There’s a huge demand for TEFL teachers in Bahrain, but this destination isn’t for everyone. There are a number of challenges which come with living in this country which will put off many TEFL teachers who are looking for their next teaching position abroad. For starters, the climate in Bahrain is extremely hot, with temperatures often breaking 40 degrees Celsius in the summer. However, even if you don’t deal with heat well, this is something you can acclimatise to, especially if you ease yourself in by arriving in the cooler months. Another challenge is that the Middle East has a completely different culture to what you might have experienced living elsewhere in the world, and you should be prepared to adapt to a new way of life. However, while Arab nations are known to be challenging to people from other cultures, it’s said that Bahrain is a bit more liberal than some of its neighbours, so don’t rule it out before you look into the nitty gritty of what life in Bahrain will actually be like.

Bahrain is a small, island country in the Persian Gulf with a rich culture. It’s known for its oil wealth, making its capital Manama one of the richest cities in the world. However, it’s not just the country’s wealth that makes it a desirable place to live. Finding somewhere to live in Bahrain is easy with a surplus of accommodation, and many expats wind up in luxury apartments. Receiving a high wage (tax free) means that while the cost of living can be pricy in Bahrain, you can enjoy a good quality of living. Eating out is fairly cheap, and so are many popular leisure activities. Finally, a friendly community comprised of welcoming locals and a bustling expat population make Bahrain a great place to live.

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Key Facts

  • Popular locations for TEFL jobs: Manama
  • Average salary for EFL teachers: The basic monthly salary for full-time positions is likely to be in the region of 1,000 to 2,000 BHD (£1,925 – £3,850 / $2,660 – $5,320) per month.
  • TEFL qualification requirements: A 120-hour TEFL qualification will be required for most positions
  • Prerequisite university degree: A degree is required
  • Term times: September until July
  • Currency: Bahraini dinar (BHD)
  • Language: Arabic, although English is widely used
  • Teaching programmes: Private schools, International Schools, Private tutoring, International Kindergarten, Language schools, Business English
  • Age restrictions: None
  • Previous teaching experience: Preferred

Bahrain has a literacy rate of around 95%. In recent years, new private universities have been established in Bahrain, providing more educational opportunities for students and also more hiring opportunities for teachers. It is also home to what was rated by the Guardian as one of the best international schools in the world, St Christopher’s School. With a large expatriate community, there are plenty of opportunities for working at international schools in Bahrain. The vast majority of teaching opportunities are found in Manama, but positions in smaller towns do come up from time to time.

If you’re used to teaching in the UK or in other countries that follow a British schedule, you’ll fit in easily in Bahrain where term times are similar to in the UK. As for your working life in Bahrain, it’s of the utmost importance that you show up on time for work, as lateness is seen as incredibly rude. Small talk is common amongst colleagues and you should have no trouble getting to know those around you. Also, with a large and ever-increasing expatriate community, you’ll have no shortage of people to make friends with when you arrive. While women are often put off working in Arab countries, Bahrain is slightly more liberal, making it a more popular choice for female TEFL teachers. In fact, some positions specifically advertise for female teachers. However, bear in mind that both male and female teachers will be expected to dress conservatively, and your wardrobe should also be appropriate for the stifling heat which will come calling each summer.

Requirements for teaching English in Bahrain

Country Avg. monthly salary Degree required Start of term Teaching experience Housing & flights included Suitable for non-native English speakers Age restrictions
Cambodia £680 - £1,000
($900 - $1,300)
No November No No Yes Under 65
China £1,000 – £2,000
($1,300 – $2,575)
Yes September No Yes Yes, if degree obtained from an English-speaking country Under 55
Hong Kong £1,550 – £6,300
($2,000 – $8,380)
Yes August No Not usually Yes Under 60
India £120 – £775
($150 – $1,000)
Yes April Yes No Yes None
Indonesia £565 – £1,030
($745 – $1,355)
Yes July No Not usually No Under 60
Japan £1,600 – £2,000
($2,100 – $2,675)
Yes April No Sometimes Yes Under 65
Kazakhstan £360 – £470
($465 – $600)
Yes August Yes Yes Yes None
Malaysia £550 – £1,450
($720 – $1,900)
Yes January Preferred Sometimes Yes Under 65
Myanmar £600 – £1,500
($800 – $2,000)
Yes June Preferred Sometimes No Under 52
Mongolia £630 – £1,000
($875 – $1,400)
Yes September Yes Sometimes Yes None
Nepal Voluntary No April No Sometimes Yes None
South Korea £1,280 – £1,600
($1,670 – $2,000)
Yes March No Yes No Under 62
Taiwan £1,335 – £1,735
($1,700 – $2,220)
Yes September No Sometimes No Under 65
Thailand £740 – £980
($1,000 – $1,280)
Yes May No Sometimes Yes None
Vietnam £920 - £ 1,500
($1,200 to $2,000)
Yes August No No Yes Under 60

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Living Costs

Although cheaper than other destinations in the Middle East, Bahrain has a high cost of living and you need to be well organised to keep on top of your finances. However, one perk is that you don’t need to pay tax in Bahrain, so that’s one less thing to worry about. Another additional benefit to working in Bahrain is that many employers offer free accommodation, medical insurance and annual flights home along with a competitive pay packet. While this is less likely to be the case for language school positions, experienced teachers applying to international school roles can look forward to these benefits.

If you earn around 1,000 BHD per month, you’ll easily have enough to live on, especially if you get accommodation included with your teaching role. While the cost of living can be high, you can stick to a budget by learning the best places to get a good deal. Find out where your souqs (local markets) are to purchase basic groceries at a cheaper price than you’d find in the supermarket. Getting savvy about where to shop and living as the locals do will certainly save you much of your pay packet. The cost of living in Bahrain is constantly on the increase due to inflation and an ever-increasing expatriate community, which increases demand for expensive and imported goods and drives up prices. Public transportation is often cheap but with limited services, so many expats choose to own a car in Bahrain. In years gone by, expats could expect a company car along with their accommodation allowance but that’s rarely the case these days, and even the usual accommodation allowance is going out of favour.

  • Accommodation: £739 – 758 / $1,015 – $1,041
  • Utilities: £392 / $539
  • Cost of typical visit to a GP: £28 / $39
  • Monthly transport pass: £18 / $25
  • Basic dinner out for two: £25 / $34
  • Cappuccino in expat area: £2.77 / $3.80
  • A beer in a pub: £5.79 / $8
  • 1 litre of milk: £1.23 / $1.69
  • 2 litres of Coca-Cola: £1.93 / $2.65

(living costs sourced from Expatistan)

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