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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Italy Better for a Visit Than a Home?

Italy’s favorable climate and weather, excellent opportunity for travel, and decent ratings for personal safety are offset by tough economic and financial situations.
  • Italy ranks in the bottom 10 for all Working Abroad subcategories.
  • Its central location in the Mediterranean provides excellent opportunities for travel.
  • 23% of parents are dissatisfied with the quality of education.
  • Italy ranks second to last for personal finances.

Political Prospects Not as Bright as the Weather

With a score of 19th out of 68 countries, Italy’s single factor ranking for climate and weather is rather impressive: 84% of expats rate the local climate and weather as good. Seven in ten also say they considered it a potential benefit before moving.

Possibly due to Italy’s central location within Southern Europe, 89% of expats rate the opportunity to travel as good, with more than three in five (61%) giving excellent ratings. Personal safety is likewise of minimal concern for expats in Italy: 7% rate personal safety as bad, with less than 0.5% considering it very bad. A Senegalese expat in Italy particularly likes the “safety, beautiful environment, and pleasant weather conditions”.

I like the safety, beautiful environment, and pleasant weather conditions.

Political stability, on the other hand, appears to be slightly more troublesome for expats. The survey was conducted around the time of the March 2018 elections, a divisive time in Italy. Almost two in five expats (39%) rate the political stability of Italy as bad — worldwide, only 17% are dissatisfied with this factor in their host country.

Italy’s results in the new Digital Life subcategory are worth mentioning as well. While only 1% of expats say that unrestricted access to online services is very bad, the country lags noticeably behind when it comes to fast internet access (57th place), cashless payment methods (57th), the ease of getting a local mobile phone number (55th), and online government services (54th). Close to half the expats in Italy (49%), for instance, give the last factor a negative rating, compared to around a quarter of respondents worldwide (26%).

It’s Up to You: Making Italy Feel Like Home

Though not always an easy task, sometimes the best way to settle into a new country is to make friends with the locals. At nearly double the global average (19%), 34% of expats in Italy describe their friends and acquaintances to be mostly local residents. Two-thirds of expats feel at home in Italy, though a below-average portion of respondents (61% vs. a global 66%) generally agree that there is a friendly attitude towards foreign residents in Italy.

The language is a bit of a problem when it comes to socializing.

Language in Italy seems to pose a struggle for some expats, too. Nearly two-thirds (65%) do not agree that it is easy to live in this country without speaking the language, and a quarter of those who are unhappy with their life in Italy say the struggle with the language barrier is one reason for this unhappiness. Learning the language does not seem to be too hard, though: 54% generally agree that Italian is easy to learn, compared to 36% globally. “The language is a bit of a problem when it comes to socializing. You can get by when it comes to everyday activities, but you need to learn Italian if you want to make new friends,” according to an Indian respondent in Italy.

No Walk in the Park: When Working Abroad Gets Tough

Working abroad in Italy is not as carefree as the weather tends to be. Bottom 10 results in the Career Prospects & Satisfaction (67th out of 68), Work & Leisure (60th), and Economy & Job Security subcategories (63rd) place Italy second to last overall in the Working Abroad Index.

Nearly half the expats (45%) are not satisfied with the career prospects in Italy, and just a quarter rate the state of the economy favorably, compared to a global average of 64%. Job security scores are a bit more divided, with 17% completely satisfied, but also 16% not satisfied at all. Only around one in five (21%) say they considered the economy and/or labor market as a potential benefit before moving — less than half of the global average (47%). A US American expat criticizes that there are “dishonest employers everywhere, very few opportunities for work, and low pay”.

Probably Not the Best Location for Families

Ratings for the Family Life Index are consistently more negative than positive. In terms of childcare options, for example, 15% of expat parents do not agree at all that they are numerous and easy to get, and close to two in five (39%) do not consider childcare easy to afford in Italy. Going beyond childcare, Italy ranks quite low for both family well-being (41st out of 50) and the quality of education (43rd). Three in ten are not satisfied with options for children’s education in Italy in general, and not quite a quarter (23%) are dissatisfied with its quality.

Although childcare and education are not the most highly regarded, and more than three times the global average of parents (28% vs. 9%) rate family life in general negatively, expat parents at least do not need to worry too much about the safety and health of their children. About three-quarters (74% for each) say both factors are generally good.

Finances — Room for Improvement

Italy also ranks near the bottom in the Personal Finance Index, placing 67th out of 68 countries. Only about a third of expats (34%) say they have more than enough disposable household income to cover everything needed for daily life, and only about half (51%) are actually satisfied with their financial situation, compared to two-thirds of respondents worldwide. The majority of expats in Italy (65%) has a gross yearly household income of 50,000 USD or less. Worldwide, less than half the survey participants (48%) say the same.

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