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I guess part of an answer to Hannah’s question is: what do you consider a good quality life? I live in Edinburgh, supposedly a very cultured and cosmopolitan city which always rates highly in comparisons of places to live, and I own my house so I don’t have the huge monthly outgoing of rent or mortage. According to a lot of people I should be having a great time but I’m not. It’s cold, wet and dark for ten months of the year (and the other two are hardly tropical), there are drunk and drug-disordered people on the buses, the city centre is full of hordes of intoxicated teenagers at weekends and there’s hardly anywhere to go in the evening except the pub. I think there are a maximum of three or four cafes open in the evening outside the Festival. I would rather let my house and pay rent to live in a small town in Italy where the cafes are open late and where women don't get inebriated and have physical cat fights at bus stops and you can go out and about most of the year without four layers of clothing and being rained on. With the exception of one delightful chap airing his ‘tackle’ on the Milan airport bus a few years ago I have never seen anything remotely like the bad behaviour in small towns in northern Italy (I’m not familiar with the south) that I see regularly here. On the other hand, if I didn’t care about constant cloud cover, wanted a car, wanted to go to lots of theatres and restaurants and never had to deal with Joe and Josie Public on the buses, etc, then I might be happy in Edinburgh.


ok, i'm sad...kinda...our property tax in terms of Euro per year??? €10465!!!

Emma Bird

Hi Maggie

I love your blog. I've been laughing out loud at your list of what to do in certain places.

That apart, your comments are spot on. Choosing where to live also comes down to what you are actually looking for from life. Sunshine is extremely important to me which is why I relish the hours of daylight in Sardinia even in winter. Waking up one morning in May and knowing that I won't need to put on so much as a jumper until September is the most glorious feeling in the world. And having town centres free of inebriated teenagers, men on stag parties and women on hen nights is refreshing.

Even so, crime exists in most places. Cagliari is a pretty safe place but I had one hairy episode once. I had to get on the bus to teach in a school in a less well off area and two men got on, took out knifes and started threatening each other with them. And in small towns here in Sardinia, if you're an unwelcome outsider, they soon let you know by way of putting a bomb under your car or torching your business.

Whichever town you're thinking of moving to, it's a good idea to visit in the winter and get a feel for the place out of season when it is dark and dank and probably at its most horrid. That way you'll know how much you're prepared to accept your new way of life.

Look forward to seeing how your plans for moving to Italy progress.


Emma Bird


My point exactly. But, gosh, that property tax is high!

You have a lot higher property tax, but wages are higher and housing is cheaper.

Italy has a lower property tax, but lower wages and more expensive housing.

As Maggie pointed out in her comment, in comes down to what you really want from your new life.



Hi Emma I discovered your blog the other day, and enjoyed it, and will link it. I have been busy editing books, but will get back to posting again. Ive also just started a wine blog, as a wine fanatic.
My thoughts on Italy after living here for 7 years, are, that you have to adjust Italy into your world. I have created my own reality here, as it sounds like you have in Sardinia, and I think most who stay do the same. Otherwise the horror of Berlusconi being voted in again, ( no one admits to voting for him, the crippling red tape and ignorance, can drive you mad.

I set aside one day a week to become a tourist in my new country again. I can do this of course, because I'm not sitting all day on trains into Milan as I used to. I work from an office at home and interface with the locals when I feel like it. When I spent all day dealing with broken Italy, I was foaming at the mouth.
"Always remember what brought you to Italy" thats my Motto now. D

Emma Bird


Your blog is fabulous as is your motto. Thanks for sharing. And your comments are spot on. Creating your own reality of Italy is the only way forward, as is finding the compromise between interfacing with the locals and interacting with other people via Twitter, Skype, Facebook etc.

Being stuck in traffic really used to stress me out in Milan and whenever I'm stuck on the tangenziale ovest or the raccordo annulare in Rome, I remember how grateful I am for living in a place with no traffic lights or roundabouts and where rush hour means seeing two cars on the road at the same time as you.



