Not such a dolce vita: Italy ranked among worst countries for expat life

Catherine Edwards
Catherine Edwards - [email protected]
Not such a dolce vita: Italy ranked among worst countries for expat life
Expats typically find love, but not money, in Italy. Photo: jurapozzi/Depositphotos"

The majority of foreigners living to Italy are disappointed with career prospects and salaries, according to a global survey looking at expat experiences.


Overall, Italy was ranked a lowly 60th out of 65 countries based on factors including quality of life, work abroad, and ease of settling in.

The typical foreigner in Italy, according to the results, moves for love or 'just for Italy', but struggles with limited career prospects and an ailing national economy.

For the 2017 Expat Insider survey, networking site InterNations quizzed 13,000 expats - defined as people living in a different country to the one they were born in or where they have nationality - living in 188 countries.

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Just over half of respondents in Italy (51 percent) said they were dissatisfied with their career prospects, while more than a third (36 percent) said their income was insufficient to cover their daily expenses. Almost half (47 percent) earned less in Italy than at home.

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Overall however, exactly three quarters of respondents were happy with life in Italy - partly due to a high level of satisfaction with friendships and relationships. 

The survey offered some insight into what it takes to settle in to Italian life, with language skills a key factor. Over 70 percent said they spoke the language fairly well, and almost the same proportion said it was important to learn the language to live in Italy.

It also revealed that the top nationalities of those who move to Italy are American, British, and German, while education was the most popular field of work.

Photo: monkeybusiness/Depositphotos

Whether or not love was the primary reason for moving, as in 17 percent of cases, romance seems to blossom in Italy, with a total of 57 percent of expats dating or married to an Italian - compared to a global average of just 35 percent of expats finding love with a local. A higher than average proportion said most of their friends were locals, rather than fellow expats.

Italy ranked 34th out of 65 for Quality of Life and 31st for Wellbeing - but was dragged down by its poor performance (64th) in the Working Life and Career categories as well as in Personal Finance (63rd).

READ ALSO: The A-Z guide to dating in Italy

Photo: oneinchpunch/Depositphotos

The same problems seemed to apply to Italians themselves who moved abroad, with 72 percent of Italian expats saying they moved in order to earn more and/or live somewhere with greater political and economic stability than at home. The same percentage said they earned more in their new country than in Italy, with Switzerland and Germany the most popular destinations.

But despite potential financial benefits to moving abroad, Italians were more likely than other nationalities to report trouble settling into their new country and to feel dissatisfied with their relationships, with 43 percent of them single and 51 percent struggling to make friends.

The only five countries which scored lower than Italy were Greece, Kuwait, Nigeria, Brazil, and Saudi Arabia, while Ukraine, Qatar, India, and Turkey rounded out the bottom ten but were all ranked higher than Italy. At the other end of the scale, Bahrain leapt from 16th place last year to take the top spot, followed by Costa Rica and Mexico.

READ ALSO: More Italians are moving abroad for economic reasons


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