Expats in China who have children may not be surprised at the results of a 2018 analysis of international school prices by the International Schools Database website. The study reveals that Shanghai and Beijing have the most expensive school fees on the planet, estimating that the average cost of educating one child in an international school in Beijing averages out at $2,519 per month.

And that’s only the average. Here in Shanghai, Wellington College International School, which opened in August 2014 and is generally considered to be the best international school in the city, charges annual tuition fees of up to RMB328,000 (around US$47,000). Eye-watering, I’m sure you’ll agree, particularly for expats who are not on a package with school fees included.

Other Asian cities which come out on the expensive side when it comes to international school fees are Singapore, Seoul, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Ho Chi Minh City, while Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur are at the less expensive end of the spectrum. Average monthly school fees are illustrated in the following table.

It is clear that school fees are a major expense for parents living in Asia who want the very best education for their children, sometimes exceeding rent. Attaining that might involve financial sacrifices but they are deemed worth it for the numerous benefits offered by these prestigious establishments which usually have better resources, a wider choice of academic subjects and extra-curricular activities, smaller class sizes and an environment which values learning and encourages children to flourish. Not to mention the higher potential earnings enjoyed by alumni. There are numerous studies which show that graduates who attended private schools earn substantially more than their state-educated counterparts.

The key to dealing with this significant expense is long term planning and investment as early as possible in your child’s life, or even before they are born.

If you are planning a family it is best to work education fee planning goals into a financial plan in advance. Estimate the cost of school fees in the future and set savings and investment goals which are in line with them. The longer you have to save, the easier it will be on your finances when the time comes to fork out for school fees.

Investing your savings wisely can boost your pot significantly. This needs to be done with your limited timeframe and your risk tolerance firmly in mind. That’s why this is something it might be best to consult a professional about.

As a father and financial planner, I understand the financial priorities of families and have worked with many clients to help them fund the best possible education for their children. Please contact me at bmulder@infinitysolutions.com as I would be happy to discuss how I can help you to give your child the best possible start in life with an education which will set them up for success.

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