You don’t come to Italy with the idea of making lots of money, but many teachers do manage to save something over the period of their teaching contract. In general, the South is less expensive than the North as it isn’t as built-up; but realistically, you’ll still only save about 10-20% of your wages once your TEFL contract has ended.
Your biggest outgoing while you’re out teaching English in Italy will be on accommodation – expect to spend around 60% of your salary on rent if decide to live on your own in the major TEFL centres of Rome or Milan, with a one bed city centre flat (including bills) costing around £650/$1,110 a month. For this reason, many TEFL teachers decide to live on the outskirts of Rome or Milan instead, as rent is considerably cheaper; but most share accommodation either with colleagues from their school or simply by responding to classifieds online.
As long as you shop locally (and eat Italian) the cost of food can be fairly low at around £1/$1.50 for a 1kg bag of pasta and £2/$3 for a big box of tomatoes. Emphasis is placed on buying fresh produce, with many Italians buying food in the morning, ready to use in the evening. As such, fridges and freezers don’t tend to store much, so you won’t be able to save money by bulk-buying.
Nights out in Italy are quite costly especially if you stray in to some of the areas popular with tourists. A nice meal in a local neighbourhood, such as Dragoni in Rome, can start from as little as £12/$20, with a glass of Italian wine costing £3/$4.
One of the most-loved cuisines in the whole world, you’re sure to never go hungry while you’re teaching English in Italy. With fresh, good quality ingredients in every meal, it’ll be a battle between wanting to eat anything and everything, and making sure your waist doesn’t drastically expand!
Pizza and pasta make up the majority of traditional Italian dishes, with Spaghetti Carbonara a firm favourite amongst the locals: mix fried pancetta and mushrooms together in a creamy sauce; and top with a poached egg.
Drinks-wise, the Italians have a lot of flavoured liqueurs that can either be enjoyed straight, or as part of a cocktail: Limoncello (lemon), Fragolino (strawberry) and Maraschino (cherry) are just a few you need to try!
The weather in the North and the South varies – whilst the summers are warm, with 30 degrees Celsius a regular occurrence, Southern Italy enjoys a Mediterranean climate, so winters are milder. In contrast, the North gets very cold in winter, with average temperatures of 4 degrees Celsius, so if you’re teaching English in Milan or Venice, be sure to pack plenty of warm clothes!
Employers do not tend to provide accommodation free of charge to employees, so you’ll need to find your own. Housing is of a fair standard, although electricity is expensive, and you’ll no doubt find you don’t have enough plug sockets for all your electrical goods, which is probably a good thing as electricity can prove a little expensive in Italy! Apartments are small in the city centre due to the lack of space, but head into the suburbs and you’ll be able to get a lot for your money. To rent a room in an apartment in Naples for instance, will cost anywhere between £200-£300 a month, which is easily affordable on the average teacher’s salary.
There’s demand for English teachers all over Italy – from major cities to smaller towns – but the cities of Rome, Milan and Naples offer the most opportunities as they have a higher concentration of schools and businesses.
The peak hiring times for teachers are in February/March for summer camps and year round for private language schools.
In Rome, the classes are varied, and you could be teaching classes of 5 year old children, or conversational English to adults who want to use it on holiday. Students are more middle-class in Milan, and private schools have more money, so there are more teaching resources available.
Salaries may be a little lower for teaching English in Southern Italy, but the cost of living will also be lower. Teaching English by the coast in Naples, Bari or even the Amalfi Coast is not to be sniffed at! Short term contracts teaching English at summer camps are the most common types of employment in these regions: both Study WE and the English Camp Company are highly recommended, the latter of which has camps all through Italy and Austria.
Italian cities are well-equipped where public transport is concerned, with networks of buses, trams and metros. A one way ticket on the Milan metro costs around £1/$1.60 so it’s reasonably cheap; and with routes connecting the suburbs to the centre, you’ll be able to reach your place of work easily and cheaply.
An average working week of 25 hours teaching in private institutions means you’ll have plenty of time off to explore; and with TEFL contracts typically ending in June, you’ll have a whole summer to travel, and see the beautiful sights of Italy! If living in Italy is enough for you and you’re not keen to travel, then you could also pick up a summer camp during these months to supplement your income!
For travelling through Italy, the best option is by train as routes are quick, relatively cheap and very reliable. You can get a one-way ticket from Rome to Milan for £40/$66 and you’ll get the opportunity to watch the gorgeous countryside slip by your window as you go. With so many other European countries practically on Italy’s doorstep, it would be a shame to not explore some of Europe during your time teaching!
If you’d prefer to live amongst other teachers in Rome, then search for a flat in the Trastevere district – particularly popular amongst young people; bars, restaurants and café’s line the streets and can be very lively in the evenings; and its central location means you can easily get from one side of Rome to the other.
There’s a lot of red tape surrounding non-EU nationals obtaining a teaching visa, and because of this, some teachers work illegally. Do NOT do this – start the process of applying for a visa in plenty time, and get in contact with the Italian Embassy for more information (found in most major capital cities).
Just for the experience, if you’re staying in Milan you should visit Gold Bar at least once. The place is covered in glitter and sparkle from top to toe, almost to the point of tacky, but because it’s owned by Dolce and Gabbana, it totally works! Be sure to people-watch here, it’s a favourite haunt amongst the fashionistas, and you’re sure to spot a celebrity or two.
If you're keen to find out more about teaching in Italy then you'll want to check out the i-to-i TEFL free guide. You'll find out loads more useful information on finding your first job, where you can teach and how to negotiate the best salary package.
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