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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Working Life Is a Nightmare for Expats in Italy

Complicated bureaucratic issues and dissatisfying working conditions make life in Italy sometimes very frustrating for expats.

Italy comes 47th out of 53 destinations in the Expat Insider 2023 survey. Expats struggle with their working life, especially their career prospects and the business culture. Frustrating bureaucracy, a lack of digitalization, and a below-average financial situation lead to Italy’s rank among the bottom 10. Overall, 71% of expats are happy with their life in Italy, compared to 72% globally.  

Dismal Career Prospects 

The biggest pain point for expats in Italy is the Working Abroad Index (52nd out of 53). The country even ranks second to last in the Career Prospects Subcategory (52nd). Nearly half the expats are unhappy with the local job market (47% vs. 26% globally), and one in three (33%) says that moving to Italy has not improved their career prospects (vs. 18% globally).  

So, it is hardly surprising that Italy comes last for personal career opportunities (53rd). It does not do much better with regard to Salary & Job Security (50th). On top of their dissatisfaction with their job security (26% unhappy vs. 19% globally), expats also do not feel they are paid fairly (49th). And they rate the state of the local economy very poorly (47th).  

Unhappy Workers 

Work & Leisure (46th) is another low point for Italy. The country ends up in the bottom 10 for both working hours (46th) and work-life balance (44th). Expats also vote Italy among the worst in the Work Culture & Satisfaction Subcategory (49th). They report that the local business culture does not support creativity (39% vs. 26% globally), flexibility (33% vs. 18% globally), or independent work (43% vs. 26% globally). The country ranks last worldwide for overall job satisfaction (53rd).  

Dissatisfied with Their Finances 

Expats encounter yet more problems when it comes to Personal Finance (40th). Though Italy ranks slightly above average for its general cost of living (25th), one in three expats (33%) is unhappy with their financial situation (vs. 22% globally). About the same share (34%) describe their disposable household income as not enough to lead a comfortable life (vs. 27% globally).  

Lots of Ups & Downs for Quality of Life  

Italy’s best, but still mediocre, performance is in the Ease of Settling In Index (28th). It ranks midfield for Local Friendliness (29th), Finding Friends (29th), and Culture & Welcome (27th). In the Quality of Life Index, the country also lands in an average 33rd place, but a closer look reveals some ups and downs. While 76% of expats enjoy Italy’s climate and weather (vs. 62% globally), 30% are unhappy with the air quality (vs. 17% globally).  

On the positive side, Italy comes 17th in the Leisure Options Subcategory. The majority of expats (80%) is happy with the culinary variety and dining options (vs. 77% globally), and 72% rate the culture and nightlife favorably (vs. 68% globally). But while nearly three in four expats (72%) agree that they can openly express themselves and their opinions (vs. 65% globally), nearly one in three (31%) are unhappy with the country’s political stability (vs. 13% globally).  

Frustrated by Bureaucracy  

In Italy, getting set up with the Expat Essentials (51st) seems to be a difficult task. The country ranks second to last in the Admin Topics Subcategory (52nd): 72% of expats find it hard to deal with the bureaucracy, nearly double the global average (38%). A Panamanian expat adds that “the bureaucracy is even tougher when you’re a non-EU citizen”. Expats also report that it is difficult to open a local bank account (33% unhappy vs. 22% globally) and to get a visa for moving to Italy (39% unhappy vs. 24% globally).  

“The bureaucracy is the worst; people are stuck in the past. It is impossible to get anything done.” – Dutch expat 

The Digital Life Subcategory (48th) is another lowlight. Over two in five expats (42%) are unhappy with the availability of government services online, twice the global average (21%). They also rate the cashless payment options (44th) and high-speed internet access at home (47th) negatively. While 57% report that it is difficult to live there without speaking Italian (vs. 32% globally), over half (52%) at least find the language easy to learn (vs. 40% globally).  

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