Italy is one of the most wonderful countries in the world with a huge diversity of landscapes, an amazing heritage of art and culture and some of the finest food and wine you’ll ever taste!
Many people who are considering relocating to a foreign country, as a student, a young professional or as a retiree, wonder whether or not they can live a good life in Italy. The short answer is Yes, you most definitely can! You can live an extremely high standard of life for a very affordable price in Italy and with so much to see and do you’ll never be at loose end if you don’t want to be.
More About Life in Italy.
Italy has become a major hub for international immigrants and a significant proportion of these newcomers arrive from Africa, Asia and other parts of the world where the population is poorer than in Europe.
As a highly industrialized country with plenty of low paid job opportunities many immigrants travel to Italy, work hard in the factories and industrial sectors of the economy and send money back home to their families.
This has caused some friction with the local communities and as the rate of unemployment for young Italians has continued to rise, to around 30% today, this has become a prominent cultural issue in the country.
It’s not just immigrants from the developing world who are moving to Italy because many Expats from America and other parts of the West have chosen to make Italy their new home.
Key Reasons Why Americans Move To Italy.
All aspects of life in Italy have pros and cons, and although we’ll explore these in more detail below, it’s very clear that on balance the pros far outweigh the cons.
The History and the Artistic Heritage of the Nation.
Italy is an ancient country that has an outstanding historical heritage that dates back to before the Roman Empire! There are so many amazing archeological sites to explore and a whole host of galleries, museums and churches that are packed with some of the most impressive artifacts in the world.
The major cities, like Rome, Venice or Florence, have a remarkable amount of galleries and churches. When you visit these you can appreciate some of the most famous paintings and sculptures from the Renaissance as well as older periods in the country’s history.
However, the smaller towns and villages also have a great deal of interesting art and surprising finds, just waiting for you to discover. There’s no doubt that if you’re something of a culture vulture you’ll be spoilt for choice in Italy, the heart of the Renaissance and the home of some of the world’s most influential historical sites.
When it comes to the beauty and variety of the Italian landscape there really is no downside! From lovely seaside resorts to the charming rural idylls of Tuscany and other provinces, from the bustling cities of Rome and Venice to the medium sized medieval hill towns, there truly is something for everyone.
Every region has its own unique charms, personality and advantages so before you decide to settle in Italy you should do some deep research into the different provinces and what they have to offer.
Alternatively, if your budget allows, why not take a tour around the country to see firsthand where you want to live! It might actually end up taking you quite a while to figure out exactly where you want to settle in Italy so do allow yourself time and flexibility until you find the perfect spot to relocate to!
Healthcare and Insurance.
The Italian public healthcare system was founded in the 1970s and has gone from strength to strength and provides some of the best medical treatment in the world. The healthcare system in Italy frequently comes in the top 10 in the world, as judged by the World Health Organization; and is also far cheaper than comparable services in the US and other parts of the West. The health care system provides all areas of treatment from basic care to highly specialized medical services. Health insurance is fairly cheap with prices starting at around $50 per month.
Enrolling in the system can be a bit of a headache although as an Expat you’ll usually be entitled to getting a free healthcare insurance quote from your local service or insurance company.
The Cost of Living.
When it comes to the cost of living in Italy you might be shocked to discover how cheap the accommodation, food and other mainstays of life are! You can enjoy a far higher standard of living in Italy for the same amount of money, or less, than you did back home.
You can rent an apartment for well under $1000 per month in the cities and for as little as $400 in more rural areas! Bills and utilities are also very cheap in Italy as is high quality food that can be bought from local farmers markets or big box stores such as Lidl.
Costs will vary across the county and will always be higher in the larger cities but even then you can find some jaw dropping bargains. Eating in local restaurants and bars and avoiding the main tourist hotspots will also help you to keep your costs right down. Getting off the beaten track will help you to experience the ‘real’ Italy while saving a lot of money.
Low Italian Real Estate Cost.
