I’ve been feeling like I should be in England lately. I didn’t realize until just the other day that it’s been almost a year since I was offered a teaching position in England, and, after a really difficult decision-making process, declined the offer.
I know, who decides against living abroad after being offered gainful employment? I know, right?
I really struggled for some time after having made my final decision (I’m still struggling). I wondered how much of my choice was driven by my inate second-guessing, worry-wart, scared-to-jump mentality or legit financial concerns.
I’m a huge fan of those girl-has-devastating-break-up-and-career-let-down-at-the-same-time-so-she-hops-on-a-plane-to-her-dream-get-away-locale-and-despite-having-eight-dollars-and-thirty-cents-and-no-change-of-underwear-she-somehow-lands-a-job-apartment-and-dreamy-new-man-chick-lit-books, because, duh.
Isn’t that every girl’s dream-to move abroad on a whim and it’s just like in the Lindsey Kelk books?
I’d like to hear of a real life situation where this scenario works out, because I had $800 in my pocket and I knew that would only get me as far as Toronto.
When I first started seriously considering working on obtaining a teaching position in England, I didn’t think it would be so easy. Or quick. I figured it’d take a few dozen tries, I’d have time to really mull over legit moving to another country, and that I’d have plenty of time to save and get my finances in order.
I was so mistaken. One minute I was dreamily planning how I’d decorate my make-believe tiny flat with decor from TK Maxx and the next I was using Skype for the first time, going over classroom management with a head teacher in Oxford (this was the first of two interviews I had. I didn’t end up getting the teaching position in Oxford).
Let me just break it all down for you in an easy-to-read timeline:
4/17/16: Applied for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)
5/3/16: Application for QTS was approved, received login to view/print certificate
5/6/16: Emailed application to Stanwell Fields CE Primary School, among others
5/9/16: Received email response from Stanwell Fields Business Support requesting I fill out application
5/13/16: Received email from headteacher inquiring about availability for phone interview
5/19/16: Phone interview with assistant headteacher
5/23/16: Received voicemail from headteacher offering the job (I was too scared to pick up. What a noob)
I still have the voicemail…
So, in a little over a month, I had gained the necessary qualification to teach in England, interviewed at two schools, and was offered a position.
Just typing this now, I’m feeling the excited, heady warmth in my stomach one gets when exciting things are on the horizon.
It was all fun and games until shit got really real.
Just in case the headteacher at Stanwell Fields ever reads this (though it’s highly unlikely), I’d like to make it clear that I was genuinely serious about teaching abroad. That is, until I realized I was crazy to think I’d ever be able to afford it.
I had naively assumed that since England was in need of teachers, they would possibly offer a sign on bonus, much like many districts do in the U.S. when they have a teacher shortage. Or, they would assist with getting a visa.
Schools aren’t profit-driven, and the sad reality is that many are in desperate need of teachers, but have no extra funds to entice educators to move countries.
Not that I needed enticing. No, I just had no money and thought I could move my life abroad with $800 and my already-reaching-the-limit credit cards.
So, after researching the cost of a work visa (roughly $800, currently) and the cost to rent a one bedroom flat in the south of England (around $1000 a month), I realized I was in over my head.
Despite the fact that the school offered me an extremely nice pay raise, the cost of living in south England, coupled with my current bills, that would be traveling with me, made it so I simply could not afford to live.
Not only would I need enough money to live once settled, I’d need at least $800 for a one way ticket to London, money for a hotel or hostel once in England, a deposit for a flat, and funds for many other travel and moving expenses.
My mom and I estimated that I’d need at least $3000 to move and get settled (and it always ends up being more costly than you calculate beforehand).
Did I mention I had $800 in my savings? I’m amazing at adulting.
It was really depressing. Really, really dismaying, and not at all like my favorite chick lit books.
These were some of my biggest concerns:
- The cost of living in the area was too high (I’d be paying triple what I was currently paying in rent)
- Many available flats were unfurnished-I’d need to buy furniture (at minimum, a bed)
- Despite the pay raise, due to certain taxes in the U.K., the pay would be roughly the same or less than my current pay, yet cost of living tripled
- I’d be too strapped for cash to travel (travelling to other parts of Europe was a big reason I desired to live abroad)
- It would have been necessary to drain my savings and rack up further debt for moving expenses (I was already in a significant amount of debt to begin with)
- I would have needed to sell my car after having it less than a year (if I couldn’t sell it, it would have been another expense I couldn’t afford)
- I’d barely make enough to save for a plane ticket back home, had that been necessary or desired
- I’d have zero teaching supplies and shipping them over would have been too pricey
Regardless of the fact that I had very real financial concerns, I still feel like I let an amazing opportunity go. It didn’t help that I had so many people telling me that debt didn’t matter. YOLO and all that crap.
Big decisions and I have never been friends. Usually, when faced with a big, life-altering decision, I just bury my head in red sand and fail to make a decision, if at all possible.
I’m a master of the what-if discourse. I can go all day and go circles around anyone.
Yet, deep down, I know I made the right decision for me and my present financial situation.
I also know that I’ll never stop dreaming of England and doing what must be done to make it back.
For real though, how do most people move abroad? Are you in a better paying field than me or did your company pay for your move? Did you get a huge inheritance? Are you just in massive debt due to the move? Do you know some magic trick to making fast travel cash? If anyone who’s done it cares to spill the beans, I’m all ears!