Rome is undoubtedly a beautiful city, rich in history and culture and, while this is true, expats living in Rome share a broader experience which includes a variety of ups and downs.
It’s worth considering a range of factors before deciding to relocate to Italy’s capital. Here are some of the main pros and cons of expat life in Rome.
Culture shock in Rome
+ PRO: Friendly locals
Italian people tend to be warm, friendly and generous. They are also family orientated so it’s common for new arrivals in Rome to be invited for home-cooked meals with local families, which certainly helps one settle into life in a new place.
- CON: The language barrier
There is no real way to avoid the language barrier. As the capital of Italy, expats are likely to find large numbers of locals in Rome speaking English fairly fluently. Taking the time to learn a few key phrases in Italian will help make life easier though. Those that speak other Latin-influenced languages like French or Spanish shouldn’t find Italian too difficult to pick up.
Healthcare in Rome
+ PRO: Healthcare options to suit a broad range of budgets
Expats living in Italy do have access to a solid public healthcare system. That said, despite doctors being highly qualified, the service at some hospitals is undermined by bureaucratic issues. Most people prefer to use a mixture of private and public healthcare options. Having a broad range of options allows expats to use the facilities that best meet their circumstances.
Education in Rome
+ PRO: Access to affordable public schools
Public schooling in Italy is free until the age of 16 when parents will need to pay a negligible amount for enrolment. This option is viable for expat students who speak Italian fluently or have families who are looking to settle down in Rome for a longer period.
- CON: Fees at international schools are remarkably high
Rome has long been a popular expat destination. There is a range of international schooling options to support the expat population and Italians who opt for these schools. That said, fees at many of these institutions can be extremely high so expats should try to negotiate an allowance to cover the costs as part of their employment package, if possible.
Transport in Rome
+ PRO: Excellent public transport
Getting around in Rome is simple thanks to the city’s extensive public transport network that gets commuters where they need to be. Whether it's by bus, tram or metro, expats will be well catered for.
- CON: Traffic is a nightmare
If possible, expats should avoid driving as traffic in Rome is terrible. The narrow streets can be difficult to manoeuvre around, and the behaviour of local drivers can be quite aggressive. Parking, especially in central parts of the city, is pricey and difficult to find.
Lifestyle in Rome
+ PRO: Italian food
Italian food needs no introduction and expats moving to Rome will certainly be in for a treat. New arrivals will find beautifully prepared home-cooked dishes at local trattorias. Produce in local supermarkets also tends to be fresh and organic.
+ PRO: Reasonable cost of living
While living in Rome is by no means cheap, it’s certainly less expensive than other European capital cities such as Paris or London. The fact that the country’s economy is relatively stable also means that prices don’t fluctuate too much.
+ PRO: Family-friendly city
Expats moving to Rome with children will find there are a lot of family-friendly activities on offer. Most museums offer free or discounted entry for kids and spending time outdoors at one of Rome’s many parks or gardens is a great summer activity for the whole family.
- CON: Lots of tourists
Rome is a tourism hotspot. In the summer months especially hordes of people, both from abroad and from other parts of Italy, descend on the Italian capital. While tourism is an important income-generator for Rome, the masses can become an annoyance to locals (and expats) because major attractions become incredibly crowded and prices are driven up.
Working in Rome
- CON: The job market is highly competitive
The largest expat population in Italy is concentrated in Rome so expats need to be suitably qualified to secure a job in the Italian capital. While it isn’t necessary for every field of work, the ability to speak Italian fluently will give expats an edge over their peers when it comes to securing a job.
►Take a look at the Expat Arrivals Moving to Rome page for a general overview of expat life in the Italian capital.
'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.' Ernesto's interview provides some great insights into the importance of speaking Italian as an expat in Rome.
Are you an expat living in Rome?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Rome. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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