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Thinking of Moving to Italy? Read This First

“Never too old, never too bad, never too late, never too sick to start from scratch once again.” -Bikram Choudhury.

One thing that is truly wonderful about writing a blog about Italy is realizing just how many people all around the world dream of coming here, no matter what it takes. I am always surprised how those with careers that I personally envy, want to leave it all back ‘home’ and move here permanently.

I suppose bloggers like myself play a big part in that, we tend to write about our lovely experiences in Tuscany, getting ‘lost’, finding secret haunts like this garden in Florence or where to get the absolute best view overlooking Florence or the best tagliatelle al tartufo during autumn food fairs. Living here has made me the happiest I have ever been, but only after some pretty serious ‘blood sweat and tears’ moments in the process. I can’t imagine living anywhere else even if I know I could, this is my home.

That being said. Italy is a sexy seductress and we are all so happy to fall prey. It is much more than a one night stand, this country keeps you lingering with want, making plenty of promises and introducing you to her mother. In my opinion it’s more like a five or ten year stand. The food, the wine, sipping a cappuccino dusted with a cocoa-shaped heart in a beautiful piazza. Even just enjoying the simple act of walking in this country has a way of cooking up ideas in our hearts on how we could possibly make this feeling last, how too can we move to Italy?

We love to promote Italy, heck that’s why we moved here and many make our livings doing so, yet most of us know personally just how hard it was actually staying.

I probably get 10+ emails a week from people asking for advice, looking for tips and rather complicated answers to their questions. I wish I could respond to everyone but the truth is, I don’t have all of the answers because this isn’t the kind of place with an easy A-Z guidebook on how to move if you are a normal person. Someone not in school, have no European passport, someone not extremely wealthy.

Nope, I’ve looked, it doesn’t exist. 

That’s mainly because laws here are really confusing and tend to change quite frequently, not more so than many other countries, but we’re currently in an economic slump which makes life here harder. I liken the permesso di soggiorno process to that of a mild version of water torture. If you come from the USA, Canada, Australia you can definitely stay in Italy for up to three months with no visa but for anything longer the most common type of visas in Italy are for business, family reunion, independent work, religious reasons, study, and tourism. It’s not fun to do this process, certainly not straightforward even if you ask for help, nor will it ever be but yet that is quite the small price to pay if living in Italy 24/7 is what you’re after. If you can accept that challenge, and learn Italian, your life will be so much easier.

Before you go, it is very helpful to know that Italy is an extremely regionalized country, after all it only became united in the 19th century which is pretty late when you think about it. This makes a big difference in how people see themselves and the opportunities they have depending on what areas of Italy they are from and might have moved to. You especially see a divide from North to South.

The Job Situation

If you don’t already have a job or plan when you arrive, accept that likely you will be teaching English, babysitting, working as a waitress, all for pretty low pay than you might be used to. Visiting Italy for a few months, staying in a nice apartment and having cash to spend is great whereas living in a small rented room, sharing a bathroom with three people and becoming a professional hustler does get pretty old after a while.

As a freelance writer, it can be tough as well, I remember reading this article by Jennifer of My Sardinian Life and I wasn’t really surprised. My best advice when it comes to finding work is to not be afraid to ask for contract. Also get it read by a lawyer or a knowledgeable friend, and make sure to ask questions!

A lot of my very good friends have left, not because they didn’t love Italy, because they got tired of the lack of career opportunities for young people.

Short-term contracts that didn’t get renewed, paychecks that never got paid – work situations that were truly terrible, I’ve heard it all. Matteo Renzi is trying to change the labor market with his ‘job’s act’, making it easier for companies to ‘hire and fire’ to the dismay of local trade unions but I sometimes wonder, could it be worse than what it already is? Maybe so, Europe isn’t looking very good right now. It has already created some new jobs in Italy, but only time will tell if this scheme will work, like everything only time will tell.

I am becoming Italian more and more every day and have sort of resigned that any real change is up to the Italians and they have proven that they can ‘take’ a lot. They work long hours and make less pay than many of their European counterparts and there is no real sense that this will change anytime soon. Many people never leave jobs because they have a decent contract, they might only be making a little over a 1,000 euros a month but well, they have a contract. Here a 1,000 a month is considered more than decent pay, some freelancers make half that.

The more innovative ones either leave the country or create their own jobs, which is a lot harder than it sounds, not impossible but once again, very hard. I don’t have the answer to what might change this, many argue that internal job demand is low and many who would have already retired are staying on longer than expected, thus limiting growth for those who could advance.

