Pros and cons of living in Italy: The things you should know

Want to learn about Italy's best and worst characteristics? Read this article to find out about the pros and cons of living in Italy.


6 minute read
Updated on 10 Dec 2023

Living in a foreign country can be both rewarding and challenging. But if you're prepared for the pros and cons, you'll be ready for anything.

Living in Italy is a dream for many people. Gorgeous weather, amazing food, and stunning scenery are just a few of the things that make Italy so appealing. But before you book your flight, it's important to understand the pros and cons of living in Italy. This way, you can be sure that moving to Italy is the right decision for you. So without further ado, let's take a look at some of the living in Italy pros and cons!

Pro: The La Dolce Vita lifestyle

The Italian lifestyle has plenty of things to offer that everyone will enjoy. The food in Italy is amazing, but that's not the only thing that makes it a great place to live. Italians take their leisure activities seriously. From sports to opera, they know how to have fun while simultaneously enjoying themselves intellectually as well.

If you venture outside of the cities, you’ll find that Italy has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. You’ll have an endless choice of rolling hillsides, vineyards spanning as far as the eye can see, and azure seaside towns.

Con: The language barrier is high

Learning Italian is a must for foreigners living in Italy. Many expats moving to Italy have the idea that they’ll just get by with English since they expect that Italians are very used to dealing with people who speak other languages. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. While it's true that many Italians do know some English, it's not enough to get by on. And even if you can communicate in broken Italian, trying to do could make you unpopular with the locals!

Having a good understanding of Italian will make your life in Italy a lot easier and more enjoyable! Duolingo is a great app to help you get started.

Pro: The food is exquisite

Italian cuisine is world-famous for a reason. There are so many incredible dishes to choose from and each one is unique to a certain region of Italy. From the classic spaghetti and meatballs to the more obscure but no less delicious rabbit ragu, there's something for everyone when it comes to Italian food.

Food is almost like a religion in Italy and the process of eating is a ritual in itself. It’s common for Italians to go the extra mile to eat with their families at both lunch and dinner. As a result, lunch breaks are two to three hours long and your colleagues are going to leave the office just in time to make it home for dinner.

Food is so important in Italy that taking a potential business partner out for lunch is an integral part of building a sound business relationship!

Con: The cost of living can get quite high in the main cities

The high cost of living is a common problem associated with living in major cities throughout Italy.

Many people who are moving to the country have no idea how much it'll cost them, and they can be caught off guard by some unexpected expenses. It’s possible to live on a budget as long as you know what makes up your monthly expenses.

It's always a good idea to be aware of the average prices for various things. For example, groceries and restaurants can be quite expensive in larger cities like Rome and Milan. However, the cost of living is usually a bit lower in smaller towns or rural areas. Besides that, fuel and electricity prices are some of the main contributors to the high cost of living.

It’s often the case that tenants who don’t know their rights are met with extra charges for their accommodation, so you must make sure that you know your tenant rights!

Pro: Well-developed healthcare system

The Italian healthcare system is one of the best in the world and its services are free of charge for all citizens who go to public hospitals. Of course, there are also many private healthcare options throughout the country, but they tend to be very expensive. So, if you are looking for quality healthcare and don’t want to break the bank, Italy is a great place to consider living in!

Make sure to choose the right health insurance to complement the public coverage you’ll receive as an Italian resident.

Con: Bureaucratic public services

Bureaucracy is a widespread problem in Italy's public services. This is best illustrated by Italy's infamous "ius sibillinum" or "Sibylline law", a code of laws consisting largely of extremely obscure decrees. Legend has it that a person is only able to interpret the code with divine guidance because it’s indecipherable without Apollo's oracle.

Similarly, bureaucracy is still an issue today in Italy and can be the cause for many difficulties when doing business or following through on certain legal procedures. The formal requirements are exceptionally ambiguous and change frequently. The best way to overcome the issue is to triple-check all the requirements before advancing with a legal matter.

This is often easier said than done, as it isn’t always clear what is required or where to find the necessary information. In addition, government offices are often unhelpful and slow in responding to inquiries.

If the bureaucracy in Italy is overwhelming you, you may want to consider a legal consultant.

Other facts that you should know about before making the move to Italy

With all of the main pros and cons of living in Italy laid out, there are a couple of honorable mentions we can’t miss out on.

Competitive job market

One of the biggest struggles you'll have as an expat is finding a job in Italy. Though the unemployment rate has recovered steadily since it's lowest point in early 2022, finding work as a non-Italian speaker can be difficult.

As an expat, you’d have the highest chances of landing a well-paying job in cities such as Rome, Milan, Florence and Bologna. In these cities, there's more work available for English speakers, but you might still struggle without learning Italian.

Italians can be your friends for life

The friendliness of Italians is just one aspect that makes it easy to integrate into the Italian culture. Once they are close with someone, Italians will be loyal and trustworthy toward them for the rest of their lives! If you are looking to make Italian friends, it'll be important to show that you are interested in them and their culture.

Italians can feel close to someone after only a short time, so be ready to get dinner invitations from your new Italian friends!

Dangerous drivers

If you are driving in Italy, it's important to be aware of the dangers and drive safely.

Italy's driving can be dangerous because of the extreme congestion and aggressive approach to driving. The top five reasons for accidents in Italy are driving too fast, not respecting red lights or other road signs, driving under the influence of alcohol, while tired and without a license.

In addition, Italian drivers aren't used to sharing the road with cyclists and pedestrians. This can often lead to dangerous situations. As a pedestrian, you should be very careful when crossing streets. As a cyclist, on the other hand, you should also take the necessary precautions to avoid getting into an accident, such as wearing the right protective gear.

Italy is a historical goldmine

There are many historical sites to see in Italy, it's hard to know where to start! A good place might be Rome, which is full of ancient ruins. Then there's Florence, with its Renaissance architecture. If you're interested in classical art, you can't miss Naples or Venice! And that's just a small sample - Italy is a historical goldmine. So if you're a fan of weekend getaways, Italy is the place to go!

All in all, Italy is a beautiful country with wonderful food, fascinating history, and gorgeous scenery. Be aware that the Italian lifestyle will come at a high cost for you if you want to live in one of the main cities like Rome or Milan. You’ll need to know some basic vocabulary before moving here.

In addition to this important step, it's also important that you have all of your paperwork in order if you don't want to get caught up in any bureaucratic red tape from the Italian authorities.

So, what is it like to live in Italy?

Living in Italy as an expat means making the most of the incredible food, the lifestyle of leisure and beautiful landscape. While you may encounter struggles with the language barrier, the cost of living in bigger cities and bureaucracy required to live there, the pros certainly outweigh the cons. Italians are welcoming, friendly and will become friends for life (just prepare for some dangerous driving and learn some Italian!).

If the information you have now didn't change your mind about moving to Italy, you should start planning your relocation checklist!
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