Keep Calm And Move To Italy: 12 Steps To Move To Italy


So, You Want To Move To Italy?


A decade ago I dreamed of moving to Europe after college. I don’t know why, it just seemed like it would fix everything. I didn’t want to change myself, necessarily, I just wanted to be an even cooler version with my multiple languages, fancy clothes, and ultra-bitchy, bitch-face. I also wanted a posh British husband who looked Italian but spoke like Jude Law. I wanted the wit of a brit, along with the prudishness of one. I was never really interested in latin lovers because I always assumed that latin lovers came with latin diseases. Their diseases sounded prettier than ours but still ate your bits away. No thanks.

It’s not that surprising that everything that I wanted totally didn’t happen how I planned. However, I DID move to Italy and my bitch-face is way bitchier than it used to be, but I still look homeless and speak like a drunk toddler. Oh, and my husband isn’t British, he’s Italian, because life is funny like that. Did everything turn out exactly as planned? No. But I’m pretty damn happy with how things worked out because my husband is awesome. Italy, despite the many irritations (like with anywhere) is a place where everyone should live at least once in their lives. I’m certainly not what I thought I’d magically become but I did become a stronger, better person because of my experience abroad. Not only did I get to do all kinds of soul-searching, growing, and all of that fun stuff, but I also got to stuff my face with amazing food, cheap wine, and spent my days in the Tuscan sun with my cracked-out poodle. The golden sunlight alone makes it worth it. There is no experience quite like being an immigrant, nothing else is nearly as simultaneously traumatic and thrilling and I highly recommend it.

I get dozens of emails every week from people asking me the same question, “How did you do it?”  They desperately want to see the world, experience new things and a new culture but they’re not exactly sure how to get it all together. My advice more or less sucks because what I normally write back sounds more like a Nike commercial than genuine advice, “Just Do It.” But attitude is all that it takes. Everything else is just a “to do” list of various levels of difficulty. I tell them to go. JUST GO! They usually have similar, understandable concerns and respond with, “One day…” or they make a bunch of bullshit excuses of why it won’t work for them. But really, that’s all they are giving themselves: Bullshit excuses. There is nothing special about me. I’m not genetically superior. My DNA didn’t allow me to survive abroad where others would perish. Guys, it’s 2014, the other side of the world is a one day trip. That’s nothing when you think about the fact that going to Europe used to take weeks and weeks by boat, with rats, and a navigator with scurvy and mother fuckers STILL DID IT. If you want to move to Italy, if your dream is to move to Florence for one year or two years, or forever, the only thing you need is the guts to make it happen and Google. Google makes everything possible.


A List Of Common Concerns And How You Can Overcome Them:


1. I have kids. Sell them. Just kidding. Kids are portable. It’s totally not going to be EASY but it’s something that hundreds of people do every year. Homeschool them or put them in an Italian or find a school for foreign kids. Lots of people move their kids abroad and their kids are fine. So far none of them have turned into serial killers.

2. I have stuff. Yep, we all have stuff. You don’t need all of your stuff. You need clothes so you don’t get arrested, a computer, and that’s just about it. Most apartments are furnished in Florence until you buy so you don’t need anything.

3. It’s expensive. Sure, moving is expensive and plane tickets are super duper expensive but it’s nothing that some tight budgeting and selling some or your stuff can’t sort out. By “stuff” I mean like your T.V., not your penis or vagina. Prostitution isn’t a recommended way to get yourself to Italy.

4. I have pets. COOL! I do too and we travel with him all the time. Florence is especially dog friendly and there are numerous services that specialize in transporting animals safely. If your dog is small you should get checked out mentally to see if you’re insane like us and need an ESA, if you’re too sane to get an anxiety buddy, you can hire a service to transport Fido so that he’s safe and sound. One of my co-workers transported her GREAT DANE from Germany to Utah. You can do it.

5. I can’t be there legally. Sure you can! There are grants, fellowships, student visas, tourist visas, extended visas, and self employed visas, and marriage visas. All sorts of ways! You can be here for 3 months without any kind of visa at all if you’re from a first world country.

