One of the things people don't seem to anticipate is the startup cost of arriving in a new country. You need money. You have to pay rent and security deposits (we pay rent in 3-month chunks in China) if the school doesn't do provided apartments.
You're probably not going to want to live off 2min noodles (trust me) until the next company payroll day comes back around. If you're arriving halfway through the month, with an empty wallet - you're not going to have a soft landing. 3000USD should be about enough to make sure you aren't living off Ramen and couch-surfing on the sofas of people you just met in a pub.
Do your research - if you want to live in Shanghai, all the more glitterati to you daaahling - just be ready to support the lifestyle to which you are, or strive to be, accustomed to.
FOLLOW THIS LINK to an excellent site for comparing the cost of living in different cities and countries.
It is staggering how many people arrive in China only to find out that teaching isn't just "show up and do stuff". There is actual work involved and the hours of prep time can be hardcore.
Newsflash folks - you weren't offered an all expenses paid vacation - you accept a J.O.B.
Lesson planning, printing resources, coming up with new, better activities - these are just a few of the things ESL teachers do day-to-day.
You are expected to be professional and perform to the best of your ability - same as any employer would expect back in your own country.
I hate to break it to you, but recruiters, employers, and agents do not possess some magic wand they can wave that makes you exempt from the bureaucracy, frustration, and chore of getting all your documents authenticated for the China Work (Z) Visa.
First, you will have to get your degree, your TEFL certificate (and any other teaching licenses or certifications), your criminal background check and copies of your passport notarized by a notary or solicitor.
Next, you're going to get the whole lot authenticated.
If you're from the US, you'll be moseying on down to the State Dept while folks from South Africa will be disturbing someone's tea break at DIRCO. Anyone from the UK will need to jolly well pop down the FCO, and our Canadian friends will need to get "oot and aboot" to The Service of Documents Section of Global Affairs while Australians will go down under to The Departments of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The final step is to submit all the authenticated documents for one last authentication at the Chinese Embassy.
You might wonder why it's such a long and detailed process - ask the folks who shop at BUY MY DEGREE DOT COM - we have them to thank.
You're about to get on a plane and fly all the way to the other side of the world for a year - you're supposed to be a bit scared.
The best things in life, the things that have the potential to shape us and change our lives forever are supposed to be bit scary - that's how we grow- by getting out of the dreaded comfort zone and by experiencing all the world has to offer.
It's ok to worry - that's normal - it's not ok to flake out because you're afraid that you can't do it.
Thousands of teachers (literally the number is enormous - google that shit) do it every year - there's no reason why, without some planning, thoughtfulness, courage and an open mind, you can't be one of them.