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Moving abroad, even for a short period of time, can be extremely daunting and full of unexpected issues; but there are a certain category of problems that only longer term Expats will encounter.
Of course, you shouldn’t let potential problems and pitfalls stand in the way of following your dream of living abroad but that said, you should certainly be aware of them in advance so you can either prepare to overcome them or minimize their impact with good forward planning.
It is, unfortunately, inevitable that Expats will experience issues that people who are staying abroad for shorter periods of time won’t. Tourists, for instance, may stay in a country for a few weeks or months, enjoying the sites and heritage of the country without ever having to deal with the day to day concerns of regular life! This will give them a rose tinted view of the country that is very different to the reality that Expats experience while living there long term.
Losing A Sense Of Belonging.
When you move to a new country, Italy included, you will always be seen as an outsider, even if you stay there for decades! This is not because the locals won’t accept you, because they will in Italy! Italians are extremely friendly, open and willing to make friends with foreigners, even treating them like members of their own family; but nonetheless, you will never quite be ‘one of them’.
You will never be a genuine part of the ancient heritage and culture of Italy and so you can begin to feel that you don’t have the deep rooted sense of belonging that you had at home.
On top of losing a sense of belonging you will also begin to lose touch with people back at home. If you are away for decades at a time, or even just years, then it’s natural that you will miss out on many important events that define the lives of your friends and family back home, such as weddings, birthdays, deaths and holidays.
These outcomes are difficult to avoid and can be difficult for Expats to come to terms with. It’s worth remembering, that even if you do return to your home country after many years away you may never feel the original sense of belonging you used to feel there; leaving you as a kind of modern nomad with no real home to return to!
You can mitigate these experiences by arranging regular Skype and phone calls with your friends and family back home; for instance, you could arrange to call each weekend, although you need to remember that differences in international time zones could make this difficult as well.
The Impact On Children.
Many Expats move abroad as a family with children, while others have children while they are living overseas. Luckily for Expats, the Italian education system is very good with plenty of options for ambitious children. As well as this your children are likely to grow up bilingual, speaking both English and Italian, which is a valuable skill to have in later life!
The chances are that if you have children they will actually adjust to their new home much better than you do, becoming real members of the Italian society. Children are extremely adaptive and as long as they are happy they will be absolutely fine!
However, if later in life, they decide to move back to the United States, their home country, they may not feel like they belong there anymore. Another factor for Expats to consider is that if their children do return to the US later in life they may not have the necessary tools and experience to properly fit in.
One way to help keep your children in touch with their home country while you are living abroad is to take regular trips back to the US while they are growing up. This will allow them to visit their relatives and maintain a stronger connection with their home country and family roots.
Putting A Career On Hold.
Expat couples often move abroad because one of them has had a job relocation or found a unique opportunity that they want to pursue. If the other partner is also working in the US they may have to sacrifice their own career to move so that their partner can follow their dreams. This is a fairly common outcome for a lot of Expats, living in Italy and elsewhere abroad.
However, it’s not always easy for the partner who has given up their job at home to find a new equivalent job in Italy, particularly since the economy is quite weak. Language barriers and other cultural factors can also make it hard for them to pick up where they left off at home, while their partner is pursuing their own career.
This can lead to arguments between the partners and can leave the partner who left their job in the US feeling listless and frustrated. There are, however, also plenty of job opportunities for the partner who has left their job in the US; such as teaching, tourism and tourism management as well as working with real estate agents and other companies who have a lot of foreign clients.
On top of this, once the couple returns to the US, the partner who gave up their job may not be able to pick up their career where they left off, and may have to start again in a much more junior rank, at an older age.
This can lead to financial implications for the couple if they return to the US, where the cost of living is higher than in Italy, but as long as you move abroad with an understanding of what you are getting yourself into then it should be okay in the long run!
Unreliable Returns On Investments.
As an Expat from Western countries such as the United States, the UK and Germany, which have strong and stable economies, it can be quite a financial risk to move to countries such as Italy. Italy, and many other countries around the world, have weak economies and currencies that are prone to unexpected fluctuations and collapses.
The major economic problems that have plagued Italy for decades are largely a result of poor governance, endemic corruption and an aging population. This has led many of the younger generations to flee the country looking for work and opportunities elsewhere in Europe or the wider world.
This means that as an Expat, you will find it hard to find safe investment opportunities in Italy and although the cost of living is very low, and you can even purchase properties for as little as $1, the financial implications can still be negative for you!
Of course, it depends on your situation and at what stage of your career you are in; but even so, you should certainly keep these considerations in mind if you’re planning a move to Italy. Jobs can be very hard to find, particularly in rural parts of the country and consequently your finances can really suffer.
There are ways that you can keep your finances more safe while living in Italy, including setting up an offshore bank account, living within your means and saving as much money as you can.
Reduced Earnings Potential.
Traditionally, most Expats who moved to Italy were either relocating due to their career or retiring to enjoy the Dolce Vita in their twilight years. However, in recent years the trends in Expat living have changed significantly with more people in the younger generations choosing to live abroad than ever before.
There are plenty of factors that have led more younger people to move abroad; partly due to cheaper travel costs but also due to the rise in remote working opportunities.
Nonetheless, the financial outcomes for young people who chose the Expat life in Italy can be disastrous in the long run. First of all, if you’re not working remotely the job opportunities are very limited in Italy and the language barrier only makes finding a well paid job that much more difficult. This makes it hard to save money on a low wage, or while struggling to find a job.
On top of this, setting up investments that will give reliable returns over time are practically non-existent; and with the weak, unstable economy you could find yourself losing it all down the road!
There’s another long term consideration that you should take into account if you’re thinking about the Expat life in Italy as a younger person. Spending long periods of time in an economy such as Italy where the opportunities to find well paying work is limited can lead to creating a financial distance between you and your peers back at home in the US; making it harder to return home and fit in again!
Unexpected Long Term Issues That Impact Expats In Italy And Elsewhere.
Moving abroad to live as an Expat can be a wonderful, life changing experience but before you do make the commitment you should be aware of some of the potential issues that you may have to face.
Of course, not all people are as impacted by challenges such as feeling a loss of a sense of belonging or the financial consequences of moving to a more unstable economy than others are; so you need to be honest with yourself while making such a big decision in life as moving abroad.
However, by having a clear idea of the issues you may face later on you’ll be much more able to make an informed decision about your future without being surprised by problems which could possibly have been avoided.