Ernesto is a Mexican expat who is living in Italy’s capital, Rome. Having previously studied in Milan, he recently returned to Italy to work for a mobile marketing company where he is responsible for the Indian market. Prior to that, he lived in India, thus qualifying as quite the experienced expat.
Q: Where are you originally from?
A: Monterrey, Mexico
Q: Where are you living now?
A: Rome, Italy
Q: How long have you lived here?
A: Three months
Q: Did you move with a spouse/children?
Q: Why did you move; what do you do?
A: I moved to Italy because I had studied here before (in Milan) and I now took this job in Rome. I work for a mobile marketing company where I’m responsible for the Indian market.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your host city, how’s the quality of life?
A: I like the fact that the city itself is like a huge museum, full of monuments and its history and within it, you can choose from going from international/tourist locations, to traditional Italian spots.
Q: Any negatives? What do you miss most about home?
A: I think the public transportation in Rome could be much improved. I certainly miss Mexican food, although with a bit of effort you could pretty much find most of the things you need for cooking it yourself. I miss as well 24/7 corner stores, especially on Sundays.
About living in Italy
Q: Which are the best places/suburbs to live in Rome as an expat?
A: I think the southwest city (Zona EUR) provides some nice and quiet residential areas and it’s quite well connected to city center.
Q: What’s the cost of living in Italy compared to home? What is cheap or expensive in particular?
A: Using a simple Big Mac Index calculation, cost of living in Rome is on average about 30% more than in Mexico City or Monterrey. Housing is a big problem, because an expensive room does not guarantee a nice furbished place, buildings look old and therefore for me it seems not good value for money. In Milan, for example, you were able to find nice furbished places for the same amount. It is also true that in Milan you could afford to live further from the centre and find cheaper places where transportation is not a big problem since it’s more efficient.
Q: What are the locals like; do you mix mainly with other expats?
A: It’s been only three months in Rome, but having friends from all over Italy they would normally say that people are more relaxed and friendly as you go south.
Q: Is there any other advice you like to offer new expat arrivals?
A: In a very personal point of view, I think to really penetrate the layers of the Italian society you really have to go the extra mile in understanding their culture and speaking their language. Not many people speak fluent English and therefore many times they are not comfortable speaking it. This depends also a lot on age groups since you can tell younger generations are learning, not only English, but are very keen to learn (and they seem to enjoy) other languages. Italians are so used to doing things the way they always have and they expect everyone coming here to get used to them, so they don’t often move out of their comfort zone. Although on the other hand it is always interesting to see how consciously or unconsciously this helps preserve their own traditions and maybe this is what the whole “Italian way” is all about.
~ Interviewed May 2012