Reasons Why You Might Regret Moving Abroad To Italy

Life is tough everywhere, and Italy is no exception.

Reasons Why You Might Regret Moving Abroad To Italy
Visiting Lake Como, Italy

I adore living in Italy, but like every country, Italy has its problems. Some of these problems show signs of fixing, and others will likely take generations of cultural and behavioral changes to resolve. Here are some particular reasons not to move to Italy, or at least reasons to keep in mind before doing so.

Sexism Is Flagrant And Widely Tolerated

I once dated a kind, educated Italian man in his late 20s who seemed to say all the right things. He was vegetarian, had been to therapy, had healthy boundaries with his parents, and was a self-proclaimed feminist.

What a score! I thought to myself.

Unfortunately, he also thought it was appropriate to rank potential female hires by how hot they were. He sincerely thought that I'd enjoy hearing about how he and his male coworker—in their male-dominated office, within a male-dominated industry—had added an extra column in their hiring spreadsheet to rank potential female hires as "hot", "not hot", or "maybe hot".

When I pointed out that sexually objectifying and ranking these women on LinkedIn was not "just a joke", but was a sexist way to minimize these women's professional and educational accomplishments, he argued that it couldn't possibly be sexist because he doesn't identify as sexist.

While this story was an isolated incident, it's simply the most recent one that comes to mind. It's a great example of workplace behavior that would be flagged to HR in my home state of California, but is viewed as "boys being boys" here in Italy.

As a woman working in the male-dominated tech industry, job hunting in Italy can be quite a shock:

A LinkedIn job listing from an Italian company called "Men At Code".
A young Italian technology company shamelessly called "Men At Code".

The year is 2023, but Italy's conversations regarding women and sexism seem to be stuck in the '60s.

Salaries Are Low, But Costs Can Be High

In many parts of Italy—including here in Milan—an average full-time worker can expect to take home around 1600 euros per month after taxes and contributions.

The cost of rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Milan is around €1100/mo, excluding utilities.

While Milan is frequently cited as Italy's most expensive and unliveable city, it's also home to many of Italy's largest companies and a significant chunk of the country's industrial economy. Simply put: Milan is where Italians have to move to find work.

Is Living In Milan Really That Bad?
Milan has a negative reputation—but I don’t think it’s deserved.

Unfortunately, most jobs still don't pay enough for people to save money at the end of the month, and this is likely why so many Italians either live with their parents, receive financial help from their families, or choose to live abroad.

If you need to find local work in Italy, expect the process to be long and arduous, and the pay to be lower than expected.

Drivers Are Frequently Aggressive And Reckless

Having lived in California, Ireland, and Norway before relocating to Italy, I am aware that the definition of a "reckless driver" is heavily influenced by culture.

In Norway, a "reckless driver" is someone who takes two sips of beer at a party and then opts to drive themselves home.

In Italy, finishing two-thirds of a bottle of wine during dinner and then weaving home on a motorbike with no muffler seems to just be the standard.

I haven't taken my Italian driving exam yet, but it seems that the correct way to drive in Italy is in the center of the road, flipping the bird with a lit cigarette in one hand and your car's horn in the other.

Air Pollution Is A Huge Problem

Italian cities have long struggled with air pollution, but Northern Italy's Po Valley—home to major cities like Milan, Torino, and Bologna—is notorious for having some of the worst air pollution in all of Europe.

The Po Valley is surrounded by the Alps and the Apennines, which act as a natural barrier to trap pollutants. This lack of air circulation prevents pollutant dispersion, resulting in a high concentration of smog and particulate matter. The region's high population density and agricultural activity only exacerbate the problem, leading to chronic air quality warnings and advisories to limit strenuous exercise outdoors.

If you have respiratory issues, think twice before moving to Northern Italy or any of the major Italian cities.

Living in Italy can be dreamy and charming, but it can also be very difficult. Italy is a country of 60 million people, and like all countries, it has plenty of problems.

While I've never personally regretted my decision to move here, I'm also a dual US/Italian citizen with extended family and friends in the region and an international job. My experience is unique, and my transition to life in Italy was easier than it would be for most. However, I still struggle with certain aspects of life here, and I think all potential immigrants should hear about the cons of moving to Italy before committing to the move.