International teaching is ‘where it is at’ for me. I taught for twenty years in the public schools in Georgia in the United States. Various things were not too good, including the taxation and the standard of living, the disrespect of students and the administration’s views (trickled down from the federal government) that everything wrong with the schools, and why students were not learning, was the teachers’ fault. Since I emphatically do not agree with that diagnosis of the ills of American education, I sold all my possessions, paid off nearly all of my debts and accepted a two-year position teaching at a small international school in Morocco that I found while surfing the Web at a subscription site that lists vacancies at K-12 international schools world-wide (www.joyjobs.com). Did I know anything AT ALL about Morocco before I said YES?? No, I did not. Is this ‘jumping off the deep end’ without doing your research absolutely against the advice of seasoned international teachers? Yes, it is.
After I said yes, I began doing some belated research. I subscribed (for not a lot of money) to a Website that allows international teachers to post reviews of schools and directors (administrators) (www.internationalschoolsreview.com). Turns out I picked a pretty good one. Then, I did a little online research about Morocco. Turns out I picked a pretty good one there, too.
We have been here nearly twenty months. My husband and I have really liked it here. That does not mean there are no problems. Administratively, Moroccan government bureaucracy is legendary, and in no way compares to the American ‘get ‘er done’ attitude. But hey – it isn’t America, and a lot of other things work here just fine, thank you very much. Besides, I live and work here with NO US taxes, which is great for somebody who was more than a little upset how all my hard-earned tax monies were being used (read MISused) by US government. Plus, the school where I work provides some very nice perks in addition to the no US taxes thing, as if that were not enough. They paid us a relocation allowance for the airfares to fly over which almost paid for my ticket AND my husband’s ticket (he is a spouse, and does not work here unless they need an athletic coach part-time). They also pay us a monthly housing allowance which covers our apartment rent, our electricity and gas, water and phone, and computer access bills. That leaves only food to purchase, and the expenses for our little, used, plastic car. Neither of these expenses amount to much in a month – certainly FAR less than we were used to paying in the US. They cover our major medical policy for us, and adding vision and dental is VERY cost-effective.
We have decided that we are NOT returning to the US, and if we do, it will be for a short two-year contract there, strictly in order to increase my Georgia teacher’s retirement pension. I will quite happily finish out my ten year’s worth of teaching in international schools. I have learned a few things. Generally, international school teachers do not pay taxes in the country they are working in for at least the first two years, and they don’t pay US taxes because they don’t earn enough. You have to make more than 80 or 90 thousand US dollars a year before you have to pay US taxes, and most international teaching contracts are not paying that much. For this reason, many international teachers stay only the two years at any one school. Then, they move to another, so they can enjoy tax-free status again for the next two years, and also so they get to see a new part of the world – a primary reason many of us choose teaching overseas.
Plus, the costs of living in most of these countries is MUCH lower than in the US. The salary that they do pay you goes MUCH further than it would in the US. My current school pays about US 24,000 annually. Sounds sucky, right? Now consider: no US taxes – an instant 1/3 raise on federal income taxes alone, much less state taxes, sales taxes, and additional assorted fees (which are also taxes). That 24 K is now much closer to 36K. NOW, add in: no housing or utility costs. My former home cost 1,500 per month for the mortgage, and that did not even touch electricity, gas, water, sewage, storm water utilities tax and various other crap. Now that 36K is up to 54K US money, and I did not include the free utilities every month. That surely adds another 6K a year – so, I am effectively earning 60K in US dollar value here in Morocco, where I can buy a week’s worth of fresh fruit and produce at the market for less than ten dollars US.
What’s not to love?