The Most Difficult Aspects Of Expat Life In Italy

While it’s fair to say that relocating to Italy is a wonderful experience for foreigners who chose to make the incredible country their new home there are also aspects of moving which can be hard.

Expats all over the world face similar challenges even though they live in a wide variety of countries with different cultures and customs. Despite the variations between countries there are certain common challenges that all Expats face after they’ve relocated; and relocating to Italy is no different!

A leading American health care company that provides insurance policies and other related services in many countries, conducted a worldwide survey to determine the main challenges and difficulties that Expats face following their relocation abroad. The invaluable research yielded results which all Expats, or people planning a relocation in the future, can learn from.

The findings of this international research are mirrored by the experiences of almost all Expats and so taking some time to consider the results is important to do before you relocate. Having an idea of the types of challenges that you may face once you’ve arrived in Italy will help you to more easily overcome them as well as prepare in advance so you can mitigate their impact on you and your family.

Hardest Aspects Of Relocating To Italy.

The following are the aspects that are the hardest:

Homesickness And Missing Family Or Friends Back Home.

According to the worldwide survey, the aspect of relocation that the most Expats found difficult was feelings of homesickness and missing their friends or family. More than 11% of those surveyed rated this as the hardest thing about moving abroad. This is a natural part of settling into a new country and although it can be tough at times there are very practical ways that you can overcome these challenges.

Lake Orta, Italy.
Lake Orta, Italy.

Firstly, you should set aside a time each week when you call or Skype your friends and family back home. You can easily fit this into your weekly routine and it will be an invaluable form of support for you even if you’re facing difficulties in your new life.

Another way to tackle feelings of homesickness is to truly throw yourself into your new life! Try to stay busy and fill your free time with fun and healthy activities such as going for a hike in the countryside or eating at a local restaurant.

As you start to explore your new surroundings your feelings of homesickness will start to subside as you get to know the people, places and items that make up your new life. This will happen incrementally over time and so you’ll have to be a little bit patient with yourself.

Lastly, it’s a great idea to try to meet some new friends after you’ve relocated to Italy. You can join Expat groups, take cooking classes or get involved in local sports, festivals and events. This will help to ground you and provide the perfect platform to make new friends that you can talk to and enjoy new activities with.

Cultural And Social Differences.

It’s always going to take a little while to get used to the pronounced differences in the local culture and social customs after you’ve moved to Italy. It’s not just the fact that the shops are all closed on a Sunday but also the language barriers that you may face if you don’t already speak Italian.

As many as 11% of Expats found that adjusting to the cultural shock of moving to a new country was the toughest aspect of relocation. This is partly because a lot of things that you take for granted back home are completely different in Italy! Even if you love Italy and the Italian culture it still takes some time to get used to it.

Therefore, you shouldn’t become frustrated or worried that you’ll never adjust because over time you certainly will! Taking part in local events is a good way to start feeling more connected with your new community as well as learning the language, making some local friends and learning about the customs and heritage that make Italy so unique.

A fun way to learn about the culture is to keep a journal where you can write about your experiences and the things that surprise you. Then, later you can go back over your observations and do some online research to learn about the origins of these customs and their significance in Italian culture. By learning about why people do things and why they are important you’ll be able to adjust to the differences more easily.

Isolation And Being Accepted By The Community.

When you first move to Italy you may feel isolated and it might even seem that the local community isn’t accepting you. This can lead to loneliness, dejection and feelings of regret over moving to Italy at all! In fact, this is a well reported challenge that Expats all over the world face with around 10% saying this was the hardest aspect of making a new home overseas.

It’s vital to remember that you are new to the community and so you’ll need to be proactive to improve things! The easiest way to become more involved in the community around you is to pluck up the courage to start meeting local Italians.

San Luca Bologna Italy
Portico of San Luca, Bologna, Italy.

Learning Italian will massively help you to be accepted by the local community and before you know it you’ll be getting invites from your new friends to join their family meals and celebrations! Don’t forget, that once you are friends with an Italian they will treat you just like a member of their family so it’s always worth making the effort to introduce yourself and strike up new relationships.

