The downside of course is that you’ll never get rich teaching English; in fact the truth is that it’s a low-paying, dead-end job, though I’d venture to say many jobs are. Also as a free-lance teacher (autónomo), and in many academies, your pay fluctuates according to how many hours you work, so holidays are periods of unemployment which you have to try and save up for. This means if you don’t play your cards right, at Christmas, Easter and August instead of letting your hair down, you may be tightening your belt. And good luck trying to move up the totem pole, that’s about as likely as snow in Madrid. Well, it does happen, but the competition is fierce for the few good positions available.
The other side of the coin is that TEFL teachers are normally able to find work even in fairly dark economic times. I’m certainly grateful I’ve got a job now, even living on a shoestring budget. And my experience is that most TEFL teachers are vocational, at least those who have stuck it out and been doing it for a while.
It’s really nice finding people who love their work. I do, yet I’d hesitate to recommend it to anybody who needs to make ends meet. In fact, I know teachers who don’t consider it “a real job”. It actually does sometimes feel more like a hobby. What you need is a sugar daddy (or a sugar momma), a partner who’s pulling in fat paychecks while you’re teaching for some extra money, the contact with people, and for fun. Yes, teaching English is fun!