As I prepare for my short move to Italy, I had a few questions for my friends and fellow bloggers who have made the choice to live in Italy full-time. While I had questions about dating and favorite words, the principal one that stood out to me was:
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice before moving to Italy, what would you have said?
Here are answers from 9 expats.
Advice on What to Know Before Moving to Italy from 9 Expats
“Personally, I don’t think there’s anything else I could have done to prepare. My usual answer is to learn Italian before coming, which is very obvious, but probably 95% of expats come with almost zero knowledge of the basics, and unfortunately it’s just not something you ‘pick up’ without a crap ton of effort unless you’re a very gifted polyglot already. The lack of language leads to a downward spiral that a lot of people can’t get out of. If I could have (figuratively-speaking) given myself a thicker skin, that’s probably what would have been most useful. My first few experiences going to get immigration paperwork done used to literally give me nightmares and make me shake in my boots. When people would refuse to help or send me in circles, I’d be the meek and polite Canadian and say ‘ok, thanks’. You can’t do that here, you have to go into everything with your armor on, ready for battle! And that includes going to the post office sometimes, hehe.” – Jasmine Mah, Questa Dolce Vita
“Do NOT count on finding work once in Italy, unless you want to teach English. Otherwise, arrive with either enough money to sustain yourself or an outside (remote) income.” – Rick Zullo, RickZullo.com
“I think I would be a little kinder with myself – when I moved over here I put a lot of pressure on myself to rent a room in a house, get a job and find friends straight away – these things all actually happened in quite an organic way once I was out here. Italy can be quite chaotic for Italians too, so with aspects of bureaucracy – such as certificates to be able to stay in Italy and work – everyone is sympathetic if you don’t have all your ducks in a row at once. I found people in public offices actually really helpful, and they even suggested shortcuts to me to help process my paperwork. There’s also a big expat community here so lots of great advice can be easily found. Join a few local Facebook groups before you come, and you’ll feel like you have people to help you before you even arrive.” – Isobel Lee, Testaccina
“I think I would say to expect it to be hard. Life in Italy is not all wine, espresso, long dinners and a leisurely passeggiata. There is a lot I love about Italy and a lot I don’t like. I wish I had been more prepared for the stuff I don’t like…and more realistic about how hard living in another country can be.” – Rachel Vermiglio Smith, The Italianista (& Managing Editor of the cozy little site called The Iceberg Project ;])
“I came for the first time at 30 years old with a one way ticket and $1,000 for a month (then there was still the lira and the dollar went a long way). I wish I had bought a house immediately– when the dollar was double and the prices were low — but hindsight is always easier. I could have bought a downtown apartment for 100,000 lira in florence– which was 50,000– much less than what I have spent in paying rent!” – Judy Witts Francini, Divina Cucina
“I would have told myself to immediately take the Italian driver’s license exam once settled in Italy, before life and work got in the way and made it harder. It’s not all that easy, and it does cost a bit of money and time investment that is all a big headache, especially if you already have a driver’s license and have been driving since you were a teenager. There are so many places you can travel to if you have a car, and you have a lot more freedom overall. I am, however, a big supporter of public transportation and bikes for everyday use and absolutely love having a bike here. But if I could go back to those early years, I would have gotten the driver’s license and maybe even have found a way to use a car more on my own. Being that I was in Venice, though, at first, driving never really occurred to me and I never felt the need.” – Molly Mcilwrath, Letterartemente
“Don’t put anything in storage, just sell it all!” – Peggy Ryan, Gracefully Global
“Invest in your Italian life. Don’t try so hard to hold on to old habits and ways of life because it’s all you know. Invest in the language, in getting to know your neighbors, and understanding the culture. Italy won’t change to suit you – you will be the one to change.” – Natalie, An American in Rome
“I’m not sure I would change anything, to be honest. Of course the faster you can get fluent, the better and more varied experiences you’ll be able to have, and the more locals you’ll be able to interact with, so that’s probably where I would start. Get fluent as soon as possible!” – Sara Rosso, Ms. Adventures in Italy
Have questions about their answers or your own advice to give? Leave a comment below!