For members


Eight pitfalls people need to avoid to make the dream move to Italy

Will your expectations of a new life in Italy match the reality? Here, one relocation expert shares some of the main issues movers need to take into account to ensure a smooth relocation.

People look out over the Italian city of Florence.
Planning a move to Italy? Be aware of the pitfalls to look out for. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Many people dream of a new life in Italy for years before taking the plunge, while others make a sudden move after being offered an exciting job opportunity.

But either way, sadly it’s not unusual to hear of people soon going back to their home countries after discovering that life abroad was not all they’d hoped for. Bureaucracy, budgets, and lifestyle differences are some of the factors that most frequently cause serious difficulties, as relocation expert Damien O’Farrell explains.

To give others planning their own move a better idea of what to expect, O’Farrell shares some of the biggest reasons why relocations to Italy don’t succeed.

Unrealistic perceptions

While Italy is home to some of the world’s most incredible apparel, food, wine, and art, it is also one of the world’s most bureaucratic countries with unbelievably slow public services and utility companies – definitely not what one would expect of a major European economy. People expecting only ‘La Dolce Vita’ quickly become irritated and frustrated.

READ ALSO: Visas and residency permits: How to move to Italy (and stay here)

Do your research when looking for work

Photo: Van Tay Media on Unsplash

Inadequate housing budget 

Italy’s main cities are some of the most expensive in Europe. Therefore, if an assignee or individual has a budget that is too low for the Italian market, once again, frustration quickly settles in. A person moving to Italy normally wants at least the same standard of living they have in their home country, if not higher.

High cost of living

Italy, for the most part, is an expensive country, which means that if a person’s salary or income is not in line with the cost of living, they will soon become frustrated as they will have a low standard of living. Smaller cities and remote areas are naturally cheaper.


Lifestyle challenges 

Language difficulties, byzantine bureaucracy, and the lack of international schools outside main cities are among some of the main lifestyle issues that can contribute to an unsuccessful relocation in Italy.

Incompetent vendors 

If you’re working with a relocation and/or immigration expert, you need to make sure that they are the best on the market.

Lack of work opportunities for spouses

For those who have been offered a job in Italy, an accompanying spouse or significant other who would also like to work will probably be disappointed. The two main obstacles are usually that the spouse/partner does not speak Italian and the job market in Italy is not very dynamic – though cities like Milan offer more opportunities.

READ ALSO: Freelance or employee: Which is the best way to work in Italy?

Photo: Romain Dancre on Unsplash

Lack of high-end temporary accommodation 

Temporary accommodation in Italy is limited, even in the main cities, and what is available is very often expensive and not in line with the expectations of an expatriate. Therefore, an assignee or individual becomes unhappy living in a temporary accommodation that is not in line with their expectations.

A landlord’s market 

Rentals in Italy are generally a landlord’s market. There is normally very little room for negotiation as many landlords own multiple properties and are not rent-dependent.

READ ALSO: Ten things to expect when renting an apartment in Italy

This can mean that the quality/price ratio is often low and not in line with the expectations of an expatriate. Smaller cities offer more in terms of the possibility to negotiate.

Damien O’Farrell is a Global Mobility Specialist and Expat Coach with more than thirty years’ experience. He can be contacted via his website.

This is an edited version of an article originally published on Medium.

Member comments

  1. I would appreciate an article on visas for retirees. I have owned a house with a hectare of olive trees in North Tuscany for twenty years and have had nothing but positive experiences, even with the bureaucracy! I am not a ‘resident’ so Brexit is causing us huge problems. We do not wish to take residency as we are in our late seventies. I have looked at all the options for visas and nothing fits our status. Although we usually do not spend more than 6 months of the year in Italy we now cannot choose easily when we can come here. The perfect months are April till end of June and September till end of November, not possible within the 90 day rules. Please can you give advice to people like us and explain which visa to apply for. We are British.
    Your articles are very clear and well researched and extremely useful, thank you. Sally Kalis

    1. Hi Sally,

      Thanks for your kind comment. Here are some articles on the topic which I hope might be helpful:

      We’ll continue to post any updates on this as we get them. You can find the latest articles on this topic in our ‘dealing with Brexit’ section here:

      Best wishes,
      – Clare

  2. For me, what’s missing from this list is the matter of income taxes for residents. You might not earn any money in Italy as a retiree, etc. But even though you have filed and paid your USA federal and state income taxes, Italy will require taxes be paid on that income up to their rates of taxation (23%-40%) depending on your worldwide income.

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


EXPLAINED: Do you need to switch your tyres for summer in Italy?

Italy's road rules require a switch from winter to summer tyres by Monday, May 15th - but who exactly does this rule apply to? Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: Do you need to switch your tyres for summer in Italy?