Employment And Work Life.

One of the basics that you need to get right when you relocate to Italy, or anywhere else for that matter, is your finances and regular income. You need to have a job and a steady cash flow so you can truly enjoy your new life.

Arriving in Italy with no income and no idea of how you are going to pay the bills is bound to lead to high levels of stress and worry; so try to avoid finding yourself in this perilous situation.

If you’re planning a move to Italy then it’s not necessarily a good idea to wait until you’ve arrived to start looking for a job! The Italian job market is fairly poor with a high unemployment rate of over 9%. On top of this you need to keep in mind that it’s harder for foreigners to find work in Italy than it is for the locals, particularly if you don’t speak the language.

In an ideal world you should try to have a job arranged before you move to the country or else be able to work in a remote fashion so you can just carry on with your normal job after you’ve moved.

However, there are still sectors of the economy in which foreigners have an advantage over the local Italians. Jobs such as teaching English are primarily staffed by Expats and there are also a lot of jobs in the tourist sector which prefer fluent English speakers to deal with tourists who don’t speak Italian.

Ultimately, the more financial planning you can do in advance of your relocation the easier your transition will be into life in Italy.

Banking And Financial Administration.

When you move to Italy you will have to set up a new bank and make sure that you arrange all the payments and direct debit payments for your utility bills and other outgoings. This can be a real headache to arrange whilst you are also sorting out your new house, finding a new school for your children and other necessary tasks that need to be handled immediately.

Opening a bank in Italy should not be too difficult but until it’s done you’re going to feel stressed and under pressure. Therefore, the sooner you can get a new bank account opened the quicker you can relax and start to live like a local. I sat in front of a bank manager for two hours filling out forms and signing paperwork before I was able to open a bank account. In the United States, I could do this is a few minutes remotely. I do understand that I have to provide additional documents because I am not an Italian citizen, but it should not take this long (I had emailed copies of my Social Security Card, Passport and Drivers License to the bank manager prior to arriving in Italy).

To open a bank account you’ll first need to get a residency permit and have a valid form of ID, such as a passport. You’ll also have to get your Italian tax code, or the ‘Codice Fiscale’, arranged and be able to show proof of your employment or income.

What Are The Top 5 Challenges That Children Face When Relocating To Italy?

The challenges and difficulties that children face when they relocate to Italy with their family are different to the ones that their parents or other adults tend to face. Children may also not fully understand why they are moving overseas, especially if they are quite young.

Torre Astura Latina Italy
Torre Astura, Province of Latina, Italy.

However, the best general advice for parents is to try to keep your children well informed about what’s happening and why. It’s also a good idea to emphasize the adventurous side of relocating so that your children will be excited about finding out about Italy and its culture.

Children typically adjust much more quickly than adults. But the following are the some of the key issues that children face:

  • Missing members of their family back home.
  • Missing their school friends back home.
  • Starting at a new school or college.
  • Getting used to their new house in Italy.
  • Finding it hard to adapt to the new culture and local customs.

Despite the problems that children may face when they move to Italy they also tend to be more adaptable and find it much easier to learn Italian than their parents will! Once children start at school they will soon be making new friends, even if it’s difficult at first or they feel shy to introduce themselves to their schoolmates; and so, in no time at all your children will be happy and settled into their new lives in Italy.

Relocating To Italy Comes With Challenges.

Just like any major decision in your life, relocating to Italy is bound to come with challenges that you will need to overcome. However, the benefits of deciding to relocate to Italy far outweigh the negatives and provided that you are willing to work through the harder aspects of moving, life as an Expat is a wonderful experience.

If you do find yourself struggling or having a tough time after you’ve relocated, don’t forget that you can always reach out to other Expats, either online or in person, who will be more than happy to give you help, support and advice. Another thing to keep in mind is that many problems such as homesickness or feelings of isolation tend to pass over time as you become more firmly established in your local community and build up networks of new friends and acquaintances.

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