I mean, everybody wants to move to Italy, right? (Or in any case, if you’re reading my blog, I assume that you’ve at least entertained the idea.) But hold on a second. While it's a tempting and romantic dream to sell all of your possessions and buy a crumbling farmhouse in Tuscany, you might want to listen to the voice of reason first.
Damien O’Farrell is that voice of reason. And he’s got both good news and bad news for you.
The good news. It CAN be done. A person who is willing to commit to the process for the long haul can eventually realize their dream. And he has successful clients who prove this. What’s more, Damien strongly supports the minority opinion that there is enormous opportunity in Italy for a creative person who isn’t afraid of hard work.
The bad news. It’s not easy, at least not for the average American (or other non-E.U.) who lacks the guile and/or resources to confront the unfamiliar red tape of a foreign country. Now here is my opportunity to take a few more swipes at my favorite nemesis, the Italian bureaucracy. But no, as Damien rightly points out, the immigration process in Italy is actually quite fair compared to other countries, if you know the rules. And he knows the rules quite well.
Let’s get down to specifics...
Move to Italy the Right Way
As Damien confirms on the podcast, once upon a time you could just “wing it” and probably get away with your nonchalance fairly easy. Just fly into Fiumicino (the border agents probably wouldn’t even bother to look at your passport back then) and then stay as long as you could manage. Nobody really cared that much.
Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. Italy has made a visible effort to crack down on illegal immigration, and so you must either do it the right way, or get deported with prejudice. From what I’ve heard anecdotally, you’re looking at a minimum two year band from the entire European Union when you eventually get caught. And you will, sooner or later.
As for finding work, Damien also had some sage advice. The best strategy is to bring a skill that Italy is in need of. Engineering, I.T., or other technological knowledge are presently very desired. However, and this is encouraging, there are also great opportunities for the old standard of teaching English. He explains his strategy on the podcast.
Damien is originally from Ireland but has been living in Italy for over 30 years where he works as a Global Mobility Specialist. He focuses on tailor-made solutions for corporate and individual clients. In addition to this, he provides unique VIP strategy days, where in an immersion setting, he leads his clients through all the pros and cons of relocating to the land of la dolce vita.
If the topic of expatriation in Italy interests you, I highly suggest that you join Damien’s very popular Facebook group, Ultimate Italy. It’s designed to be an interactive forum where members help members, the result is a wealth of crowdsourced knowledge that can answer nearly any question that you have about the expatriate process in Italy. I’ll go so far as to say that it’s the most complete and concentrated source of information on this topic currently found on the web.
And yet, information will only get you so far. If you’re really committed to living in Italy and doing it right, then you should save yourself a lot of time and aggravation, and hire Damien for help. Because honestly, the pitfalls that you will ultimately encounter can suck all the fun out of your romantic adventure. (Yes, I’m speaking from firsthand experience.)
In the meantime, here are the top three points that I took away from our discussion:
Don’t try to change Italy or the Italians. You’re outnumbered 60 million to 1! Rather, take it upon yourself to assimilate.
Avoid getting stuck in the “expat only” circles. If you’re making your new life in Italy you NEED to network with Italians.
Have a precise plan. “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”
I would like to thank Damien for being so generous with his time and knowledge, and I encourage anyone considering a move to Italy to save themselves a lot of grief and contact Damien first. Click the icons below: