International schools are expensive, and in some countries there are no reasonable alternatives

One of the key concerns for an expat family re-locating abroad is education for the kids. There are definite benefits to being educated in a foreign country: expat kids are more adaptable and tend to learn more quickly than their peers at home. The big problem is that a proper education abroad can be phenomenally expensive. Some schools catering to expat families can charge a university degree’s worth of tuition for a single year of primary school!

Some sample annual tuition costs:

  • Avg. private school in the US — USD 40,000
  • Hong Kong Int’l School — USD 21,300
  • International School of Paris — USD 36,000
  • Tanglin Trust (Singapore) — USD 28,000

So what’s an expat family to do? In some countries (particularly in Europe and the US) you may be comfortable sending your kids to public school. This may require considerable language learning and an immense amount of support from you as a parent, but it can and does work.

In certain areas of the world, however, this is simply not an option. Developing economies in the Middle East and Asia have notoriously poor public school systems. On top of that in these countries the language barrier will be a nigh-insurmountable obstacle for even the brightest and most resilient expat kids.

Hence, it’s critical to factor the cost of education into your calculations when deciding to move abroad. Once upon a time companies would build lavish education allowances into their expat employees’ salaries. Many assignments may still offer generous compensation, but recent data has shown you shouldn’t take this for granted–even big multinationals are looking to slash expenses on international assignments.

If the numbers don’t work you may need to head back to the negotiating table. Failing that it may be time to re-consider your move: otherwise it may mean a hard choice between sub-par education and breaking the bank.

There are other things to consider, such as the huge cultural/personal adjustment factor expat kids will go thru and how do they learn facile skills that will enable them to cope with change and acceptance of diversity? I’m speaking on behalf of the Manadoob “Secret Connection” educational curriculum for children’s self-esteem and literacy. This program was designed, with the participation of educational experts, to provide children with a fun and well-focused program that helps them understand and accept themselves, their personal challenges, and the world of change that may surround them. Check and contact