Rome, Italy Report of what it's like to live there - 09/24/22
Personal Experiences from Rome, Italy
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
No, lived in Africa and Latin America before this.
2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?
U.S. As the pandemic recedes, direct flights from the U.S. have been reopening and it's fairly easy to get direct flights from Rome to JFK, Miami, Dulles, and Chicago. Averages a 8-11 hour flight.
3. What years did you live here?
4. How long have you lived here?
5. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Typically apartments in the center of the city. There are a few options, depending how close you want to be to the touristy areas. There are some options in Cassia with larger houses, but who wants to live in suburbs of Rome when you can live downtown by all the historic sites and walk to work? The only people I hear complain about housing are those used to living in mansions in Africa during previous tours. It's Europe - you need to adjust and learn to downsize. When in Rome.....
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
It's fine, but Rome is a major city. Your grocery shopping will be comparable to that of small stores in NYC, not going shopping at a Walmart superstore.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
I didn't find a need to ship anything, you can find everything here.
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
It's Rome, take a guess.
Food delivery does exist here, it became especially popular during the pandemic, but seems to be losing some popularity. Italians take pride in their food and don't like packaging some carbonara and caprese in a "to-go" box for someone to deliver to you cold.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
I haven't noticed any.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
I use DPO address at the Embassy.
Getting amazon packages by DPO or pouch from the U.S. takes forever, so some people open up a local Italian amazon account which speeds things up.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
No comment, I don't use household help here, but it does exist. Italian labor laws seem to make things a little more complicated than other posts.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Embassy has a nice gym. Other gyms exist in the centro area, but they are expensive and small. There are a few tennis/athletic clubs on the river. If you go out to suburbs, you can find bigger gyms.
4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
Credit cards work just fine.
Only issue I have had is the occasional taxi that wants cash only.... but that is also a problem in the US.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
If you are Catholic, you won't have any issues finding different religious services in Rome.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
English is widely spoken in the center area of Rome and tourist areas like Florence, Venice, Almalfi coast, etc. As you leave the city and get into more rural areas, Italian is more prominent and you will need some basic Italian to get around easily.
Italians also seem to understand Spanish quite well
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Yes, Rome is a historic city so the city struggles to rebuild their infrastructure to be handicap accessible. The building codes are to preserve history so they can't just bulldoze city blocks and rebuild them. A common problem in many European cities.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Yeah, public transportation is pretty good here.
The subway is a little underwhelming, but it's Rome. You can't dig a tunnel for more than 100 meters without hitting some ancient artifacts. They have made attempts in the past to expand the subway, but abandoned them when they realized it was too much of a hassle to go through the red tape every time they run into an old, buried Roman ruin.
The high speed rail between cities is pretty convenient.
They have ride sharing apps (Free Now) that works just like Uber but with official taxis. It works well, but it doesn't work outside the city limits because the taxi unions are too strong so they ban the apps and make you sit on the side of the road, call some number with a person that only speaks Italian, then sit there for somewhere between 10-40 minutes waiting for your taxi to arrive. Very inefficient outside Rome, my only compliant about European transportation.
2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
No car, not really needed in the city, especially since many Embassy housing units are within walking distance.
And it's Europe, if you bring a car, make sure it is small. Don't bring your F-150 to Rome because it won't fit anywhere.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Most people get a phone here. Some use google fi on their US phones.
1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?
Not sure. Villa Borghese seems like a great place to walk a dog.
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?
It's a big Embassy so there are some EFM jobs out there.
The local economy isn't that great and unemployment rates in Italy are higher than the rest of Western Europe, so I imagine it would be a struggle to find any local economy jobs with a respectable salary.
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
It's Italy - people tend to dress more formal here than back in the U.S. Men should have some suits.
Don't walk around in public with shorts and flip flops unless you are at the beach.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Rome is very safe, no issues. Lots of police and army all over the center.
If you venture outside the city center, I suppose you could find some shady areas, but that is any city. Just use common sense and you will be fine.
There has been some issues with overpopulation of wild boars in public parks, in the center of Rome, that have been harassing people. So I guess I don't recommend hanging out by trash cans in the middle of the night, if that is your thing.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Medical care is good here, no issues. It's a first world country.
3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?
No air issues, just a bunch of trash on the streets. Rome can be a dirty city in many places.
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
Normal seasonal allergies.
5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?
6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Hot Summers, mild winters.
It is a dry climate, although there is a rainy season around November/December
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Rome has a large expat community of students aged 18-22 and then 24-30 (postgrad/masters programs), especially in Trastevere and San Lorenzo areas.
As a capital city, there is obviously a large expat community of non-students as well.
2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
Irish pubs are great if you like to drink and get sideways. A much more social environment than a sit-down Italian restaurant.
There are some social media expat groups that seem to be useful: they host different events and meet ups around the city. A good option if you are new and trying to meet other expats.
The local Italian population reminds me of Latin America as they are a hard group to break into. It's possible, but it takes some work and you should ideally speak some Italian
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Sure, it's good for everyone. I would just add that Rome has a rotating population - lots of people that are living here temporarily, so that is the biggest challenge for establishing relationships, either romantic or platonic.
4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?
Yeah, easy to make friends for the most part.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
As a non-LGBT person, I perceive this city as accepting of the LGBT community. The LGBT people that I know seem to enjoy it and don't have any significant discrimination problems.
With that said, the Italian government still has religious influences, the Vatican is in Rome, and there is still a large older population demographic in the voting base that is still very traditional. So some of the macro-laws surrounding LGBT issues appear more conservative than other Western European countries.... but the normal, regular person in Rome doesn't seem to hold strong anti-LGBT views, from my experience. This may vary across the larger country of Italy.
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
There are some inequality issues with migrants from Africa and South Central Asia..... and it's always a hot political issue with the media talking heads
For gender equality, society seems slightly more male-dominated than the U.S. and other Western European countries, comparably. But generally speaking, the gender equality here is still better than the majority of the world.
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Getting away from the tourist spots and visiting some great areas in Southern Italy, but I'm not giving away my secret spots on a public forum...... sorry.
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
If I give away my hidden gems, they won't be hidden anymore.
Naples is an awesome area, if you do it right. Ask some locals for recommendations and stop visiting old churches, they are all the same.
Almalfi coast is overrated.
9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
Advantages: Large city, easily walkable, great history, easy access by flights or train to other areas in Italy and the larger Europe, good weather, mix of beaches and mountains.
Disadvantages: It's city living - someone with a large family that wants a big house with a pool may be disappointed. Some people claim that it is "hard to get things done" in Italy, largely in terms of utilities, phones, appointments, etc. I agree, but I also find that the MGT section of the mission is very helpful is making these things run smoothly.
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
3. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?
Reading up on Roman and Medieval history will make Italy a lot more interesting.