Being an expat is always an adventure.
No matter the reason for moving outside of your native country – for work, for family, to discover yourself, for a new way of living — Matthias O’Meara says that living abroad opens an entirely new world you would never have experienced otherwise. It’s complicated, it’s fun, it’s unforgettable.
It can also be a challenge, but there are many ways to prepare for living abroad to get the most out of the experience — especially if you’re making Italy your new home. There are about 10 million Americans living outside of the United States right now, and about 3.6 million of the 5 million foreigners in Italy are citizens of countries other than those in the European Union.
If you’re an expat in Italy, you won’t ever be alone. Here’s a look at some of the big positives of living in Italy as an expat — and 4 of the most important ways to make the very most out of the experience every day.
Take Advantage of the Nightlife
Every region of Italy is distinctive, but life in the country thrives on the friendliness of the people and the importance placed on social gatherings and encounters. Life is more relaxed, with long meals (especially dinner), outdoor strolls, and many, many coffee breaks at outdoor cafes.
The nightlife is superb, with everything from bustling clubs to outdoor street concerts. It’s extremely easy to have a memorable day and night.
It’s a Country Built for Exploration
Italy is a country rich in history and contrasts. You can spend days checking out the most popular sites, like the Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum, and the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, but don’t forget to hit the vineyards of Tuscany or the remote villages of Sardinia or Sicily.
And, of course, the gorgeous Mediterranean Sea surrounds you. You will never run out of adventures to take — and Italian places to discover.
It Pays to Learn the Language
Yes, it seems like a given, but you’d be surprised by the number of expatriates who don’t put in the effort to learn even the basics of the Italian language. That’s a mistake.
It opens the country to you even more, and if you plan to live in Italy for several years, even mastering Italian on a sufficient level will make your experience go very smoothly, for everything from finding a place to live or making lifelong friends in your neighborhood.
It Has a Great Healthcare System
Italy has a public healthcare program, the Sistema Sanitario Nazionale, which was founded in the 1970s. It takes a little bit to get used to it, as it focuses less on preventative medicine and more on sick care.
Once you master it, you’ll be pleased to find that it is far less expensive than what you pay for medical care in the United States, as much as 90% less or so. Plus, there’s also private expat health insurance available if you are not eligible for SSN yet.