Living in Italy

Italy is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations as well as one Europe’s rich-cultured countries, being regarded as one big living museum. The boot-shaped country in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea is well-known for its mouth-watering food and wine, warm and sunny summers and that famous coffee, but life there as an expat is surely more than that! Living there is more than just having a cup of coffee on St. Mark’s Square in Venice and overlooking tourists during their rides on the gondola, the flat-bottomed Venetian rowing boat. Let’s look at stats first: Italy has a population of 60,392,245 with expats amounting to around 6% of the whole amount. The official language there is Italian with about 29% of the population speaking English as well. Hence, it would be a good idea to learn a few key words and carry a phrase book if you’re heading there! It shouldn’t take long for you to settle in and work in Italy if you’re coming from another European country, but if you’re from a non-EU country, you will need visas and work permits. Be aware that the official currency in Italy is the Euro.

The weather

Italy is rather a long and big country; therefore, the weather varies considerably according to the location. Summers tend to be warm throughout the whole country, but you will notice a main difference in winter, as the Northern area will face a sudden change in temperature, going from cool to cold. Northern Italy has a humid subtropical climate whereas the south enjoys a more Mediterranean one. The hottest month is typically August, reaching highs of 25°C, whilst the coldest is January, with the temperature in the northern Alpine regions falls to -26°C.

Transportation

If you’re in Italy with your family, or in a group, having a personal car is surely a great investment. It is very helpful to travel around the country when you’ve your own vehicle. It is recommended to avoid driving in areas such as Milan, Rome and Naples as Italian drivers are fast and skilful. You may also choose to rent a car, however, if you’re going to any of the popular cities, due to the lack of parking spots available. If you prefer not to drive, you can also call for a taxi, but be aware that you will be charged as from the moment the driver gets the call! Alternatively, you can make use of public transport: buses and trains, which are both efficient and a good value for the money.

Cost of living

Despite being part of the European Union, Italy’s cost of living is fairly higher than the other countries in the bloc. It goes without saying that the cost of living will vary according to the city you’re living in -Milan is Italy’s most expensive city, with Rome being closely behind. Moreover, before relocating to Italy, check out the income tax and social security requirements. Most of the food is grown locally, so won’t be very expensive. Expats living in Italy estimate that when renting an apartment, costs will be around €1500. This depends on the lifestyle you wish to live. Keep in mind that if you’re looking to buy or rent a house in Italy, take note that, “unfurnished” means a property which is empty, except for the bathroom suite.

Education

State schools are free for children in the country – whether you’re a local or not. It is important to note that this applies for primary and secondary schools, as there will be enrolment taxes once the child reaches the age of 16. Similar to most worldwide countries, schools follow a curriculum and will test the students by having exams at the end of the scholastic year. Expat parents might want to take advantage of the public system, where Italian taught as well, helping the children learn the language of the country they’re living in. Despite being more brief, English language lessons also take place. Schooling in Italy differs from the rest as the system will see students being part of a scuola secondaria di primo grado programme, where students learn a new European language. Afterwards, at age 14, students will make a choice as to what they will continue to study, be it, arts, sciences, languages or economics. The other options for expat parents to consider are public schools and international schools.

Healthcare

If you’re living in Italy, you will receive basic medical care for free, given that it is referred to by the GP. You will need to pay yourself for the additional care you want, however. Health, maternity, disability, retirement, death, unemployment, accidents at work and occupational diseases and family benefits are all covered by the Italian social security system. If you opt for the public healthcare services, you may have to wait for your turn. Nonetheless, healthcare in Italy is of a good quality. On the other hand, you can go for a private healthcare, but expenses here will be higher. Expats are suggested to make use of international health insurance, to help cover some costs.

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