Teaching couple on the move...

Hi all,

I've spent the day trawling the forum, but still have a few questions, hopefully someone can help me out.  Apologies if my searching skills need some work and answers are to be found elsewhere here...

My boyfriend and I currently teach English in Indonesia, but due to recent changes in the work visa application process now have to move on.  We're considering either Cambodia or Laos at the moment, we have 6 months left on our contract/work visa so I'm having a nosey around.

I've come across posts from a few wouldbe teachers on here who have a degree but no TEFL certification, neither of us have degrees but I have a CELTA and my boyfriend has the Trinity certificate.  We've been working at (a decent branch of!) English First in Central Java since 2007 so have 8 years' experience each.  We have extensive experience teaching kids of all ages, adults, ESP, business English and international exam prep, we also have TKT certs (an EF requirement for all they're worth to native speakers!) and I'm a qualified Cambridge OE.  What are the chances of us finding decent teaching positions in PP without a degree?  We're looking to earn an absolute minimum of $1000 each per month.

I came across a school called ACE in PP which seems to be a reputable organisation - does anyone have any experience of working there?  We don't fancy teaching in an international school as we don't have PGCEs, ideally we're looking for a similar setup to EF,  a private language course provider and don't mind working evenings.  Can anyone suggest any such schools?

I've also been checking out the rental listings - is rent payable monthly or annually?  Is the service charge included in the rent?  What's the likelihood of finding a landlord that allows pets?  We have a cat that we intend to bring along, by hook or by crook, and we're happy to pay a larger deposit on a place if needs be.  Are rental contracts rolling or yearly?  What's the best area for expats to live in?  And is it possible to find a house with a garden - they seem pretty scarce on here.  We'd be looking to pay between $500 and $700 per month.  We don't mind living in the suburbs and commuting - are there taxis and buses or just tuk-tuks and motorbike taxis? We'd also consider SR as it's a bit quieter.

Lots of questions, I know, hopefully someone can help answer a few.


Dear Sarah

ACE is one of the most reputable schools in Phnom Penh, and also one of the best paying. I believe they usually require a degree, but your amount of experience might help to counteract that. They do PD, regular observations, organise your work permit etc.

On rentals, it's general to pay one or two months' deposit and then monthly rental payments. Service charge very much depends on what kind of property you are looking at. Pets shouldn't be too much of a problem - many people have them. Contracts are usually 6 - 12 months initially, then renewed. A longer contract will give you some protection from rental hikes but you need to be very sure that you like the place, that there won't be a construction site next door in 6 months and that it doesn't flood, before you sign for several years.

Expats live all over - Tonle Bassac and BKK are very popular, and therefore most expensive. Other common expat areas are Russian Market (Psar Toul Tom Pong) and Toul Kork. A house with a garden on your budget, you'll definitely have to look outside of Tonle Bassac and BKK.

Most people travel by their own motorbike or by tuk tuk. There are taxis, but you have to book them, whereas tuk tuks are on every street corner!

SR is quieter but there are less teaching options and generally a lower rate of pay (to go with the cheaper cost of living).

Hope that helps!

Thanks for the info, Original Abster.  Can I ask how you find life in PP at the moment?  Safety is my main concern as I've read elsewhere that barang areas like BKK can be a bit dodgy, also are taxis relatively easy to book and how do they compare in terms of price with tuk-tuks and motodops?

Hi GuruSaz

With a few sensible precautions, PP is no more dangerous than any other capital city, in fact it compares favourably to quite a few!

By sensible precautions, I mean not walking home drunk, keeping your bag out of sight when travelling by tuk tuk or motorbike, keeping your things locked away when you're out of the house etc. Of course, instances of burglary or bag snatching are higher in areas which have a high expat population, as expats are seen as being wealthy. That said, Cambodians also suffer in the same way. And remember, you only hear about the bad experiences, not the majority of people who happily travel around and go out without anything bad happening.

Taxis are pretty easy to book, but you have to explain where you are - most expats who don't ride a motorbike themselves tend to go by tuk tuk or have a car with a driver (if the job provides or salary allows). Tuk tuks get through traffic better than cars, so they are a quicker option. Pricewise, taxis are a little more expensive than tuk tuks, but they have a meter, whereas you negotiate a fare with a tuk tuk driver.

I would strongly recommend that you come and visit for a research trip. Visit some expat hangouts like Java Cafe, Equinox, Le Bouchon, Liquid and see what life is like. Have a wander round Tonle Bassac and BKK, take a tuk tuk out to Russian Market, ride around Toul Kork. There's nothing like seeing and doing to help you get a handle on a place.

Super, Original Abster, just as I was hoping!  I figured it was likely to be much ike Jakarta, not my favourite place in the world, but common sense and keeping your wirs about you are enough to keep you safe.

How long have you lived there?  How do you find the language?  I found the basics in Indonesian relatively easy to pick up, ordering taxis, food, numbers were sorted after a month or so.  I read that Khmer is not a tonal language, so that makes it a bit easier at least!

I think a research trip might well be in order, have to look at the funds first though!

Thanks again ;)

I've been here 5 years. In that time my bag was snatched twice, then I learnt to hide it better! I also try to use tuk tuk drivers and moto taxis who I know, which gives me more confidence that they are looking out for me. Many tuk tuks now have side panels to discourage sticky fingers.

Spoken language is relatively easy to pick up, at least the basics, and you'll find plenty of good teachers offering classes. Reading and writing is another matter ...!

Glad the language is not gonna be too hard to pick up, think I'll give the reading and writing a miss for a while though...!!

Thanks for the advice :)

I have read all the relies and only disagree with the statement that Khmer is easy to pick up. i am a native Malay speaker and there are many similar words but even after 8 years here i still cant pick up the language fluently.
anyway if your looking for a place that dog friendly drop me an email and I send you some pictures!

Ruben Mahendran!

Hi GuruSaz,

I also worked in Indonesia- and moved to Cambodia last July- currently live in Phnom Penh.

I speak Indonesian well but can't seem to grasp even the basics of Khmer lol.

Ohh- we brought our dog from Indonesia too. No trouble with import or accommodation.

Hope the move goes well :)

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