Moving to Italy
Over the past year various sites have asked me to write an article about how someone would move to Italy. Many acquaintances have asked the same questions since our return. Usually the main reasoning is that these individuals feel they have the Italian mentality. They are usually somewhat distraught by the innate superficiality of the US lifestyle. The beautiful scenery, fashion, great food, and warm people are appealing. My suggestion is usually, “don’t! At least not immediately.” Take some time to gather information and try out the new lifestyle before leaping in with both feet.
When you move to Italy you become an immigrant. That means adapting to a different culture. Forget everything about what is acceptable and what is not. I have brought to Italy numerous US employees for short periods, usually 1-2 years. Our company would provide full support, pay all the bills, and go out of our way to make the US employee comfortable. Still, less than 80% would have a good experience. If one attempts this process on his own, without a significant support structure, that number decreases to less than 25%. You can read about various experiences of ex-pats currently in Italy checking out the side bar. Tracie in Naples and Anne in Busto Arsizio are two really good ones. If you read their stories over time you will see that even with an extended family support system, they are often women who have married Italian men, sometimes they are happy, sometimes they are very distraught.
Immigrating is a traumatic experience. The immigrant is no one, even less than the usual Joe citizen, often taken advantage of, heavily criticized should he express an opinion different than generally accepted culture. To put this into perspective the experience would be the same as the South American immigrant coming to the US and locating in Dallas. I can imagine the thoughts at this point, “but, I am rich, I am an American, I am not like the South American!” An immigrant is an immigrant. Survival depends on the capability to adapt, to accept the bad and look for the good forgetting everything that is generally accepted “knowledge.”
A simple example of some basic differences is the Natalie Holloway case. The news, lawyers, and general public highly criticized the officials for applying their law. You could be in Italy, a neighbor goes to the police and states that you hit him, you can be imprisoned and held without being charged. You are not innocent until proven guilty, you are guilty and it is your responsibility to prove that you are innocent. Understanding this basic difference is important to living and surviving but it is completely different than your culture. Perhaps this is a sensationalist example, but it is very real and is just one of the many differences in basic perceptions of right and wrong.
If you want to attempt the Italian lifestyle I suggest you vacation often, if funds are not a problem buy a house and visit regularly. If your company offers the opportunity to move for several years, by all means do so if they will take care of the basic necessities. It can be a marvelous and eye-opening experience and you may find that Italy is the place you want to live the rest of your life. Many Americans live and work successfully in Italy. Many wealthy Americans have chosen Italy as their primary point of residence. Others have invested heavily in wineries, farms, real estate and other activities. Italy is a great place to live but it is important to understand the process before taking the step.
Additional information may be found at the Ex-pats in Italy website.
Tags: Immigration Italy Italian Vacation Culture Travel Italy