Also, like many others, I think I sometimes disdain and being part of the ‘recession’ generation, graduating college to be told that there were less good jobs but plenty of shitty ones. Not just in Italy, but in plenty of places. In fact I just watched this BBC documentary last night about the ‘Super Rich and Us’ talking about huge income disparities in the UK and how the ‘trickle-down’ defense of the richest 1% might not be true.

In Italy freelancers like myself aren’t looking at a wonderful situation, on the lowest totem pole of partita iva have seen their con­tri­buti alla gestione sepa­rata raise from 27,72% al 29,72%. Protests have claimed ‘We are not ATM’s of the state” and  if you’re feeling brave in Italian, read this.

On the other hand, it does force you to be creative, many of us created our own jobs and for the time being are managing to make them work. Of course, if I am keeping it 100% real here, I would probably encourage my own children to be a bio-medical engineer like my Frenchy, mainly because as a freelancer you can pretty much forget decent benefits and plenty of stress. If you have a job based in the USA where you can work online remotely but live in Italy, than hats off to you! You do need to file residency here and remember that even if you pay taxes in Italy, you always need to file your taxes every year in the states.

You can enroll in Italian-language school (which you should do anyway if you don’t speak the language) and get a year visa or so. Of course as always, I say consult an immigration lawyer or someone who is much more of an expert than myself if you want a more permanent way to stay. You can check out this list provided by the US Embassy in Florence here.

Bank Account Abroad: Trouble for Americans?

Let’s talk about banks. It has been reported lately that the US government is cracking down hard on its citizens keeping their money abroad. According to The Guardian ” The Foreign Accounts Taxation Compliance Act required all foreign banks to disclose the financial information of any American with assets over $50,000 sitting in banks outside of the US. Steep penalties add muscle to the law. If a foreign bank – not just in Canada, but anywhere – fails to report even a single US citizen as a customer to the IRS, the US Treasury department would withhold 30% of the banks’ US income as penalty. Foreign banks, some of whom earned a reputation as tax scofflaws, are now deeply afraid of the Internal Revenue Service.”

This has been quite a hot topic in our community forum on ITALY Magazine. Because this is all still ‘new’ many banks don’t know the current laws and might refuse to open an account for Americans. Though I am well below the 50,000 amount (I wish), I file my taxes in the USA even if I earn no income there. Also my accountant did ask me this last year to provide bank statements from the USA as well, my account there is embarrassing at best but I did what he asked, your ‘commercialista’ is like god here, you do what you’re told and don’t ask why. Mine speaks English and this was a huge advantage because though I speak fluent Italian, as soon as the language gets technical, I tend to flounder and he is a real godsend.

Since I have had a bank account for years, everything seems fine for the moment but if you are an Italy newbie and have experienced problems opening up an account, share your story in the comments below.

I have also heard that beginning September 30, 2014, all individuals, including expats, will be required to file income tax returns supported with a monitoring form declaring all asset holdings and transfers in and out of the country regardless of amount. Right.

Property In Italy. IMU Gone (for now) but New Service Tax

Also keep in mind that if you move to Italy, likely your house will be very different from the one you left behind. You might already know that clothes dryers are not the ‘norm’ here but did you know that when you purchase a house, often it is completely empty? No kitchen or bathroom in many cases, luckily we have Ikea.

Also the IMU has been replaced (as far as I know – I could be wrong) by a new service tax that occupants need to pay, something to read more about as you research properties and a potential purchase in Italy I also recommend reading this while thinking of buying property in Italy.

Cost of Living

This is the hardest question I get because we all spend our money so differently. I actually found a cost of living estimator online that I felt was pretty accurate, plus I liked this one by ‘Life in Italy’.  The average 1-bedroom in the city center I thought was too low (it claims around 627 euros) but depending on the length of contract, I would say it wouldn’t be impossible to find one at that price. Most of us live on an income less than 20,000 euros a year and there are so many ways to spend less, like shopping at fruit and veg markets (you can see a list of markets in Florence here) and taking advantage of favorable lunch menus. A room in a shared apartment in the center of Florence varies from 350 – 500 euros a month and studios and one-bedrooms from around 650 to a lot more, depending on if ‘cave-living’ is your thing ;-).

I know you might be thinking ‘I’ll just move to Calabria and spend a heck of a lot less”. Yes you can live in a smaller town and spend less money but keep in mind that public transportation and services might be lacking plus emotionally it may be hard, depending where in Italy you are.

I have written quite extensively on life as an expat (still hate that word) or well immigrant in my case in Italy that I recommend anyone read before they email me with specific questions. Another wealth of information on Italy ‘day to day’ is the Italy Chronicles which has the very smart and witty Alex sharing all he knows about the country we all love so much. Also for specific questions regarding moving to Italy, ask in these forums, people answer quickly and generally known even  more than I do, especially when it comes to nitty gritty details.

