A life in Italy may seem like the ideal: living and working in Italy! Life in Italy! La dolce vita! There are many people who have taken the step and started living and working in Italy. Keep in mind that life in Italy is quite different than you may expect.
Says me, a 24 year old Dutch girl and mom who found out that we, North Europeans.. are more spoiled than we think 😉
Oh! So you live in Italy? OMG! That is so amazing! Yep, that is what I hear a lot.. when I tell people I live in Rome, Italy. And yes, sometimes it is amazing.
No pressure, long sunny evenings, amazing historical sights EVERYWHERE! It is like being on holiday yourself when I walk outside in the center of Rome..
But honey, it isn’t all so bright and sunny. Dolce Vita was not Dolce Vita for me.
So why did I move to Italy?
I met my husband abroad when I had a gap year in Valencia. I studied Social Work and I felt that I was not ready for it yet. I wanted a gap year to explore Europe!
So I worked in Spain and met my ( Italian ) husband while he was on vacation there. He and I traveled back and forth until we made the decision; I was going to come live with him in Rome, Italy.
He has a company in Italy so coming to me, or back to the Netherlands was not an option. It was a couple months before the pandemic and life seemed ok.
I got pregnant and there the drama started. My husband was not fund of the healthcare here, and me, lets say I was over my ears in love and I didn’t really searched up anything about Italy did not know this.
I heard dramatical stories, doctors get underpaid. Healthcare is free but the care you need to get you can get it, in some cases after a half year of waiting. WTF!
I come from a country where everything goes quickly and this was my first cultural shock. We searched for an private gynecologists’ who we needed to pay more than 250 euro per visit. Okay, he was the best in town and I was expecting twins so maybe that was why the cost were so high.
And I needed to come every 2 weeks. Which means 500 euros a month of checkups, and the medicines were not kinda free. Yes, we did not use the – free – health care cause our visits would be only once in 2 months excluding the last weeks cause then you can ofcourse come by more times. But, public drs could be less professional (?) Is that the right word? But my pregnancy was risky, we didn’t want to take any risk and chose for the expensive way.
We needed to pay also all our medicines ourself, and you need a blood-checkup? Okay, 600 euro! What?! Are you scamming me? And i did in total 8 blood-check ups and 4 iron-infuses.
Our health insurance refunds a part AFTER the pregnancy, so for now we just needed to save and save and more saving since you get your partially money back after MONTHS!
During the pandemic I had to go sometimes to the gynecologists’ alone because my husband wasn’t allowed in the room, my Italian wasn’t super good so it was more a conversation filled with Hand gestures to understand each other.
At the end of the pregnancy ( and I did not even give birth yet) We were 8000 euros down, lol!
My twins were luckily healthy but I gave birth a month earlier, which our health insurance did not expected. – yeah they calculate when you are going to give birth- and they did not refunded our money back of when we gave birth because we did not give birth on the weeks they had in mind… lol. ( I do not want to tell the specific price we needed to pay for my 4 days stay in a good hospital and c section but it was more than a couple of thousands euros)
I stayed in a private hospital because if you give birth at a public hospital you need to share rooms.
Sorry, but I am totally NOT used to that in the Netherlands! I can not imagine me, bleeding as a cow full of stiches and tears staying in a room with 3 other women and their babies.
But maybe I am too spoiled when I gave birth to my son I did that alone in a room and loved the privacy.
So, lets leave my horror-trauma story behind. What are the cons of living in Italy?
Lets get it straight : Working in Italy. Italian companies are much more traditional and hierarchical in nature than many other companies…
And spoiler alert.. sorry.. we are planning to leave Rome in a few years! Italy is not the paradise I imagined. So, that’s it…
Rome is ofcourse the most beautiful city of the most beautiful country in the world. My expectations were high, ofcourse thanks to my poor research…
I intended to live a grand and compelling life. Strolling in the sun on squares, eating bunch of plates of pasta in Trastevere. Finding work in Italy is not always easy and the payments are also often substandard.
Gaining below 1000 euros a month for 40 hours working is a fairly normal monthly income for too many young Italians.
Oh, but the rents are probally low, you would think! NOO!! Rent cost around 1000 euros closeby the center for a 2 or 3-room appartment. The rents are a little bit less when you live outside Rome but that would mean a hour and a half or maybe 2 hours driving towards your work!
And that is why young Italians rent shared houses, rooms or just stay until their 30s at their parents houses because they SIMPLY CAN NOT AFFORD IT!
YES, YOU READ THAT RIGHT! ITALIANS CAN IN MOST CASES NOT AFFORD A HOUSE.
Which makes them moved out their parents late, get married late, and get kids at end 30s, sometimes even 40s!
Did you also know Italy has one of the LOWEST birth rates of Europe! Ever wondered why? Well here’s your answer haha.
And can you imagine, the minimum income in the Netherlands is €1800 and as a social worker, which I studied for, I would earn twice as much as working here.
I can’t imagine working 40 hours for this amount. If you are really poor, you get a pass and you can do your shopping for free, but you really have to pay your rent and health insurance yourself.
Vacation money? Doesn’t exist.
Child benefit and childcare allowance do exist here, but are lower in the Netherlands. While the Dutch earn more.
The prices of childcare here are almost the same and can be almost free, but to have a chance of that you really have to deal with an extremely low income a few hundred euros.
It is not weird to see salaries here of 600-700 euro.
Everything takes a loooooong time
I had to keep my northern European mindset hidden. Because if you, for example, for something finicky such as registering a child, find a doctor (this also has to be done via the municipality)
It is not a weird thing for Italians to go an hour there and an hour back, past 3 different municipality offices to get your SHIT DONE.
In the beginning I got so stressed about this, it is not that people of the municipality are kind or understanding or so. I could really cry about this.
Filling out lengthy forms. Lots of forms!!!
For something that seemed so simple to you in the beginning you get a little tired of the idea that you have to tell the people behind the counter how something works according to the rules.
You can’t stand it when you can be sent from pillar to post. And back again.
Because you need a stamp, a seal / signature AND a copy from A for a document that you then receive from B. And for the first form you need another form with another form and seal from B. Or maybe from C. To make another appointment at the municipality again to check out your forms….
Don’t move to Italy if you can’t stand the idea of ending up in a surreal world where everything that once seemed so normal is definitely not anymore.
Straight is not necessarily straight, but just as easily just crooked and vice versa.
Sometimes you will be without electricity in bad weather. And possibly without heating.
Or hot water.
And without internet. But this only makes you appreciate life ( or at least the life you had before, lol! )
School and the future of my 3 kids
You want to offer your children a good future perspective. Without having to leave the country again to study abroad. Or find a paid job.
So that they can build their own lives and do not have to wait until they are older.. This is the reason we might end up leaving Rome.
We would like to go back to the Netherlands so my husband can manage remotely his job and probably fly over to Rome once in a while
In general, the school system is completely different than from the North Europe.
There is a shortage of professors in universities. And they get paid very poorly by the Italian government, so get ready for moody professors and monthly strikes!
Do you also want to read an post about the PRO’s of living in Italy? I will write it next week, I promise.
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