The Italian Republic is famously shaped like a boot that looks like it is trying to kick Africa away from the Mediterranean Sea. The peninsula is delimited by the Alps to the north while having several islands surrounding it to create a variety of living experience. It shares a border with four different countries, and then there are two microstates within its borders, Vatican City and San Marino, that add even more to its charm.
Most people recognize Italy because of the strength of the Roman Empire in the ancient world. It was the most powerful economic, political, and cultural force of its era, and the influences of its existence are even found in some of today’s holy books. It was also one of the largest empires in world history, covering over 5 million square kilometers at its peak. Italy helped to shape the modern world in many ways.
The eastern half of the Roman Empire would survive for well over 1,000 years as the Byzantine Empire until the Ottoman Turks took it over in 1453. Most of its citizens still referred to themselves as Romans.
The pros and cons of living in Italy allow you to embrace this history while enjoying a modern, tolerant approach to life.
List of the Pros of Living in Italy
1. You will find a thriving nightlife waiting for you in Italy.
Life in Italy tends to revolve around the social encounters you experience each day. The only things that keep people indoors here are heavy snows or torrential rain – and even then, you’ll still see some brave souls going out for some coffee. You will find people chatting with friends at all hours of the day. Dinners can be very late, followed by a stroll down the main street or time in the square.
You’ll feel the buzz of the nightlife immediately when living in Italy. The desire for socializing is strong here, and you’ll find street concerts playing deep into the night. It’s the perfect time to grab some gelato and enjoy the evening.
2. Most residential settings are well-maintained in Italy.
When you visit the cities of Italy, you’ll find that almost all of the apartment blocks throughout the country were built in the 1960s or 1970s. This building push came as a result of funds finally freed up after the conclusion of World War II. Despite the fact that these gray, concrete blocks still look the same as they always did, the communities are taking care of the properties so that they still feel brand new.
The décor in Italy might be dated somewhat when you start living here, but your quarters will be in excellent working order. Italians are very discerning buyers, which leads to this advantage for you.
3. Italy provides you with some amazing surroundings.
The amount of history that you can find when living in Italy is arguably more than any other location on our planet. When you make a list of the best sights to see in the country, the top things to do include iconic venues like the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. There’s also the Pantheon, Cinque Terre, and the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.
You can visit places like Rome, Venice, or Milan whenever the urge to have a road trip occurs. If you want to escape for a weekend, you can head over to Sicily, Sardinia, or Corsica for some island time. Then there’s the fact that you’re essentially surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea.
4. Food in Italy is affordable and tasty.
You won’t find a better grocery store or supermarket in the world than the ones that are in Italy. Even the smallest businesses in remote villages provide incredible produce and meat selections that come from local producers. If you love cheese, then living in Italy is going to be a dream come true. You’ll find a lot of the items with which you choose to stock a pantry tend to be cheaper if you’re an ex-pat than what you had at home.
There are also strict food laws in place in Italy that require the produce you eat to meet exceptional standards. Providers cannot use food coloring or preservatives in excessive amounts, which means everything seems to taste better.
5. Educational opportunities in Italy are plentiful and accessible.
The Italian culture makes the education of children a top priority. Even if your family doesn’t speak the language, you can rest assured that everyone will have access to excellent learning opportunities. Most kids in this country begin to learn how to read and write at the age of three. Their public schools are free to use, and history, arts, and the sciences are all part of the well-rounded approach taken with this advantage.
Most of the cities where you would choose to live in Italy have access to reputable international schools if that is your preference. It will cost more to use this educational option when compared to a public school, but you can also meet specific goals at them that might not be available otherwise.
6. There are excellent public transportation options in Italy.
You won’t get through a day without hearing at least one complaint about the public transportation systems that exist in Italy. What you may not realize from these observations is that your choices are rather good, especially when you compare what is available here to the rest of Europe. You may not arrive on time consistently, but it is safe, reliable, and cheap when you’re living in the cities. It also connects the entire country from the north to the south, making it possible to commute long distances if you would like to take advantage of the best of both worlds.
