Pros and Cons of Moving to Italy

Italy is a study in contrasts. Decades of Hollywood films have created an image of the country that's hard to break. While Italy certainly is a sophisticated and beautiful place to live, not everything is as perfect as the silver screen may make things seem.

As with every country, there are pros and cons to living in Italy.


Lifestyle in Italy

Living well in Italy is all about perspective. Expats arriving with high expectations will likely be disappointed. By acknowledging that Italy has its faults like any other large, busy and heavily populated country, new arrivals will quickly learn to love it despite its challenges.

+ PRO: A buzzing nightlife

Italians tend to be incredibly social. Only torrential rain and snow can keep them indoors. Whether they're chatting to friends over a very late dinner or going for a stroll down the main street, Italians are not homebodies.

This enthusiasm for after-dinner socialising is contagious and many expats soon find themselves, gelato in hand, admiring the shops and impromptu street concerts late into the night.

- CON: Limited English speakers

Very few Italians are fluent in English. City dwellers will naturally be better off as the locals are more accustomed to tourists, but in some towns, there can be no English speakers for kilometres.

Many expats find that people are abrupt when spoken to in English. This usually happens in the more popular cities like Florence, Rome and Venice, where the jaded locals often view tourists as a nuisance.

+ PRO: Amazing surroundings

No matter where expats live in Italy, they're surrounded by an incredibly rich heritage and natural beauty. 

- CON: Dirty streets

While it isn't fair to expect century-old cities to be spotless, Italy does have a real problem with grime. The mess is a combination of age, overcrowding and an inefficient approach to proper rubbish collection.


Accommodation in Italy

There’s a long-standing joke about Italians living at home until they're 40 because they don't want to do their own washing. While there's a grain in truth to this, their reluctance to leave the nest also stems from an understanding that good housing is hard to come by.

- CON: Expensive, small and old

The vast majority of Italy's apartment blocks were built in the 1960s and 1970s from the same grey concrete mould. Although these apartments are small and sparse on modern furnishings, they still go for a premium.

+ PRO: Well maintained

While the decor is dated, it would be difficult to criticise the state of most of the apartments available to rent. Italians tend to be discerning buyers and they expect their apartments to be in good working order.


Cost of living in Italy

The cost of living in Italy is on par with the rest of Europe. Although its economy isn't in the best of shape, its prices haven't risen. Those not from Europe may find that prices are steeper than they're used to.

+ PRO: Cheap and tasty food

Italians have amazing supermarkets. Even the smallest supermarket in the smallest town has an incredible selection of fruit, vegetables, meat and cheese. Certain products are also significantly cheaper than they may be in an expat's home country. The quality of produce is also exceptional, as strict food laws prevent the excessive use of preservatives or colourings.

- CON: Expensive amenities

Italy has limited resources, so while produce made in Italy might be affordable, imported goods are much more expensive. Resources like fuel, gas and electricity are expensive and limited. 


Education in Italy

Italian culture prioritises schooling, so even if expat children don't speak Italian, they're assured a good education.

+ PRO: Excellent and affordable

In Italy, children start learning to read and write at the age of three. Public education is free and students are provided with a well-rounded education in the sciences, arts and history, as well as nutritious and varied school lunches. Most Italian cities also have reputable international schools, but in contrast to public schools, these can be expensive.

- CON: Difficult choices

Italian high schools are unique in that they provide specialised teaching, as opposed to teaching from a holistic curriculum. As most Italian high schools have their own speciality, children attend the high school that teaches the subjects that most interest them. This choice can impact what university degree they can study for and presents a challenging decision for children as young as 14.


Transport in Italy

It's easy to get around Italy’s cities and towns, although driving in Italy can be dangerous. 

- CON: Dangerous roads

Italian driving culture can be aggressive and drivers often go over the speed limit. Many expats also find the road rules to be confusing and the roads are often congested.

+ PRO: Good public transport

Although people love to complain about the state of Italian public transport, it’s actually quite good. It doesn't have the punctuality of Switzerland, but it's cheap, safe and reliable in the cities and connects the entire country from north to south. 


Working in Italy

Finding a job in Italy isn’t as easy as it once was, regardless of whether a new arrival is an EU citizen or not. 

- CON: High unemployment

Italy’s economy has seen better days. Every year, thousands of university students graduate with no job prospects. To be safe, it’s a good idea for expats to secure a job in Italy before they move away from home. Even the traditional expat hospitality jobs are in short supply now. 

- CON: Too much paperwork

As a degree of bureaucracy permeates Italy, getting anything official done can be a confusing, frustrating and drawn out process. To avoid this, many expats ensure that they always have a reputable bilingual lawyer on hand whenever they sign documents.


Healthcare in Italy

The chances of finding employment might be slim, but Italian healthcare is excellent and affordable.  

+ PRO: Great healthcare

Healthcare in Italy is an unheralded success story. The country's public hospitals are extremely good and expats can easily get access to doctors, specialists and dentists in even the most rural areas. 

Elisa Scarton Our Expat Expert

Elisa is an Australian journalist who came to Tuscany for a year, and fell in love (how cliché?), and decided to stick around. Cutting her teeth in frenetic-paced Rome, she now writes a Tuscan travel blog and online travel guide about her new home, the infinitely beautiful Tuscan Maremma, so that others can get a taste of la dolce vita.

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