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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Of Visa & Working Woes in Italy

Expats love the culture and nature but face steep challenges when navigating Italy’s labyrinthine bureaucracy.

Consistent with last year’s results, Italy ranks 47th out of 53 countries in the Expat Insider 2024 survey. The low ranking reflects Italy’s challenges in the Working Abroad (49th) and Expat Essentials (52nd) Indices, particularly for Career Prospects (51st) and Admin Topics (53rd). These are potential obstacles expats may face when considering Italy as their destination.

How Expats Rate Life in Italy

The Chaotic Chronicles of Working Abroad

Italy struggles in the Working Abroad Index, ranking 49th out of 53. Within this index, the Career Prospects Subcategory fares worse, coming in at 51st place. Expats are dissatisfied with their career opportunities (40% vs. 25% globally) and nearly half (49%) rate the local job market negatively (vs. 31%).

The Salary & Job Security and Work Culture & Satisfaction Subcategories both rank 49th, reflecting the challenges expats face in seeking stable employment and adjusting to Italy’s work culture. Overall job satisfaction is low (49th), with 29% of expats dissatisfied (vs. 19% globally). And at 20 percentage points more than the global average of 19%, 39% of respondents negatively rate the state of the economy.  

“It’s hard to find jobs in Italy and the salaries here are extremely low.” – Angolan expat

Close to a third (31%) find that they are not paid fairly for their work (vs. 22% globally). Respondents are at least not too dissatisfied with the general cost of living (23rd), with 46% rating it favorably (vs. 40% globally). However, Italy’s not fully out of the water, as expats’ satisfaction with their financial situation (44th) is in the bottom 10.

Top Challenges in Expat Essentials

Italy receives its worst index ranking for the Expat Essentials Index (52nd). The Admin Topics Subcategory is especially concerning (53rd) — obtaining a visa to move to the country (51st) and opening a local bank account (42nd) are just some of the problems expats may encounter. And almost three-quarters of respondents (73%) find it difficult to deal with the local bureaucracy or authorities (vs. 42% globally).

“I dislike the bureaucracy and the red tape. Services are disjointed and some things are open to interpretation depending on where you live.” – British expat

The Digital Life Subcategory ranks 44th, highlighting more challenges in online services.  Expats find room for improvement with regards to access to high-speed internet at home (46th) and the online availability of administrative services (49th), which 42% of respondents rate negatively — nearly double the global average of 22%.

“Online services are insufficient, and overall efficiency is low.” – Chinese expat.

Language poses another obstacle, with Italy ranking 41st in this subcategory. Expats find it difficult to live there without speaking Italian (60% vs. 33% globally), but as a silver lining, nearly half of respondents (48%) agree that learning it is easy (vs. 38% globally).

Worsening Quality of Life

Italy’s Quality of Life Index continues dropping, losing nine places from 28th in 2022 to rank 37th in 2024. Four of the index’s five subcategories are below average, with rankings not higher than 28th.

Healthcare lands in 35th place, with average affordability (23rd) but worse availability (38th). Safety & Security ranks 38th as Italy is in the bottom 10 for political stability (46th), which 32% of expats rate negatively — double the global average of 16%!

Travel & Transit doesn’t fare better in 32nd place, as there is an overall trend of worsening satisfaction with public transportation services. Their availability (35th) and affordability (34th) slipped ranks, with opportunity to travel the biggest loser in 2024: it drops out of the top 10 in 2023 (8th) to rank 17th. Nevertheless, 89% of expats rate such opportunities positively (vs. 83% globally).

Italian Cuisine Keeps Expats Delighted

Italy’s slump in Quality of Life rankings hasn’t spared its best performing subcategory, either: Leisure Options drops 11 places to rank 28th. Culture & nightlife took a massive hit in 2024, ranking 32nd after seeing 18th place last year. At least expats enjoy Italy’s culinary variety and dining options (17th): 80% rate the gastronomic scene favorably (vs. 73% globally).

Not all hope is lost, as expats appreciate the climate & weather (16th) and the natural environment (20th); both factors perform better than the global average (72% and 88% vs. a global 58% and 82%, respectively). However, air quality is inching towards the bottom 10 in 42nd place, which places the Environment & Climate Subcategory in 32nd place overall.

“I eat healthier and the food is wonderful. There is so much to do when I’m not working: I have access to diverse environments like the sea, mountains, countryside, and city.” – US American expat

Unfriendly Encounters

Italy’s Ease of Settling In Index ranks in 33rd place. Expats don’t rate the Local Friendliness highly (37th), with 26% finding the locals unfriendly towards foreigners (vs. 20% globally). Similarly, the task of Finding Friends ranks 36th, indicating potential challenges in building social connections.

Larger shares than the global average are unhappy with their social life (32% vs. 29% globally) and face difficulties in making local friends (45% vs. 41%). It’s hardly surprising that Italy trends lower than the global average when it comes to feeling at home (52% vs. 58% globally) and welcome (58% vs. 63%) there.

The Typical Expat in Italy

Further Reading