6. I don’t speak Italian. Use Duolingo and Babbel. There, solved, facile!

7. I have a house. Rent it out. Sell it.

8. What about my job? You probably hate your job anyways. Now is your chance to do something crazy and take a leap. You only LIVE ONCE. Change jobs (find something you can do online), ask for a 1 year sabbatical, or ask to work remotely for one year. Remote workers save the company tons of money. Tell your boss why you’ll be more productive and save him/her tons of money by working in your jammies from Italy. Worst case you can find a job in Italy or make your own. I know loads of expats who teach English, walk dogs, clean houses, work at bars or coffee shops, or run theaters and art programs. You can do anything.

9. Doing stuff is scary. Totally, but sometimes you just have to buck up and get it done.




1. Make A Decision. Decide to go and JUST GO. Pick a date a year out, buy a ticket, and do a happy dance. 

2. Save $$$. Start saving as much money as possible and preparing for a career shift. You’ll need as much as you can for the move but I’d plan on at least having $4,000 in the bank before you go. Commit to putting as much money aside as possible. Sell stuff you don’t really need. Cash in CD’s or break open your piggy banks.

3. Chang Jobs. Look in to jobs you can do from your home country in Italy. Start looking into website design, content writing, blogging, copywriting, Etsy, and any other “work from home” type positions. Do whatever you can to build that up on the side a few hours weekly for the next year. Worst case you can get a job in Italy but it’s always easier to work from the homeland. If you do want to work in Italy make sure you work on your Italian, and your Italian history. It’s also helpful to get your TEFL certificate. You’ll probably have a “tourist” related job at a hotel, in a pub, as a tour guide, etc. A tour guide is a particularly good choice because they pay well. If you’re confident that you have amazing skills that will land you a job that will result in you being sponsored (a university professor, etc) then go for that. If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s good to have a backup plan.

4. Language Lessons. Sign up for Babbel or start using Duolingo every single day for at least 10 minutes. Put it on your phone and do it on the subway, or listen to it in the car. 10-15 minutes per day can really make the experience a lot easier and better when you land in Italy.

5. Research Visa Options. There are loads of different kinds of visa options that will allow you to live in Italy legally. You don’t want to get deported because that would just be embarrassing. Luckily for you Italy is not all that strict in terms of staying long term. You get 3 months visa free, but then you’ve got to get on it. There is an extended tourist visa, student visa, or a artist or self employed visa. There are also work visas or marriage visas but obviously you need to marry an Italian or find a company to sponsor you, those options can be more difficult.

6. Get Your Passport. If you don’t already have a passport you might want to get one. Depending on your state it can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 8 weeks. However, putting this off to the last minute is a bad idea. You’ll have so much to do before you leave that this is something you’ll want to get out of the way as soon as possible.

7. Apply To Schools. If you’ve decided to get a student visa to attend some sort of school in Florence you should start researching schools in Florence now. There are a lot of schools that vary from cheap to insanely expensive. The more Italian you speak the more options you’ll have for a cheaper school. Obviously, many of the schools in Florence are art schools but you can find a program for pretty much everything. You’ll want to start applying for schools about 9 months before you want to leave.

8. Make Friends In Italy. Join a few expat groups on FB and get to know some of the locals. Expat blogs are also a great way to develop an understanding of what being an expat in Italy is like so you can prepare yourself for some of the bumps ahead. Living in Italy is awesome but it’s obviously not always wonderful being an immigrant. You will be an immigrant.🙂

9. Break Your Lease And Arrange For Pets. Start making arrangements to break your lease, to bring your pets, or to leave them with a family member you trust. I emphasize trust because every time soldiers leave for war, of the thousands of dogs left with friends and family, a huge percentage end up euthanized at the pound or adopted out to strangers and weirdos (many dogs adopted out on Craigslist are abused and murdered). Remember, nobody will love your dog or cat as much as you do and bringing them is not that difficult. Seriously, Italians love dogs. You can bring them EVERYWHERE (we do!). They’ll be very happy in Italy (more happy than with your creepy uncle John, for sure).

10. Apply For Visas. Once you’ve applied to schools or decided which type of visa you want you want to start getting stuff together and applying. Visa applications can take up to 2 months so you’ll definitely want to do that early enough to give yourself some wiggle room.

