I'm not certain that I have a

04/15/2014 - 21:39

I'm not certain that I have a question but more of a statement.  Other than the culture, which is beautiful for sure, why would a non Italian national want to subject herself to the hassel, inefficiencies, high inflation and debt, illegal immigrants, corrupt political system etc to retire in Italy.  Frustration and stress are known to cause heart disease and maybe death.  I am beginning to think there are better places for retirement such as USA. 



First I would point out that the Italian life expectancy is greater than for the US (I'm an American).Italy has problems. Punto! Every country has its own set of issues.For us, Italy is a more pleasant lifestyle, more relaxing and has much better food. Each of us has our own priorities.

I think the choice to live in Italy (which we are still grappling with) is a tough, complicated and personal but it cannot be reduced to a purely mathematical one of weighing pros and cons based on quality of life indicators - ultimately it will be motivated by passion and love.

Bruno and Positano - I understand your points but to me the difficulties of becoming comfortable in Italy appear to far outweigh a good plate of pasta and fish.  I have always wanted to retire to Italy but the more I read about the problems, confusion (for foreigners) and layers of government bureaucrats needed to accomplish a goal frightens me.  I wonder if one can hire a hand holder to help get through the messes.Your responses to my post are great.  Many thanks.

I have lived in four countries - each time with the expectation that I would live there forever,  not as an overseas posting or long holiday or the like. So each time I have tried to get into the culture, not remain outside. My (not original) conclusion is that every place has its problems and that some are far worse than others. However I have been fortunate always that the places I have lived are not subject to extreme natural disasters or violence or state persecution and the like. Italy is indeed a nightmare of bureaucracy and inefficiency for those of us from places which are more organised. The food is nice, yes, the climate is good, ok, the landscape is gorgeous, the people are friendly etc.But for me the bottomline question is more to do with where do I feel the most alive and engaged and curious? (I add that I am not yet so old that questions of elder care enter the equation.) With this attitude then there is hope and a will to work things out and go forward. I like the idea of being a "handholder"... maybe this could be my new career?! 

We are former colonists from the US and have resided in several countries over the years; Austria, Germany, Italy, and Hawaii. Yeah, I know it is technically a US state, however, some of the islands, especially the Big Island, operate just a shade above third world status. We have resided part-time in California during this time period.For anyone thinking life in the US is so much better, uncomplicated, etc.,check it out first. I could give you chapter and verse, however this is not the forum or thread for that.If you want to succeed in the Italian adventure, you need to do several things, starting with developing a somewhat working knowledge of the language.Without this, you will need more than just a “hand-holder.”  Get to know your neighbors and seek out and befriend someone who has some experience with dealing with the bureaucracy; preferably someone who works for or has worked for the government. Not only can such a person give you some guidance, in many cases they know people in the bureaucracy and can facilitate some things for you.We were fortunate to develop a close relationship with a lady in our small (14 Italian families) village who was retired from government service who has been invaluable in guiding, enhancing, and facilitating our Italian experience over the past nine years. She has saved us weeks and months of time accomplishing certain items not to mention the amount of money also saved.By becoming comfortable with the language and your neighbors, you can help yourself enhance your own Italian experience.Fred

If you're a person who's easily frustrated, Italy might present its problems. However, inflation (very low right now), illegal immigrants and the politcal system are hardly likely to impinge on you - after all, a short time back we were without a government, without a President and without a Pope all at the same time and the country chugged along nicely. North of Rome, bureaucracy is not especially tedious. As the other respondents have said, you need to learn the language and engage with your neighbours (very easy) otherwise you'll be a perpetual expatriate spending your time with similar and complaining to oneanother about everything. I've been here 35 years and even at the start I never really found anything particularly stressful about the life. Now that I'm retired, life is even easier - prune the olives, read a book on my terrace. Yes, not too bad at all.

Here is my take from my experiences so far living in Italy: 1) Italy is not for everyone, but for me it fits. 2) If you expect things to work like they do in "America" or "Canada" or the "UK" you will spend your life in frustration. Stop resisting and just adjust to how things are done here and you'll be much happier. 3) Of course you have English speaking friends, but if you don't create relationships with Italians then you will never really feel a part of your community. 4) In life we make choices: Nothing is black and white. Some things are good and some are not so good. Take an accounting.  For me, the simple pleasures of life that I experience everyday make all my hard work to get here and live here worthwhile. Happiness, no matter where you live, depends on you. 

Shelley, Perhaps your experience was not a good one when you had a medical problem - it happens for sure. I don't know about the health care system in the UK, but it's a myth that the health care system is worse than the US or UK.  The World Health Organization ranked the Heath Care Systems in the World in 2014: France #1, Italy #2, the UK #18 and the USA #37.  Remember that each person can have good and bad treatments and experience. I have heard horror stories in all these countries. Generally, I have had a good experience. I see my doctor, have lab tests (with results online) and buy medications and don't pay an arm or a leg for them (most are free).  If I break a leg in the US it could end up costing me $25,000 without expensive private health insurance. It's true that hospitals in Italy look pretty basic compared to the US, but we also won't be threatened with bankruptcy if we happen to fall ill. 