Besides the fact that this article is some very basic ‘real-talk’ my hope is that we can have honest conversations about the reality of the situation here without being super negative. I adore living in Italy, this is Nico and my adopted home and honestly, it has treated us pretty well – especially of late. You don’t want over-think anything because situations can be very unpredictable, you have to be willing to go with the flow if you want to be successful here. The truth is, perhaps we’ve done even better than we ever could back home. It is what you make of it after all.

Now it’s your turn, what are your thoughts about moving to Italy, the current economic situation and whether or not that deters you from making that final move. Or know something I don’t for 2015 that might change things for those who dream of coming to Italy? Share with us, we all benefit from the information.

 

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50 Comment

  1. Reply
    Igor Fobia
    19.01.2015 at 13:40

    Excellent post!
    I’d add that dealing with Italian mentality can be very frustrating. As a Romenian friend told me (and an Albanian friend agreed on that) that if it were possible to remove that layer of real socialist mentality in Italians, everything would work much better. Indeed, as a ‘reverse expat’ (or immigrant), I think that Italian mentality – especially regarding work, technology, and organization – is what holds this country back. And a foreigner from US or a North European country would have many problems with that.

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      19.01.2015 at 18:27

      Thank you so much for your comment. I think what you refer to is a very tricky topic, I do agree that it is extremely hard to ‘really’ fit in or become ‘Italian’. I think I will always be the ‘Americana’ to some degree and it depends where you are. In Florence, it is pretty much a hub for International people so I feel very much that we are luckier than most.

  2. Reply
    Pecora Nera
    19.01.2015 at 15:51

    Absolutely brilliant post,

    If my wife was not Italian and savvy regarding the laws and regulations of Italy (that keep changing) I would have starved or gone back to the UK years ago. I worked for a company that suddenly decided they would pay me, not at the end of the month, but maybe at the end of the following month, the payment never came and when I walked out they were very surprised.

    Italy is a great country to live in just think wine, food sunshine. But boy can it be difficult at times.

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      19.01.2015 at 17:51

      Thank you so much Pete! I feel like there is so much confusing information out there for those who really need A. accurate advice on whether it is a good idea to move to Italy and B. What they need to know BEFORE, otherwise you definitely get the ‘dreamer’ syndrome and unhappy new expats. Unfortunately I know all too well what it is like to not get paid or paid late, it is so common that all of my friends here have a ‘story’ to share. Companies know they can get away with it because the economy is so bad and employees tend to stay because they hope to eventually get a paycheck. I love this country and consider it home thus hoping that those who come here are better prepared and become amazing Italian citizens.

  3. Reply
    Earl Owens
    19.01.2015 at 17:48

    Georgette – You nailed it! Italian bureaucracy can make living long-term in Italy a nightmare. Paperwork and taxes will quickly pluck the blooms from the rose. My first advice for anyone planning to live in Italy is to find a good lawyer and an accountant. Not very romantic!

    The best way to satisfy one’s dream of living in the Bel Paese is either with a student visa or as a tourist (US citizens can visit Italy without a visa for up to 90 days within each 180-day period). Students and tourists can avoid most of the administrative issues which make Italian living difficult. I find that frequent visits for 6-12 weeks at a time, rather than staying long-term, keep my love of Italia high.

    While Florence is my favorite city, I have lived all over Italy. Not putting down roots in any particular place has enabled me to gain a wonderful perspective on the many regional differences. And now I can go anywhere in Italia and reconnect with friends!

    For those still wishing to take the plunge, a must read is Rick Zullo’s ‘The Definitive Guide for the Permesso di Soggiorno.’ You can get a copy here: http://rickzullo.com/definitive-guide-for-the-permesso-di-soggiorno/

    Ciao!

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      19.01.2015 at 18:07

      Ciao Earl, thank you so much for your wonderful comment. I agree that the red-tape process is not one for the faint of heart. As a person not married, or with dual citizenship, I really know what it is like to be drowning in paper.

      I think you are spot on about visiting or living in Italy in increments. I try and tell people that this way they get the best of both worlds. Stability in their job back home while getting to enjoy Italy on holiday and leave the stress behind. Or take a year sabbatical, enroll in a local school (which means you can meet some people) and you can even work part time.

      That’s very interesting that you have lived in so many different places, that is something I wish I could do in Italy as it is easy to be in a sort of bubble in Florence, though e’ sempre a casa mia. Thank you for suggesting Rick’s article, I can’t believe I forgot it in the post, Rick is awesome and always has a good perspective on life in Italy.

