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Worth moving to HK to teach?
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hip-hop boy78



Joined: 02 Dec 2004
Posts: 90
Location: Hip-hop land

PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 10:15 pm    Post subject: Worth moving to HK to teach? Reply with quote

Hello,

I’m looking into the possibility of teaching in Hong Kong although I don’t know very much about the current teaching situation there. I will take the time to try and probe a little further over the coming weeks but in the meantime, I’d be grateful if anyone with experience of teaching in HK could answer the following questions, and perhaps help me get the ball rolling on whether or not it would be worth it for me to make the move.

I have about 11 years of teaching experience (3 in Japan, and 8 in South Korea), and have taught both young learners (kindergarten, elementary, and middle school students) and adults. I’ve taught in private language institutes, a private university, and a couple of public schools. I’ve taught conversational English, as well as preparatory courses such as TOEFL and TOEIC. I have a BA and an MA in non-teaching related subjects, but no teaching qualification.

That being said, what kind of salary would I be realistically able to expect and would I be able to save any money in HK considering the relatively high cost of living? ? Would I be best off looking for work at a private language institute or for a public school? Should I reach out to a few recruiters and see what they might be able to offer me, or contact schools directly? Which recruiters would you recommend from personal experience?

When teaching in Korea I had to submit a certified criminal record check, a certified and apostilled copy of my BA degree (don’t think I needed to certify/apostille my MA), and a health check undertaken in Korea. All documents had to be dated within six months. What paperwork is required to apply for a work visa in HK? Do I need to go through the time-consuming and costly process of certifying my documents all over again? I still have a certified/apostilled copy of my MA, but it’s dated late 2011. Would this still be valid? How long would the whole application process take once I have my documents to hand? And would I need to visit the embassy in the UK in person in order to apply for a work visa or can I arrange all that in HK? Any information here would be greatly appreciated.

I’ve been to HK as a tourist before and really enjoyed it, but living there would be a completely different experience. I guess I’m trying to figure out whether or not it would be worth the hassle, and whether I’d be able to save money after a year in HK, in case I concluded it wasn’t for me and then decided to move on after completing a contract. I’m currently in Europe but not in the UK which is where I’m originally from, if that makes any difference.

Thanks in advance for any feedback or recommendations you may be able to give me.
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bograt



Joined: 12 Nov 2014
Posts: 272

PostPosted: Sun Mar 26, 2017 1:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The high cost of accommodation is the main problem in Hong Kong. Without any teaching quals you'd probably have to share a flat to make enough to save anything.
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Jmbf



Joined: 29 Jun 2014
Posts: 524

PostPosted: Sun Mar 26, 2017 7:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Several factors will affect how much you could potentially save. Naturally a lot will depend on your lifestyle and whether you can live frugally. I'll highlight a few potential scenarios to give you an idea.

Scenario 1.

Langauge Centre Position. 20K / month salary. Very high hours. No other extra income.
10K rental for a small studio.
8-9K for monthly living (assumes fairly frugal living but with regular western meals / drinks)
Savings potential: 1-2K / month

Scenario 2.

Language Centre Position. 20K / month salary. High hours. 4K extra income from private students.
10K rental for a small studio.
6-7K for monthly living (assumes frugal living but with occasional western food / drinks).
Savings potential: 7-8K / month

Scenario 3.

Language Centre Position. 25K / month salary. Medium hours. 8K extra income from private students.
6K for a flat share.
6-7K for monthly living (assumes frugal living but with occasional western food / drinks).
Savings potential: 20-21K / month

Scenario 4.

Local School Position. 25K / month salary. Low-Medium hours. 12K extra income from private students.
6K for a flat share.
6-7K for monthly living (assumes frugal living but with occasional western food / drinks).
Savings potential: 24-25K / month

Basically the amount you can save depends on a) how hard you are willing work and hustle to find extra private students and b) how frugally you are able to live. While it is possible to keep all your monthly expenses including accommodation under 13K / month, living that way long term is very tough. Temptations abound and it is very very easy to blow through your entire monthly income on just a couple of big nights out. The key is to find some balance which is sustainable. I'd say 10K for your own apartment and 10K for your monthly spending would lead to a more comfortable lifestyle. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities to improve your income and make this scenario workable and still have decent savings, either via your main job or via private students.
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hip-hop boy78



Joined: 02 Dec 2004
Posts: 90
Location: Hip-hop land

PostPosted: Sun Mar 26, 2017 1:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you both for your replies.

I didn't realise that accommodation was so expensive. Kind of reminds me of my time in Japan. I managed to save money but everything was so damn expensive. However, I'd like to give it a go. I would definitely need to get some private students or do online teaching in order to improve my overall savings potential. How does one usually find private students in HK-word of mouth/networking, or posting up flyers around town? Is it legal to teach private students there?

Also, is a work visa easy to arrange or does it require preparing certified documents in advance? I'm presuming it's best to find a job before arriving and organise a work visa in advance. Correct me if I'm wrong.

