See that picture of the wad of cash spread around? It’s not a stock photo or something I found on Flickr. Nope, it’s a picture that I took in my room of my money. That’s right, the end of the semester perks have just been paid!
When you teach English in China, most often there are additional perks that sweeten your contract. Of course you get your salary and a free place to live, but you get additional bonus such as airfare reimbursement and end of year travel allowances. These little items can add quite a bit of money to your bottom line.
Every school is different in the amounts paid out, but most have the same perks. At my school they reimburse your airfare up to 8000 rmb (about $1,200 USD) with a one year contract. They give you half first semester and half at the end of the year. The wad in the picture is mostly our airfare reimbursement.
We were naive when we first got here and handed over our incredibly cheap airfare tickets to be reimbursed, which they did. So while we had a limit of 4000 rmb for our reimbursement our tickets were so cheap they were only 2500 rmb each. We happily took it. Then we learned that the airfare reimbursement isn’t exactly just paying back the airfare. It’s a perk and we screwed ourselves out of getting more money. In fact several teachers didn’t have a ticket at all and ended up getting their full amount!
So we were smarter the second time around. Also, we didn’t have any plane tickets as we have stayed in China the whole year. So this time we each got our full amount, in cash, which works out to be a big pile of little red Mao faces looking at you.
Another perk is the travel allowance. At my school the amount is about 1200 rmb (approx $175). I’m not really sure why they pay out this bonus but again it is a standard bonus in most teaching contracts.
I’ve heard that in many schools these items are both negotiable, though I haven’t tried. So if you are in contract negotiations right now feel free to try to increase the airfare reimbursement, travel allowance or both. (I’ve heard some school go as high as 14,000 rmb airfare reimbursement.) And remember; don’t treat these like bonus, or extra money. Rather treat it like a part of your salary and try to get as much of it as you can!