7. Italy has a high-quality healthcare system that you can use.
The World Health Organization rates the healthcare system in Italy as one of the ten best that are in the world today. Almost all of your medical expenses are covered when you’re living here, so out-of-pocket costs are somewhat rare. That means you may have some waiting to do at a public hospital, but the system tends to be efficient despite the number of people who can access it.
You also have the option to carry private insurance to supplement the public care system. It will cost a little more since you’re also funding the public option, but it can be an investment that cuts down your waiting time since you can go to private facilities.
8. It is easier to obtain citizenship in Italy than in other countries.
There are residency requirements that you must meet to become a citizen if you’re living in Italy. The standard length of time to wait is 10 years if you move here to work or for other reasons, but evidence of heritage can reduce that time to only four years. If your grandparents or parents were born in Italy, then you might not have a residency requirement to meet at all before applying for citizenship.
This advantage makes it a lot easier for people to take advantage of the opportunities that do exist in Italy. It might be challenging to find employment sometimes or an affordable place to raise a family, but the tasks become simpler when you can knock the residency requirements out of the equation.
9. Buying property is simple when you want to live in Italy.
If you come from a reciprocity country when you want to live in Italy, then you can purchase property without having a residence permit. This advantage even applies to Americans. If you don’t live somewhere with this option, then all you need is a valid residency permit to purchase your new home. Since 70% of Italians own the property where they live, you’ll find that this advantage makes it a lot easier to assimilate into the local culture right away.
10. You can open a bank account fairly easily in Italy.
Assuming that you have a valid proof of identity and evidence of an Italian address, then you can open a bank account in the country without being a resident. You can’t open them online, so that means you’ll need to do it in person once you step foot in the country. This advantage makes it easier to transfer your funds from your previous institution to the new one in Italy so that you have immediate access to your funds.
The bureaucracy you will find in Italy might affect other aspects of life here, but at least you won’t have trouble paying your bills or having money available for your grocery needs.
11. The weather in Italy is generally amazing.
Can you find places in Italy where the summers are hot and the winters cold and snowy? Absolutely. What you’ll also notice is that there are bright, blue skies waiting for you when spring arrives. It can get humid at times, but the winters are usually short without as many dark skies as you can find across the rest of Europe. Spring and fall are almost always perfect, giving you warm days and chilly nights that are perfect for snuggling with a special someone or your favorite blanket.
The consistency of the weather right now almost makes it feel like you are on a vacation or holiday every day when living in Italy. Life here is easy-going, relaxed, and lots of fun.
12. You can find something beautiful almost anywhere you travel.
There are very few places that you can go in Italy that would be described as “ugly.” You’ll be taking pictures almost everywhere you go when living here. Could the streets be a little cleaner? For sure. That is also part of the charm of living here. The views that you see never get old because you’re guaranteed to be living in the image found on a postcard.
On the off chance that you do get tired of the time-honored landscapes found in Italy, it’s only a short drive to Austria, Germany, France, Switzerland, or Croatia. You can spend years here without ever really running out of something new to do.
13. Living in Italy allows you to see the rest of Europe.
If you start living in Italy, then you’ll be residing in a Schengen member state. That means the visa or residency that you receive to be here will take you through most of the rest of Europe. There are a handful of exceptions to this advantage, but you can generally travel to any other state in the agreement for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. That includes taking a flight to Iceland if you wish.
List of the Cons of Living in Italy
1. You’re going to need to know Italian on some level.
If you are living in rural Italy, then you’ll discover that very few people are fluent in your language. English is surprisingly rare to find in this country, although you will hear it spoken more often in urban environments. You might need to travel for several kilometers (not miles) before you can find someone who can understand your needs.
If you aren’t fluent in Italian, then you may find that people are more curt or abrupt with you in social encounters. Your lack of language use puts you into the category of a tourist, even if you live in Italy full-time, and people with that label are often viewed as being a nuisance.
2. There is a legitimate problem with grime when living in Italy.
When you see pictures of Italy, you’ll likely view gorgeous beaches at sunset, sparkling historic landmarks, and brilliant views of the rolling hills of Tuscany. What you don’t see in these promotional images is the grime that tends to collect in each community. Cities that are centuries old are not going to be spotless by any means of the imagination, but overcrowding does lead to some dirty streets. Add in some issues with trash collection, and you’ve got a recipe that can lead to some filth.