I read somewhere recently that Italy had become the top destination for UK retirees. The good exchange rate and mild weather must certainly contribute to that. But also, the slower pace of life (outside of the bigger cities) must be a big draw as well. Coming from the US, the dollar is pretty weak at the moment, so not a great deal as far as real estate goes, but savings on taxes and heating (cooling) costs could be substantial.


I'm sorry.. What was that? La Dolce Vita~ Italy??? HAAAAAAAAAA.. I am bitter bitter bitter about my move to Italy from Australia. (I've a good mind to start a blog myself.)

I moved here with my partner (who is Italian) in December. It's now almost September. Although I have a working holiday visa particular to Australian and New Zealand residents and is for One Year. The famous "Permesso di Sorggiono" has STILLLL NOT ARRIVED 10 BLOODY MONTHS LATER!!!!!!!!!!

I didn't come to Italy to become an Italian mama! Or a casalinga as they say... not allowed to work.. I've gotten by tutoring English in my home.. but FAR OUT!!

What is wrong with these people???? How unbelievably inefficient can u be??

Sorry.. but I could let off steam for pages.... this has taken months of my life I will NEVER get back..

The food - amazing but still better eaten occassionally then everyday...
Fashion - gorgeous of course, but designers come at designer prices

Basically I feel the world wants Italian products: food, fashion, cars etc

However LIVING in Italy is not that great (I'm in Milan: a playground for the rich) unless u have money, are not an impatient person and can deal with inefficiency, can deal with ignorant people on a daily basis who know nothing nor wish to know anything but that which concerns Italy........

Sigh. ANyway.. Lovely blog Emma ~ not sure if this was the best post to leave my comment but hope to hear back from u!!

Emma Bird

Hi Carmen

Has your permesso di soggiorno come through now?

All the points you make are valid. The trick is to get to a point where you can laugh at all the things that would drive you mad.

It sounds like you're going through culture shock. What's your line of work? Since you're in Milan, there's a plethora of social business networking groups going on. Have you joined any of them?

As for food, yes, it can be samey (I'm not a big fan of pasta either), but there's also a lot of variety in Milan. In fact, you can find most cuisines and the ingredients that you need as I'm sure Sara Rosso, of Ms Adventures in Italy, will tell you.

And, re inefficiency, the trick is to make phone calls on the go, always have a book/newspaper with you, and lesson plan while you're waiting in the queue at the post office.

Good luck and I hope your situation turns around soon.

Un abbraccio.


I have been reading through some of your blogs. I am a newlywed. My husband is Italian and his entire family lives in a very small town in Naples. I visited there with him about a little over a year and a half ago.I loved the "vibe" of Italy . Life just seems much more easy going there. His family was so warm and full of love.I am an American who has spent most of her life living in southern California. The cost of living here is on the higher side so I get the feeling that rent ect. in most of Itlay will be pretty similar to what I am used to. My husband just recently became an American citizen so now he is free to come and go from the States as often as he likes. I keep trying to plant the seed in his head about moving to Italy ( most likely to the Florence area) So that when we start a family we are a train ride away instead of a VERY long flight away from his family.I am not from a close knitt family and would really love to raise our children with a warm, strong extended family. My husband and I are both Pastry chefsand therefore could possibly work in the hotel industry. I guess I am just curious if moving there is something I really should be considering. I am pushing harder for this then he is . I think he likes having centeral heat and air ;) . I think that is is over rated compare to what I see as the positive aspects of living in Italy and being close to his family.
Please feel free to give me your take on this subject. I am intersted in what you might have to say about this.
Thank you

yogesh khandare

sir i want to know about milan city's expenses for one year stay because i want to do master in sculo politecnica di design, italy and i am a student of india.
Please tell me so i can fix expenses of stud



My name is Michele and I have a 15 year old daughter coming to live in Italy for 6 months on a student exchange in September 2011. We are from Canberra, Australia and are interested in any other exchange students experiences.Looking at costs associated for her, best place to be a student, rural or city?, Her Italian is very basic, almost non existent.
Any comments hints would be appreciated.


new here and just have one question can two people live modestly in the reggio calaberia areaon 2100 euros a month?


