How to avoid accommodation scams when you go to teach English abroad

When you leave to teach English abroad or attend a TEFL course abroad, you need somewhere to live.

You want to make sure that the accommodation arrangements you make when you leave to teach English abroad or take a TEFL course abroad exist. If they do not, you will have to find something on the spot in a place you do not know.

Unless you have friends or family where you are going to teach English or study abroad for your TEFL certification, you will need to book your accommodation before you leave.

Ask the TEFL certification school.

If you will attend a TEFL course abroad, ask the school if they provide accommodation. If they do, ask about prices, terms and conditions.

Most TEFL schools will provide accommodation for the duration of the TEFL course. They should also be able to give you advice and pointers for getting longer-term housing if you plan to stay and teach English after the TEFL course.

Ask your employer

If you will teach English abroad, ask the school if they provide accommodation. They may include accommodation as part of the job, or they may have accommodation that you can rent. If they have their rental housing, ask about prices, terms and conditions.

Arranging your accommodation

This section is for people who will teach English abroad or take a TEFL certification course abroad and need to or prefer to arrange their accommodation.

Students and teachers who are budget conscious sometimes feel that they would prefer to save a little money by arranging their accommodation.

This may or may not be a false economy. You may save ten or fifteen per cent, but much more than this is highly unlikely.

For example, if a school offers you an apartment for 600 USD, you may be able to find something between 510 and 540 USD. The most you would save is about 90 USD a month or 3 USD per day.

The advantage of the TEFL school’s offer is that you are dealing with a known entity, and you have someone to deal with if there are problems. However, if you arrange your own, you may not be dealing with a known entity if you have placed accommodation via a personal want ad on an internet portal.

If you want to arrange your accommodation, we recommend booking with known hotels, hostels or student residences.

Frequent accommodation swindles

We do not recommend booking through want ads on websites.

A true and cautionary accommodation swindle story

We had a student attend one of our TEFL courses. She did not want to use the accommodation we offered because she had found something a bit cheaper. She sent a 500 USD deposit to the person who had placed the rental advertisement. The owner emailed her the address. When the student arrived at the address, she stood in front of a parking lot.

This type of scam is that they are tough to spot.

The alleged owner could send you photos and an address. Both could be fake. Even if you can do a street view on Google Maps and show you a building, how do you know that it is not a fake address?

Our overall recommendation

It may be a bit more expensive, but for peace of mind, we recommend that you initially book your accommodation through the school where you will teach English or attend your TEFL certification course.

Stay for a short time, say for a month. During the month, check out the local market.

If you do this, you will not be a victim of an accommodation swindle.