I don't have any problem living frugally and eating veggies and rice. I'm not into partying so much any more. I'd be happy with fast internet, a gym, books to read, and a handful of friends. I'm quite good at saving when I have a goal in mind.

When it comes to finding accommodation, is it common to pay a deposit and a month's rent in advance? How easy is it to find a place to live?

And regarding working for a language center, are they all more or less the same or would you be able to recommend any in particular?

Thanks again.
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bograt



Joined: 12 Nov 2014
Posts: 272

PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 12:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Standard up front fees are half a months rent to the agent and 2 months rent up front. So on a 10,000 dollar flat you'd pay 25,000 up front.

Just a thought but if you had the CELTA you could apply to the British Council or as a NET and you'd probably be on the price of a CELTA more each month than what you'd be getting from those schools JMBF mentioned. Something to consider in the future.
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Jmbf



Joined: 29 Jun 2014
Posts: 524

PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 5:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hip-hop boy78 wrote:
I would definitely need to get some private students or do online teaching in order to improve my overall savings potential. How does one usually find private students in HK-word of mouth/networking, or posting up flyers around town? Is it legal to teach private students there?


Private tutoring on a standard work visa is not legal. However, this rule is seldom enforced and private tutoring on the side is very common for many teachers. When you think about it, that makes sense as private tutoring is all cash in hand, no paper trail. Even in the extremely unlikely event that the police were to show up at a student's home while you were tutoring, who is to say that you were not just helping out as a friend?

There are many ways to find private students. Simply by being friendly and approachable at your main teaching job, you will find some parents may approach you for private tuition work. Other ways to find students include making and distributing flyers, putting up ads online and talking to people.

hip-hop boy78 wrote:
Also, is a work visa easy to arrange or does it require preparing certified documents in advance? I'm presuming it's best to find a job before arriving and organise a work visa in advance. Correct me if I'm wrong.


For language centre work the best way is to find a job once you are here. In fact you might find it extremely difficult to secure work remotely. Many people arrive on a tourist visa, spend some time knocking on doors, attending interviews etc etc. Once a centre has offered you a position, they will handle the visa application process for you. All you have to do is supply the relevant documents and they will be able to advise you specifically on what they need. Once the visa has been approved, you will need to leave the country and then re-enter to activate your work visa before you can start work (commonly called a visa run).


hip-hop boy78 wrote:
I don't have any problem living frugally and eating veggies and rice. I'm not into partying so much any more. I'd be happy with fast internet, a gym, books to read, and a handful of friends. I'm quite good at saving when I have a goal in mind.


Sounds like you have the right attitude. Shop in wet markets, learn where the cheap restaurants / stores are, shop around for a competitive phone plan etc etc. You will be able to live quite cheaply apart from the main cost of accommodation. Even here, flat shares can be found at fairly reasonable prices.

hip-hop boy78 wrote:
When it comes to finding accommodation, is it common to pay a deposit and a month's rent in advance? How easy is it to find a place to live?


As noted in a previous post, you will commonly need 2 months in advance plus half a month for the agent's commission. I'd advise you to spend some time to explore different areas and find out which one suits you best, which is convenient for work etc etc. Each area has TONS of real estate agents and you can simply walk into any, state your requirements and they will arrange to show you some flats.

hip-hop boy78 wrote:
And regarding working for a language center, are they all more or less the same or would you be able to recommend any in particular?


There are so many language centres and they vary widely in quality from absolutely terrible to quite good. It's hard to recommend any specific ones as there are so many. As part of the interview / application process you will need to ask questions of the centre, try to find out how they operate, ask specific questions about their contract terms, and then pick one.
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claka77



Joined: 21 May 2015
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Sat Apr 01, 2017 9:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have you considered living and working in Shenzhen? Louhu, Futian and Nanshan districts are right on the HK border (for weekend trips). Guangzhou is also another city that's not too far away from HK. Renting will be cheaper and the potential for extra students/income is much higher. Admittedly the downside will be the crappy internet/mentality of locals, food options,etc (particularly if you're coming from South Korea, I went from South Korea to Shenzhen as well and it took time to get used to however over time I preferred it over Korea). I considered working in HK too but I don't think it offers a great balance (income relative to expenses similar to Japan along with work hours).
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Jmbf



Joined: 29 Jun 2014
Posts: 524

PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2017 10:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

claka77 wrote:
Have you considered living and working in Shenzhen? Louhu, Futian and Nanshan districts are right on the HK border (for weekend trips).


Yes but the border crossing can be hell depending on the day / time of crossing.

claka77 wrote:
Guangzhou is also another city that's not too far away from HK. Renting will be cheaper


Rents seem to be going up in Guangzhou recently. 3K RMB doesn't get you much nowadays, seems 4-5K RMB is necessary for a decent place. Of course if you get accommodation provided that's not a problem. The quality of the provided accommodation (and the usual restrictions on visitors etc etc) MAY be a problem but that's another issue entirely.

claka77 wrote:
and the potential for extra students/income is much higher.


