Don’t get me wrong. I love socialising. I am a fan of Friday brunch, I love Ladies’ Nights, I have a soft spot for Saturday lunch, I treasure days out at theme parks, I am mad about musicals, and I adore afternoon tea. In fact, when you first arrive to your new job and location, it is essential to spend the first 3 or 4 months socialising and saying yes to every single invite, meet-up, and new experience. It is so important to get out of your home, meet people outside work, and make new friends. I wouldn’t expect to save much in these first few months as you are setting up your new place and new social life.


However, once these initial months have passed by and you’ve established your social circle, I’d advise you to start prioritising your savings every single payday. Look at your annual financial goal and divide it by 12 to calculate how much you have to put aside each month. Then either transfer a set amount into another account within your bank or transfer it to your home bank account via your bank here or a money transfer service (e.g. UAE Exchange or Currency Fair). Money transfer services tend to offer a much better exchange rate than a bank. You can also withdraw the cash at an ATM, exchange it at a currency exchange (e.g. UAE Exchange, Al Jaber Exchange) into your home currency, and bring it back when you fly home. Note that customs have a limit to how much one can carry in cash without declaring it. In Europe, the limit is 10,000 euros.

But YOLO… Why is it vital to prioritise saving over socialising???

  • The expat life has so many wonderful aspects- the high salary, the job security, the sun, and the standard of living. However, it has one downside- it is unpredictable. We might plan to teach here forever with its tax-free salary and perks, but life here can change in the blink of an eye. We might lose our job, do something silly and get deported, or we may have to go home for family reasons. Whatever the reason, we want to have something to show for all our hard work.
  • I was born in 1986 so I am part of the Millennial Generation (aka Generation Y). Despite being the most educated group of all generations, we have experienced extremely high levels of unemployment. Many of us (teachers included) are finishing university without secure jobs or a steady income. In 2016, research from the Resolution Foundation found Millennials in the UK earned £8,000 less in their 20s than Generation X (those born between mid 1960s and early 1980s), describing Millennials as “on course to become the first generation to earn less than the one before.” Use this opportunity teaching abroad to save and buckle this unfortunate trend.
  • Many of us are no longer paying into our private teaching pension at home, which means we must have alternative methods to fund a comfortable retirement that will allow us to lead the kind of life we have now.
  • Speaking of pensions, right now we have longer to work before retirement (until 68 instead of 65) to qualify for the state pension. Unfortunately, by the time we get closer to retirement, the state pension age may even been pushed up to 74 years.

The only real way to overcome these kinds of financial difficulties is to be financially prepared. And the way I have chosen to do so is by having a figure in my head that I need to save within X amount of years. Once I divide it by 12/ 24/ 36 (months), I do my best to save this amount monthly. I also look for other ways to earn more money to help me do so. Click on the hyperlinked parts of this sentence for some ideas to earn more money and save more money as an expat teacher.

If I can do it, so can you!

Join our supportive Empowering Expat Teachers FB group here where I share tips and resources to help you become a personally, professionally and financially empowered expat teacher!

You may also enjoy my article about “My Top 7 Financially Inspiring Books”  or “7 tips for expat teachers to save 1000 AED/ QR this month!”

Do you agree? Please leave a comment below!