Rome: Some Americans dream of moving to Italy, but it takes more than a plane ticket and spunk.
Just ask Patrizia Di Gregorio, an Italian-American who founded the international social network Expats Living in Rome. She’s lived in Italy for 23 years.
“Americans want to come and don’t understand that you can’t just move to Italy,” Gregorio, 52, told Business Insider.
Expats Living in Rome has become a lifeline for many potential and current expats navigating the sometimes confusing and arduous process of moving overseas. While the network provides resources for financial advice and immigration services, it also offers something crucial every expat needs: community. The Facebook group Expats Living in Italy, which is connected to Expats Living in Rome, has 92,800 members and counting. Daily, people post questions, offer answers, and work through problems with each other.
Gregorio told BI she noticed an uptick in expats — including Americans — interested in leaving the United States for Italy. American expats who spoke to BI pointed toward a number of factors, including political climate and the cost of retirement, but it’s not a simple leap.
Gregorio shared three mistakes Americans make when moving to Italy. Take a look.
Gregorio explained that some American expats arrive in Italy without proper paperwork, including visas and other forms.
“They don’t have all their paperwork, so they can’t go right to city hall and apply for dual citizenship,” Gregorio said.
The US Embassy & Consulates in Italy’s website notes that Americans staying in Italy for more than three months are considered residents and must obtain an entrance visa before arriving.
Other forms Americans may need to complete are the permesso di soggiorno (permit of stay) and accordo di integrazione (integration agreement).
According to Gregorio, splurging on big-ticket items in Italy without proper financial planning is a bad idea. It can feel magical to relocate to a new city, but it’s important to be realistic about what you can afford and how to make ends meet.
For example, Italy’s Elective Residence visa is tailored for people with the financial means to support themselves autonomously.
“They rent luxury apartments and then find themselves broke,” Gregorio said. “And it’s like, ‘Why did you rent an apartment you can’t afford? Didn’t you think your savings were going to go?'”
Gregorio said some Americans move to Italy and don’t take the proper steps to embrace the local culture. She said they expect “everything to be just like home and then don’t respond accordingly.”
“An Italian guy said to me, ‘When Americans come to Italy, the American owns Italy. When an Italian goes to America, Americans still own America,'” Gregorio told BI.
She added that it’s helpful for American expats to be open-minded and learn to adapt to Italy’s culture when they move.