I came to live in Northern Italy approximately 7 years ago now. Originally from London, I expected a big change in ife and pace etc....and boy did I get it. I have what is considered a good job by local standards, I own my own home etc..
In the 5 years I ahve been a full time resident/house owner here I can honestly say I have seen most fixed-tax based costs double. Wages have remained approximately the same. This isn't peculiar to Italy though, most of Europe is feeling the squeeze one way or the other. The problem here is that Italy is still run along medievil lines. Markets and commerce are not open and hence are of course subject to manipulation and price fixing, just try buying a car here and look at what it costs elswhere for the same thing, that goes for almost any item. Italy is expensive, full stop. Looking at what soemone said previously about being efficient, forget it, nothing works properly here..most people you have to deal with in any governmental capacity are way below their European counterparts in both service and frankly have no idea what it actually menas to be "of service". Would I go back to the UK, no... would I still leave the UK...yes, would I come here if I had time over again..No doubt no I would not, simply because working on "you get out of something what you put in" basis, this place has a very very low return...I could write a book about some of the incredible things that ahppen here... like road tax at 3000€ each year for certain cars , oh well... could be worse..

Marco Alessio Pellegrini

All of your comments and opinions are certainly quite interesting especially in a very delicate moment of my life like the present seem to make me experience
Ok let me introduce my self.

My name is Marco Pellegrini and since 14 years I have lived in Amsterdam, Holland, since more than 20 year I visit regularly the US in order to see old time friends that I have met while having worked as a translator in the big US army base of Vicenza the home town I am originally from.

A big US military installation where I have spent so much time since I was a teenager

Well I must agree with some of the comments I read here
Maybe I got used to work for international American companies with their headquarter in Amsterdam and doing most of my shopping in the US and sometimes on the web

Anyway after 14 years I find returning to northern Italy a shock and a real hell.

Salaries are extremely low, according to North American and European standards so much inefficiently in everything operated by public and private organizations without any interest in plan B when things might go wrong , so many taxes I never had to pay in Holland and neither in the US, a complete lack of customer service in public buildings and in private companies

A complete lack of customer service in private companies unless you pay much and much more than what you supposed to pay , unless you let them know what exactly you need without assuming and un less you are still willing to take into your consideration they might rip you off for whatever you might have takes for granted.
Not possible to return any merchandise and get your money back even if the goods have been wrongly advice to you from the employee of the shop you bought the item from.

Since a few years if you are lucky you might get in some big stores a voucher that you will have to used very quick even if there is nothing you might need otherwise you will lose it.

Cars do not stop when you cross the street, people do not easily line up in shops or at train stations therefore you need to fight for you place, employees in shops are often more interested in moving stuff from the warehouse to the shop than instead assisting you therefore they might send you to someone else or simply point out to you where you should look for a certain product instead of walking there with you.

Connections are every thing in order to get a good job (in other words meritocracy is not enough or sometimes it might not even matter) , to meet interesting people, to speed up a request in the city hall or in a private organization.

The government operating and running the country with a hammer and as a consequence the citizens tying to rip off the government all the times
Policemen often acting not like representing the law and been at the service of the public but been above the low with a behaving towards the public that in many other western countries could be considered an incredible abuse of power.

Long long waiting lists to get any documents from the city hall.
A very high cost of living .

Not much competitions among companies and the need to have much money to pay just to start a company and to keep it open even if not making any profits.

And taxes taxes and so many taxes

45 Euros every year to the government to get a stamp in order to use the passport,

150 Euro every year to the government just because you own TV or a radio in your house ( if you will not pay they could cut the wire)

50 Euro to be paid to the government to keep a bank account open than never produce any interest unless your keep you money without touching in a certain account for one year.