3. It can be expensive to live in Italy.
You may have heard about the rural communities offering low-cost homes to families if they’re willing to renovate the property. For a single euro, you could move to Italy, own property, and restore a centuries-old home to its prior glory. What you’ll find upon arrival is that most of the affordable properties are well off of the beaten path – and that’s good if you want privacy. If you prefer the social nature of the Italian lifestyle, then small apartments that are sparse on modern furnishings are going to be at New York City prices.
4. Italy has access to limited resources.
You might find that the food is more affordable when you start living in Italy, but almost everything else is going to cost more. Imports for gas, other forms of fuel, and even electricity push the basic costs of living higher. That means you’re going to be paying more in addition to higher rent when you want to live somewhere popular, so make sure there are some funds in reserve so that your savings won’t suffer. It also helps to land a job before moving to the country so that obtaining your visa or permits is an easier process.
5. High schools in Italy do not provide a holistic curriculum.
When your children attend a high school in Italy, then they will start to learn a specialty instead of receiving a generalized education. The choices made during this time can impact what university degree they can pursue in the future. Kids as young as 14 are deciding what they want to be as an adult, and then they start training for that work right away.
That means you must attend a high school that teaches what you want to learn. It can be challenging to find that kind of resource when living in some of the rural villages in the country.
6. The roads in Italy can be surprisingly dangerous.
If you picture yourself driving along an open road with rolling hills and vineyards when living in Italy, then you’ll want to check back to reality. The driving culture in this country is quite aggressive. You’ll find congestion waiting for you on most major roads, and drivers are not that patient when sitting in rush hour traffic. When you add in the confusing rules that you need to follow in your vehicle, the experience can be overwhelming and stressful.
When you first start living here, it is a good idea to get a feel of what to expect when driving to work or going to town to run errands. Once you become familiar with what is waiting for you, then it will be easier to navigate this issue.
7. It can be a challenge to find work when living in Italy.
Your best option for work when living in Italy is to be self-employed. If you want formal employment opportunities, then you’ll discover that finding a job here isn’t as easy as it was a decade ago. This disadvantage applies even to EU citizens. Thousands of university students are graduating into an economy where there aren’t enough open positions to cover everyone. The high unemployment rates mean that you could go for 12-24 months before securing something that can help you to pay the bills. Even hospitality positions are in short supply.
8. Italy can be a bureaucratic nightmare.
Italy’s government and oversight agencies move at a snail’s pace. When you have administrative tasks to complete, then the bureaucracy will undoubtedly get in your way. Trying to get anything official accomplished can be a drawn-out process that leads to high levels of frustration and confusion. If you need to sign any documents related to living or working here, then hiring a reputable lawyer who can speak your language is an essential (and expensive) part of life.
9. Most rentals require a long-term lease when living in Italy.
If you’re thinking about living in Italy, then you’d better be prepared to stay awhile. If you aren’t purchasing a property outright, then expect a transitory lease for your apartment or flat to last for up to 18 months. You can find some long-term agreements that last for 36 months when you move to some cities, and some landlords are pushing that time out to four years.
If you decide to rent and decide that isn’t the best option for you, then you’re stuck in the contract unless you break it – and that can be a very costly venture.
The pros and cons of living in Italy depend on what you hope to gain from the experience. If your goal is to retire here one day while enjoying the history of the region, then you can live almost anywhere on any budget. When your dream is to find a job and adopt the Italian way of life, then there could be some obstacles in your path.
Unemployment is high in Italy, and the cost of living can be outrageous if you live in Rome, Venice, or Milan. You can save money by choosing a home in a small, rural village, but then your employment options become limited.
If you plan to start a business, then you must apply for a self-employment visa. There are no fixed requirements for qualifying, so that means you might not receive approval despite putting time and effort into the lengthy process. Italy is beautiful and life is good here, so the positives almost always outweigh whatever negatives develop.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.