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Offered One Years' Work In Italy-Any Advice?

Offered One Years' Work In Italy-Any Advice?

Old Jan 9th, 2003, 09:37 AM
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Offered One Years' Work In Italy-Any Advice?

My husband and I have just received after some negotiation the offer of a years' employment in Italy with a recognized school.

He would teach and I would act as a don/guidance to (male)English speaking high school students in a small town about 2 hours from Rome. We are in our mid-fifties and not new to the profession.

Apart from the obvious (yes, we are thrilled and properly grateful for this amazing opportunity!) anybody got any real life experience to share: either hidden pitfalls or good ideas to share?
Old Jan 9th, 2003, 09:46 AM
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Nice opportunity. What is this going to do for increasing your US social security benefits since you won't be working in the US, are probably going to be paid in Italy and, therefore, will have to file a tax return with the Italian authorities and not the US IRS? Because of the tax treaty in effect, you will pay taxes in Italy and not the US. And the income you earn overseas will not be counted in your yearly US social security tabulation as you approach retirement.

Just wait until you get your Italian tax bill. And try to decipher the electricity bill and the water bill. Hours for peak usage/off peak usage/holidays. It's not fun. But Italy could be a nice experience anyway. At your ages, I would reconsider. You may be cheating yourself from having a higher social security retirement benefit if you had remained in the USA. Consult the IRS and your tax attorney and carefully weigh the financial options in either scenario.

Just some thoughts!
Old Jan 9th, 2003, 09:47 AM
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first of all, WOW!

second, i understand your concerns and while i can't help you much since i've never even been there, I would just like to say that no matter what other people say, I hope you go anyway...it's an experience of a lifetime!

good luck and enjoy!

p.s. just curious, are you both high school teachers? public? private? language school?
Old Jan 9th, 2003, 09:47 AM
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How exciting. Here is a book that might be helpful: Living, Studying and Working in Italy: Everything You Need to Know to Fulfill Your Dreams of Living Abroad. I bought it from Amazon.

Also, you might want to read "When in Rome" for another American's view of moving to Rome.
Old Jan 9th, 2003, 10:02 AM
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As the original poster, here are some more details for those who asked.

My husband is a high school teacher(second career-formerly criminilogist with police). He is currently in the public school sysytem, though he has private school experience, too.I have been a businesswoman in the publishing industry for all my working life and recently took early retirement, went back to university and took guidance related courses.

The money is not great; its about the same as at home and ALL costs are covered:lodging, meals, utilities, phone, airfare and 5 weeks paid vacation.Taxes in Italy are brutal, but...the views, the food...

It was our intention when "repositioning" our lives 5 years ago, to do exactly this sort of thing. Next year: England?
Old Jan 9th, 2003, 10:08 AM
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Hi Joan,
You wrote >It was our intention ...to do exactly this sort of thing. <
Do you have any specific problems to which you need answers?
Old Jan 9th, 2003, 10:16 AM
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I have worked teaching ESL in both the US and Italy. I became totally disillusioned, as it is not a profession, but instead is slave labor for young college kids, while the schools rake in the bucks. Expect no respect from the administration, poor schedules, little to no support. I suggest you read the postings on eslcafe.com for a true picture. Good luck!
Old Jan 9th, 2003, 10:18 AM
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As they say, "I would my eye teeth," for an opportunity like this. Go for it and good luck. The only drawback I've heard from military personnel stationed there is having their apartments broke into and items stolen. If you are in a small town that probably would not happen. M.
Old Jan 9th, 2003, 10:23 AM
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First of all, congratulations! You should absolutely do this. You will not regret it. I have lived outside the US for the last 12 years, currently in Switzerland, and have enjoyed every moment of it.

Second of all, the poster above is not giving correct information on tax obligations for US citizens. US citizens, regardless of what country they live in, MUST PAY US FEDERAL INCOME TAX. This is in addition to any Italian income tax you have to pay. You will get an exemption for a certain amount of your income (roughly the first US$70,000), and a credit for the Italian income tax you have paid. You will not be subject to any state taxes. The issue is very complicated and neither my advice nor any advice on this board should be taken as gospel; you need to discuss this with your tax accountant and read the relevant materials.

With regard to Social Security issues, Italy may have their own program which you can participate in. Your school can provide you with information on this, and you may also need to discuss this with your tax advisor. In any event, as it is only a year of income, you will not lose much in benefits. In any event, if you are relying on SS to protect you in old age, you'd better think again as it won't….

There are many websites that are helpful for tips on expat life. Run a search. Try the following titles for searches:

American Women's Associations - Italy
American Business Women's Association - Italy
American International Schools - Italy

I am also guessing that there are professional associations for US teachers working abroad.
Old Jan 9th, 2003, 10:26 AM
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Its Joan, the poster again and, Yes, Ira, interested specifically in those who might have had experience with high school teaching overseas. What are we likely to encounter with student issues? Anyone BEEN a student from US/other in such a school abroad and what would they have liked teachers, and other "substitute parents" to do/know?

On the other side: what would you not have missed? Go home for Christmas/Easter or stay in Italy? What side trips did you most enjoy? Which were then most useful to pass on to kids? Is there a group of ex-pat teachers in Italy (beyond those in our own facilty?)
Old Jan 9th, 2003, 10:59 AM
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Only advice I have is... Go For It!!

