Living & Working in Italy

Italy - the home of opera but a place where nothing goes for a song.

Living costs in Italy are not cheap, even compared to expensive Britain. To be fair, the cost of essentials like food and clothes depends on where you shop and what you buy.

geography also affects prices. The industrial cities of the north, like Milan and Turin, generate the nation’s wealth. As a result, prices tend to be cheaper in the less affluent south.

The financial principles of supermarket pricing do not seem to apply in quite the same way in Italy as they do in the UK. Where British shoppers expect better prices passed on from stores buying in bulk, most Italian supermarkets have a poorer range of goods at more expensive prices.

Living on pasta, bread and tomatoes will certainly not bust the bank, but variety is the spice of life and that’s where many Italian supermarkets fall down. Forget organic, low-fat produce and dairy, because few stores cater for the healthy option. If they do, the price is prohibitive.

That doesn’t mean one of the extensive outdoor markets in just about every town and city does not sell good quality food - but the prices are exorbitant and often out of reach of a family budget.

The Italians are also famous for their style - especially swish car design and elegant clothes.

However, designer goods are for the rich and famous, not the day-to-day shopper, who often need to be stick-thin to fit anything on the high street racks.

The price of clothes does not prevent Italians from indulging in passegiata, the evening ritual of promenading through town dressed to the nines.

Don’t forget first impressions count in Italy, so the way you dress reflects your family status, education and occupation.

Following the British idyll of living in Tuscany or elsewhere out in the country is often an expensive dream that shatters for expats.

The further you live from the centre of town, the more you pay for utilities. Country life often comes at a premium. Expect to pay UK prices in urban areas and then some depending on location.

For many in the UK, family life, shopping and work are made easier in rural areas by reliable internet connection.

The Italian effort creaks and is expensive, with rural areas served by satellite rather than cable.

Of course, the trains are sleek, fast, cheap and run on time, so getting around is not too bad, but the cost of running a car is eye-watering.

Most Italian drivers only have third party fire and theft cover at an average €700 a year because they cannot afford the thousands insurers charge for the smallest hatchback.

healthcare can be another bugbear in Italy. The free public sector is riddled with poor management, bad practise, long queues for treatment and a welter of complaints, which is why most expats pay to go private.