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Moving to Italy conjures up rolling hills with spectacular vineyards, a rich and ancient culture including fantastic foods and age-old traditions. But what are the key challenges people face when relocating to Italy?
The key when relocating to Italy is research and preparation. Bureaucracy and red-tape can cause frustration, certain cities are incredibly expensive to live in, and taxes are relatively high. Employment, healthcare and finances are all special considerations ahead of your move to this wonderful country.
Fortunately, we cover all this and much more in our ultimate moving to Italy guide.
Expats moving to Italy never regretted their decision because the country opened new horizons for them. Aside from learning to relate to people who have different cultures than you, Italy is the best place for you to learn more about farm-to-table as a way of life. Here, food is no joke. While there may always be an unpleasant french fry and pizza combo, the country’s food scene is such a revelation.
Italy is also a haven for people who love to travel. Rome is in a perfect location because you can easily hop all over Europe and skip to Africa from here. You can kick start your exploration of the different parts of Italy from here, too. Moving to this part of the globe will surely make you an eager traveller.
But the benefits of moving to Italy does not stop here. In the next few parts of the article, you will find more reasons to start a new life in this country. We will share relevant details like housing, banking, taxation, healthcare, and education systems in Italy.
We will also show you can handle complicated registration processes and slow bureaucracies in the country. If you can bear with these, you can easily find the Italian way of life worth it.So, if you’re ready to discover more about the metropole of the Roman empire and the Roman homeland, read on.
If there’s one thing peculiar about the Italian social etiquette and culture, that would be they’re very particular. In this part of the article, we will be discussing a few of the crucial features of the Italian culture that can help you assimilate with the local culture.
Knowledge of these practices can also help you avoid any awkward or uncompromising situation when mingling with the locals.
Family is the cornerstone of their culture; that’s why one’s nuclear family is a priority among the Italians. Their preference and prioritization of their family are reflected in the Italian’s fantastic work-life balance. It’s prevalent to see 20 and 30-year old children still share the same house with their parents and other siblings. Aside from their tight-knit bond, such a set-up is also due to oppressing economic conditions.
In the southern part of Italy, it’s also common for extended families to even live together. While this may be a dying trend, many people are still practising this. Because of the family member’s tight bond, they depend on financial and emotional support from each other in times of dire need.
In terms of work-life balance, Italians love their downtime. The sense of enjoyment in the present moment and time slowing is appealing to them. They indeed enjoy sitting on their terrace while sipping espresso and watching people on a fine afternoon.
Italians are extroverted and effusive. They employ different hand gestures and facial expressions when talking to others. This is precisely why Italian hands got famous. They also tend to greet those they know very well with kisses on the cheek and a warm embrace. When they’re meeting somebody for the first time, it’s common to shake hands.
So, if you find yourself in this situation, you know what to do. You don’t say “Ciao” to strangers. It’s safer and more appropriate to greet a stranger with “Buona sera” or “Buongiorno”.
Italians love making conversations. This explains why strangers striking up a conversation with another is very common. You might also find yourself talking to another lady you barely know, and you exchange comments about the queue, your children, the weather, and virtually anything trivial. They don’t go straight to the point when they talk to each other. Even if they have a purpose when talking to another, they usually start the conversation with small talk like asking how you have been, how are your kids, etc.
Since fashion is an integral part of the Italian culture, it’s common for Italian to be perceived as well put-together and elegant. Compliments about one’s sense of fashion and style are always well-received. If somebody invites you for dinner, or you host a dinner party, remember that dinner does not generally happen before eight in the evening, but it could be later than this.
When in public, pay careful attention to the road because Italian drivers don’t usually stop at crosswalks unless they are compelled to do so. So, for your safety, make it a habit to look to your left and right.
If you’re a smoker, take note that there are more and more Italian establishments banning smoking. You might want to check the establishment out so that you can keep out of trouble. When you are invited to another person’s house, bring a symbolic gift like chocolate, flowers, or wine.
As mentioned in the preliminary part of this guide, the cost of living in the country will largely depend on where you plan to settle and your lifestyle. In general, the northern part of the country is more expensive than the southern region. However, between cities, the communication, transportation, and housing cost will significantly vary.
Without factoring the housing cost, single expats can live a comfortable life in central and northern Italy for 18,000 to 28,000 EUR annual income. Couples, on the other hand, may need somewhere between 28,500 and 45,500 EUR per year. If you choose the right city, surviving and living a decent life in Italy does not have to be expensive. If you prefer to live in Rome or Milan, you can expect slightly higher expenses. Rent would eat a massive chunk of your budget, but this can be minimal in the Italian countryside.