    2. Reply
      Earl Owens
      19.01.2015 at 20:29

      For some reason the url to Rick Zullo’s Permesso Guide is missing from his blog. Here’s the direct link:

      http://rickzullo.com/permesso-signup/

      Enjoy!

    3. Reply
      Earl Owens
      19.01.2015 at 20:33

      BTW – My family is from Messina, so I have a natural affinity for Sicilia and the south. But I have found my favorite place in Italy is wherever I happen to be at the moment!

    4. Reply
      Wynne
      19.01.2015 at 20:47

      I agree: the short-term (90-days) gives you the “feel” for Italy without the commitment. As I am short on patience, I fear that if I tried to live there, I would get angry, frustrated, etc., and lose my love for the country that feeds my soul. I don’t EVER want to lose that, so for that reason, “I’m out.” (Shark Tank). 🙂

      1. Reply
        GirlInFlorence
        20.01.2015 at 9:13

        That is a good way of looking at things, you really need a lot of patience to live here on a daily basis so I think it is quite smart to ‘know’ your limits. I am sure you still come and enjoy Italy in short spurts 🙂

  4. Reply
    Mani @ A New Life Wandering
    19.01.2015 at 18:34

    Great post. I am definitely one of those people that have fantasized about living in Italy for a long time.

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      19.01.2015 at 19:04

      Ciao Mani! You are in good company, there is no surprise why living here seems very appealing (and it is for the most part). The good thing is, depending on how flexible you are, you could always choose to live in a much more affordable, but smaller town. Like Lunigiana area in Tuscany, Ostia in Puglia or Emilia-Romagna, all of which are wonderful places. The most important thing is to do your research on coming here legally and get your financial ducks in order 🙂

  5. Reply
    Wynne
    19.01.2015 at 20:40

    I have dreamed of living in Italy for years, but between posts like this, Misty’s and Rick’s, I realize that it’s just too difficult for me to attempt. And I don’t have the patience for bureaucratic BS, so I’d likely be ready to jump off – or push someone off – the Ponte Vecchio within a few days/weeks.

    I’m so grateful you three (and others) have written honestly about the difficulties and realities. It makes more sense for me to simply spend up to 90 days there either working remotely (if I ever figure out how!) or taking sabbaticals.

    Thanks for a great post and the information!

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      20.01.2015 at 9:16

      Hello Wynne, thank you for your comment. Misty and Rick are great, I always love reading their posts because they tell the truth but in a fun way :). I think that we as bloggers owe people the truth about how hard it can be because everyone wants to avoid the ‘unhappy expat’ syndrome, taking all of that time to move countries before realizing just how much change is involved. Instead why not make it easier for yourself and come just for a few months and enjoy the best of Italy? I of course can’t imagine living anywhere else but here but I am adapted for change on a frequent basis 😉

  6. Reply
    Sarah
    20.01.2015 at 0:15

    EXPAT. Yeah I hate that word too. Only British (who am I kidding…English!) people are expats. They have not moved to a different galaxy, the galaxy remains the same although, perplexingly, it speaks in a very hard to hear new dialect.
    For the others, Australians, Americans, Norwegians, expat status second-class is awarded if you can manage not to make an arse of yourself during that treacherous last Christmas season. Oh well.

  7. Reply
    Ilene Modica
    20.01.2015 at 2:29

    We are working with a lawyer that the Italian Consulate here in Phoenix gave us to obtain my husbands dual citizenship. We have been at this for about 2years total but are getting closer to the promised land. We are hoping 2015 is the year we move to Italy, even if it is to try it for a year to make sure we really want to commit to the move permentally.

    Enjoy your article and blog. Thank you!

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      20.01.2015 at 9:11

      Hello Ilene, I know how long that process can be, I have many friends who have gotten their dual citizenship and from the US it takes a bit longer than from here. I wish you guys the best of luck in your move, if you are willing to go through all this trouble to come, it must mean the world to you so that”s already a great sign ;-). Keep me posted of your progress!

      1. Reply
        Dominic
        05.09.2016 at 0:17

        Hi Georgette! I Dominic am also going through for my dual citizenship my parents are Italian born, have been to Italy many times years ago, along with Europe miss it and would like it to be a second home also have lived and maybe living part time in Costa Rica, am a Canadian, i always have and enjoyed a vehicle in Europe looking at Spain also, may move around a bit to see where i may live for a while, any opinion on living like a gypsy in Europe for a while with a vehicle until i find the right place? Dominic

  8. Reply
    Leila
    20.01.2015 at 12:14

    You had me at: “I liken the permesso di soggiorno process to that of a mild version of water torture.” Thank goodness for all the marche da bollo I had to go to the tobacco shop repeatedly to buy! I discovered that quite often the people in the tabaccherie were so much more knowledgeable than the people in the Questura or Consulato or whichever official office I had to go to get my next stamp or signature in the process.