2 Euros to withdraw money from a different back than yours and maybe even 4 if taken from a bank aboard
30 Euros every year for a medical certificate in order to use a gym.

Man if it would not be for my family I love very much I would never come back to Italy
Still if you have a lots of money, move to a big town , learn to speak a very good Italian than it might be different

Otherwise apart form the weather and a few historical building you can see I think you can be much better off in northern American, northern Europe or Australia

Hope it gives an interesting insight from an Italian who lived abroad

Feel free to write me to MARCO_PELLEGRINI@YAHOO.COM for any questions


I couldn't agree more with Sig. Pellegrini! I kind of held back a little from what I really wanted to write but having seen what he has written, I can only endorse it 100%. This place is basically a banana republic hiding behind a rapidly thinning cloak of respectability (ie being in the EU)... I'm stil here basicaly because my partner is from here. I can't speak for all of Italy, only for the part I'm familiar with and honestly, exactly as was said above, apart from some nice weather and a few buildings, you'd be better off in Africa. At least there, prices would be lower, service wouldn't be much worse...they would drive and comport themsleves in the same manner , or better, but the swinger would be that with a few US Dollars you'd easily resolve most problems, that makes it cheaper and more efficient than here. I believe the internet & telephone works better in some African cities than here too.... I would stongly advise anyone who is thinking of coming here, unless you are on somekind of placement from an international company, ie salaried from aborad with protected terms and conditions, do yourself and your family a huge favour, go elsewhere.. This isn't the rant of someone who believes Italy owed them something because they came here, on the contrary, as I said above, I own my own home and have a "good" job by Italian standards, by anybody elses standards (including mine)it would be considered "crap". To re-iterate, if you want to come here, do your homework carefully because if you don't, you'll suffer for it.. I mean let's be honest, where else would anyone think it's ok to have a jaunt in a $300,000,000 cruise liner so you can wave hello to the head waiters family.... and cost the lives of perhaps 29 people and say... the rock was in the wrong place.... I rest my case.........and I'm deeply troubled.....that kind of attitude prevails everywhere here....


Marco, thanks for stopping by to comment, and M, thanks for both of your comments. While I respect both of your views there are several inaccuracies:
Marco, you mention that the tv license is Eur150 a year. Not to be pedantic, but it's actually Eur112 (the Agenzie delle Entrate thoughtfully sent me the bill to pay yesterday morning). In England, the BBC license fee is GBP145.50, which at today's exchange rate works out at Eur175.10.
You also mention that cars don't stop for you. This depends where you live. While I agree that cars generally don't stop in Italy, it's not true for all parts. I live in Olbia, for example. Here, as soon as you step onto the zebra crossing, motorists slow down to let you cross the road in safety.
I've never had to wait a long time to get a document in Olbia. I've queued up and had my request processed there and then. This isn't a one off. It's happened frequently, and with happy and courteous staff to boot.
Apart from that, I agree that insurance is high, road tax is high (although I'm not sure how you get Eur3,000 on road tax. Mine comes in at Eur350 a year) and just about anything to do with cars costs a lot.
But I really like being part of a society where human interaction still has value. I like knowing that I can drop off my car at the mechanic's and know it's in loving hands. I like that my doctor will meet me for an aperitif while writing out the 'ricette mediche' that I need before I go for blood tests or whatever else I need to do. I like that I can stop off for an impromptu glass of wine on a Saturday night, stay for three hours, try several different wines and lots of different foods, meet new people and only pay Eur7.50. I like having access to a health service that is reliable and works whereas in the UK I was constantly fobbed off. And perhaps, most of all, I relish having made headway in my career in a place where I knew no one and where I've got ahead without ever having to do favours for anyone.
And as for Schettino, I don't know of any Italian that actually believes it's okay to have a jaunt in a cruise liner and cost the lives of perhaps 29 people. Just as I don't know anyone personally who's applauded the actions of the coastguard De Falco were in any way heroic. He was doing the job he was paid to do.

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