Expat's Manual

Living in Italy offers expats a culturally rich life in a country that has a fascinating history. Once home to Ancient Romans and groundbreaking artists, modern Italy boasts lush vineyards, world class restaurants, a thriving economy and, of course, Vatican City. It also possesses an air of romance which, when complimented by a rich and lively culture, makes it a popular destination for expats from around the world. Each city in this European country tells a different story, from the Roman Empire in Rome through to the art renaissance of cities of Florence and Venice. The country is littered with various churches, monuments, museums and famous works of art and is a fascinating place to live and work.

Italian people are famous for their close family ties, which form the basis of the social system. They are also well known for their love of food. Italian cuisine is famed in almost every city throughout the world. Regardless of where you are, you will find pizza and pasta on most menus. Other popular Italian exports include cheese, wine and cured meats. Coffee is an important part of Italian culture and the coffee shops that are springing up in their droves across the world are a direct result of coffee houses in Italy.

There are currently an estimated 60 million people living in Italy the majority of whom are Roman Catholic (90%).


Italy as an expat destination

Italy is extremely developed and is one of the founding members of the European Union. Expats from all over Europe settle here and account for almost 6 per cent of the population. It is very easy to live and work here if you are from a country within the EU. However, citizens from non-EU countries are required to apply for visas and work permits – the easiest way to enter the country on business is to be offered work.

If you are moving to Italy to develop an existing business or setting up a new one, it is important to remember that business is conducted socially and many job offers are granted through personal relationships; it really is about who you know. The Italians are a welcoming nation and therefore foreigners who are intent on living here will not find it hard to strike up friendships.

Expats living in Italy experience a very high quality of life. Life here is relaxed and enjoyable and the vivacious nature of the Italian people means that it is always interesting.

There is a large expat community in existence in Italy, especially in the major cities such as Rome and Milan. Many westerners choose to retire to the rural areas where they can live out their years in the relaxed and beautiful Italian countryside.


Cost of living in Italy

Italy is a member of the European Union and uses the Euro as its currency. However, despite this, it is widely accepted that the cost of living in Italy is higher than many other countries in the EU. Expatriates will find that their living costs will vary according to the area of Italy within which they live. The standard of living in generally much higher in the cities in the north of the country when compared with those in the south. Milan, Italy’s most expensive city, was named as the 38th most expensive city in the world in the 2012 Mercer cost of living survey, a drop of 13 places from the previous year. Rome was named as the 42nd most expensive city in the world to live, dropping 8 places from the previous year.

Expatriates who are considering relocating to Italy also need to be aware of the income tax and social security requirements, which are also quite high when compared with other countries in the EU.

Each Expat Info Desk relocation guide contains comprehensive details of the cost of living in popular expatriate destinations and cover everything from the price of everyday groceries through to the cost of public transport. They can be a useful resource when considering how the cost of living in a country may compare to that of your home country.


Language

Italian. Some German is spoken in the north of the country, near the Austrian border. A great deal of business is conducted in English, a language that is widely spoken in the larger cities such as Rome and Venice.


Climate

Mediterranean - hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. Snow falls in the north in winter, and summer in the south can be extremely hot.


Living in Italy: Expat job and career opportunities

Italy has a fairly high unemployment rate, especially in the south of the country, which is quite poor. Unemployment is especially high amongst the youth with an estimated 30% of Italians under the age of 25 being without work. At present many companies have bans on recruitment and have a tendency to issue short-term contracts as opposed to full long-term versions.

Expats interested in living in Italy would be advised to find a job before relocating to this country, as work opportunities are extremely short on the ground. A good working knowledge of the Italian language will be a prerequisite in most cases.

There are currently some shortages in the science and IT industries so people with qualifications in these areas may stand a better chance of finding suitable work.


Key facts every expat should know about living in Italy

  1. In Italy, unfurnished means a property is completely empty, with the exception of a bathroom suite and maybe a kitchen sink.
  2. The interest rates charged by many Italian banks are very, very high, particularly for loans.
  3. If you’re a resident and living in Italy, the fees associated with buying a property in Italy can be offset against income tax.
  4. State education is free for the children of foreigners living in Italy, irrespective of whether they’re registered residents.
  5. After a year's residence, non-Europeans must acquire an Italian license.

Living in Italy: City guides

The Expat Info Desk desk guide to Rome is coming soon.

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