A Cock and Bull Story?


Recently a young teacher called Lou Cocker contacted me through the TES. As Lou is interested in teaching in Algeria, this gives me an excuse for including some of my old photos of our two years in Egypt.

Hi Hippo,

Sorry to bother you with another working abroad question. There is a job available in Algeria at a new British school. The only mention of salary is that it will be discussed at interview stage. Housing is included. But what type of salary should I be looking at for 2 years experience?

Also it says 30% will be paid into an Algerian bank and 70% into your bank in the UK. Is that normal? Does that mean I would be subject to UK tax laws back home
 

And here is my reply.

Well, you need to do some research as soon as possible. Is Algeria going to be a super-cheap place to live, with some great holiday destinations just round the corner? Or is it going to be blooming expensive? A really good salary is not so good if you are paying a fortune for this and for that and for something else as well. I actually managed to save more in Egypt than I did in Saudi Arabia as our living costs in Egypt were so low. Buying a car can make a huge hole in your pocket and so can some expensive holidays.

And what about local taxes in Algeria? How much will you actually get in your pocket each month? If it is somewhere around two thousand pounds, then I would be inclined to go for it. If they are offering significantly less, maybe one one thousand, then I would forget it. Another potential deal-breaker is medical insurance.

Yes, it is quite normal for some of your salary to be paid in "hard" currency and some in local currency. This is a standard thing in the ME.


All of your salary, whether it is in an Algerian bank or any other bank, could be subject to UK taxation unless you become "non-resident for the purposes of taxation" with HMRC. Then the British taxman cannot touch a penny. However, you need to discuss the process of becoming non-resident with a good accountant. There are some distinct advantages, but one or two possible problems as well. If you are non-resident, then you can keep your British passport and you can visit the UK on holiday. You can also become resident again and get a job back in the UK, as I did at one point in my career. If you are going to become "non-resident", then the sensible thing would be to get it sorted out before you leave. Perhaps I ought to add that it is not worth doing if you are only going to be away from the UK for six months!

A lot of these questions have already been answered in my blog, of course, but you also might like to give me a call on SKYPE.


Thank you for the detailed reply. I've done some research and it looks a lot cheaper than sunny Manchester! The post does not seem to cover medical insurance though which as you say could be a deal breaker.

I also need to do some research into becoming "Non-resident". The end game is to find a post in Melbourne but I want to experience a little of the world first and get a little money behind me.

I am currently making my way through your blog but might have to take you up on the skype call at some point!

Thanks a lot.

And here is my reply. 

I am sorry, but I think that Melbourne would be a mistake. There are plenty of Ozzie teachers on the international circuit because they wanted to get away from Australia! The benefits that are available to most international teachers are not there when you go Down Under, so I am not sure that going to Kangarooland would be a good idea. Yes, Melbourne might be a nice place, but there are quite a few nice places in the world. And why would any Australian school choose to employ a Brit instead of an Australian teacher? It would not make sense, especially as there are some significant differences between the British curriculum and what you would be teaching in a typical Australian school.


If you have saved up some cash while working overseas, then you might be able to buy yourself a really nice house or apartment. However, you will still have to borrow a big pile of cash if you decide to buy something in a very expensive area of the world. (I seem to recall that property in Melbourne is not exactly cheap.) Lawyers, estate agents, banks, building societies and mortgage brokers will all tell you that it is a really good idea to buy an expensive property and then have a big debt to pay off for the rest of your life. I am sure that they are all honest and truthful and they just want to help you.

There are places in the world where you can buy a really nice property for not a lot of money. Here are a few photos of our country house in Bulgaria. Not bad for twenty thousand pounds. It is much better to pay cash and not bother with silly things like mortgages.

Yes, you do need to find an accountant asap and get this "non-resident" thing sorted out. You need to think carefully about all of the possible implications.

My current school in Sofia does not provide health insurance because I am automatically covered by the Bulgarian health system, as I am working in Bulgaria. It is a bit like the NHS in the UK. It was the same in Qatar. However, you really do need to get this clear. What exactly are the medical arrangements for the expat teachers at this school in Algeria? It might be sensible to ask the principal for the e-mail address of a current member of staff. Some principals are happy to do this (and it is a warning sign if they are not).

My guess is that Algeria could be very exciting and a lot of fun. It would certainly be rather different to Manchester, if that is what you want.



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