Recently it seems like everybody wants to move to Italy! I’ve been getting a lot of questions about how I did it and how you can make it happen so I thought I’d share some of these conversations here on the blog. I was honoured to be interviewed on the Work Hard Play Hard podcast with Rob Murgatroyd and in conversation with Kylie Flavell on her Youtube Channel. I’ve also been featured in Fab Luxe Magazine earlier this year in a fun conversation about living in Italy.
Below I’m going to share the links to these interviews/conversations and following that some frequently asked questions I am getting about moving to Italy.
This post is meant to be a changing place where I’ll collect resources I find useful if you’re thinking about moving to Italy and wondering how to do it. I’m going to explain some of my own experiences and insights in a brief a way as possible and then list other blogs, books, and posts that might be able to help.
To read my personal story about moving to Italy, check out my Laurenissima blog series about how and why I moved to Italy in 2010 and found my way into the world of tour guiding. More will be coming on this blog very soon, I promise!
Interviews and Conversations about living in Italy.
Lauren in conversation with videographer and creative Kylie Flavell on Youtube. Watch here.
Podcast conversation and video for the Work Hard Play Hard Podcast with Rob Murgatroyd! Also available on iTunes.
My interview with Fab Luxe Magazine. Read here.
Moving to Italy: Frequently Asked Questions
DISCLAIMER: I am not a legal expert. I am writing a blog post. So take that for what it’s worth. If you have any questions, please share them in the comments and I’ll give you any advice that I have and others might be able to answer too. Please don’t write follow up emails asking about specifics because I probably won’t be able to help even if I’d like to! Everyone’s situation is different and the process changes from country to country and even state to state in the US.
I will also say, this post is to answer the most frequently asked questions I’ve received about this process but I honestly don’t know anybody who got their permit to stay in Italy in the same way. It’s a complicated process and everybody finds their own path which means you will too!
How do I get a job in Italy?
It is not easy for Italians to get a job in Italy so this is a very hard question to answer. The main expat jobs in Italy are English teacher, UN worker (World Food Program, Food and Agriculture Organisation) or working in the tourism industry. To be a tour guide you should have a license which you can’t get before coming… in fact at the moment you can’t even get them here (because there’s a freeze on the certification process that has gone on for a few years now) but typically Segway tour companies hire. However, it’s not easy to get a job like this right off the bat. The easiest thing would be English teaching as there are many schools constantly hiring. From there you could look for other kinds of work. That’s what I did!
If you can come to Italy and work remotely for a US company on a US salary, you have won the game. Your income will be higher, everything will be easier! And there are now freelancer visas you can get as long as you can prove you have enough income to support you in Italy, this could be a great option and could also be a starting point for looking for a more stable job in the country with a local contract. If you want to talk to an expert about this, I recommend checking out the resources I’ve listed at the bottom of this post.
What should I do before I move?
Work on your Italian as much as possible. Save as much money as possible. I came to Italy with less than €2,000 and proceeded to live from pay check to pay check for MANY years, forced to take any odd jobs that came along because I needed to pay rent. If you can avoid that you will (obviously) be happier!
Should I get an apartment before I come?
Of course this all depends on your circumstances but I’d recommend renting a place for a month or two and then looking for an apartment on your arrival in Italy when you have a better idea of what neighbourhood you want to stay in.
How much is rent?
In Rome you can find rooms for €400-€800 in shared apartments with other people. Typically small apartments to rent on your own would be €1,200-€1,600. Outside of Rome these costs go down dramatically and you can find apartments in smaller cities for €350 a month or less. It really just depends on where you go.
How much is the average salary?
€1,000-€2,000 a month. Yes, you read that correctly. Hence the seemingly low rents. And also why it would be worth your time to explore staying on a foreign income and getting the foreign freelance visa.
How long can I be in Italy without a Visa or Permit to Stay?
For an American you can be here three months as a tourist. In the past students could also stay for only three months but I have heard that now that has been extended to 150 days as a student. As a tourist staying under three months, you don’t need to get a visa or do paperwork. As a student your school will usually help with this process.
