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Moving to Italy

The dates are set and you’re ready to explore the rich heritage and natural wonders of Italy. Moving to Italy, or any foreign country, has its difficulties. Here, we’ve put together some of our top tips to help you avoid making some of the common mistakes that many expats make when they first move to Italy.

Making only expat friends

Making friends with local people and exploring the culture whilst living overseas is important, but maintaining expat friendships with people from your home country is just as advantageous. When you first move abroad, expect to face multiple challenges. Adapting to your new surroundings is just one aspect of moving overseas you may find difficult to adjust to. These new expat friends can help to provide you with some form of support, and may even help with factors like the language barrier, or getting to know your way around. They were in your shoes once too.

Underestimating the cost of living

Some people move to Italy because they believe it’s cheaper than at home – but this assumption is wrong. Italy isexpensive. Before moving overseas, you need to be sure that you want this country to be your new home, and if you’ll be able to maintain your financial situation whilst looking after yourself. Beware that instantly finding a job, apartment and visa is unlikely. Rent is very expensive in big cities – just like it is in London. You should expect to pay up to €1000 for a 2-3 bedroom apartment. As well as rent, you need to factor in additional costs such as bills, food and travel.

Refusing to learn the language

There is no doubt that learning a new language is difficult. In fact, it can take up to six to eight month to learn Italian to a conversational standard. Don’t be disheartened if you find picking up the local lingo difficult. The best way to learn a language is by speaking it. Unless you practice pronouncing the words and phrases aloud, you will never speak it well. If you find yourself making little progress, don’t feel discouraged. Everybody learns at a different pace. It’s OK to remind yourself of the basics before you move on.

Paying by cash & card

There is an Italian law that Italian businesses must comply to. Customers can only pay for any purchases above €5.00. Despite many shopkeepers ruling out this law, since Italy consists of mostly small-medium size businesses, it’s too expensive to accommodate the fees related to card transactions. Don’t be surprised if your card payment is denied by a shopkeeper. Most Italians pay with cash for this reason – so make sure you always have some on you!

Similarly, don’t expect everywhere to be open at lunch time. All public offices, shops and banks close at lunch, regardless how urgently you need to pop in. The only exceptions are large supermarkets and high-street chain stores. It’s not called a ‘siesta’ either – the stores simply close for a period of time during the afternoon. Depending on the area you are looking to move to in Italy, these time slots may differ. If you live in a busy city centre, most stores will choose to stay open through the afternoon to accommodate tourists.

Assuming you buy public transport tickets directly on the bus or tram

Just like in the UK, most major cities in Italy, including Rome, Milan and Naples require you to buy a ticket before boarding your bus or tram. It’s unusual to find a ticket machine next to the bus stop, so you’ll need to find a newspaper and magazine stand or visit the tobacco shop to get your tickets. If you plan on using the services on a Sunday, you’ll need to purchase your tickets a day in advance since many of these are closed. Make sure you validate your ticket as soon as you step on board by putting it into a machine that will print of the date and time it has been used. Without doing this, you are still eligible to receive a fine!

If you’re looking to move to Italy, make sure you contact us to find out how we can help you relocate.

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