Kate Whalen, an Australian expatriate from Melbourne, living now in Prato with her husband and toddler son, has overcame the dilemmas that many face in finding a job in Italy. After arriving in Firenze, 7 years ago on a holiday trip, she met her Italian husband one night at a pub in Santa Croce, which would be changing her life forever. Like for most Italian families, a dual income is the standard for family living and for Kate’s family there is no exception. Through the 7 years of living in Italy, Kate, an aspiring woman, has attained a job she loves and is also in the process of creating a new startup business adventure.
Kate left behind her job as a restaurant manager, working for a celebrity Australian chef. Though she really enjoyed that job, she was not able to continue that type of work here in Italy. Those similar jobs require extensive Italian language, something that Kate did not have at the time. Kate earned a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Archaeology, but focused more on her Bachelor in English in her search for a Job in Italy. It was not long after she completed a TEFL course at a learning center in Firenze, that she was hired by the same center to teach English to local students. After 2 years at this teaching job, she developed enough experience to go out on her own and teach courses in Isolotto at a community center and elementary schools. Three more years later, Kate started a freelance business with partita iva teaching Business English. She only works for companies on a contract-based salary conducted through a training agency or the company itself. Because of bad work experiences with schools, Kate strictly conducts all her work for companies. Concerning her contracts, she has her “commercialista” draw-up the documents between the hiring companies and her. She states the terms of the contract and having this kind of document gives her a sense of security needed when dealing with an independent owned business. Sometimes she gets a “lettera d’incarico” from a training agency where she has her commercialista check over its legitimacy. How does INPS affect her contracts?
“INPS HURTS…..it’s expensive and I honestly hate paying it. Having said that, I did receive five months of maternity payments plus three months of half-maternity payments because I had paid so much in INPS the previous year. That’s the only positive thing I can say about my relationship with INPS at this point.”
She claims it is easy to get a Partita IVA, but the hardest part is paying the INPS and taxes associated with having a freelance type business. She started with the ‘regime minime’, so she only paid 5% in tax the first 4 years, but that was when her yearly income had to remain under a certain amount. She states, “The problem is, people with the partita IVA don’t only have to pay taxes and INPS in June, but also another payment in November which is an estimated part payment of what you will be paying for the following year….. Confusing and annoying and sometimes a shock to receive.” Though she has these contracts, most invoices are paid after 60 or 90 days, so budgeting and planning is important. With more ups than downs in her freelance business, she claims: “It’s the best decision I made regarding my teaching career here, and I haven’t looked back.”
I was curious as to how working has affected her family life. Kate considers it as one of the best jobs in the world for my family, as it has flexible hours, no weekends, and no evenings. Kate and her husband decided to place their child in “Asilo” at 5 months for two mornings a week. She states her infant son benefits from going to the Asilo, “He loves it. He plays, learns and socialises, plus he eats incredibly well. And now that he is 17 months, he is happy to go every day.”
She might have her career of choice, but that has not stopped her from pursuing other business type adventures. Kate is in the process of designing and implementing another wonderful startup business, created from her expat experience living and giving birth here in Italy. Kate had to go around and collect special items to have when she was going to be in the hospital and at home after delivery. She says, “pads, nipple balm etc….the things no one really wants to buy and no one really talks about!” She realized that it was many trips around to get the right items instead of a one stop bag with all the items needed. Kate states, “So I came up with the idea to create a pre packed hospital kit for mums to be. They exist in Australia, the UK and the US, so I’ve decided to give it a shot here. It isn’t a baby kit, this is just for mums and I think it could make a nice baby shower gift from friends or family. Many of the products I have chosen are certified organic, biodegradable and recyclable. Much of the packaging has been recycled and has low C02s, so are more friendly on the environment than other products on the market. From my research, most people would prefer to throw away the items they use in the hospital, rather than bring them home, therefore it became apparent to me that I needed to create something with as little negative impact on the environment as possible. In addition, most of the products are produced in Italy. So I’m going to give it a try! Watch this space!”
Kate Whalen came to Italy on a getaway vacation not realizing she would find the love of her life and start to raise a family all while being a motivated woman enjoying her career and creating another one with hopes to help other moms with their births in Italy. She is a woman many expat moms could learn a lot from in their search to expand their career here in Italy. Just reach out your hands and go for it, it will happen.
Author: Kimberly Vanzi
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