Italy: 14 Things You May Not Know

  1. The standard power in a property in Italy is 3kW. If you feel that 3kW is not sufficient, you can request an upgrade. The cost of the upgrade can vary depending on the provider and the type of upgrade — you can request to upgrade to 4.5kW, 6.0kW or 10kW. The upgrade can only be requested once you have been officially set up as a client with the relevant provider.
  2. All Non-EU citizens require a visa to live and work in Italy after 90 days. If you are not part of an intracompany transfer, you have various options, which include visas for self-employed individuals, investors, or retirees.
  3. Property requirements that are very challenging or impossible to find in major Italian cities include: 4 or more-bedroom apartments, large gardens, private garages, AC in each room, walk-in showers and or closets, or laundry rooms. Electric clothes dryers are also not standard.
  4. If you are going to be living in Italy long-term, please engage the services of a competent lawyer and accountant for any legal or tax or legal advice you may need. Many expats try to do it themselves, as they are under the impression that they can get away with things in Italy, as they believe that the law is not enforced. This is not the case, and in my thirty years of assisting expats, I’ve seen hundreds end up in tears when the authorities come knocking.
  5. You simply do not have the luxury to hang out with expats who are constantly hating on Italy and Italians. They will sap your energy and chip away at your enthusiasm for why you moved to Italy. I cannot stress enough how you must leave these individuals alone. Just like you must avoid the moaners, don’t overly focus on the negatives in Italy. As much as you can, focus on all the wonderful aspects of Italy and be grateful for the fact that you can experience it firsthand.
  6. In comparison to many other countries, Italy is considered quite a safe country, even in the big cities. That said, common sense should prevail, and caution is advised when travelling on public transport to avoid being pickpocketed.
  7. Trying to rush or trying to speed up the decision process in Italy may well result in achieving the opposite result. Timing is different in Italy and this needs to be embraced.
  8. Regardless of whether you are an EU or a Non-EU citizen, if you are planning on living in Italy full-time, you will need to register at the Town Hall as a resident where you live. This is a vital step in your Italian immigration process and is required to keep you compliant while living here. Non-EU citizens may want to talk with an accountant about the ramifications of being a tax resident in Italy-
  9. They say that 95% of success in life depends on who you know. This is especially true in Italy — just mentioning that you are a friend of someone can open many doors for you. There is a myriad of events, conferences, trade shows, and networking groups where you can connect with other professionals in Italy. Keep a list of who you meet because very often you will find that someone you met a few years is exactly who you need to connect with in that moment.
  10. Given the demand outstrips supply very often in 1st tier cities, landlords for the most part, are not very willing to negotiate on the rent, or to consider other requests that the tenant may have. Considering this — it will behoove one most of the time not to include excessive requests in the lease proposal. The same goes for buying — sought after properties do not stay on the market for long, so trying to get “a good deal”, could work against you.
  11. Renting in Italy is quite different from other markets, and I have had many clients shocked to learn that basically the tenant is responsible for most things in the property — with only major items falling under the responsibility of the landlord. I always explain this very thoroughly before the check-in, to avoid unpleasant discussions during the tenancy, and at the checkout.
  12. Regardless of whether you are a corporate or individual taking over a property in Italy — in simple terms, if a thorough check-in is not done, it will be almost impossible at the end of the tenancy, to prove if any dilapidations claimed for by the landlord are valid or not, as you essentially have no proof — therefore, you don’t have a legal leg to stand on.
  13. The US, Canada, and Australia do not have a national-issued license. Instead, each state, territory, or province issues its own license and Italy, more often than not, does not have an agreement with countries that issue their licenses at a local level. In Italy, a license from a country, state, or territory with which Italy does not have a reciprocal agreement, is valid for one year from the time you request Italian residency. Before the window of one year expires, if you wish to continue driving in Italy legally, you will need to take the Italian driving test. Unfortunately, this is only available in Italian (French and German are also available if you live in the Italian regions where these are official languages). An international driving permit is nothing more than a translation of your license — it has no legal value whatsoever.
  14. One of the hardest parts of moving to Rome for me back in 1988 was not having any friends initially. A valuable lesson that I learnt was not to become friends with someone just because you share a common language — this can be very tempting, especially if you are feeling isolated, and you don’t speak the local language well enough to make friends with the locals. When you only have a language in common with another person, these so-called friendships can become very draining, and even toxic, if you don’t share the same values, political views, or life mindsets. For this reason, unless you are moving to a country where you speak the language, please take the time to study at least 90–120 hours of the local language before you arrive — this will give you a lot of choices when it comes to friendships.

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Damien O'Farrell

Global Mobility Specialist and Expat Coach with thirty plus years’ experience in Global Mobility.