Do Teachers Make Enough Money to Live Comfortably?

You’re interested in becoming a teacher but keep hearing about low educator salaries.

And so you wonder, do teachers make enough money to live comfortably?

Yes, in general, K-12 teachers in the U.S make enough money to live comfortably depending on how they are accustomed to living. Other factors include standard of living, geographic location, family status, and saving habits.

This post is dedicated to aspiring teachers who have concern about the ability to live comfortably on a teacher’s salary.

*Disclaimer: This post represents my opinions/experiences and are for educational purposes only. I am not a financial advisor, and this post does not represent formal financial advice.

Your Comfort Level Determines If You’re Comfortable Living on a Teacher’s Salary

Understanding the relationship between teacher salary and living comfortably begins with taking a look at an individual’s mindset.

You must first ask yourself, “What’s comfortable for me?”

Are you okay with having just the “basics” in life (or maybe just a tad bit more)?

Or do you need frequent lavish vacations, a McMansion (or two), designer clothes, etc.?

Do you have a need to keep up with the Joneses?

We all have different standards for our lives. 

Some people actually don’t mind living in a smaller apartment, starter home, or other humble abodes.

Others desire spacious quarters in order to feel comfortable.

If money and material things are highly important to you, then maybe a more lucrative profession better suits you.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. So be very honest with yourself.

Can a Single Teacher Even Buy a House?

According to the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), homeownership is least affordable for those living in the Northeast and the West.

However, many banks help teachers acquire homeownership with a low down payment- some as low as 6%.

Though banks may do this, still consider investing at least 20% on the down payment in order to lower your monthly mortgage.

Additionally, research support options such as…

Other Factors That Contribute to Living Comfortably on a Teacher’s Salary

Private vs. Public Schools

Generally speaking, K-12 public school employees are paid more than private school employees.

However, there are prestigious college-preparatory schools that pay just as well as public schools.

Family Status

Having a partner who also works contributes to living comfortably as teacher; two incomes are often better than one.

Adding kids to the mix affects finances significantly. So you’ll have to be more creative in making a comfortable lifestyle for your family if you have children.

See how one family lives a good life on a small income.

Money Discipline

How responsible are you with money?

If you have the discipline to buy only what you can afford and live within your means, you’ll be fine living comfortably on a teacher’s salary.

Do Teachers Make Enough Money to Live Comfortably? Look Around

Observe teachers around you. How are they living?

They have cars, apartments, houses, and kids. Maybe they eat out or take a vacation every now and then.

If that sounds good enough for you, then living comfortably on a teacher’s salary shouldn’t be too much work.

However…

If you have a rich palette and want the “finer” things in life on a regular basis, go another route.

You can always consider the teaching profession later in life.

7 Practical Solutions for Living Comfortably as a Teacher

1. Start Small.

If you’re really intent on being a teacher, then do it.

Just start small.

  • Lease a smaller apartment or buy a starter home.
  • Buy an affordable used car.
  • Use clothes that are well-made but reasonably-priced.
  • Eat out only on special occasions.

2. Get Married.

There are potential financial benefits to marriage.

If you’re in a two-earner household, living on a teacher’s salary is not so hard.

Two can live as well as one.

3. Start a Side Hustle.

Starting a side business can help you live more comfortably as a teacher. Ideas include tutoring and teaching English online.

Read about these 7 work-from-home jobs perfect for teachers.

4.  Be Willing to Move.

Paychecks generally go further in places with lower costs of living.

To get the most bang for your buck, stick to major cities, as school districts in big cities tend to pay more.

As always, do your research.

5. Teach in International Schools Abroad.

Teaching in international schools abroad, especially in very low-cost countries, helps to stretch your teacher salary.

6. Be Patient.

As an educator, you’ll probably be paid according to a salary schedule. With time, you’ll move up in earnings on the pay scale.

In the meantime, see if your school or district gives stipends for in-demand certifications such as bilingual.

Extra duties like coaching or sponsoring extracurricular activities often reward educators with supplemental pay, so research those too.

If you really want to earn more money and live comfortably as an educator, consider a master’s degree in leadership or another education-related field.

7. Learn the Basics of Financial Literacy.

Educate yourself about financial literacy, and discover ways to make your money plus time work for you.

Read key financial advice for teachers and learn how to live well (even thrive!) on a teacher’s salary.

So, Do Teachers Make Enough Money to Live Comfortably?

Yes, educators absolutely do and can live well on a teacher’s salary. It’s all about what you value.

If after reading this post you feel that teaching is not the best career choice for you, that’s fine.

It’s good to know what you want vs. don’t want now compared to later when you’ll probably feel too invested in a career or lifestyle to make an exit.

Now you have some insight into the potential lifestyle offerings of a K-12 teacher.