SURVEY: Foreign residents rank Italy one of ‘worst countries in world’ for finances and working abroad

Foreigners who move to Italy are less satisfied with their financial situation than in any other country, a new survey of international residents has found.

SURVEY: Foreign residents rank Italy one of 'worst countries in world' for finances and working abroad
Some 30 percent of Italy's foreign residents say they're unhappy with their financial situation, against a 19 percent global average among expats. Photo: Tim Gouw/Unsplash

A third of foreign residents in Italy say their disposable household income is not enough to cover their expenses, according to the 2021 edition of the annual Expat Insider survey by InterNations, an information and networking site for people living overseas.

Italy fared poorly in the annual survey yet again, coming 58th out of 59 countries overall for living and working abroad. Only Kuwait placed lower. (Note: We have our own survey at the bottom of the page if you disagree.)

Its performance was especially dismal in the categories of work and personal finance, in which it placed second to last and last respectively.

READ ALSO: ‘You might not want to stay here, it’s crazy’: What to expect when you work for an Italian company

Some 42 percent of respondents reported making less than $25,000 per year, compared to the global average of 30 percent. And 30 percent of those surveyed in Italy said they were unhappy with their financial situation, versus just 19 percent worldwide.

“I notice financial corruption and do not like the low salaries,” wrote one respondent from the United States.

Italy also came bottom for “career prospects and satisfaction”, with more than half of foreign residents (56 percent) rating their work opportunities negatively and nearly a third (31 percent) saying they were dissatisfied with their current job.

Among the complaints were lack of job security, a weak local economy, inflexible working hours and poor work-life balance.

READ ALSO: ‘Smart working’? Here’s what you need to know about going self-employed in Italy

“Finding a job is not easy for foreigners, not even for the well-educated ones,” said an Iranian respondent.

Unsurprisingly Italy got its highest marks for quality of life, and especially weather, travel and leisure options. But even in this area, lack of high-speed internet and the difficulty of doing admin online dragged down its score.

More surprisingly, given the complaints about personal finances, Italy also did well on cost of living, placing 32nd out of 59. Foreign residents were particularly impressed by the price of healthcare, with more than two-thirds (67 percent) saying it was affordable.

About the same proportion (66 percent) said they were happy with their life in Italy in general – which, though a majority, is noticeably less than the 75 percent who report being satisfied worldwide.

Italy repeatedly scores poorly in the annual InterNations survey, with work and earnings reliably one of the biggest sources of foreign residents’ complaints.

Image: InterNations Expat Insider 2021 Survey

It slipped a few more places between the 2020 and 2021 rankings, though InterNations cautions that this year’s results have been exceptionally affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The top three countries chosen by international residents were Taiwan (1st), Mexico (2nd) and Costa Rica (3rd), while Italy (58th) was joined at the bottom by Kuwait (59th) and South Africa (57th).

For its 2021 survey, InterNations asked more than 12,000 people living abroad to rate up to 37 different aspects of life in their new country. Each country included was rated by at least 50 respondents.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


EXPLAINED: How to claim Italy’s €200 cost of living bonus

The Italian government is sending one-off €200 payments to cushion the rising cost of living, but they won't be automatic. Here's the latest on how the process works.

EXPLAINED: How to claim Italy's €200 cost of living bonus

The €200 cost of living bonus was announced in May 2022, alongside several government measures aimed at offsetting the increasing cost of living, as The Local reported.

Employees, as well as the self-employed, pensioners and the unemployed, will be eligible to receive the €200 payment if they have an annual income of under €35,000 gross, according to a decree law passed in May.

READ ALSO: Who can claim Italy’s €200 cost of living bonus?

However, the bonus is only automatically made to those who are state employees or pensioners. Those in these categories will be identified by the Ministry of Economy and Finance and INPS and receive €200 along with their salaries or pension payments.

What if I work in the private sector?

Employers working in the private sector should receive their payments in their July pay packet. First, however, they need to submit a self-declaration (autodichiarazione) form to their employer, who will pay the sum with the July pay check and then recover the funds from the state later.

The decree doesn’t specify a deadline for the submission, but as the payments should be made in July, the paperwork needs to be filed before that – so you’ll need to talk to your employer and arrange it.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The rules and deadlines for filing Italian taxes in 2022

The self-declaration serves to establish that the worker has all the requirements to be a beneficiary. That means the person does not go over the income ceiling for the benefit, for example.

You will also have to declare that you will not receive a €200 bonus from other sources, such as from being a recipient of the citizen income or through another employment relationship.

How can other workers apply?

Italy’s government expanded the bonus payment scheme to more people in early May, as The Local reported.

Seasonal workers, domestic and cleaning staff, the self-employed, the unemployed and those on Italy’s ‘citizens’ income’ were added to the categories of people in Italy eligible for a one-off €200 payment.

These other categories of workers will not receive automatic payment, though. Instead, they need to make a special request to INPS to receive the bonus.

There are different deadlines for different people, so ‘domestic workers’ (lavoratori domestici) need to apply by September 30th. Other workers, such as seasonal, for example, have until October 21st.

You can apply for the bonus on the INPS website, which indicates that the payments will be made at an unspecified later date.