Updated December 24th, 2023 at 19:22 IST

From Plumbing to Prosperity: Ex-UK Plumber nets £8k monthly by teaching in Italy

A former plumber from Oxford who had transitioned to giving private English lessons to students in Italy said he earned at least twice what he used to in the UK

Reported by: Digital Desk
A former plumber from Oxford who had transitioned to giving private English lessons to students in Italy said he earned at least twice what he used to in the UK | Image:Unsplash
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A former plumber from Oxford who had transitioned to giving private English lessons to students in Italy said he earned at least twice what he used to in the UK. Ian Davies, 50, left Britain for Italy in 2019 and became a self-employed language teacher, earning up to €10,000 (£8,568) per month. Teachers with English as their first language were highly sought after in the area and could earn €50 per hour in Italy with no certificate required.

Story of Ian Davies: From plumber to teacher 

While sharing his experience, Davies informed, "I relocated to Urbino in the Marche region, the hub of Renaissance art, just before Brexit post-travel restrictions came into force, and established residence at a lovely farmstead owned by a distant relative of mine. I was reborn,” reported Italy's local news. The city, in central Italy, hosted a top international university on classical humanities, so he seized that opportunity to become a language teacher, targeting its students. “I registered for Italian VAT and paid taxes there, but I couldn’t believe the luck I had in being given a second chance at a fresh start,” he said. “I earned twice what I earned as a plumber back in the UK. At such an old age, I found my dream job.” Davies said the beautiful setting, majestic architecture, and museums filled with masterpieces “refreshed his spirit and body.”

The bachelor, who voted Remain, said he decided to leave Oxford due to stress and a frustrating job that didn’t allow him to fully enjoy life. “The rat race was a killer in the UK. All I did was work, work, work to pay my two-bedroom flat’s £850 monthly mortgage. When the bank told me the interest rate was likely going to rise shortly, I started making plans to move to Marche.”

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Embracing a New Chapter in Urbino 

Davies, a frequent visitor to Urbino since 2000, spent entire summers at his relative’s farmhouse, seldom visited due to work reasons. When the relative offered to permanently share the property, Davies seized the opportunity, planning to apply for citizenship next year.

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“I didn’t pay rent, just utility bills, and looked after the estate, located in the lush green valleys just outside Urbino’s city centre."

Transition to Teaching in Italy 

Transforming into an English language teacher wasn’t challenging for Davies, given the nature of the work involving conversations with students with basic proficiency. With a GCSE in English and prior creative writing courses in Oxford, he charges similar rates to other British teachers in Urbino: between 50 and 80 euros [£40-70] per student per hour.

“I work every day, up to eight hours of lessons, often with groups of multiple students, which allows me to multiply earnings and save time,” he says.

He gets around Urbino by bicycle or on foot, happy to have gotten rid of the car, taking the local bus for €1.50 per ride when it rains.

“Being a solo plumber in the UK isn’t easy. Without a partner or a larger company, I spent most of the day stuck in the car driving from one client to the next."

Discovering New Horizons in Teaching 

In Urbino, giving private English lessons can earn between €96,000 and €100,000 (£82,000-85,000). Davies, influenced by his mother’s love of literature and language, realized the potential of teaching English to students attending the local university. “They’re all eager to drop their Italian accents.”

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Published December 24th, 2023 at 19:22 IST