11. Find An Apartment. Prices for apartments can range from $300 bucks for a rented room to $1,200 for a 3 bedroom apartment. It depends on what area you’re in with the city center being the most expensive and the Noveli area being one of the cheaper areas. My husband and I live in the Campo Di Marte area and it runs us around 800 euros for a one bedroom but it’s a really nice area and we love it. Some of the best places to find an apartment is on the European Institutes “flatmate wanted” wall, or through a website like Housing In Florence or Studentsville, or longterm rentals at Airbnb.

12. Kiss Your Family Goodbye And Prepare To Be An Expat In Italy!

If you have any other helpful resources or if I missed something let me know! Feel free to leave a comment below with your advice.

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50 thoughts on “Keep Calm And Move To Italy: 12 Steps To Move To Italy

  1. Brava! I agree and I have the same substandard advice (yours is much more detailed and helpful). But just of it or at least TRY to do it. No one showed up at my door offering me a visa and a job. Hustle.

  2. Oh, how I love this post. I visited Italy, for the first time, this past summer and felt like I had found my soul’s home on this earth. Ever since, I’ve been thinking ‘not if, but when’ I will be able to move there. Thank you for listing the different types of available visas to check into (very helpful information). I have been holding an approximate time range in my mind, but I love your idea of choosing the date and buying the ticket/s. Very powerful. Thanks, again. I enjoy your blog very much.

      • I moved to Padova 7 years ago from Colorado, but the only way I could get here was to sign up for a language school. I had all the requirements for living in Italy, which was stated in the Chicago Italian Website. I had the money, the retirement account to show i had more than they required, and all the other paperwork required for a visa, yet the clerk in the consulate refused to even look at my papers. He was downright mean, not just to me but others who were before me. I was floored! I had everything in order, but he would not listen. I went back several weeks later with paperwork that showed that I had signed up and paid for a one year school, approved by Italy, a place rented to live and money in the bank so I would not be living off Italy. (I don’t give up easily) The same clerk refused my papers. I then asked to see his superior, consulted her, and I was told to wait downstairs and they might call my cell phone. I waited and she called and told me that they decided to accept my paperwork.
        What I found by all this is that all those romantic stories about being able to move to Italy and stay, are pretty much a lie, Under the Tuscan Sun is pure Hollywood….buying a house in a day or two is hilarious! Getting a driver’s license is a nightmare! Bank account?! The only way I remained in Italy was that I got a job as a housekeeper, through a new law that was allowing under the table workers to get a visa and pay a tax, and got a two year visa as my school visa was about up. Anyone who dreams of living in Italy and staying, should think hard as Italy is not happy to have more people moving here. and……anyone who has to use the Chicago consulate…good luck to you, and I hope that old man has been removed from his job! I did complain after the fact to officials here, and they told me that someone in Rome was investigating him.

      • Wow, this is insane. It actually sounds exactly what happened to us in reverse. Moving to Italy was fairly easy, but getting my husband to the US was super difficult and his application was denied too by an evil woman with a North Dakota accent. Sigh. You’re right, getting most visas to live in Italy is difficult, although, most of my friends didn’t have nearly as difficult of a time as this for an extended tourist visa. That’s totally insane! I hope they fired that asshole!

  3. A brilliant post as always! I’m a lot luckier in that I only had to hop across France to get here (literally, my home is closer to Belgium than it is to most parts of the UK) and I had someone waiting for me but it’s true, attitude is everything!

    Most of my friends here are Italian and I used for that. My advice would be: don’t say yes to everyone! At first I was just so grateful, I accepted a language exchange with everyone who contacted me which was impossible! In the end, I chose to meet up with people in my city who were roughly my age. It’s a great site and if your native language is English you will be in demand! (Girls, watch out for hoardes of creepy guys)

    Lucy x
    La Lingua : Food + Life in Milano

    • Thank you honey! Attitude really is everything. it’s funny that you mentioned the language exchange, I had a roommate who did that and she met a lot of really great people and a lot of huge huge weirdos I definitely recommend meeting up with more women than men for women.