Potential for private students is higher in Guangzhou? Compared to HK? I respectfully disagree. HK is quite unique in having both a large number of students in a compact area AND a lot of parents willing to pay decent rates. I've rarely heard of a teacher in China being able to secure of student base of more than 15 students even in the most prime of locations. I would guess that most teachers in China rarely amass more than 5 private students. Yet I know of many HK teachers who have double that (and more). The hourly rates are much higher in HK as well.

claka77 wrote:
I considered working in HK too but I don't think it offers a great balance (income relative to expenses similar to Japan along with work hours).


I think you have a point here but only at the entry / lower level. A university position with low hours might pay around 7-9K RMB of which a teacher could quite easily save 5-7K / month. In addition they might be able to top that up with a few private students. However, to get to the scenario where a teacher could save a significant amount (e.g. my scenarios 3 and 4 in my previous post) then you would either need to work multiple jobs, have a lot of private students or work at an international school. All of those would require many hours of work and I don't believe they present much of an advantage over HK in that regard.
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HeidiHector



Joined: 10 May 2017
Posts: 34
Location: China

PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2017 10:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hong Kong has many universities hiring. With your credentials, you should be able to make $30-35k HKD per month, which should allow you to live quite comfortably.
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Jmbf



Joined: 29 Jun 2014
Posts: 524

PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2017 2:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

HeidiHector wrote:
Hong Kong has many universities hiring. With your credentials, you should be able to make $30-35k HKD per month, which should allow you to live quite comfortably.


That's good to hear. There's relatively little information about university positions posted on this site. I was under the impression that there were not many uni positions available at all, especially when compared to the usual language mills / local schools / kindergarten positions.
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yurii



Joined: 12 Jan 2017
Posts: 11

PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2017 6:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jmbf wrote:
HeidiHector wrote:
Hong Kong has many universities hiring. With your credentials, you should be able to make $30-35k HKD per month, which should allow you to live quite comfortably.


That's good to hear. There's relatively little information about university positions posted on this site. I was under the impression that there were not many uni positions available at all, especially when compared to the usual language mills / local schools / kindergarten positions.


Yes, I'm surprised at HeidiHector's words actually. Where are these uni jobs? I haven't seen many Razz
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HeidiHector



Joined: 10 May 2017
Posts: 34
Location: China

PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2017 2:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many advertise only on their websites (Google for a list of schools and visit their websites directly). JobsDB, CPJobs, and SCMP sometimes also have postings, but mostly the universities in HK tend to do things in house.

The last time I checked in Feb, at least three (out of the ten or so) schools were hiring permanent positions. And I have interviewed for two of them and they both had a few positions open. Indeed, I accepted my new job at one of them and will start this coming fall. The added bonus of working in HK is that a) the visa process is relatively short; six weeks compared to 10+ in most other countries and b) the visa rules tend to be more flexible; should you quit or be laid off, you could find another job and have the second employer might be able to just send Immigration a letter stating that you have a position there. Usually one doesn't need to reapply completely since the documents are already on file.

I think opportunities are always there in HK; after all, almost all universities are English speaking (or have English as the major MOI) and there are tons and tons of private schools, so it's really a matter of job search skills that determine your success rate. They are as crucial as one's credentials and experience, TBH.

Cheers.


Last edited by HeidiHector on Sun Jun 25, 2017 4:12 am; edited 1 time in total
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Jmbf



Joined: 29 Jun 2014
Posts: 524

PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2017 9:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I completely agree that HK has amazing opportunities for teachers in general, I was just unsure about the availability of university positions. Perhaps as you say that's because they keep things mostly in-house.

I guess overall I would rate most university positions somewhere above language centre / local school work but below an EDB NET / international school position.
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AV15



Joined: 27 Feb 2017
Posts: 51

PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2017 3:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jobs should be looked at holistically though. A university job might pay less than the EDB NET scheme, but you won't be having to deskwarm 40 hours a week and you'll get the longer uni holidays as well.

I'd put the university job above both personally. The guys who are lucky enough to be university professors have a very nice pay/hours ratio. Of course they have PhD's, so it's kinda deserved.
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Jmbf



Joined: 29 Jun 2014
Posts: 524

PostPosted: Sun May 21, 2017 2:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think for university professors I agree with you. However, as you said, it takes many years of work and study to reach such a position. I would wager the availability of such positions are relatively few and far between.

My comments were tailored towards the majority of university positions (e.g. lecturers, senior lecturers etc etc) who will be on perhaps 40-50K / month at most (if anyone could clarify?). Yes, the conditions and working hours may be better than those on the EDB NET scheme, but most experienced teachers on the NET scheme will be on 60-70K / month plus bonuses, return flights allowance etc etc. That's quite a difference.

Moreover, I recall seeing a few articles / comments about the general salary in universities taking a hit recently and things getting worse in terms of overall renumeration. (again, happy to be proven wrong, that's just the general vibe I've picked up)
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