Monthly utility costs can be somewhere between 100 to 150 EUR for water, gas, and electricity for an 85-square meter home. Your internet connection can cost you around 20 to 30 EUR per month. If you need to travel daily, expect to pay approximately 35 EUR per month or 1.5 EUR per day. If you own a car, gas prices are usually within the 1.55 to 2 EUR per liter price range
In the southern part of the country, you can get jugs of wine for only $4. A nice meal at the restaurant here will only be less than $20 per person. The cost of living in the country significantly depends on where you choose to live and your lifestyle. If you can live like the locals where you eat local produce, drink local wine, and use public transport, Italy will be very affordable.
Some expats and tourists perceive Italy as an expensive country to live in, which explains why most of them pass on the opportunity to live here. Well, if you love to sip coffee in Venice’s St. Mark’s Square, your hunches would be confirmed. But if you explore the other parts of the country that are not considered as tourist spots, you’ll find out that you don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy.
Since rent would be a huge factor in your monthly expenses, you can easily cut down on your monthly fees if you share a house with another ex-pat. You can also choose to live like the locals to bring down your budget to a bare minimum. This means you need to eat, live, and commute like the local Italians. Preparing your food and limiting the frequency of eating out is one way of cutting down your expenses. Plus, you can also try to live outside the tourist spots or in rural areas.
If you’re planning to stay in Italy for good, then buying a car is wise. Take note that before you can register and be issued with a license in the country, you need to be accorded with Italian resident status. Before this happens, you have no other choice but to stick to their public transportation.
OF LIVING IN ITALY
Because the country has an advantageous location, you have various options when shipping your personal belongings and household items. You can do it by sea freight, air, or road. Among these three, air freight is the quickest but also the costliest.
Bringing your items over via cargo ship might take over a month or two. If you can move your things by land, this is most likely your best option since it's speedy but costs just as affordable as sea freight.
The only issue here is the fact that the country’s customs processes can be inconsistent at times. Some ex-pats find it seamless to import their household goods; others experienced major setbacks linked to unreliable communication on the shipping status and missing documents.
You can bring your belongings to Italy free of tax, import duties, and tariffs if you can provide evidence that you have acquired the same within the past 12 months and used them purely for domestic purposes. If you have to transport cash, make sure that it’s 10,000 EUR or less. Otherwise, you might be frisked by the authorities.
To know more about the country’s documentation process, you can always consult with the International Association of Movers.
When moving to Italy from Dubai, importation of Household Goods and Personal Effects requires the following documents;
For more information on documentation requirements, especially the Dichiarazione Sostitutiva di Certificazione click HERE
For a more in-depth look at documentation please check the International Association of Movers.
Italy is one of the 26 European countries that signed the Schengen Agreement. This means that citizens of the other 25 European countries can travel freely in the country without the need for a visa. Aside from this, numerous non-Schengen states can also enter Italy and stay there visa-free for 90 days or less. The rules are different for those who wish to remain in the country for more than 90 days. In this case, they need to apply for a Long-Stay Visa.
The Italian Long-Stay Visa is more popularly known as the National Visa or D-Visa. This is the kind of visa you need to get when you intend to stay for more than 90 days in the country. For those who intend to live in the country, this is not the only permission you need to secure, though.
With the D-Visa, you can enter the country legally. After that, you have to secure an Italian residence permit. This permit will give you the authority to stay in the country for more than 90 days. If you are on a Schengen or short-stay visa, you cannot apply for an Italian residence permit.
There are numerous types of long-stay visas you can choose from depending on your purpose of stay. These are the most common ones:
You might find yourself in a long and winding road when it comes to managing your finances in Italy. Though there are many national banks in the country, there are a few international ones. You also have to brace yourself for the high tax rates in the country. Whether you’re employed by a company or self-employed, you might be asked to pay several taxes.
Opening a bank account is allowed regardless of your visa status or citizenship. Then again, the process can be a bit more tedious for expats, especially if you are opening a bank account from overseas. For a seamless transaction, you need to visit the bank and open your account in person.
Though the documents required to open an account vary, here are some of the most common requirements for non-residents.
Expect tons of paperwork during the application process.
Here are the Italian banks most preferred by expats:
If you are gainfully employed in the country, you are expected to pay taxes to the Italian government. Take note that the income tax in the country is the highest in the entire Europe. This only means that you will be asked to pay around 40% in income taxes if you have a higher income.
Income tax in the country is known as Imposta Sul Reddito Delle Persone Fisiche (IRPEF), and this applies to dividends, interests, pensions, and salaries. IRPEF is a progressive kind of tax -- meaning, the more you earn, the higher the tax you have to pay. Income taxes are usually withheld monthly on the employee’s income from his employer.
Electricity bills in Italy are sent once every two months, and these bills can be paid online through banks, direct debit, or the post office counter. Water bills, on the other hand, are billed twice a year, and the said bill can be paid through banks specified by Comune or through the post office counter.
