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

When you leave to teach English abroad or attend a TEFL course abroad, you will 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 in the place 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 are going to 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 accommodation if you plan to stay and teach English after the TEFL course.

Ask your employer

If you are going to 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 own rental accommodation, ask about prices, terms and conditions.

Arranging your own accommodation

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

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

This may or may not be false economy. You may be able to save ten or fifteen percent 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 from 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 arranged accommodation via a private want ad on an internet portal.

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

Frequent accommodation swindles

We do not recommend booking through want ads on web sites.

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 that was 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 was standing in front of a parking lot.

The problem with this type of swindle is that they are very hard 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 it shows 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.

Extra advice for choosing the best countries to teach English abroad

Want to learn how to teach English from the experts?

Contact EBC for more information about our accredited English teacher training courses and job placement program.

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