64: Living and working at an international school in Morocco

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?


13 thoughts on “64: Living and working at an international school in Morocco

  1. Good evening I am Michael, A Nigerian I am planning to come over to Morocco, I am looking for Any English speaking school so as to teach over there,, please can you guide me through on how to start

    • I found my teaching positions advertised on a subscription site at http://www.joyjobs.com – at $39.00 USD a year. You can also search online for International Schools in Morocco. There are several in Casablanca, one in Marrakech, one in Tangier, at least one in Rabat, a small one in Fez, and the one where I taught in Ifrane. All the others are in large cities. Ifrane is a small town. On each school’s website, the career opportunities should be listed. Apply carefully,a nd include all they ask for. The site I recommended also gives very good advice on how to apply, how to complete an online job references site you can refer employers to in order to see your credentials. The process takes some time, and each school has a different job package, with benefits that vary. Most prefer applicants with a teaching degree or credential from their home country. The Al Akhawayn School of Ifrane’s website is linked to the Al Akhawayn University site at http://www.aui.ma, under the Academics tab, and listingthe School of Ifrane last in that list. If you are looking to teach Englishto adults, there are many private schools in nearly every city of any size. Good luck!

      • Good morning, thank you I really see your effort, I have Nigeria Certificate. in Education (NCE/ Mathematics) and a degree in Economic, therefore I am looking for any school that speaks English since I have no second language, I will be glad if you an assist. me to get. one, and I can forward my documents to you for proper assistance, thanks

      • I am not a career planner – just a fellow teacher. I can offer some advice – scan your documents so that they can be e-mailed and/or uploaded digitally. This includes your identification documents: your driver’s license, your passport, any certifications, degrees, transcripts, award certificates, any additional endorsements that are career related. This is a huge help when completing online applications, or when communicating via email. Keep them all in a single place where you can easily access them. Ask for, and scan so you have a digital copy, reference letters from superiors and/or character references such as appreciative parents. These also come in handy. Good luck in your search!

  2. Thank you for the follow. I’m not a cat person, but I still enjoyed your post about the cats.

    • Thanks! Cats often live 20 years or more….and not all of them are really sociable. Some really are jerks, but I have had few of those adopt me.

  3. Hi! I was wondering what you’ve heard about the International School of Morocco. It’s a British program. I’m currently teaching in China, and for most of the same reasons you outlined in your post! Well said. I was hoping you might have some ‘gossip’ on ISM since its not on the International Schools Review.

    Thank you again!

    • I do not know that school. I heard relatively little about other international schools in Morocco while I was there, other than the one I worked for, of course. Since leaving, I have met others who taught at some of the other schools – but not that one. I did like the country.

      • thank you! Much appreciated. It seems the school is fairly new. If you don’t mind, where did you go after Morocco? I’m in China now, and although I love it, I would also like to see more of the world.
        Best of luck!

      • I worked a year and a half in Panama after Morocco, and then I finished someone else’s year in Kazakhstan for six months. You will see the progression in the blog posts as I moved countries. I recommend http://www.joyjobs.com for international job postings that often are not listed on the other sites such as tieonline.

      • Wow. You really have seen the world. Good for you. I will check both out. Thank you!

  4. Thank you for your interesting article. I really enjoyed reading it and has made me excited to look for teaching jobs in Morocco. Quick question- you spoke about that you don’t pay US Tax but do you have to pay Moroccan taxes? If you do how much do you get taxed on your income? I am from South Africa and would like to teach there.
    Thanks in advance

    • Some international schools pay the local taxes on your behalf. I recall the Morocco tax being less than 15% – it’s been a few years since I was there. Google should give you the local income tax rate for Morocco currently. Plus, your country may levy income taxes on you as their citizen working abroad. The USA does that, too, but only when an international worker exceeds 80 or 90 thousand per year – and international teaching isn’t THAT lucrative, so no USA taxes for teachers.

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