Last week I was contacted by a fellow ITA Alumna , who had some really great questions about my experience thus far in Florence. Her questions were fantastic and it got me thinking that there may be others out there, (hopefully reading this blog) looking for those same answers. With her permission, I have posted our exchange below.
I hope you find the information useful. I don’t claim to have all the (right) answers. I can only speak to my personal experience, but if living and teaching abroad is something you are considering this may help.
Please feel free to comment below if you have any other questions that are not covered here. I’m happy to help.
Here we go:
1. I’m looking at the apartment costs, and it seems that it would be quite difficult to live in Florence on an English teacher’s salary. What do you think?
*I can tell you that living in the historical centre of Florence is pricey. If you’re looking to share residence, I’m afraid I can’t shed much light on that since I opted to live on my own. Obviously that would cut down your costs dramatically. Studio/apartments that I’ve seen for one person can range from 500Euros to up to 1500Euros a month PLUS utilities on consumption (water, electricity). It all depends on your budget. It is possible on a teacher’s salary to break even if you are resourceful with your spending but I HIGHLY recommend that you have a 5-6 month buffer of rent saved even before you set foot here. Peace of mind comes from knowing that if the work isn’t available, you can still afford to have a roof over your head each night.
2. I want to have extra money to travel. Do you find you have extra money or not really?
*On the same lines as above, save up before you come if you want that extra wiggle room to shop or travel or whatever else you like to do for enjoyment. I’m not saying it’s impossible to travel without savings, but again, I’m a person to pre-plan and plan some more before making such a big decision. I have family in the south of Italy and have plans to visit once every few months I also have plans to explore as much as Europe as my budget can allow. Again, nothing is impossible, unless you’re really careless about spending.
3. If it isn’t too personal, can you outline your expenses? I have a friend who lives in Rome, and she said it costs about 20-30/month for internet, about the same for a phone, and i’d need about 200 per month for groceries, plus your apartment cost. What are things like for you?
4. Are you able to go eat at a restaurant occasionally and do things, or are you just getting by?
5. Again, if it isn’t too personal, can you tell me what you and/or other teachers are getting paid in Florence to teach English full time and part time?
*Hard to say. It all really depends on the school you end up working for. I can tell you that at my school, for example, the hourly range for teachers is about 10-15Euros per hour. This all depends on your level of certification (B.A., Masters etc.), teching experience and how desperate they are for teachers! Most teachers work part-time and use private lessons to supplement income. I also plan on supplementing with private lessons, but for right now, I’m working at one school for about 12-15 hours per week. If you end up teaching young children, you’ll most likely be working with them outside of normal school hours (after-school language programs). Unless you have a teaching degree and a proper visa, working full-time in the public/state schools is improbable from what I understand. The teachers I’ve spoken to work a few hours here and a few hours there. Wages range and hours range.
6. I’m planning on getting a student visa, attending a language school and also working. Do you have a student visa or are you just there working? Do you have any comments on visa issues?
7. How many hours of English teaching is considered full time? (I’m assuming that the hours are counted as in-class hours, not prep hours)
8. Do you know if it is common for schools to hire people who can only work 20-25 hrs (the student visa only allows for 20-25 hrs of work per week)
9. What was it like finding work? Did you send resumes ahead of time or go from school to school once you got there?
10. How do you like your job so far?
* I love my job. The school I work for is amazing and the adult students I work with are bright and eager to learn. So far my experience has been A+ (knock on wood!) You just have to get used to a different pace here. People move MUCH slower here. Pack your patience and remember to laugh at the things that seem really backward or even stupid. Keep positive.
11. Why did you decide to move to Italy?
*My roots are here in Italy and I needed a change from the mundane at home. Italy was an easy choice for me….Florence was even easier. Despite the statistics that there are not a lot of teaching positions here, I took that chance. It has always been a dream of mine to live in Italy for a year and Florence just felt right to be the choice city. I also have the chance to spend a lot of time with my family in the south. I’ll be spending a month or so there with them over the summer (and also all the major holidays from now until then).
12. What area/neighborhood of Florence do you live in? Do you like it?
*I live in the historical centre of Florence. I’m flanked by the Piazza Della Repubblica and the Duomo. I had to live in the central part. I wanted that full immersion. I LOVE it, I walk around every night. It’s so easy to just go out and wander around and discover places on your own. Food everywhere, shopping everywhere. Transit is decent too (when it decides to show up). Just most locals suggest not taking it very late at night.
13. Is there a certain reason you picked Florence over other cities?
*I knew Florence was it. I may have considered Rome for a hot-minute (due to Visa reasons)…but in the end Florence was it.
14. I have heard it is particularly hard to get a teaching job in Florence (vs. Milan or Rome). What do you think about that?
*I can’t really comment on that since I have no experience with the market in Rome or Milano. I have heard that as well, but I’m working here…so I can’t really say that it’s 100% true or 100% false, if you know what I mean.