Life's better in Italy, say expat mums

The Local Italy
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Life's better in Italy, say expat mums
Photo of a mother with her baby:Shutterstock

Almost half of expat mothers don’t ever plan to return to live in their home country, believing that the quality of life in their adopted nation is far better.


A recent survey by has revealed that 49 per cent of expat mothers living in Italy, Spain, France and Italy never plan to return to their home country to live.

And nearly two-thirds believe that the quality of life in their adopted nation is better than that in their native country, even though they think the schooling is not as good.

“I’m happy I’m raising my daughter in Italy instead of the US,” Erica Firpo, who lives in Rome, told The Local.

“In America, I feel there is ‘kids’ versus ‘adults', where you’re treated like a child until aged 18, whereas here, I feel like kids are kids, there is no unnecessary infantilization. Children, from birth, are encouraged to have their own personalities and to talk and have their voices heard.”

The questionnaire asked 650 mothers from the international expat community living in the four countries covered by, the majority of whose children were under 16 years old.

Significantly, education was perceived as worse (32.23 percent) in their adopted nation than at home, as were children’s activities (38 percent) and children’s services (35 percent).

That said, in schools in Italy there is less of a “social hierarchy” than in the US, according to Firpo.

“There is more emphasis on the class working together, whether or not they like the teacher,” she said.

“In Italy, they don’t fully foster the need to be the best and there is a lot of rote memorization, but on the flip side, the academics don't just touch the surface and go much deeper than American schools - philosophically and theoretically."

Meanwhile, exactly half of the number of women surveyed said that they had given birth in their adopted country and 85 percent said that the experience was a positive one.

But the lack of natural birth options and few midwives was cited as a negative, particularly for mothers living in Spain.

Most children living with either one or two foreign parents attended a local school (61 percent), just under a third went to an international school (31percent) and the remainder to state subsidized schools or were home-schooled.

"This is the first survey of its kind in Europe, solely focusing on mothers from the international community”Carrie Frais, co-founder of, told The Local.

"I think it is significant that such a high percentage of those interviewed are opting to stay in their chosen country for the long-term, despite some concerns over local education systems. It seems that a good health system and excellent quality of life are overriding factors and enough to deter many of us from returning home".

Frais believes that more and more women are choosing to start a family abroad.

"We believe that we will see increasing numbers of ‘lifestyle migrants’ choosing to live in European countries which offer these benefits as travelling between different cities becomes easier and working remotely becomes more popular."


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