When I moved to Thailand to teach English years ago, I looked for and found my own Bangkok apartment as Thai schools don’t usually offer free apartments to teachers. (They don’t offer airfares for their teachers either) Many teachers, however, either don’t want the hassle or the expense of doing that, so prefer to take a teaching job overseas with a free apartment as part of the contract.
Luckily, with a number of countries having schools that typically offer free housing, that isn’t too difficult to find. Check out these countries to get you started.
Korea – One of the best countries when it comes to getting a free apartment as part of a teaching contract as most schools provide one, Korea is also one of the most popular destinations for native English speakers.
Accommodation will vary from a studio-style apartment, all the way up to a shared apartment with three or four other teachers, depending on the school you work at and the town its located in. Most teachers, however, say the apartments they are provided with are lovely and, in many cases, even more comfortable than what they left behind back home.
Do be aware, however, while teaching jobs in Korea do come with a free apartment, you will be expected to give a deposit of several hundred dollars to cover any damage while you’re living there. That will be returned to you at the completion of your contract as long as you have taken care of the place.
Japan – While not as common as Korea when it comes to getting a free apartment with your teaching job, a high percentage of Japanese schools do still provide them. If they don’t, they may offer a housing allowance in addition to your salary, or help in finding a suitable apartment close to your job.
You may even find yourself being housed by the school and sharing an apartment a current teacher at the school is already living in, which can be a great way to learn all about the job, the country and the culture from someone who has been there for a while.
Just make sure, before you accept a job, if having an apartment up front in Japan is important to you before you leave that you know exactly what the school will offer or help with.
You can find out more about what to expect when you accept a teaching job in Japan, including information about typical apartments, at Teaching English in Japan.
Russia – As Russia becomes an ever more popular place for native English speakers to look for teaching jobs, and the number of jobs increase, more and more Russian schools are offering a free apartment along with their teaching contracts. So common is it nowadays, you are more likely than not to be offered free accommodation as part of your contract.
Ask at the interview if a particular school offers a free apartment or, if not, if it is possible for someone at the school to help you find one. You will probably find, if an apartment is not provided for you, you will get assistance in looking for one as well as a decent monthly housing allowance to help pay for it.
One of my friends who used to teach in Thailand now teaches in Moscow and he was given the choice of round-trip airfare to Moscow or a free apartment with his contract. After looking at photographs of the apartment, he chose that as he figured out the annual savings would be more than they would be for the cost of the airfare. Two years later and he is very happy with his choice and his teaching job, and told me recently he would never consider a return to Thailand. The Russian job is simply better
Teach Away has some excellent information about teaching in Russia overall, and Russian apartments in general.