    Your blog is so great and this article is spot on. I discovered your blog last month somehow while google searching around for the right commercialista to help me with my tax situation as I own my business in California and I am now a full time resident in Italy.

    I’ve travelled quite a bit and lived part time in Florence for work over the years and moved to Tuscany from Los Angeles full time at the end of 2013. I agree with what you wrote about the job situation. I am a shoe designer and when I lived part time in Italy in the past I was making a great salary because I was working for an American company. Fast forward to when I moved here, I thought I would be able to find new opportunities more or less easily, we are in the shoe making heart of the world after all, and I have a good work network. Instead, I designed for factories here and was never paid, went through lots of frustrating experiences, and have found valid opportunities through working on collections for non-Italian companies that need a designer or want work done in Italy. So in my experience, YES, it’s totally possible (and beautiful!) to live and work in Italy, and that a person’s best odds to thrive are to find a way to work for a foreign (non-Italian) company.

    PS – This is so silly, but I loved that you mentioned pajamas in a past post because I’ve transformed from sleeping in old concert t-shirts to a total pajama lover and that really only could have happened here.

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      20.01.2015 at 18:14

      Hello Leila, lol I was probably slightly dramatic in likening some red-tape to an actual torture procedure but I think you get my drift. I used to say I wanted to tattoo a marche da bollo on my wrist to save money when I am going through everything, but that wouldn’t really be surprised because lately they just changed the amount ;-). I am really happy you found my blog and I hope you got all of the questions answered that you need regarding commercialista help, my guy Tommaso Francalanci is awesome. He basically lessened my level of stress to about half of what is was before, quite simply, the man is a saint.

      Thank you for sharing your job situation, I think what you have experienced is very similar to many of us. I had a friend who was working at a pretty famous shoe designer here in Florence but was never paid so he eventually left to London where he has his own shoe company ‘the shoe snob’ and seems to be doing pretty well. Congrats to you on making it work, and finding legitimate honest companies that treat you like well, a normal person who deserves to be paid for the work they do. Are you based in Florence still?

      I LOVE that you mentioned the pajamas comment, I think it is from this post. I too can’t even pack for a trip without deciding which pajamas suit the weather LOL so you are not alone. I am a 100% convert.

      1. Reply
        Leila
        21.01.2015 at 10:34

        Hi Georgette,

        In fact I do not have all my questions answered and would love it if you are open to sharing your commercialista’s contact info.

        I met my husband while in Italy for work and he’s from San Miniato which is where we live now. I saw in your posts that you’ve been here for the truffle fair. Did you try eating shaved white truffle on eggs? It’s incredible!

        Yes that’s the post where I saw the pajama reference. I looked at the “COSI” section of your blog connected with other expats and reading your and their posts was wonderful for me, a lot of things felt like you were talking about my life and made me feel like I’m not nuts. From pajamas, to cleaning products (omg we have so many!), regular meal times (and real meals), carrying tissues in my purse always, re-wearing clothes more, reusing ziploc bags, having inlaws iron my underwear, and so forth.

        I however do NOT have an intimate relationship with the post office. I try to avoid them as much as possible though ultimately we all have to go at some point. When I got married I ordered a few different dresses online from BCBG and my mom shipped them to me via the US postal service. She put the full retail value of the dresses on the shipping form so we had to shell out an extra few hundred euros just to receive the package. Then I innocently chose to ship the dresses I did not use back to her using the the Italian post LOL. First, they lost the shipment. Then a slightly damaged package arrived at my mom’s house in Los Angeles with our shipping label on it. She was suspicious and got her camera out to photograph the box as she opened it to discover a package full of Christmas meats, sausages, and cakes. We discovered that the Christmas meat package was sent from Trentino and was supposed to go to someone’s sister in France. Meanwhile my dresses were held up in Milan. The Italian post eventually returned my dresses to us, never refunded our money, and we shipped them back to the States using DHL. The Christmas meat box was picked up from my mom’s house and I assume eventually made it to its final destination because the Italian post contacted her and attempted to get her to pay for the shipment from LA to France of the meats. Bravo Italian Post, Bravo.

