Teacher Salary UK – A Survival Guide
We’ve put together a handy survival guide for living on a teacher’s salary in the UK. Read on for top tips and handy hints from Jess, an Aussie Teacher living in London – a must read for any overseas teachers considering a move.
So you’ve taken the plunge and decided to teach in the UK – congratulations! No doubt you’re dreaming of all the wonderful, exotic adventures you’re going to have living on Europe’s doorstep. In addition to the fantastic career move and opportunities you have just opened up for yourself. Is it possible to have the European adventure you’ve always wanted on a UK teacher’s salary? The answer is yes, keep reading!
Your actual salary will vary quite a bit depending on your employment situation. For example, those on either UK ancestry visas, or youth mobility visas, can opt for either full time or casual supply work. Whatever your travel visa options, the truth is that surviving on a teacher’s salary in the UK isn’t really any harder than it is back home in Oz. What you’ll find outlined below is a budgeting guide with a twist: how to ensure you can book the maximum number of trips possible per pay check! Having lived in the UK for over a year, I have become something of an expert in this area, and can assure you that no matter what your money habits, you’ll find something here to help you make your travel dreams a reality.
Choose where you live, and choose wisely
London is widely regarded as the most expensive place in the cosmos to live, so unless it’s a big time dream of yours to be a Londoner, I suggest casting your net a little wider. There are plenty of towns that have quick access to London without the big city price tag. Reading, Watford and my very own High Wycombe are all built up towns with everything you could want on a day-to-day basis. Plus quick and easy rail links to the big smoke. It only takes me about 25mins to get into Central London. You’ll be able to enjoy exploring London whilst saving a hefty chunk of cash on your monthly rent.
Wherever you choose to live, house sharing is another great way to save some cash. Renting a place independently is not quite as simple as it is back home. Should you go down this path, you’ll find yourself stuck with all sorts of extra bills (on top of the usual gas/electric/water etc.). House shares, on the other hand, usually include all your bills in one monthly payment. Spareroom and EasyRoommate are just a couple of websites you can check out to find yourself a house share.
Draw up your budget
I know, I know, not everyone shares my indecent enjoyment of a well-written budget. However, whatever your predispositions, there’s no question that planning for your compulsory expenditures is ultimately the best way to make money go further.
At the start of each pay check, set aside the money you know you’re going to need for the month: rent, phone, groceries, whatever your overheads are. You might even set aside some bus money or a little something for a rainy day. Set aside this cash at the start of your pay period and then don’t touch it. No matter what. At first, it may seem like you’re worse off. However, very quickly you’ll realise how liberating it is to know that you can spend the leftovers guilt free, because your bills are already covered. The other thing I do at this point in the month is set aside as much of my pay as I can for my travel fund!
Try to keep your living costs down
Avoid buying a car. Buying a car is really cheap in the UK, but at the end of the day it’s the maintenance that will hurt your pocket. Just like at home, you’ll have to pay for insurance, registration, maintenance, and fuel. In a country where the public transport network is brilliant, a car just isn’t the necessity it is back home. Buses are cheaper than trains. However, if you do travel by train regularly, there is a range of discount cards to suit just about any walk of life. Check out the Railcard website to see which discounts you are eligible for.
Cook your own food. I apologise if I’ve just thrown on my cape and become Captain Obvious! However, it has to be said, as some people underestimate just how much money can be saved by eating at home. I’m a teacher and I’m single, so the last thing I want to do when I get home at 5:30pm is cook dinner before settling down for my 2 hours of marking. What I do instead is batch cook on the weekends, when I have time. I’ll cook a pasta, or lasagne – something that freezes well – and I’ve got delicious food for the week for a fraction of the cost of a take-away.
Put your expenditures into the context of what matters most. Have you ever found a shop that, no matter when you go in, you always see about 40 things to try on, 20 of which you want to take home immediately? When I’m getting really tempted to break my budget, I put the cost into the context of travel. “This dress is the cost of a flight to Barcelona – which one do I want more?” Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes I still get the dress because it’s fun to splurge, but thinking about it in this way really helps to sharpen my focus on my priorities.
The beautiful thing about this big, wide, wonderful world of ours is that you don’t have to spend a fortune to have a mind-blowing experience! There are lots of ways to do what you want without breaking the bank.
Megabus. A mate of mine turned me onto Megabus, who will zig zag you all over the UK to your heart’s content. They are simply cheap coach transport. Most of their coaches are direct to their destinations (so no nasty stopovers) and the best thing? You’ll be pushing to pay more than £10 one-way if you book in advance. Now I’m not going to pretend they don’t have their downside. Coaches take longer than trains and the further the trip the bigger the difference in travel time. However, if you are looking to save, they are a great option.
If you haven’t already, jump on the hostel bandwagon. Recent years have seen the advent of the boutique hostel and sharing a dorm room has never been so comfortable! Most hostels will let you choose either a mixed-gender or single-sex dorm room, depending on what you’re comfortable with. I’ve done both, and honestly have never had a bad experience. Using TripAdvisor will help you avoid the seedier establishments, and you might just find some hidden gems. Not only will hostels save you some dosh, but you meet some truly lovely people.
Lastly, book what’s on sale. Budget airlines like Ryanair and EasyJet will regularly have insane sales on flights from London – £30 return to mainland Europe, just for starters. The key to capitalising on these sales is to book whatever they’re offering, rather than getting too hung up on a particular location.
At the end of the day, your European experience is about ensuring that you have the adventure you’ve always dreamed of. A good budget should free you up to do just that, rather than making you feel inhibited. Take the tips that work for you, leave the rest, and happy traveling! You can find more travel tips from Jess on Instagram at @just_another_aussie_gypsy