Question from a reader: China vs. Korea
A reader from Europe writes:
hey, I stumbled upon ur blog and i have to say its pretty cool!
Im from Europe and I also plan on coming to seoul to teach! Trouble is, Ive also been offered a job in Shanghai and I wanted to know if yu'd been there and maybe u could compare ie:terms of living
Hope u can help,
Hi there my wonderful European reader,
Korea only accepts English teachers from countries where English is considered the primary language (that is, England, Ireland, South Africa, Austraila, New Zealand, the US, and Canada). It seems a little silly, especially because there are many other countries that teach excellent English to their residents. If you hold a passport from one of these countries, that's your ticket into Korea.
I've never been to Shanghai, much less China, so I'm afraid I can't compare terms of living. I can point you to a few blogs about Shanghai and/or China:
- http://www.chinabloglist.org/list.php?geo=40&orderby=3 lists blogs across China - the page above details blog in Shanghai
- http://www.chinalyst.net/ aggregates a number of blogs across China.
- http://theshanghaiexpat.blogspot.com - this post compares life in Shanghai and Beijing.
- http://www.chinaexpat.com/article/2007/03/22/travel/adapting-life-china-50-handy-hints.html - this blogpost looks especially helpful for a new expat in China
- http://www.expatsinchina.com/ is another excellent website about living in China.
Bear in mind that China's censorship rules means any blogger is either going to fly under the radar (ie.not be very popular) or be fairly careful in what they post. Certain subjects or mentions of China's history, the government, and several other subjects are not open for debate, especially among foreign English teachers.
Since salary is important to some, I thought I'd point out a fairly significant difference in pay. I can't say there's such a thing as an 'average' pay, but for the sake of argument I took a look at myesljob.com to compare salaries. It's entirely unscientific, so keep this with a grain of salt.
Both countries typically offer assistance with housing, health insurance, and so on along with their salary. A quick averaging of several offered positions suggests an 'average' wage is about 9,000 Chinese RMB / Yuan a month (there seems to be a pretty big gap between a salary in a larger city and a rural area, for what it's worth) . That translates to $1,317 USD or 900 Euros a month. On the Korean side, I'll take 2.2 million as a fairly average starting salary - that's about $1,842 USD or 1,259 Euros a month. Again, these are both general averages - do your own research and find a better-paying job for yourself.
I can say that Korea has been a great place to work, live, and travel around. Things are generally safe, clean, and easy to deal with. The overly conservative warnings I once read about Korea now seem rather quaint, while common sense and observation is enough to get around and get along. Although China would certainly be an interesting place to live and teach, I'm quite happy with Korea for the time being. Best of luck in your search.
Fellow expats - thought about teaching in China? Done any research into salaries in other countries? Comment away!
© Chris Backe - 2009