        1. Reply
          GirlInFlorence
          21.01.2015 at 13:09

          Oh my gosh leila, that post office story gave me shivers. Just to let you know, no Christmas presents have yet arrived to our house and it is nearly the end of January but I am chalking that one off as ‘normal’ though everytime I order something off amazon, it seems to arrive rather quickly. I definitely had some issues with sending and receiving things but luckily I work from home so I know for sure if anything arrives or not. I have had shaved truffles on eggs in Le Marche not san miniato but that is the absolute best way to eat truffles in my opinion. You can really taste the flavor that way. Before I forget and start rambling on more my commercialista is named Tommaso Francalanci, he is located in the campo di marte area of Florence, he speaks English and is pretty damn awesome, isn’t too pricey either. You can email him at tommasofrancalanci@commercialisti.fi.it. Honestly having a good accountant is the best thing you can have in Italy + lawyer (if you need one). I wish you the best of luck and keep in touch 😀

    2. Reply
      liz
      06.12.2016 at 19:28

      Hi Leila, Thank you for your post! Can i ask you about your commercialista? i too have a. business in the us, which i have other people running… and need some very concise tax advice for the upcoming year. i would appreciate any insight or contact info you could share! warm regards, liz

  9. Reply
    Cher Lewis
    20.01.2015 at 12:59

    I finally got my permanent residenzia after 6 years of ever changing laws. My reward was meeting a cast of characters from a wacky global novel; and yes, some of those people became my friends ( I spent so much time at the State Police that I got to know where everyone liked to go to lunch…came in handy when I had to get a paper signed…ahhhh! paperwork…pronto!. I now have a lawyer, an accountant and a geometer ( don’t ask ). From my required language and culture classes I made friends with people from Russia, Senegal, Turkey, Estonia and Morocco. Being an older American, my language skills, even after 10 years are not up to snuff, but I do love my adopted hometown. Italy is a beauty; she “pouts and struts her hour upon the stage” leaving one perplexed and frustrated but in awe: LOUD APPLAUSE!

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      20.01.2015 at 18:06

      Cher congrats to YOU. That is a big deal and I hope you celebrated, it sounds like you made the best of the situation and even some friends out of it, that is so cool! I’d love to hear your story if you’d like to share :). I feel the same way as you, I love this country so much, consider it like family even with zero familial ties here even if she pisses me off from time to time. I am hoping to get at least the ‘carta di soggiorno’ next year, renewing every two years is draining on the soul. Wish me luck!

  10. Reply
    Gillian
    20.01.2015 at 19:15

    I’ve just arrived in Florence for 5 months. I’m Scottish, and working on my doctorate in the Archivio di Stato, so I am lucky and can avoid a lot of the bureaucracy. That said, there are little frustrations to deal with, like the price of aspirin (almost twenty times what I’d pay in the UK! ) and the slow pace of some things (9 days and still waiting for a simple repair of my laptop). These are tiny problems in the scheme of things, but are little reminders that where ever you go, there will be little home comforts that we took for granted and are missed when they’re gone. Still, I get to spend the spring in one of the most beautiful places in the world and get to share it with visiting friends.

    Thanks for this post. It’s good to see that frustrations are common, but worth overcoming.

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      21.01.2015 at 13:04

      Ciao Gillian. welcome to Florence! Whereabouts in town are you staying? Funny that you mentioned the price of aspirin, we recently stocked up in France because here it is so expensive. Funny how the prices change dramatically for these things depending where you are. You definitely have the right attitude about life in Italy and that is so important, yes you will be frustrated, yes shit will happen, but look around at where you ate and all of that frustration fades away :). Have a wonderful five months here!

      1. Reply
        Gillian
        22.01.2015 at 20:57

        Ciao! Thank you. I’m staying near via Gioberti, so very handy for the archive and a nice little walk into town. Painkillers are definitely going on the list of things I’d like visitors from home to bring me, and now I have a working computer again, things are feeling a bit easier. I’m sure there will be more challenges ahead, but that’s ok. With any luck, the highs will be more plentiful than the lows. 🙂

  11. Reply
    Alex
    26.01.2015 at 18:34

    Excellent post, Georgette!

    Blows away all the fantasising about how wonderful life in Italy is – because it is not. Life can be very tough here and getting a decent paying job is simply not easy.

    Yes, Italy is lovely to look at, the food and wine is fabulous, as is the climate (or was) but it’s far from a bed of roses here – which is why some people give up and either go back home or go elsewhere.

    Personally, I don’t see Italy changing much in the short term. It hasn’t changed a fat lot since I’ve been here and I’ve been in Italy for nearly two decades.

    On the other hand, if you have money or a decent income, you’ll probably love Italy to bits (most of the time).

    Alternatively, you might be lucky enough to be transferred here if you work for a multinational in which case you will probably be fine too (and earn more than your Italian counterparts too).

