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Choosing where to work in Europe (or beyond?)

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by tjf00, Jun 21, 2019.

  1. tjf00

    tjf00 New commenter

    Sorry for the rather vague details...
    My wife and I are looking to start a new adventure teaching overseas - I am currently an Assistant Headteacher/Head of Maths and would be happy to continue with some responsibility but likewise, for the right school and location, going back to classroom teaching would also be fine. My wife is a teaching assistant so would hopefully be able to pick up some work but she is also looking at doing a TEFL course.
    We are in our early 40s, have no children and have paid off the mortgage on a relatively cheap house that we would initially rent (for about £600 a month). Although we don't speak other languages we would want to learn and that might be part of the adventure. I have worked for 3+ years in NZ before but a move there is just too far from family this time.
    We have currently settled on looking in Europe and our target countries would probably be Spain/Italy/Portugal. Looking on the forums, there are horror stories from many places...
    Is there any way to find more information out on some of the international schools - particularly those as part of some of the bigger networks - British Schools, Co***as, I*P etc..?
    Can anyone working in schools in Vigo, Valencia, Porto, Lisbon, Bergamo, Milan, PM me to say a bit more about their experiences?
    Salary matters in that we would want a good lifestyle - be able to travel, eat out etc... although we don't have particularly expensive material tastes. We are currently saving a lot of money from our UK salaries, and travel well in the holidays, but work life balance the rest of the time is poor. We would want to be able to continue to put money away for (hopefully early!) retirement if a move was long term, but I guess for a couple of years initially we would just like to be able to enjoy life and spend a bit more time together.

    Any advice always appreciated. PMs welcome :)
  2. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    Then forget the countries you are looking at. They are the lowest in the world. Have you looked at eastern europe? Look outside the Euro countries and you will get a good to great salary, plus the usual international package of accommodation, flights etc. This you will NOT get in Spain, Portugal, and Italy. It can make a massive difference to your savings potentional. If you are willing to look further, then that money can get very high.

    Have a lool at IB schools, there are a lot more of them than British schools, and from my experience they seem to pay a lot better.
    FrightfulWind and yasf like this.
  3. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Yep, I have colleagues who have worked in Portugal and Spain. Yes, they loved the climate and the culture. Pity about the salaries. Ditto most schools in Italy, And dumbbells66 is right, on the whole, to say that IB schools usually pay significantly more than British-curriculum schools.

    I have sent the OP a TES Conversation. Maybe this smelly old hippo could be of some help.
    yasf likes this.
  4. krakowiak6

    krakowiak6 Occasional commenter

    How much are tuition fees then I wonder in Spain, Portugal and Italy,??? If parents have to pay the same fees as in the UAE or China, then why are all these schools paying miserable salaries to expat teachers and making them spend a fortune on accommodation
    DocShew and yasf like this.
  5. Ne11y

    Ne11y Occasional commenter

    I echo the above: consider heading east.

    Your lifestyle aims will be tricky to achieve on the general salary/benefits you get in the places you named. You'll be lucky to be offered anything comparable to a UK salary and won't get any benefits (flights, insurance, accommodation allowance etc). I was looking at Spain and Italy and was frankly shocked at the sort of offers being made considering cost of living. I would have just been breaking even (and I have frugal expectations).

    If you are after warmth and sun, consider places like Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro and Bulgaria. Even if the salaries there seem low, they'll go much MUCH further, plus you tend to get a package of benefits which will give you much more disposable income.
  6. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    Now where i am is not for everyone. I personnally think its better than where i lived in Spain, but lets just says its comparable. Someone earning a good salary in Spain would have to work for 6 years to come close to earning what i do in 1.....and thats not even taking into consideration that i have next to zero living costs. The school pretty much pays for everything.

