4 Years Living in Italy, The Real Deal….

Italy is a dream that keeps returning for the rest of your life is a famous quote by Anna Kortovova. Yes, it is true… but is moving to Italy right for you? Now, after 4 years of living in Italy, here’s my take on important ups and downs I’ve encountered to keep it real.

First, let me start off by saying I moved here mid career. I wasn’t a young adult, not sure of my direction with so much time to explore. I also wasn’t retired with social security benefits, inheritance or a pension to sustain me. These facts make it more difficult for a person in their 40s-50s to make such a significant lifestyle change. However, Italy was always calling me and after 8 years of extended visits, I finally decided to take a chance and begin a new chapter in my life regardless of the challenges.

My new life in Florence started out as a vacation as one can imagine. I was finally here! Finding a permanent apartment, setting it up and meeting people going out filled my days and nights. It was the dream I had imagined! I walked around sharing photos and my happiness with my dog Baci who joined me from NY.

On the flip side, I knew money was limited and I had to find work. This reality set in…. I always said to myself I could sell jewelry on the Ponte Vecchio to live here but, that was not reality. I was kidding myself as I soon realized with jobs in Italy. Most full time jobs pay 1000-1500 A MONTH, if you are lucky with long hours. It’s all about multiple jobs to pay the rent here I learned. Plus, a lot of employers want employees under 30 years old for tax purposes.  I questioned where do I fit in?

Jobs in Italy

Jobs are limited and require a special skill for better pay as I’ve learned. Most employers demand long hours, 6 days a week for little pay and competition seemed higher compared to the USA.  I even thought out of the box with new ideas as an entrepreneur but the Italians I’ve encountered are not really open to new thoughts.

I’ve always wanted to explore my creativity side and started teaching English after obtaining certification to teach. I’ve been very fortunate with students who have continued with me for over 3 years now and some of them have even become real friends. It’s been both fun and rewarding!  I’m building my clients and it’s a work in progress. Also, I love social media so I’ve handled many accounts for local businesses in Italy.

Think new ideas and out of your comfort zone to reinvent yourself in Italy!

Language

Yes, learn the Italian language in Italy if you want to live here. Most people in the centre of Florence speak some English so it is easy to get by in most daily routines. Even when I speak Italian, the locals recognize my accent and practice their English on me. I’ve learned to do an exchange in both languages to be polite. We all want to learn and practice! It’s important to be prepared for emergencies as I’ve had surgery here and had to rely solely on my Italian to communicate.

Making Friends

Many people come in and out of Florence so there is a lot of opportunity to meet people. They may be here permanently or for a few years. Most expats seem to be transitory and move on after 4 years or less. It’s been hard building friendships and then missing them when they leave. Age groups don’t really matter, as it really counts with whom you connect. However, it has sometimes felt like I was leaving my friends and family in NY again when I watch people leave Florence after establishing new friends. It’s a loss and it tears at your heart.. ….. This is something to get used to. It’s important to find Italian friends and those expats who are also really grounded in Italy to find “your people” again.

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In the end, we all have to choose what is right for us and what we dare to explore. Understanding  job opportunities, language barriers and friendship issues in Italy can help those thinking about a move to Italy to make the best informed decision for them.

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