The first and most obvious issue is that of finance. If you are thinking of taking dependants overseas with you, it is important to do the maths first to check that you will be able to cope. English teacher salaries vary widely, and those at the bottom end are unlikely to be genuinely sufficient to take care of dependants such as children.
In addition to the cost of feeding and clothing a child, you will have to work out how to pay for his or her education or childcare and ensure that some system is in place to take care of any medical emergencies or unforeseen circumstances. Of course, the more highly-paid positions in Gulf states and International Schools are likely to include the costs of all of the above in your contract package. But if you are teaching at a regular English language centre, your employer is unlikely to be able to offer you an attractive enough package to make it feasible.
The obvious distinction that needs making is between those teachers who have a partner with them who is also working, and those who are single parents and solely responsible for the child or children. In the former situation, when two salaries are combined, depending on your partner’s contract it may very well be possible to jointly earn enough to take care of necessities such as healthcare and education or childcare costs.
If you are teaching at an International School, be sure to ask whether or not free or discount tuition is offered to the children of staff members. Given the eye-watering annual cost of enrollment at many International Schools around the world, without a discount of some sort it could prove almost impossible to send your dependants to a school with people from a similarly international background. That is, unless your partner’s employment package includes International School education for your children.
You might be able to send your child or children to a local school, but consider his or her local language abilities (which will probably be essential for learning in all classes) and whether or not there are other students of similar backgrounds for him or her to bond with. Consider the age of your child and his or her motivation to learn the local language. It is a great opportunity to learn a new language but it could cause problems if he or she lacks sufficient interest.
Local childcare, such as nannies, can be very affordable in many parts of the world – particularly in the Middle East and Asia. However, finding a suitable and affordable nanny who can speak fluent English is likely to be much more of a challenge. This is especially important to consider given that hours vary at language centres and can often including evening and weekend work.
One of the other important issues to think seriously about is the paperwork such as dependant visas. These visas are granted in most countries in cases in which an adult has been approved for a work visa. This usually costs a certain amount to arrange and can be a lengthy and time-consuming process. Research must be done well in advance, in conjunction with your Embassy and your employer.
Finally, consider the views and wishes of any family back in your home country. Is the other parent staying at home? If you are divorced or separated, has he or she given official written permission for your to be the guardian of the child overseas? How do any grandparents of the child or children feel about it? Will they be able to visit occasionally?
Clearly there are many things to take into consideration when taking dependants with you when you head overseas to teach English. There are lots of decisions to be made, and in many cases you cannot make these decisions on your own. Take advice from family, friends and legal teams if necessary. Take your time to reach a decision on each issue and take on board the suggestions of those around you. How do your dependants feel about the potential new adventure?