Italy ranked alongside Nigeria and Kuwait in the latest Expat Insider survey by InterNations, an information and networking site for people living overseas.
Rated by international residents on quality of life, cost of living, employment opportunities, family life and ease of settling in, Italy came 63rd out of 64 countries, down from 61st last year.
Its worst performance was for work, a category in which Italy came bottom of all countries surveyed. The majority of respondents – 58 percent – rated the Italian economy negatively, while only 29 percent said they were satisfied with their career prospects. Less than 50 percent were happy with their job security, working hours or jobs in general.
Foreign workers also reported earning less in Italy than elsewhere, with 31 percent saying their monthly disposable income didn't cover their expenses and 46 percent convinced that their earnings were lower than they would be for similar work in their country of origin, compared to a global average of 25 percent.
While many assume that Italy's quality of life will make up for a pay cut, even here the country has slipped: it slid to 49th in the ranking from 43rd in 2018.
Respondents complained about a relatively high cost of living compared to salaries, lack of childcare and quality education, poor digital services, difficulty making local friends and political instability as some of the negatives of life in Italy.
The positives, on the other hand, were the climate, health, leisure, travel and ease of learning the language.
Overall, InterNations calculates that international residents are “64 percent satisfied” with life in Italy in general (compared to a worldwide average of 75 percent). A majority of respondents said they were as happy or happier since moving to Italy, with only 23 percent reporting being unhappier – though that number is nonetheless higher than the global average of 16 percent.
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The poor ratings may also reflect the mismatch between romantic ideas of la dolce vita and the reality of moving here, which can be a source of disappointment.
““If you're sent to Kazakhstan on a work assignment, you expect challenges, but in Italy, many people expect […] a life of sun and aperitivo. Then when it's harder than they imagined, it dampens their enthusiasm,” Rome-based relocation coach Damien O'Farrell points out.
“You have to brace yourself for things not going the way you want,” he advises.
Some 20,000 people took part in the InterNations survey, with at least 75 respondents per country.