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Teaching Abroad and Going Home: I Got my Money Pool Ready

Teaching abroad-Get a pool of money

It’s Really Time to Go Home

I’ve decided to move back home to Canada after teaching abroad for 10 years in South Korea. It’s not without some trepidation, as I do certainly know that things in Canada are ridiculously expensive and that employment is not that easy to come by. However, it really, really is time to go and the thought of signing another 2-year contract at my university was making me feel sick to my stomach. I’m not all about making decisions based on gut instinct, but in this case, I couldn’t ignore it.

I was Feeling Stressed. These days, Not so Much

I was feeling really stressed out about the whole thing right after I made the decision about 8 months ago, so I decided to write a book and see what I needed to do to make the transition as smooth as possible. I interviewed 55 foreign teachers who’d gone back home, compiled the results and wrote this book, Life After ESL: Foreign Teachers Returning HomeAlmost everyone that I interviewed mentioned money, and the need to have lots of it in order to basically re-start your life in a new place. It wasn’t exactly surprising and it was something I already knew, but it did give me a bit of a kick in the butt to hit the frugal living hard and really lock down some serious savings during my last year in Korea.

Numbers Crunched, Round 2

I crunched the numbers around that same time and knew that I would certainly have enough money to return home, but that I wouldn’t necessarily have enough to splash out on things. My rough estimate was around $60,000 Cad. after getting myself set-up with a car, etc.

I took a second look at the numbers yesterday and was surprised-it’s far more than I thought I would have. This doesn’t include any of my investments, which I plan to keep basically forever to collect the dividends, which I then will reinvest until I need the money. I would consider selling some of them to buy a house, but that’s the only reason.

Thank You Exchange Rates!

The numbers are all in Canadian dollars and thankfully, the exchange rate of Korean Won—>Cad. $ is the best it’s been in years.  I’ve also already taken care of a few things such as my plane ticket, a place to stay for my first week in Canada, and supplementary health insurance while I wait for the Canadian plan to kick in so I didn’t include these things in my calculations.

You might also notice that the cost to move things to Canada is very low. I really do have almost nothing. I will probably end up only shipping 2-3 boxes back, and maybe not even that much. That makes the buying clothes line in the budget kind of high. But, I quite literally wear the same 3 things every single day! I only have 1 pair of jeans, 1 pair of work shoes, 5 pairs of underwear, etc.

Money in the Bank when I Return to Canada

Money in Korea : 12,500

Money in Canada: 32,000

Pension Payout: 40,000

Housing deposit: 11,000

Selling things in Korea: 500

Total: $96,000

Money it Takes to Move and Get Set-Up in Canada

Moving cats to Canada: 2,000

Moving stuff to Canada: 500

Car: 6,000

Car insurance: 1,000

Bicycle: 1,000

Paddleboard: 1,000

Clothes: 1,000

Home furnishings and cat stuff: 1,000

International tax accountant consultation: 500

Unexpected expenses: 1,000

Total: 15,000

Money to live off of for however long I need: $81,000 (96,000-15,000)

Return to Canada Plan

I’ve already talked a little bit about what I plan to do when I return to Canada after teaching abroad. I wavered here and there about going back to school to study something practical like accounting or ultrasound, etc. But, I just wasn’t feeling it. I then thought about getting a job in a field like recruiting. I also wasn’t really feeling it. The thought of a 9-5 didn’t bring me any sort of joy whatsoever. So even though it’s perhaps a bit crazy, I’m going to go all-in on the digital entrepreneur and write some books, build some websites and whatever other awesome things I decide. I’m really confident that plenty of opportunities will be there for the taking if I keep my eyes open. I’m also not unwilling to do some seasonal, or part-time work just to keep the money flowing in. I most certainly have no pride when it comes to that kind of thing and would happily work at a place like Wal-Mart for a couple months over the Christmas season, or a tourist resort for the summer.

I’m going to live on a farm on Vancouver Island and work 13 hours a week in exchange for free accommodation. This will go a long way towards reducing my expenses and I hopefully won’t have to cut into my savings beyond that $15,000 I’ll be spending to get myself set up. I want to commit to doing this for at least six months and then evaluate the situation.

A Future Plan?

I’m a little bit obsessed with tiny houses and I’d love to live in one. The tiny house part is easy-there are plenty of companies making them around B.C. for a decent price and there are some used ones here and there as well on places like Craigslist. The hard part is the piece of land. However, I’m going to keep my eyes open and see what I can find. I’m not sure it’s entirely possible, but with that extra $81,000 (and maybe selling some of my investments), I could perhaps get a small piece of land + a tiny house. It’s going to be something way more easily figured out when I’m there in person.

Another Future Plan?

I’d also like to become a stand-up paddleboard instructor. Paddling has kind of become my obsession during these past 3 years and it’d be awesome to teach other people how to do it. Perhaps the ultimate weekend job? A bit of money, a bit of fresh air and exercise? I also have a feeling I’m going to really miss teaching, so this would be a fun hobby for me I think.

Teaching Abroad: Don’t Waste Your Time 

I guess the moral of this whole story is that you can use your time abroad to build for the future. You can go home with a pool of money, and the options that go along with having that. It does take a bit of sacrifice and smart, frugal living in order to make that happen.

Here’s an article where I talk about how English Teachers (and everyone actually!) should get their side-gig going on.

What’s your Plan?

How are you building for the future? Saving up a pool of money for something? Starting a side-gig? Paying off debt? Comment below and tell me.

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