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TEFL Training In Costa Rica | Updated: 10/29/2022

Want to Teach 20 hrs/week? Here's Where You Can Do It

Written by International TEFL Academy Costa Rica

Getting TEFL Certified opens the doors to working anywhere in the world. Where to go is the biggest question you'll probably need to answer. It all depends on which of these two scenario sounds best to you:

1. Work 40-60 hour work weeks and save some money.
2. Work 20-hour work weeks and break even.

It really is no simpler than this. Some TEFL Certified Teachers choose to travel and work in countries like Japan, where they can expect to come home with some savings if they manage their money right. Countries like Japan however, expect you to put in full hours in exchange for the generous pay.

But what if you're not looking to make extra money? What if you already have a full-time job, or are about to enter the workforce and want some life experience more than another full-time job? Lukily, there are many countries around the world where you're only expected to work 20 hours a week, and where this is enough to get by and get to know the country. 

Costa Rica

Costa Rica has long been one of the top teaching destinations for North Americans. You'll likely need to move to Costa Rica prior to getting a job, since most schools prefer in-person interviews. The majority of classes take place between 4-9pm on weekdays and from 8am-2pm on Saturdays. You'll only be asked to work five days a week, and your hours will be around the 20 hour mark when you start. 

If you're looking for more hours, you'll be able to get them. Teachers that actively look for additional hours always find them, whether it be with the same employer or hours on the side.

Teachers are paid between $8-$12/hour, which means you can earn between $640-$800/month if you're putting in 20 hours of work. The average salary in Costa Rica is $500/month, so this means you should have a little left over for traveling on weekends (hostels and buses). 

Teaching ESL in Costa Rica


Just like Costa Rica, Panama makes it easy for foreigners to travel and teach in their country. Since most jobs are available in private adult centers, after hour schedules are the norm. You can expect to work between 4-9pm on weekdays and from 9am-3pm on Saturdays.

You'll be expected to renew your 90-day tourist visa every 90 days. Luckily, this can be done easily and cheaply by traveling to Costa Rica for a border run. 


The cost of living in Nicaragua is much lower than in the U.S. and Western Europe. The average cost of living is the equivalent of $ 300 – $ 600 USD a month. That is 7,500 to 15,000 Cordobas a month. You can rent a room from a family for anywhere from $50-150 a month. You can rent your own apartment from $150-$200/month, although apartments can be harder to come by. Food, public transport and entertainment is very affordable.

You'll get paid more if you teach in the capital Managua. Rural schools do not have anywhere near the budgets as those in the city. Teachers can expect to earn between 75 -122 cordobas per hour before taxes, depending on where they choose to teach.  That is $3- $5 US Dollar per hour. That may not seem like much, but given the low cost of living, it is more than enough to live comfortably.

Click here to download a comprehensive country chart that compares all of the countries around the world and shows you how many hours you can be expected to teach and how much you can plan to earn. 

Border Runs to Nicaragua

Border Runs to David, Panama

Border Runs to Bocas del Toro, Panama

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