  4. Thank you so very much!!! I really appreciate this blog;) BTW..I’ve been researching apartments in Florence, but I have one question…why are the TVs so small….you suggested selling a television…there is no way in H..E..double hockey sticks I’m getting rid of my large plasma TVs….after seeing those apartments…4get the clothes… one of my televisions will be my carry on;)

    • This post was for you my lady.🙂 the televisions are small! But honestly, I don’t even own one. I know, I know, I’m a freak, but we watch everything on our laptop. I actually think you can get a cheapish one at Euronics. I would google their site and translate it via google to check it out.🙂

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  8. Gosh! I really love your blog!!
    I was in Florence last november, and i’m definetely going back around May (fingers crossed) whatever it takes! (I also kinda fall in love, even tho’ he’s not my primary motive to get back)

    Thanks for this blog, I always laugh lots!!🙂

    P.S: He doesn’t live with his mother, and she’s not even italian😛

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  11. Really nice blog! My wife and I are planning on moving to Italy for a year. She will study a fashion course and I want to work to support her education. Do you think her student visa would allow me to work and live there during the course?

  12. Thank you for this wonderful post. My wife and I are planning on moving there for a year. She plans to take up higher studies in fashion and I hope to go as a family member and find work to support her education. Would you know if her student visa would allow me to do that?

    • Thank you! I’m happy that you found it helpful! I actually don’t think that you can live and work on her visa. You’re going to have to get your own (I believe). However, you can ask for a self-employed visa or an extended tourist visa if you can find a job that you can do from your home country via online (that’s what I did).

      • Hi M.E. LOVE your writing. I am headed back to Italia for 3 months next month. Then the next time I head over I would like to stay longer, I’m just not sure I qualify. I’m going to see my local consulate next week to see the options. Did you qualify under the extended tourist visa or the self-employed? Like you I am a freelance writer at the moment, did you have to show a high bank balance to qualify for your visa? Would love to connect with you, are you on Insta?

  13. I’m planning on moving to Florence in July of 2015, to get the TEFL certification and hopefully find a job teaching. After teaching for 36 years in the US (so I’ll have a small pension) I’m hoping that will all work out. Loved the “substandard advice”….that is what it really boils down to, isn’t it? Thanks for the lists that followed, as reviewing this will undoubtedly keep me on track for the next 12 months.

    By the way, I’m trying to decide between Via Lingua and Language Corps for the TEFL training……do you know anything about either of them? On-line they appear so similar that I actually suspected them of being one school with two marketing formats…although LC seems more oriented to getting “international experience” for college grads and not so concerned with qualifying for a visa…and VL is tied to a string of English language schools worldwide and I’m a little leery of getting sucked into some big business enterprise. Any insight/info about these situations would be hugely appreciated!

  14. Hey, I effing LOVE your blog so much!!!!
    I’m 17 years old at the moment and have been looking into studying foundation art in Florence, Italy for a year, I currently live in UK and know no Italian! So I was wondering how long it takes to be pretty fluent or just conversant in Italian?????
    Thank you so much again for your blog its amazing and so funny, it has made me want to study there even more.
    Lexi x

    • Being fluent….hmmmm. That’s a difficult one! It depends on MANY factors. If your goal is fluency, you should start using DuoLingo now, or Babbel now, every, single, day. Watch Italian movies, listen to Italian music, and if you can, live in a home with only Italians. The problem with native English speakers is that EVERYONE for the most part speaks some English so it’s very easy to fall back on your mother tongue when things get frustrating. And honestly? An Italian boyfriend who doesn’t speak any English can be a huge help (but be careful with the Italian guys your age. Everything is just “for fun” until they are in their late twenties or thirties).

  15. Loved this post! Gave me the swift kick in the ass I needed. So when I move to Florence, you might get a random e-mail from me inviting you to a picnic at Fiesole (the wine is on me!) – hey as an immigrant I will need friends, and you are pretty hilarious.

  16. LOVED READING THIS. I’m 27 and ready for a job change. My French boyfriend lives in Italy and I’ve decided to make the move to go be with him. The whole visa process has me thrown for a loop, not including being overwhelmed by all the minor details of my everyday life I need to resolve before moving abroad. But your post definitely makes the process seem manageable. One step at a time.
    Looking to move to Ancona in late Spring/ early Summer. Would appreciate any insight you can offer about the area. Possibly pursuing a self employment visa to continue my journalism career abroad. Thank you.