Though we may not have seen much in the way of sunny weather and balmy temperatures lately, the warm season appears to be just around the corner. And for many motorists in Italy this means a requirement to change their tyres.

Unusually, Italian road rules have since 2014 included a ban on the use of winter tyres during the summer months – specifically from May 15th onwards, though the window for making the switch starts on April 15th. 

Breaking this rule can be expensive, potentially resulting in a fine of up to 1,731 euros plus the requirement to undergo a revisione (the Italian equivalent of a UK MOT test or a vehicle inspection in the US).

But the rules are a frequent source of confusion, as they don’t apply to everyone.

Here’s a detailed look at who is actually required to make the switch from winter to summer tyres in Italy, and how to find out whether or not the requirement applies to you.

Who do the rules apply to?

In typically Italian fashion, rules on summer tyres are fairly convoluted but they can be summarised as follows. 

The legal requirement to switch to summer tyres by May 15th only applies to vehicles whose winter tyres – these are generally marked with ‘M+S’ (‘mud plus snow’) or with a snowflake encircled by a three-peak mountain range – have a speed rating which is lower than the tyre speed rating indicated on their registration certificate (carta di circolazione).

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How do you take your driving test in Italy?

Winter tyre

Not all motorists in Italy have to make the switch from winter to summer tyres. Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP

This means that, if the winter tyres on your car have a speed rating which is higher than or equal to the speed rating shown in the car’s registration certificate, you won’t have to make the switch. 

Furthermore, the summer tyres requirement does not apply to vehicles fitted with all-season tyres (pneumatici quattro stagioni) – these are generally marked with ‘4S’ (standing for ‘4 Seasons’).

Where can I find the relevant speed ratings?

A tyre speed rating indicates the fastest speed a tyre can handle before it no longer performs as designed, and it is expressed as an alphabet letter from A (lowest) to Y (highest). 

All tyre speed ratings and their corresponding letters are available at the following link.

READ ALSO: How do you dispute a parking ticket in Italy?

The speed rating of a tyre can generally be found on its sidewall, right after the load rating (a two- or three-figure number expressing the maximum weight a tyre is able to carry). 

So, for instance, a tyre carrying the letter ‘N’ on its sidewall has a speed rating of 140 kilometres an hour (or 87 mph).

As for your car registration certificate, the tyre speed rating can usually be found below the ‘PNEUMATICI’ (tyres) heading in the bottom-left quadrant of the document.  

Once again, the rating will be expressed as a letter from A to Y and will figure right after the load rating, as shown by the picture below.

Car registration certificate in Italy

Photo by Sir Car Ferrara

Practical examples

If the winter tyres on your car carry a Q rating (160 km/h), but your registration certificate says that, in normal conditions (i.e. outside of the cold season), your tyres should have an S rating (180 km/h), you’ll be legally required to switch to summer tyres. 

If the winter tyres on your car carry a T rating (190 km/h) and your registration certificate says that, in normal conditions, your tyres should have an S rating (180 km/h), you won’t be required to switch to summer tyres.  

I’m not legally required to switch to summer tyres. Should I do it anyway?

Though you may not be legally required to switch to summer tyres, having summer tyres on during the warm (and hot) months is advisable. 

In fact, with temperatures above 7C, summer tyres allow for better grip and braking and less fuel consumption compared to their winter counterparts. 

READ ALSO: How to avoid car hire scams in Italy

In the words of Fabio Bertolotti, director of Italian tyre association Assogomma, motorists are always advised to use tyres suited to the season they’re in “not just to abide by the relevant laws but, above all, to have a vehicle capable of offering the best possible performances in any weather condition”.

How much does switching to summer tyres cost?

If you already own a set of summer tyres, you’ll only have to pay for fitting, with prices generally ranging from 30 to 70 euros

But, should you have to buy a new set, a mid-range set of summer tyres will set you back around 300 euros (that’s 70-75 euros per tyre).

Auto mechanic changing tyres

A new set of mid-range summer tyres will generally set you back around 300 euros. Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP

What are the rules for motorcycles?

Motorcycles aren’t subject to winter tyres rules, meaning owners are not legally required to have winter tyres on during the cold months. 

But, if you fitted your motorcycle with winter tyres last year, then you’ll have to switch to summer ones unless the speed rating provision mentioned earlier for cars applies. 

Note that the Italian Highway Code gives regions and individual provinces the power to alter national rules based on differing features and climate in each area, meaning that, in some parts of the country, the summer tyre deadline may be different from the national one on May 15th. You can check this year’s dates for your own comune with your local Motorizzazione Civile office.

Please note that The Local cannot advise on individual cases. For more information, get in touch with your Motorizzazione Civile office or seek the advice of a professional.