Paying Bills At Home While You Teach English Overseas

Electronic banking is a good thing, and not a bad way to pay bills at home when you teach English overseas.

You can try to have bills mailed to your foreign address, and send off checks yourself, but receiving statements in the mail can get tricky. Especially when you are dealing with bills that can result in late fees or damage to your credit rating if you pay late (which, in the US, seems to include most bills), I think it makes sense to avoid relying on local mail delivery.

Your school should help you set up a local bank account; if you’ve been hired as someone who doesn’t speak the local language (and likely hired in part specifically because of that) and they are going through the proper channels to get work authorization for you, I think bank account help is more or less an obligation on the school’s part – even if it is as basic as telling you what forms to ask for and helping you fill them out if necessary.

Figuring out how to have your home country bills paid regularly from a foreign account can also be a headache – and in my experience checks are just not used in many countries. In practice, this means: conserve whatever money you can in your home country account and use it for paying bills; withdraw day to day spending money from a local account. I’ve transferred money internationally; it’s not free and it’s not particularly cheap either. If you do this, investigate the costs and probably transfer a bigger chunk at once.

And while electronic banking probably leaves you the most independent, it doesn’t hurt to give a trusted friend or family member access to your finances to help out in a pinch. In some cases, people give power of attorney to these helpers, in others, you just add their name to the account.

I’ve known people who have managed to defer student loans while working in a low-wage country…but if you don’t do this…yep, you have to pay up. Just make sure to do it wisely.