I’d definitely recommend coming to live in Italy for an extended period of time before you commit to a move. Coming to study for 3 or 4 months is a great idea since you’ll learn more Italian, meet people, travel the country and see what you like.
Types of Visas
Student Visa is the easiest but it’s not guaranteed. You will present your paperwork to your local Italian consulate in the US and they might reject your application if you say you’re going to study part time at a beginner level. The logic being: you can do that kind of study here and don’t require full immersion. If you show you are studying for a higher level, working toward an authorised language exam provided by a school or a third party (I’ve done the CELI exams for example) and you are studying at least part time if not full time, you are more likely to be accepted by the consulate and will then receive a study visa in your passport. On arrival in Italy you use this Visa to apply for a permit to stay (permesso di soggiorno).
Work visa. This requires one of the following scenarios: 1) you have a job in Italy with a contract. 2) You have a freelance visa to work in Italy which requires a Partita IVA. Not something you can do right away but maybe you could transfer a study visa to this eventually. 3) You get a freelance visa proving you make enough of an income in your home country that you can work remotely and stay in Italy. Usually this amount is something like $2,000-$3,000 a month.
Uncovering your Italian or European ancestors and getting your citizenship. There are many services out there that can help you track down the paperwork but at some point in the process you’ll probably have to come to Italy to track down paperwork. Every story I’ve heard is that this takes about 2 or 3 years.
Marrying an Italian…. for love of course! 😉
Retiring to Italy. This requires you prove you have enough money to live in Italy without working. From what I hear these numbers are pretty reasonable.
From Visa to Permesso di Soggiorno
Typically you need to acquire a visa at your local consulate (this must be the consulate nearest where you have residency in the US) and this takes the form of stamp or document glued into your Passport. Once you get to Italy you have to transform this visa into a “permesso di soggiorno” or permit to stay in a process that can take three to six months.
To do this you will need to get what is known as the “kit” which you pick up at the post office. I usually did this by going up to someone and using the words “kit per permesso di soggiorno” and they will give you a big envelope of paper. Or they will say they are out of them and you have to come back later or go to another post office (happens all the time).
You fill out all the necessary pages that relate to your situation. All of this is in Italian so if you’re brand new and don’t speak so much Italian, you’ll want help from an Italian to do this!
Then you take the kit back to the post office and they tell you when your appointment will be at the Questura. It will be on a random date at a random time. Make sure you know where the Questura is… in Rome it’s FAR.
On that day you’ll present all your paperwork to the guys. Plan to waste many hours doing this. At the end if they say you are good to go then you leave and you have to wait a few more months to be able to go pick up your card at a police station near where you live. I hear now they text you when you can pick it up or you can check online. Back in the day (a few years ago) you had to just go repeatedly and they told you no, no, no, and finally yes!
Then you have your permesso di soggiorno, you can legally stay in Italy as long as it says on your permesso card and can do all kinds of other paperwork like get your health card, residency card, ID card, driving license! You really need the permesso to do everything required with legally living in Italy.
For another resource on how to apply for the permesso that may be more helpful, check out this post on Romeing Magazine here.
Your local Italian consulate in the country where you live now. The number one place you’ll want to look into is your local Italian consulate. This is the consulate closest to where you live, there will be a specific one assigned to you. You will most likely find a ton of information on their website that will help you.
Talk to an Italian Lawyer. Michele Capecchi is a lawyer in Florence who specialises in helping people to move to Italy. He did a few interviews with Kylie (who interviewed me in the first video on this post) so you might want to start there or check out his e-book Legal Advice for Expats. He also spoke on the Work Hard Play Hard Podcast with Rob Murgatroyd and their conversation about how to get Italian citizenship and the freelance work visa was very insightful. He also has many helpful articles published at the Florentine Newspaper here. Start with all these conversations and his book before getting in touch as he charges an initial conversation fee so you’ll want to go into that conversation already prepared to ask the right questions. His company website is here: www.capecchilegal.com.
Check out the Moving to Italy Masterclasses with Thea Duncan. Thea is an American living in Milan who offers masterclasses on how to move to Italy. Check out her site to see if she could help you with your move! www.doingitaly.com