You will love it, I'm sure.

It might be worth reading some of the "I bought a house in Italy and...." books "Within Tuscany" "Extra Virgin" "Under the Tuscan Sun" and "Vanilla Beans and Brodo"

May I come and stay?
Old Jan 9th, 2003, 11:17 AM
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I'm an American living in Italy. I definitely would do it again. One reason why is that someone had given me information so I could be mentally prepared when I moved here. It seems that people have the hardest time adjusting when they are shocked about the differences in the US and Italy. Another thing is you simply have to accept that things that would be fast and/or easy in the US can be both slow and quite difficult to get taken care of here. I'll be happy to give you my perspective on the differences if you send me an email.
Old Jan 9th, 2003, 11:43 AM
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Just to clarify. The issue of salary was not brought up and I did not expect it to be anything stratospheric, in which case, one would be required to pay US income tax on top of Italian taxes. And you will correctly notice I did advise consulting a tax attorney on this. I have lived and worked overseas (France) and I never paid US income tax. I merely filed a US income tax return every year and a state income tax return as well. After 10 years, I still have not been audited. Then again, I was under the $70K threshold but always wanted the fact I lived and worked overseas and paid French income tax on the IRS record. Therefore, you did not have to shout about my posting's being incorrect, because it wasn't. All can see the poster's question was vague in and of itself. Furthermore, since I do not profess to preach the Gospel, I advised to consult a tax attorney which anyone in this situation should do. We all know tax complications arise for US nationals making over a certain income threshold overseas. Thanks for reconsidering my post.
Old Jan 9th, 2003, 12:21 PM
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Hi Joan,
Sorry I can't help with your specific issues.
Wish you a great visit to Italy and look forward to your reports.
Old Jan 9th, 2003, 01:00 PM
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Have you checked this site?
Old Jan 9th, 2003, 06:28 PM
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Joan - Being an expat is a wonderful experience, and for me (and many others), the benefits FAR outweigh the drawbacks - I can't state that strongly enough.

You will, however, get a goldmine of responses specific to your situation if you post your question on expat-oriented guides. There are many sites for expats in Italy, and many sites for international teachers, both of which will have many people who have done the exact same thing that you are considering, and who can help you with very specific advice. There are many tips and things to consider that you might not think of on your own, like the importance of keeping a credit card with a US billing address, since many online stores and airlines only allow purchases from such cards.

And wqww - (and I mean this in a very friendly, teasing manner) - complaining about deciphering bills? Try living in China!

The IHT has a section called "At Home Abroad" which offers advice and interesting articles on expat life. The online archive is at:


Best of luck - you'll have a wonderful, memorable time!
Old Jan 9th, 2003, 06:57 PM
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My husband and I spent last school year in Bratislava, Slovakia. I taught English in a bi-lingual high school for university-bound Slovak students. It was a year I will never forget -- usually wonderful, occasionally frustrating, once in a while maddening, but I wouldn't give it up for anything. I found the students more respectful of teachers than American students, but they were becoming more "westernized" by the day from what others told me. Obviously Italy is not Slovakia, so I don't know how much my experience will help you. We did HAVE to be flexible, flexible, flexible because many things which they thought were common ways to run a school seemed really odd to us Americans. Also since we were the guests, we couldn't just tell them what we thought about everything! We had to be very diplomatic and many times just shut up and keep our thoughts to ourselves. I don't know if I have anything else I can comment on, but if you have specific questions, please ask.

Oh, to answer another question you asked: we didn't go home the whole year. We used every break to travel. Christmas in Salzburg, winter break in Sorrento and Rome, Easter in Munich, etc. Wonderful!
Old Jan 9th, 2003, 08:44 PM
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Congratulations! I can't tell you how envious I am.... I was trying to figure out how to live in Italy myself a couple of years ago.

There are many websites you might find helpful - a search for "expatriate" on Google will turn up lots of them. A couple of the better ones I've looked at include:

Buona fortuna!
Old Jan 10th, 2003, 05:27 AM
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Thanks to Andrea and Lesli (and Ira who tried), esp and to all who recommended the expats websites and just offereed envy and congrats. We will be checking them out, rest-assured.

I wanted to share with you all how much I have been encouraged, first in travelling to Italy and now going to live there, by the posters on this site.

I have been a regular (though, not obsessive) poster for some time now and at first had opnly questions. Now, I am able to offere some advice based on my own trips. This time next year, I hope to be very specific and help out Fodorites with questions on my own passions: the Abruzzo and Puglia, two vastly under rated areas of this wonderful country.
Old Jan 10th, 2003, 05:50 AM
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Hi Joan,

Another American living inItaly here. Just wanted to say not to sweat the small stuff. As you and other have pointed out, that is what tax accountants are for. And heck, you are only talking baout a year. I cannot imagine that it will affect your SS benifits that much if at all.

As for good websites. Well the ones mentioned are fine but if you want accurate information not opinions (which those mentioned have) go to http://www.informer.it The site owner is an accountant from England living in Italy for the past 25 years. He makes sure that he gets info from state authorities not from his cousin's cousin which some sites seem to rely on. It is a subscription service but is a must for anyone making the leap.

If you would like more personalized info, please write to me at [email protected]
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