    All the best from Milan (which, by the way, is not the real Italy),

    Alex

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      27.01.2015 at 9:43

      Ciao Alex, what a pleasure to see you commenting on this post, it is much appreciated! I think that we as bloggers/freelance writers need to be as honest, but in a nice way, as possible. People need not think that it is an easy process that it might seem in movies like ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’. We have done the move, worked the many jobs it takes to survive and now love it as much as any other place, but with a level of realistic expectations that comes when you really know the good and bad of the given place. Nico, my Frenchy other half, was transferred from a French multinational and his experience is like as you say, but I remember when he had to accept the Italian version of the same contract he was getting before, but he did so also because he loved the country so much.

      All the best from Florence, which is a bit like Disneyland 😉

      Georgette

    2. Reply
      Gary Robbins
      24.01.2017 at 16:14

      You make some really good points that give me second thoughts of moving to Italy.

  12. Reply
    Robin Plapp Killoran
    08.02.2015 at 17:54

    Hi, Georgette.

    I’ll be moving to Florence in late July to spend August getting my TEFL certification. As a retired Special Ed teacher of 36 years (with small pension) I am hoping to find at least part-time work in Florence and to stay at least several years. This article –with its abundance of practical info and tips– has made me feel a lot more prepared (mentally, at least) and eager to start my new adventure!

    Also, I joined the facebook group Friends in Florence (thought I saw the reference to it in one of your posts…?) and have already (within 48 hours of my posting a bit about myself) had two people offer to show me their favorite restaurants and bars! This, too, has made me far less nervous about being the “single older lady traveling alone to a foreign country”.

    I suspect you have just brought new clients for your accountant. I know that, once I arrive, he’s one of the first people I will contact re: taxes, etc.

    Thanks, again, for all the invaluable information and reality checks!

    Robin
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin, US

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      08.02.2015 at 19:36

      Hello Robin! That is very exciting, I am happy for you to make this very big change and that you already have chatted with people on Friends in Florence (which is a great resource). I have a feeling you will do just fine and if anything, it is all just part of the experience. There always seems to be some need for English teachers in Florence, so you can always seen about doing private lessons too.

      I highly recommend Tommaso, my accountant because if it wasn’t for him, I might not have had my previous permesso renewed, and he has saved me so much time from having to beg for documents at various offices, the red-tape world of taxes is daunting for everyone here, whether you’re fluent in Italian or not :).

      I wish you all the best of luck and if you need anything, don’t hesitate to reach out :).

      1. Reply
        Richard
        15.07.2016 at 13:09

        Do you have an email for your accountant?

        Rich

        1. Reply
          GirlInFlorence
          15.07.2016 at 16:49

          Hello rich, I sure do it’s tommasofrancalanci@commercialisti.fi.it. His name is Tommaso Francalanci, you can tell him you’re a friend of mine. Hope that helps!

  13. Reply
    Rossi
    27.02.2015 at 18:47

    Hello and thank you for the very interesting post.
    I would like to add that being a freelancer is difficult no matter if you live in Italy or not. I was a freelancer for 11.5 of my 13.5 years in the UK and have seen it all – from offers of lots of work for a ridiculously low pay to large companies delaying payment for up to six months at a time. In fact, I dropped a very lucrative client – a large US company which is a household name – precisely for regularly not paying me for months.
    We moved to Italy six months ago and even though we live on much less money than in England, I am still in the pink-tinted phase, I love the sun, the fabulous weather, the art, etc. This may soon change, especially as I will be searching for an accountant in the next month or so.
    Best wishes from Vicenza,

    Rossi 🙂

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      02.03.2015 at 12:09

      Ciao Rossi! You are very very right, I did some freelance work in the USA and had a great experience but I know plenty that didn’t. I never encourage people to dive straight into that line of work because pay in general, is of a lower scale so I feel like people need to be financially prepared. For example, what I would get in the USA for the social media work compared to Italy is almost triple in some cases. I do think you can live on much less money which is why I adore life here, I think that it depends where in Italy you are. I love your blog and cherish your opinion, thank you so much for your two-cents!

  14. Reply
    Giselle
    02.04.2015 at 15:09

    This is definitely a really helpful post! Italy seems great! Thanks for the info! Greets, Man With Van Chiswick Ltd.

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      03.04.2015 at 22:28

      Thank you so much Giselle! Italy is great but it is definitely worth knowing what it is really like before coming 🙂

  15. Reply
    Mia
    14.04.2015 at 14:02

    Great post! It is really interesting to know about the job opportunities for young people in Italy! I really want to go and stay for a while but I definitely need to know that there would be a job for me before I move! Thanks!

