Working In Europe: An Overview
Conditions in schools are generally good; you will have what you need to teach, or will be able to find it relatively easily.
Living conditions vary considerably from country to country; instinct tells me that the further west you go, the more finding affordable housing becomes an issue. Further east, your accommodation may appear old from the outside or have not-so-modern furniture, but will tend to be spacious and otherwise “alright” inside.
Many European towns and cities maintain a balance between a historic atmosphere and modern conveniences. In places further out of the main path – like Sarajevo – there may be a more traditional feel but going without the amenities you’re used to is not for everyone.
The language school industry is a competitive one and this shows in salaries; schools know what other schools pay and take that into account. Despite the lower cost of living in Eastern Europe, you may have to penny pinch a bit to get by wherever you are in Europe, especially on a new teacher’s salary. Many people still find it valuable for the experience of living in Europe and the possibility of being able to travel nearby.
The bad news for North Americans, Australians and South Africans is that things are getting increasingly difficult for citizens of non-EU countries. Even in the newer EU countries, which will probably remain potentially open to non-EU teachers for at least the near future, the process of getting a work permit is tedious and time consuming; so much so that schools may prefer to employ EU members only. Of course it’s almost always been just as hard if not harder for others to work in the US…so Americans would be wise not to complain too loudly. However, Transitions Abroad has articles on working in Spain and France as a non-EU teacher, and there is also a Language Assistant Program in France which is open to Americans.
Countries that have yet to join the EU may represent the best places for non EU teachers to find jobs, especially new teachers. Word is that it is sometimes possible to find work illegally in Spain and Italy, but be warned that this often invovles risk.
For other resources, check out the General Europe Forum at Dave’s ESL Café, as well as the International Job Board at the same site. Tefl.com also has job listings divided into Europe/EU/Central and Eastern Europe as well as by specific countries.