    Have a look at the CEESA schools organisation. It has some very good schools on its list. Just google it.
  7. krakowiak6

    krakowiak6 Occasional commenter

    I know one school on CEESA as I emailed them a while back asking for their salaries and they expect a minimum of a BA and 1 years experience and it comes to 21000 starting salary. I dont know how much flat rents are in Riga though but I know the old town apartments are expensive to purchase so I guess the rents wouldn't be cheap. Personal Income tax is 32%
  8. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    Yeh, did you check if any of that was covered? Riga is not a big school. Its nice, and a great city.
  9. krakowiak6

    krakowiak6 Occasional commenter

    Nope, but she didn't say it was so I guess it wasn't. With that tax rate though, there wouldn't be that much left. Perhaps there is a personal allowance though before any tax is paid idk. Ive been to Riga in the winter and it was minus 17 and snowing like hell.
  10. tjf00

    tjf00 New commenter

    Thanks so far - helpful advice. Interesting about IB schools rather than British ones and something I hadn't considered. I've not got IB experience but have nearly 20 years of teaching up to Further Maths plus a 1st class degree so hopefully would still be appealing to such a place. I've sent our CVs off to a couple of schools - one in Bergamo (looking for IB development) and one in Vigo - both have sent "interested" responses (we aren't looking to start until 2020) - anyone know of these places?
    I'd actually love Slovenia if I could choose so will maybe approach schools there as well - appreciate any PMs with suggestions.
  11. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    If you can teach, you can teach the IB. Its not difficult to grasp. Being a maths teacher will help, they are a demand subject, just not the golden unicorns of Physics, chemistry and design.
    yasf likes this.
  12. Tower01

    Tower01 New commenter

    And where are you dumbbells?
    182487 likes this.
  13. yasf

    yasf Established commenter

    Lovely country. Not the best payer either.
    Yes, it is. I know people who've worked there.

    I'd go for Czechia, Slovakia, Russia, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria or Turkey if I wanted a decent salary.
  14. tb9605

    tb9605 Established commenter

    I work in an I*P school in Spain. If the above posts haven't put you off, then feel free to PM me. If you both get jobs here, you'll be earning about €3,100 per month combined after tax (I'm HoD and my wife is part-time non-teaching staff). As a childless couple, your rent could be as low as €400/month (2 bedroom flat) as long as you aren't in Madrid or Barcelona. Yep, not loads, but if you've already paid off your mortgage.... We're managing with two kids and two mortgages on that income and have a far better work-life balance than in the UK: we love it here.

    Like I said PM me if you want to know more.
  15. blue451

    blue451 Lead commenter

    Tuition fees are, on the whole, much lower in Spain. It's a completely different market.
  16. krakowiak6

    krakowiak6 Occasional commenter

    How can you get 2 mortgages on that combined salary? Mortgages are 3 times your gross income. ALso contracts are 2 years not permanent for international schools usually. Unless the mortgages are Spanish ones. I guess you had a big deposit for each one
  17. krakowiak6

    krakowiak6 Occasional commenter

    Yep, I checked two international schools in SPain tuition fees yesterday and they come to 9-11000 euros a YEAR. That's still 5m euros gross takings for a school with 500 pupils though so they should be able to afford to pay higher salaries.
  18. DocShew

    DocShew New commenter

    Because they can. HR told our staff that they have done their research and pay in line with any potential competitors. So basically, we were told that we are paid equally as badly as any other schools in the area. In their view, they are unlikely to lose staff to other schools that are nearby because who could be bothered to move for the same paltry salary? Better the Devil you know.
  19. tb9605

    tb9605 Established commenter

    Well, we had one mortage before we moved out. Our school puts everyone on permenant contracts. We had a big deposit for our first one (thanks to my lovely wife's non-teaching career), but not that big for the second one - banks here will lend 80% of valuation price.... but then you can go to a different bank and take out a personal loan to pay the deposit and taxes (!!!) Not that we've done that - we've just been both thrifty and lucky.
  20. tb9605

    tb9605 Established commenter

    You are assuming that the school has no debts to pay - many Spanish schools are pretty new: ours only dates from 2002; another nearby school only started in 2011; our chief rival isn't much older. We (and I assume the others) are a long way off paying back the loans required to buy the land and buildings, not to mention all the new structures and facilities they've invested in.

    Plus the air conditioning bills are pretty extreme! Not actually joking - it takes about 3 students' fees just to cover them.

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