Italy has wet, cold winters and dry, hot summers, and because of these, the country enjoys a Mediterranean climate. In the northern and mountainous parts of the country, winters are humid and cool. There are times that north Europe’s cold air spreads into the southern part of the country, bringing snow to most of its mountains. The coasts remained warm due to the higher temperatures of the sea. Mistral and other storms can cause gales and bring snow that will run to Italy’s southern districts.
As mentioned earlier, your rent will eat a massive chunk of your monthly expenses, so you should choose your rental property wisely. As far as average monthly rent price, you can find real properties that cost as high as 1,600 EUR per month. If you’re lucky, you can find properties as reasonable and affordable as 800 EUR per month.
The most expensive cities to rent properties include Milan, Florence, Rome, Venice, Bologna, and Trento. Rent in these cities and regions are above 1,000 EUR per month. The least expensive areas to rent are Perugia, Campobasso, L'Aquila, and Palermo. Rent here will not go beyond 600 EUR per month.
The good news is there are no prohibitions and restrictions when it comes to expats owning properties in Italy. However, one of the requirements for non-EU residents is for you to hold a valid and legal resident permit. Besides this, you also have to make sure that your home country has entered into a reciprocity agreement with Italy.
If you’re ready to buy a country’s property, the price would be somewhere between 1,800 to 2,000 EUR per square meter. If you want to purchase an apartment within the city center, brace yourself for the 3,550 per square meter price.
Because of their balanced-diet and high-quality and free healthcare, Italians are known as one of the healthiest people in the whole world. The set-up is also pretty straightforward. If you are a non-resident, you will find that your healthcare benefits are not that extensive.
Then again, if you have a residence permit, you can take advantage of the kind of healthcare the Italian nationals enjoy. If you want additional coverage, you can also subscribe to private health insurance.
While the country’s healthcare system is free and accessible, the same system sometimes falls short on efficiency and quality. Though the state ranked high in healthcare system performance, the said ranking is solely based on life expectancy and total health expenditures.
This means that the said ranking has nothing to do with the efficiency and quality of medical facilities and medical services. The truth of the matter is, some Italian public hospitals lack funding and are overcrowded.
On a positive note, medical facilities and hospitals in bigger cities and northern ones are more than capable of handling medical emergencies. They cater to the medical needs of their patients. The same cannot be said for southern facilities.
First things first - the country has accessible and public healthcare. Aside from this, they also provide a hybrid private-public healthcare system. This means you can choose between these two as long as you are a holder of a permanent residence permit and is eligible.
Both foreigners and Italian nationals have the right to access the country’s public healthcare. The services you can take advantage of under this system are either subject to a symbolic fee or for free and are administered by the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN).
If you’re wondering whether you need to subscribe to private health insurance, the answer would be no since the same can be accessed through the government’s public healthcare system. But no one’s stopping you if you want to subscribe to private health insurance in the country. This decision would largely depend on whether you have the patience to wait for doctor’s appointments, procedures, diagnosis, and tests. Aside from that, the said decision will also be based on whether or not you want more attentive and personalized care.
Italian schools take pride in their stellar-quality education provided by private and public schools. You can always enrol your kids in different Italian public schools. But if you don’t want to, you can go for Catholic schools or the standard international curricula of the country’s private international schools.
Italy’s education system is divided into five - preschool education, primary school, lower and upper secondary, and university level. A vast majority of the students in Italy are enrolled in public institutions. Only a small percentage are in private schools.
If you register your kids in any Italian public school, expect that they will take all their school subjects in Italian. If you want them to take their classes in English, the best option is to enrol them in private schools or international schools. You can also enrol them in Catholic schools, but in this case, Catholicism will be a massive part of their education.
When it comes to quality education, both educational systems are viewed as equal. Some even said that the country’s public school system is better than its private counterparts. A study showed how Italian public schools fared better than private and international schools in labor and educational market outcomes.
The country’s best international schools are usually situated in bigger cities like Naples, Milan, and Rome. Here, students are taught using the international curriculum and in the English language. But aside from English, other international schools use the British curricula, along with Japanese, German, French, and American educational systems. If you intend to enrol your kids in a state school, it’s beneficial to know that some international schools have bilingual programs to help their students when taking national exams.
In this case, the best route to take is to attend public schools. Since private schools can be as expensive as paying 15,000 to 20,000 EUR per year, you can save a lot more if you access the state-subsidized public school education. If you go for such an option, either your child’s education will be entirely free, or you will be asked to pay a certain amount as a sign of goodwill.
Moving to a different country can be daunting, and if you don’t get on top of things it can become quite stressful. Moving to Italy presents its own set of unique challenges, but if you follow the guidelines we have provided, we feel certain you can experience a smooth relocation to Italy.
You can start the ball rolling by completing our simple form, allowing international movers to get started on your quotation, today!
Note: This document is provided as a guide for people moving to Italy and for information purposes only. Customs regulations can and do change at any time, usually without notice. Your mover will provide you with more information.