Reader Question: Teaching English in Korea with a Family
“I have a Masters in Education & a B.A in English. I have several years of teaching experience under my belt and I’m interested in getting a job at a university in Korea. I’m married and have two children. My wife does not teach. I know that I need a work visa to work in Korea. Well, what about my family? Can my wife and children stay with me at my expense? What visa documents must I apply for them?”
The Short Answer: Yes, it’s Possible
It is entirely possible to teach in Korea with a family. Your wife can get a spousal visa easily enough and your kids can get visas as well. They’ll be eligible for the Korean national health insurance, the same program that you’ll be a part of.
The Long Answer: Housing Might Be Tricky
The main drawback to bringing your family to Korea with you is that some places won’t want to provide housing for 4 people. Most universities (understandably so) would rather provide a little one-room than proper accommodation for an entire family because it will cost them significantly more money. You might have to prepare yourself for just taking the housing allowance and finding your own place to stay. You’ll either have to pay monthly rent that is more than the housing allowance, or put down a substantial amount of “key money,” which can be upwards of $10 000 USD and then pay less in monthly rent each month.
Whatever you do, don’t think it will be a good idea to just come and live in university provided housing without first ascertaining how big it really is. Koreans have very different ideas of how many people can live in a given space than westerners and you might find yourself in a tight spot, quite literally.
Will You Make Enough Money?
Most university jobs in Korea pay between 2.5 and 3 million Korean won a month. While this certainly is a good amount for a single person, it can be pretty difficult to support a family of 4 on this, especially if you plan to take trips back home every year or two. 4 plane tickets is like more than 2 month’s salary! You can work overtime, but it’s not always a possibility at all places.
Money- English Teacher Style
If you want to figure out financial stuff and are an English teacher living abroad, this is the book you need: The Wealthy English Teacher: Teach, Travel, and Secure Your Financial Future. It gives you an easy to follow plan to get your financial house in order.