how we moved to italy, part one

A few times each week we receive emails from folks interested in/dreaming about moving to Italy. We get asked for a broad range of advice and it becomes difficult to give everyone the personalized response that they deserve. So, we've decided to write one blog post each week for the next two months dedicated to how we moved abroad.

Starting next week, each post will cover one month of time. For example, next Monday we'll talk about what we were doing six months out from the move -- what we were researching and planning, as well as what was proving to be especially challenging. We're going to be really open and honest about our move in hopes of helping others. Our goal is provide enough information so that people can find the answers they need. We'll keep this series of posts easily accessible for new visitors, too.

An introduction to moving to Italy

This week's post is all about what we learned prior to those last six months about how to live legally, work and actually survive in a new country. Warning: we are going to be exceptionally honest, open and direct. If you really dream of moving to Italy, it doesn't help for us to be anything but that.

Lets begin with the most important things everyone should know about moving to Italy and life here.

  1. If you have seen Under the Tuscan Sun, erase it completely from your memory.
  2. Do not move here without a job thinking you will just "find one." It won't happen.
  3. Working for yourself (designer, photographer, writer) is the best way to be, but you need to have a steady income before you get here. Do not assume you will immediately find work.
  4. Teaching English for a living is damn hard work. 
  5. Living here legally doesn't come easy. We know how ridiculously fortunate we are to qualify for dual citizenship.
  6. It takes a long time to make and nourish connections with people in Italy.

These are all things we learned wayyy before we moved here. If any of those things make you uncomfortable you might want to reconsider a move to Italy. We've met enough people and read enough blogs to know that moving to Italy under just about any circumstances is totally doable, it just takes an insane amount of research, patience, time and humility.

Research: it took nearly a year of piddling around on the internet for me to discover Italian dual citizenship. It took just as long to learn about the processes and to understand how it would work applying here in Italy. I also spent a ton of time researching daily life in a handful of Italian cities -- I read expat forums, blogs, articles, etc. I wanted to pick a city that could really work for us...not one that just looked pretty in photos.

Patience: once we realized we could legally live here it took nearly 18 months of planning to actuallly make it happen. I was born a naturally impatient person, but the process of moving abroad and living in Italy has helped me become so much more laid back and understanding. Most dreams aren't realized overnight -- planning for a move to Italy definitely takes...

Time: If you are like we were -- working full-times jobs -- simply finding the time to undertake research and plan is quite difficult. It's important to carve out set time for researching your move. Make it a regular part of your routine. Even if it's just a few hours every Sunday, it's important to keep focused on your move, even if it seems very far away at the moment.

Humility: The life of an immigrant is difficult. Think for a second about how hard it is for people to come to the U.S. and live legally -- it's like that in a lot of places, Italy included. Sure, you can easily come over here and live under the radar and not have problems, but if you are truly looking to move your life over here it's not the best way to go about things. You will be put in situations over and over again where you feel helpless or out of place or out of options. Humility is so very important.

Questions, questions, questions

One of the best things you can do for yourself (and partner/friend/spouse if you are moving abroad with someone else) is to constantly ask yourself "why?" Why do you want to move to Italy? What are you hoping to get out of it? Are you attempting to live a dream you think exists because you saw it on a movie or TV show? Do you fully understand what life will be like in Italy? No place is perfect. If you are expecting Italy to solve life's bigger problems it's not going to happen.

Rob and I spent A LOT of time talking through these things. Sometimes these conversations brought up even tougher questions or discussions, but it was what needed to happen. We arrived in Italy knowing why we wanted to be here and we had realistic expectations about what our life would be. We have enjoyed our first six months immensely because we understood what to expect.