If you’re looking to settle down in Italy one of the biggest pros of the nation is the remarkable price of property! You can buy amazing properties for as little as $30,000 in rural areas and from around $150,000 in the larger towns and cities.
You can buy, or rent property at low prices and live in a beautiful old house or a modern city apartment. There’s a great deal of choice available for Expats in the country and no matter what type of environment you want to base yourself in there’s something perfect waiting for you among the huge diversity of city and rural landscapes in Italy.
Major Issues Americans Encounter In Italy.
There are several disadvantages to moving to Italy. The following are some of the reasons why some Americans do not relocate to Italy.
Bureaucracy and Red Tape.
Italy is pretty famous for the amount of bureaucracy that is involved in day to day life and as an Expat you might find yourself exasperated by it! Everywhere you go there is bureaucracy that is far from efficient and can certainly feel a little all pervasive at times.
However, you can get help from a local Italian to show you how to get around the bureaucracy! You can either hire a local lawyer to oversee buying a property or arranging your paperwork for you however if you have some local friends they can also point in the right direction.
Although the bureaucracy is pretty tiresome you can work around it with a some local knowledge and help; so don’t let it put you off moving to the country as an Expat.
Job Opportunities and Taxes.
One of the biggest downsides of living in Italy is that the job opportunities are very poor and the taxes are pretty high! High taxes are common throughout Europe but in Italy the various layers of local and regional taxes that are charged on top of the income taxes can be off putting to Expats, particularly younger ones.
The rate of unemployment in Italy is very high as well. The younger generations have suffered the most and have unemployment rates of nearly 30% for the under 35s! This means that if you are moving to the country in search of a well paying job you might have a hard time however, if you can work remotely then you can avoid these problems while enjoying the classic Dolce Vita.
Italians Can Get To You Sometimes.
The people in Italy are generally very welcoming and friendly towards Expats and newcomers however, for a whole range of cultural reasons, some communities in the South of the country are less welcoming than those in the North.
Some Expats have reported that in Florence, for instance, they received a number of negative comments from the locals however you mustn’t let one off incidents define your impression of the whole nation!
One thing you might have to get used to is the constant queue jumping that is epidemic across Italy – which often comes as quite a shock to Westerners because in most countries, including the rest of Europe and America, people line up for services very politely. As a general rule, the Italians are extremely friendly, are always willing to give you a hand; and once you get to know them they’ll treat you just like family! The vast majority of Italians are welcoming and kind and in no time at all you’ll be making local friends who will show you around and give you all the local knowledge you need to live life to the full.
Some Other Pros and Cons of Expat Life in Italy.
The Cuisine – The incredible food that Italy is so famous for is something that you can enjoy everyday! Prices are much cheaper than in America and if you shop in local markets and small family run stores you can save a huge amount of money.
The Weather and Climate – Although Italy does have cold winters in the North the summers are ideal and in the South you can spend a mild winter by the sea.
Stray Dogs and Dirty Streets – In many of the cities the streets are very dirty with trash piled up in heaps! In the South of the country you will also see a lot of stray dogs which should be avoided due the risk of Rabies.
Italy is One of the World’s Premier Destinations for Expats.
There are many pros and cons of Expat life in Italy and although you might face challenges, particularly when you first arrive in the country, you can make a wonderful life for yourself in Italy.
One of the things that strikes newly arrived Expats is the friendly and slow pace of life, the incredible food and wine and the beautiful countryside that you can explore. The superb healthcare is another major advantage which can be particularly useful for older Expats and retirees.
If you’re thinking about making the move to Italy then you should try to do as much research as you can in advance. A good way to get an insight into the life of an Expat in Italy is to join a few Expat groups on social media where you can ask questions and get tips and advice before you arrive.
Italy is a fantastic country to make your new home and if you decide to join the growing community of Expats you’re bound to have a wonderful time living the genuine and authentic Italian lifestyle!