What housing has your ESL recruiter promised you?

Apartment in Korea

What housing has your ESL recruiter promised you?

For many teachers, free or subsidized housing is one of the tempting perks of taking a teaching job overseas.

But remember…

The country where you’re planning to teach may have much lower standards of accommodations than what you’re used to.

As the saying goes…

One man’s castle is another man’s trash.

strongly advise you to check your accommodations (in advance) to avoid any unpleasant surprises when you arrive.

Shabby living conditions might include mold, cockroach-infested rooms, foul smells (sewage issues), and noisy businesses operating in the same building, which are NOT uncommon in any country, especially Asia.

A promised studio apartment might actually be shack on top of a roof (with no elevator). In the summer you’ll swelter (without an air conditioner) and in the winter you’ll freeze (no insulation).

Remember, you’re going to be living in this place for a at least a year, so do your due diligence…

Don’t be shy to ask your recruiter or school to email you some photos of your prospective accommodation before you get on a plane to your host country. (I wish I had done that)


Here’s are 8 questions you need to get answered about your overseas housing before you accept the teaching job:

1. Will I have a roommate? If so, how many? (I spent my first 3 months in Korea having to share a bedroom with a fellow teacher)

2. What floor is the apartment on? (already explained why above)

3. Does the apartment have air conditioning? (if not, can you survive without it?)

4. How far is the apartment from the school on foot or by bus, or subway? (Long commutes will exhaust you and cut into your free time!)

5. Will the residence be cleaned thoroughly before I arrive? (nothing worse than opening the door to a filthy apartment abandoned by a previous teacher)

6. Is there any mould on the walls, floors or ceilings of the unit? ( I changed units twice in Korea because of mold) It’s extremely harmful to your health.

7. Are there any businesses (like restaurants, nightclubs or bars) operating in the same building? If so, how late are they open?

8. How safe is the neighbourhood? (for women, this is extra important)

These are some common sense questions to ask your recruiter.  But there’s nothing common about common sense. And, it’s amazing how few teachers ask them.

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