Moving to Rome as an expat must sound like a dream come true. Your impending relocation may remind you of Hollywood’s vision of the Italian capital. It’s very tempting to imagine yourself as the dashing Gregory Peck romancing a doe-eyed Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday, or as Julia Roberts discovering Italian gourmet cuisine in Eat Pray Love.
Alas, in real life, moving to Rome means, in some regards, settling in a metropolis like any other. Expats will face pollution, rising rents, petty crime, and an overstrained transport infrastructure.
In other respects, Rome is certainly not the same as just any other city. After all, ancient Rome was the capital of an empire that stretched from the Atlantic Ocean to the Black Sea, from Northern Africa to Northern England. As the center of Catholic Christianity, it also played a key part in European history.
Moving to Rome invites you to travel back in time: After you move to Rome, take some days out of your busy schedule to explore the heritage of the “Eternal City”.
Moving to Rome brings you right to the heart of Italy. The national capital is located in central Italy, in the region of Lazio, where it forms the core of Lazio’s largest province – also called Roma. The city (comune) of Rome itself stretches along the River Tiber, from the hilly hinterland to the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Considering Rome’s location, it should not come as a surprise that the city has a typical Mediterranean climate, with rainy winters and hot summers. In July and August, average temperatures range from slightly below 20°C at night to 30°C or more during the day. In fact, the highest temperature ever recorded in downtown Rome is 40°C.
When you prepare for moving to Rome, you should take the climate into account, especially if you arrive in summer. While the city no longer comes to a standstill in August, expats coming to Italy at that time of the year still find themselves in a comparatively quiet city, with most of the population flocking to the mountains or the beach.
Rome is not only Italy’s capital, but also its most populous city. In early 2014, the comune of Rome boasted a population of 2.9 million. The municipality extends beyond the “inofficial” city limits marked by the ring road Grande Raccordo Anulare and includes a lot of unused marchland: This makes for a high population density – and the daily traffic chaos.
The population of Rome is ever on the increase, with thousands of Italians and migrants moving to Rome every year. Currently, about 364,000 foreign-born residents are registered in the municipality of Rome, according to the last official census. There are huge immigrant communities, especially from Albania, Bangladesh, China, the Philippines, Poland, and Romania.
When it comes to migration from EU countries other than Poland or Romania, it is Germany, France, and the UK that send a sizable number of expats moving to Rome. According to the last available figures from the Italian Bureau of Statistics, 2,400 Germans, 3,800 French expats, and 2,500 residents from the United Kingdom lived in the comune of Rome. The city’s popularity in Hollywood notwithstanding, the US expatriate community counted “only” an estimated 2,000 members.
As often happens in an unfamiliar environment, expats moving to Rome can be concerned about their safety. The most frequent crimes are, however, pick-pocketing (touristy bus line no 64 is dubbed the “wallet express”), purse-snatching, and vehicle theft.
Therefore you should never leave your valuables in the open. Don’t even keep them in a backpack, but use an inside pocket or a carefully concealed money belt. Make sure to have the number of your embassy and bank at hand if you lose a passport or credit card after all.
If you’re new in the city, you should remember not to take an unlicensed taxi and to avoid unofficial moneychangers, vendors, and guides you bump into in the street: The risk of some scammer ripping you off is too great.
Furthermore, don’t loiter near Stazione Termini or in underground stations at night, and beware of remote roads and deserted areas in the outskirts. All in all, however, moving to Rome is largely safe. You shouldn’t be afraid to discover this magnificent city on your own.
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