  16. Reply
    Katie
    19.05.2015 at 17:01

    Really useful information and so well-written! Thanks for sharing it here!

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      19.05.2015 at 17:53

      My pleasure Katie, It’s a discussion that needs to happen since it certainly isn’t all roses and perfection here in Italy..

  17. Reply
    Minnie Mason
    15.10.2015 at 15:34

    Italy is such an amazing country. I am in love with Florence. I wanted to move there but for now it is impossible. Thank you for sharing your article. You give me a reason to dream a little bit 🙂

    1. Reply
      GirlInFlorence
      16.10.2015 at 9:07

      I am all about being realistic but optimistic, I think that Florence is lovely, but I could never honestly tell people that it is easy to live here and make a decent salary. On the other hand, I have met many cool people who have made it happen. It just depends how much you want it, and how much you are willing to adapt.

  18. Reply
    Dawn M Hanson
    25.04.2016 at 7:52

    Hi Georgette,
    I just had the chance to read this….wonderful and well said. Now when people ask why I am living in Paris, I am going to send them this post:) I do love Florence and have wonderful (and frustrating) memories of my 3 years there. I am happy I am able to stay over here in the wonderful EU and have a bit less frustration over here in Paris, but of course no where is perfect. Be well and enjoy the Italian summer sun! x

  19. Reply
    Tom Scanlon
    02.05.2016 at 18:16

    Hi Georgette,
    I am an American, planning to move to Tuscany to be with my fiance this year – as soon as I can make it happen! I had two practical questions that I am asking my expat contacts who are in Italy:
    1- Does one REALLY need a Visa to apply for the Permesso? Or, can I simply go to Italy, apply for the Permesson, and if my 90 days is up and I still haven’t gotten the PdS, I simply cross the border for a few days an return? There seems to be descrepancy about whether one must present Visa during the PdS application process.

    2- This question might be far afield – but wondering your opinion on whether one is ok with getting a TESL certificate here in the States vs. in Italy? There’s a program starting in 2 weeks in Boston, and I want to take it, but it’s a $1100, and I’d hate to get to Italy and have everybody say “We don’t recognize that certificate.”

    THanks for any info you can provide! Grazie

  20. Reply
    Carolyn
    08.09.2016 at 18:13

    Great post. We are doing things in baby steps. I’ve always wanted to live in Italy and persuaded my husband we should retire there (from Scotland). We were out in March to look at properties and practical things ( I say it’s all very well living up a mountain with a great view but what if you are 80 and break your leg!) We’d spent a month last year travelling Italy and a week in Umbria finally won hubby over. Looking in the Castiglione del Lago area (have an estate agent and an Italian/Scottish lawyer here. I’m now thinking about spending 3 months next year renting there to see if I ‘fit’ before we commit to the reams of paperwork etc. Wish me luck. (Oh and I do have a small vacation to Florence in 4 weeks, just to get my next hit)

  21. Reply
    Amanda
    11.09.2016 at 2:57

    All of this is so interesting to read. I am about to take the plunge because..I fell in love with an Italian and I am just finishing up college here in San Francisco. I have visited Italy many times before this decision but its still a little nerve wrecking to say the least when you move to a whole different culture. I am going to start out on a student visa and and if everything goes well I will probably get married in the future, which might help in the process. I am happy to share my experiences and tips that I learn as well and I will keep checking back with this beautiful blog.

  22. Reply
    Gema
    15.12.2016 at 17:18

    Thank you for this article. I’m getting married to an Italian man in the next couple of months and I suggested that we live in Italy. He already has a home there, but here in the states, it’s difficult. We live in New York, so it’s very expensive and we both currently rent rooms. I feel like in Italy, we will have a home and a more stable live. I’m just a little nervous to leave the states. I’ve never even visited another country, but I have no reason to stay here as I have no family. I’m well educated and have my Masters in Technology. We will be married when we move there and I probably won’t need to work since my fiance will. We are planning to live in Rome. I’m just so nervous to take the plunge.

  23. Reply
    Mariana Gimenez
    03.02.2017 at 14:19

    Hi Georgette,
    All this information your share it’s unbelievable amazing and so clear. I am US citizen visiting Italy at this moment, I arrived 2.5 months ago so I’m still on my 90 days permit stay. I am a freelancer bookkeeping myself, working remotely from anywhere in the world. So I am not planning to work in Italy at all, how can I apply for a longer stay or permit or else to stay in Italy indefinitely or at least a year without leaving Italy? I went to the the Immigration department within the Police Station to find out more and they don’t know about that permit or visa.
    Do you have any idea or what else I can do??? Thank you so much in advance.

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