save $20,000

Travel for a Year and Save $20,000

January 12, 2017

How would you like to save $20,000 in one year by traveling?

I’ll assume all hands are in the air.  




All you’re going to need is a University Degree and clean criminal record.  

Pass the test?  




I’m going to tell you how I am doing this, and how you can do it too!  Teaching English as a foreign language.   

No, that University Degree does not need to be an Education Major, as mine is not.

Mine’s a Bachelors of Business and Admin, if you were interested.


Let’s set the stage…


In North America, education is actually behind other parts of the world.  I know in Canada, where I am from, there is an emphasis on learning a second language; French.  But this is because we are a bilingual country.  Study of Francais doesn’t start until first grade, and past middle school there’s not a strong push for it.

I can’t speak for my American counterparts, though I do hear Spanish is a popular focus.


In many other countries there is a huge attraction for children to study English as a second language, and sometimes even as a 3rd language.  They also start at a much younger age.


The draw – rightfully so – is that if children grow up speaking English they can find better jobs internationally and move to another country where they can make a better life for themselves.


Further, the amount of time children spend in school in other countries can be mind blowing.  Here in South Korea, most students are getting learnt 10 hours a day on average.  In some cases up to 6 days a week.


The opportunity…


There is an attraction for parents to have their children under the practice of a native English speaker.  Whether it’s proven to be more effective or not is beyond me.  What I do know, is that it is BIG business in these countries to have a native English speaker on the payroll.  It commands a much higher tuition fee.


What that means to university grad’s from various English speaking countries in the world is an opportunity to travel the world and make a sizable living in the process.


Countries vary in; wages offered, requirements for hire, working hours and cost of living.  But regardless of the country, you can generally make a great sum of cash if you can get creative.


I am going to speak about my current experience; South Korea.


South Korea has one of the higher wages offered and the only prerequisite is a University Degree.  Some of the drawbacks to South Korea are longer working hours, and you can’t legally teach English outside of your school for extra side income through private lessons.


The numbers…


Now my monthly wage is 2.1 million Won.  That is actually on the lower end of the income spectrum out here, and comes out to roughly $2,400 CAD.  Annually I’ll earn just under $30,000.


What’s so special about that?  In Canada that’s not far past the poverty line.


Well, looking farther into the details I will show you how most of that is available to be saved.
First, accommodations are covered.  I don’t pay rent.  

I do pay utilities, and internet.  Cable if I wanted it.  But that all usually comes out to about $50 a month, combined.


Next, Income Tax is nearly non existent.  It’s about 3% of my monthly cheque.  Contrast that with the 25% to 48% in Canada – depending on tax bracket – and I am saving a huge amount.


On top of my wage, I am putting into a pension through my school.  The school matches my contributions and at the end of the year comes out to nearly another month’s pay.

Lastly, it is Korean law to pay foreign teachers a ‘severance’ equal to another month’s pay as a parting gift for finishing a year.


Oh, did I mention my flights are covered to and from Korea as long as I finish my year?


Cost of Living…


As I have mentioned, utilities are quite a bit cheaper than in North America.  Internet and mobile services are also a bit less than Canada.  Entertainment expenses such as food, beer, transportation are also quite similar.  Clothing is a little more expensive but that’s an optional expense.  

As a bonus, lots of countries you’d pay an arm and leg to fly to from North America are only a skip, or hop from South Korea.  The opportunity for further travel is real.


Myself, I am living a bit in the extreme; buying cheaper food to survive on, avoiding shopping and keeping my bills down.


I am easily able to save $1,200 CAD a month.  You could live a bit better and easily save $1,000/m


  • $1,200 x 12 months = $14,400
  • Severance of $2,400
  • Pension of $2,400

Total over the year: $19,200


How much money would you have to make where you are located to build that type of nest egg over a 12 month period?  I estimated between $50,000 to $60,000 a year for myself in a non-major city – Winnipeg, MB, Canada.


Could you live abroad for a year, move to Korea and save $20,000 ?  

If you think this could be for you.. Email me directly at and I can give you further information, help you through the process and even get you placed at a school of your choice in South Korea!


Food for thought,


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  • Currently located in China, teaching English and working towards Financial Freedom. I write about money, travel, personal development and more!



  • B

    Great topic. Lots of info and engaging. How are you saving money by eating though, isn’t it all cheap? What are some ways it’s easy to blow the cash you’re making?

    • Colby

      Thanks for comment B. It’s not actually cheap like Southeast Asia. Sure there is street meat for $2-3 but most average meals are $5 or $6. higher end meals are similar to Canada, like $15-$20. Its still cheaper to cook at home, groceries are pretty similar to Canada as well. Oddly fruit is very expensive.

      From experience I eat more than the average person to so some $3 street meat meal ain’t gonna cut it for me.

      Again, similar to Canada; booze, clothes and impressing the opposite sex will drain the funds out here.

  • ESL_teacher

    Tell us more about your free accommodation please? For a couple of months, I can put up with almost anything. But for a longer term gig I suspect that it will be essential not to be living in some sort of rat hole.

    • Colby

      My current apartment is a 2 bedroom. This is by-far not the norm and I am actually moving this week to a brand new 1 bedroom. Most apartments for teachers are newer and either one bedroom or bachelor. I am a bachelor so space doesn’t really bother me. If you were a family you would need something more.

      In my cases you can negotiate with your school to arrange your own living quarters and get a monthly payment to be put towards rent. I’ve heard of teachers getting between 400,000-500,000 won which is more than enough to cover something decent.

      Anyone who makes a career of this will usually arrange to find their own living space.

      Thanks for the comment!

  • Cardell Brown


    I recently came across your blog. I am very interested in teaching in South Korea and I would to know how I could potentially start the process?

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