not once in my first few months in any country have I been able to walk into a restaurant and order a meal without pointing and using some type of sign language to get what I want. I can’t imagine trying to find an apartment without being able to speak (or in some cases, without being able to even read) the language.

      There’s room in international schools for all kinds, those of us in for the long-haul as well as what you refer to as the “backpacker.” We need to support each other, not needlessly criticize and tear each other down. And those of us in for the long haul don’t always get to stay where we would prefer often due to circumstances beyond our control.

      Why not use the wisdom you’ve gained from your experiences to encourage the newcomers to international education rather than beating them down? We need all the support we can get, and our kids need all the encouragement and love we can give them. Hard to do when we have such turmoil in our own lives. A little encouragement can go a long way.


    3. There are many reasons people work internationally. All valid. What needs to be addressed is understanding of expectations not which school provides this or that. We all have different housing desires and not all schools are able to provide the same amenities. Not all international schools are the same and neither are the countries they are located. Do your research before you sign your contract and then manage the expectation.

      I do agree that as a foreigner moving to a new country regardless of language, as culture norms are not the same, it is important that the school provide a clear housing manual. Doesn’t matter if the school is providing housing or not. Good schools will understand the hardship of relocation and would want to ease the transition so that teachers can focus on education quicker when the school year starts. A less stressed teacher normally equates to a kinder more caring and effective teacher

      A comprehensive housing manual with contacts of agents, to-do and not-to-do lists, local protocols (etc electricity, water, garbage collection, gardener) etc…helps both the teacher and the school in terms of responsibilities and accountability. This avoids misunderstandings, allows teacher to prepare in advance and also helps alleviate some tasks for school that teachers can handle independently.

      What’s great about a housing manual is that after the initial creation, the updates would be minor every year with exception of government housing policies. It also is an incentive for suppliers and agents to provide great service so that they maintain in that manual.

      We all have choices and have the right to our choices. What schools need to provide is comprehensive information to allow us to make our choices with open eyes. Schools should anticipate what information a new teacher needs. As much as a teacher will do his or her own research, we sometimes don’t even know we had to ask questions on so-and-so because it wouldn’t have entered our minds because of reference points and cultural norms.

      This is a great opportunity for creation of a generic international housing relocation check-list to cover all sorts of differences around the world.

      It is sad that new incoming teachers have to struggle. It is not so much about lacking experience or being a ‘backpacker’ or a ‘long haul’ type (I don’t like to categories teachers as it is not helpful in solving problems) but managing expectations. We all have been in a situation where we just had to learn from experience but it would help to rid of unnecessary stress that could have been prevents simply by giving information.


    4. This is the most sane comment so far. I have only experience of one school who provided a well-supported transition to what would have been a very difficult city to move to. They paid for the hotel until we found a place, provided an agent to help us and helped us each with the negations and payments. For subsequent moves in this same city, we’re on our own, but by now we know our way around. We have a housing allowance, and about half of the teachers pay beyond it to get a place that they really like. I’m not sure it would be my general preference to live in school-provided housing, though if it’s good I’d go that route too.

      What teachers need is reliable local knowledge and support for navigating the local housing conditions. Generally speaking the school is in a far better position to supply both than new-arrival teachers are for themselves. But I’ve seen too that seasoned international teachers seem to be proactive about getting both, for the sake of their own happiness.


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