  17. So we live in South Africa and my Fiance has been offered a position in Milan. We have two months to move…. Very scary! We have to rush visas, arrange storage, schooling for our youngest son, need to find out if our cats can go with! I have so many questions regarding the living conditions and living costs ext ext ext…..

  18. Hi! I am moving to Florence with my friend in the fall, and I love your blog and find it really informative and entertaining!🙂 I was wondering though how to go about HOW to find housing before we go. I’ve been doing some research and I’m finding a lot for student housing but nothing else. Should we contact a realtor? Any help or tips would be much appreciated! Thanks!

  19. Hi there!
    I’m thinking about move to Italy for a couple of months and become a brazilian expat.
    That’s exactly how I found your blog.
    First of all, Congrats! Can’t stop reading it. Already addicted.
    I’m really in doubt about where to live (region) but will make up my mind soon.
    Thanks for all the shared info.

    • Hey! Thank you! One way to decide is what do you do for a living or what so you plan on doing in Italy? If you need to work The north like Milan might be better (or Rome), school, Florence might be great. What do you hope to do while in Italy?🙂

  20. My boyfriend (he is from Northern Italy) is here in the US for work, but will be returning to Italy in several months. At this point we are trying to figure out logistics for me to go with him. Do you think it is better to go there and find a job first, then apply for the visa while in Italy? Or is that a must-do before I go? I did see that Americans can be there for 90 days without a visa..

    Thanks! I’ve really loved reading through your blog! It’s making this amazing (yet scary!) decision seem more doable!

  21. Hi!

    I upmost love reading your blog. The humour is shockingly good.

    Quick question, I am having a little tickle finding a studio to rent in Florence. I need this from the 24th Sept. Where are the best places to look aside from bakeca and kijiji? Also what areas are close to the city centre with decent rent aside from what you mentioned and oltrarno, San Lorenzo , san Ferdinando etc? Finding a studio if proving a tiny iffy. Thank you!

    • Pearl, thank you! San Lorenzo is affordable, Santa Spirito. Have you tried airbnb or Flipkey? How long do you need the space? Our friend has a studio for rent on airbnb in the city center on via ginori. He might be willing to talk about monthly rent instead of nightly if you email him.

  22. Latin deseases? So you think that we are inferior human types who have specific diseases, different than yours just cause you are american or something? That’s ancient way to think about people, like when white people think that black people worth less. Also, it’s not because you live in a first world country that you can stay 3 months in italy. I live in Brasil and guess what? I can stay 3 months as well! What a curious world we live in.

    • I almost never get annoyed or write back to comments like this, but first of all THIS IS A HUMOR BLOG. Meaning, I make jokes ALL THE TIME, about EVERYONE. I was actually making fun of a stereotype that is common in the US that latin men sleep with a lot of women. It’s a joke. Obviously. I married a latin man. And secondly, Italy mostly only allows 3 months without a visa to first world countries. Albania, Africa, and a shitload of other countries CANNOT COME WITHOUT A VISA. My father is from a third world country (as far as the world is concerned), and that’s just the goddamn reality. It has nothing to do with how I personally feel about it.

  23. Great list, and also– sometimes “just do it” is really the best advice one can give. I’ve already sold most all of my belonging, moved out of my place, and (bless their hearts) stay with my parents periodically.. and am now saving money. The move will happen summer of 2016 for at least a year, with a 9yo in tow. Just now writing all that makes me sound fucking insane… Perfect!

  24. My boyfriend and I are moving to Rome in two months and this blog post couldn’t come at a better time. Currently we are researching places in Rome for housing. Are you familiar with any good areas there that you can recommend us to look at that isn’t too expensive considering we don’t know when we will find work? We are also trying to get our TEFL certification. I saw someone asked above which company to go with for that, but I didn’t see a response. We are trying to decided too since so many of them are alike. Any insight you can give would be greatly appreciated!

  25. This was great! My daughters and I are planning a move and I’m all over the place emotionally! You’re advice has been great but I wondered about banking? Did you switch banks? Is it easy to wire money back to the states. Do you just use credit cards? Also, I work in the medical field and have been looking on sites but can’t find very many hospital jobs, any advice? And lastly are credit checks run on rentals like here in the states?

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