Success on building a life in Italy really depends on your own particular situation and amount of input from yourself to strive towards achieving your own personal goal. People move to Italy from ‘all walks of life’. Many have an Italian spouse with a good knowledge of the language and ‘workings’ of Italy, and family still residing on Italian soil. This, I’m sure must be the more simpler scenarios towards building a new life in Italy with a bit of a ‘head start’. Of course also there are those who are fortunate in having a job posting to Italy, and in which case, possibly assistance with finding accommodation amongst other things. And there are families, couples or single people who decide to move to Italy with no connections whatsoever. Whichever scenario you may find yourself, there is no doubt that each situation requires a fair degree of effort with a good dose of background work. Unless you are extremely lucky.
Each of us have different financial positions, and one of the most important facts to weigh up is that you need to be sure how you will be supporting yourselves if you are intending to look for an income once you have arrived in Italy. It is recommended you have enough money put aside to cover you whilst looking for employment. Jobs are not easy to find in Italy, possibly slightly easier if you have knowledge of the language, but it could still take months and Italy is an expensive country to reside in. Unless you are financially well off, it may be worth waiting a little longer, putting money aside before you make the move. It would be extremely upsetting if you had to return to your home country due to running out of funds, just as you were starting to build your new life in another land.
If there’s a possibility you may get fed up with your own company, don’t isolate yourselves! Yes, I understand the beauty of living up a track and out of the way deep in the countryside, but you really must want total tranquillity, because that is what you’ll get. Living in a town or within walking distance is in my opinion a perfect situation for getting to know Italy. Having myself moved closer to a town, I’ve since realised what I had been missing for almost three years! I now hear the church bells and I hear people greeting each other outside our home. I can walk to the bar for a coffee, to the library, to the market, ride my bike around, it’s certainly more sociable for the children and I don’t need to get the car out every five minutes! We even discovered annual events taking place in the town we didn’t know existed.
If you have children, as I said above, living in the town or within walking distance is by far the best idea. Your children are your very key to developing friendships (unless you’re not the mixing type)! When they start attending school, naturally you’ll need to start conversing (maybe in caveman style Italian) with parents and teachers, and before long, you should have started to make some friends. Be patient. It’s a good feeling when your child or children are invited to their new friends’ homes, and nice when the Italian parents allow their offspring to go and play at a ‘foreigner’s’ home. When you visit playgrounds or parks, children automatically play together, even if there is a language barrier, and where there are children, more than likely there are parents to practice your language skills! Be brave, the more you practice, the more confidence you will gain. Don’t isolate yourselves!
Building up a network of friends and connections I cannot stress is very important, not just for knowledge but for your sanity as well as pleasure. On arrival at our town nearly four years ago, someone said to me, “make sure you greet local people you have been introduced to, whether by giving a Buongiorno or putting your hand up. It goes a long way and they do remember.” It’s true, and you never know when you might need a little help with something. Don’t be one of these people who think they can cope without native Italians, you’ll need them at some time or other, and some you’ll discover, love to have the chance to practice their spoken English. I’ve also heard ‘foreigners’ say they don’t want to mix with other ‘foreigners’. Why I ask? It took us a while to discover one or two non-Italian families, as well as families with an English spouse actually living in our small town. You don’t have to be in ‘each other’s pockets’ as the saying goes, but it’s nice to have a friend to talk to with the same ‘mother tongue’ as your own. If you are lucky and friendships develop, you will begin to learn much about living in Italy as well as helping each other out now and again, or even ‘catching-up’ over a pizza once in a ‘blue moon’.
Whether you’ve children or not, there are many ways to build your new life in Italy, unless you wish to be a recluse that is.
Depending on your own situation, you may need to prioritise events, for example, obtaining rental accommodation or buying a home, making friends and connections, seeking employment, registering children into schools, making friends and connections, getting out and about for strolls, keeping up to date with the town’s events, frequenting the local bar for a coffee, and guess what? Making friends and connections! Once local people realise you are endeavouring to settle in Italy and you are not on holiday, more information will head your way and if you’re lucky, your email contact list or phone book will gather new additions. Apart from doing the obvious rituals searching for work, i.e., looking at employment agencies, websites, dishing out your translated curriculum vitae, It is without doubt, hugely important to let people know you are looking for work, because there’s just the possibility that someone may know someone else who can help you. Much of it here is who you know. It certainly will be worth that little more effort and if seeking, eventually this may bring you the opportunity of employment and an item to cross off your ‘priority to do’ list!
Possibly you will already know that Italian people are generally sociable and active, enjoying many activities ranging from evening strolls, attending dancing classes, various sports, picnics, barbecues, attending the theatre and eating out to name only a few. They tend to be outside the home more often than wasting precious time inside watching TV! (Unless the weather dictates). If you are on the shy side, I’m sure you will find the right opportunity and a past time that you will feel comfortable with. Visit your nearest Pro-Loco office (type of tourist information) who will be able to give you much valued information on your local area. Last but not least, keep in touch with Life In Italy. Good Luck.