In reply to by Orveitoorbust

For sure it depends in your own exprience !!im from israel and i can tell you for sure that hospital in israel is new and advanced!!!Any way im happy for you for not expring what ive been through being sick in italy....After that i moved back home but i still think italy in general is a great place & happy for you that you exprience is better then my own

Born, raised, and lived 53 years in the US, but never felt a sense of "community" around me. My wife and I lived in Puglia (2 months) and Umbria (6 months), and after only two days in Italy, and I was "home" for the first time in my life.Of course, it's hard not to speak in generalities, but your question has made me think about specific reasons I would move to Italy in a heartbeat. Here goes...1. Purposeful walking. Almost everywhere (big city or rural borgho) you can walk to get groceries, wine, or to take a coffee. In fact, walking itself become a reason. We use the excuse of picking wild greens, but in fact, we just want to take a few hours in the sun.2. Other transportation. Italy's trains and busses can get you everywhere, cheaply.3. History. There is never a reason to be bored if you have any curiosity about who walked this road before you.4. Art. Something for everyone; and a lot of it.5. Food. Fresh and local is the norm. I made many new friends (mostly old cantadine) asking about some wierd greens at the market.6. Bread. Yes, a separate category from food.7. Wine. All the hype is stripped away. When an Italian winemaker puts it in the bottle, it is ready to drink. The tempation to try something unknown is always around. Just like their cars, clothes, and shoes, Italian wines are about style.8. Variety. Italy (as we all know) is not just one country. A day on the train will let you trek in the Dolomites, or bake on a beach.9. Patience. A long coda at the post office is a perfect way to ratchet down the hustle Americans live through daily. It took me a while to find this groove. I heard it said that only after you have sat for three hours doing nothing can you call yourself a real Italian.The Italians who cater to the tourist crowd are supreme actors. They smile shamelessly as they take 50 Euros from you for a Caprese and a glass of local white wine. However, all you have to do is look them in the eye, smile, and try to speak only in Italian. Suddenly, you are their long lost friend for whom they would do anything. That's something else I had few of in the US; friends.On language: I have studied French, Spanish, and German with limited success. However, I was able to pick up Italian very quickly for some reason. Whereas other languages have "universal" uses, there is only one country where Italian is spoken - Italy.We learned very early how to see beyond the tourist verneer, and see Italy like an Italian. So, I won't gush about it. My best Italian language tutor was a guy who drank at my favorite bar. He complained about taxes, bureaucracy, the kids these days, the postal service; basically everything US citizens complain about. Italians want very badly to pick up and move to the US. Perhaps, l'erbe e sempre piu verde.

Having the means of course is the first essential when deciding to live anywhere. Assuming that isn't at issue, my feeling is that choosing the place you want to spend the rest of your life is one of the most personal decisions you can ever make. As Americans, our attitude is often one of simply going where the work is and making the best of it whether we like it or not, or simply staying with what we are used to, such as where we grew up. But you're considering doing something far more profound and, yes, possibly more difficult and frustrating than anything you may have yet experienced. The question you need to answer, and feel strongly in your gut and in your heart, is whether the difficulties and frustrations are worth it.For myself, the answer is yes. I first went to Italy in late 1983 as a sailor in the US Navy when I was stationed in Naples, and I fell absolutely and completely in love with it. For no reason that I can explain, Italy fit this midwestern boy of 21 like a glove. And though I have only returned once in the last 23 years, the Naples area remains the one and only true home I have ever had. I should say at this point though that, having been married to a local and still being close to her family, speaking the language pretty well, and understanding as well as speaking a litte of the local dialect, the transition to actually residing in Italy would be much easier for myself than for many others. The most important point I believe, is that any country other than the one you grew up in, has to hold a place in your heart if you choose to live there. You have to be passionate about it, or the frustrations will likely prove eventually to be too much. The decision should not be based on a whim, or a fantasy of how wonderful it will be. Judging by your questions though, I feel safe in saying that is not the issue for yourself. You're worried about the very real difficulties. Once again, if you have spent enough time in Italy that you have also fallen in love with it, the people, the language, and the culture, then most definitely go for it.Some suggestions: Though there is nothing wrong with making friends and spending time with English speaking expats, be aware that in the long run that won't necessarily help you with your long term transition. The less need you have to speak Italian, the longer it will take you to learn if you don't already speak Italian, and the less likely that you will ever speak it like a native. Make friends with the locals. They are the ones from whom you will learn the true meaning of what it is to be Italian and not just a foreigner living in Italy. Also, expats, in my experience, tend to feed off each other's negative feelings about their new home, constantly rehashing the difficulties instead of the joys. Of course, there are also the ones who absolutely love Italy and would not choose to live anywhere else. Find them if you can. Their positive attitudes and experiences will help you to better understand Italians and the way they do things.Lastly, be aware that Italy is not just another country, it is another world. Italians even reason differently than Americans. Learn to understand, and truly appreciate that, and you will be well along your way to making Italy your home, not just the place where you live. Even then though, for those of us from countries primarily influenced by northern European cultures, Italians can at times prove to be the most frustrating of people. I for one wouldn't have it any other way and look forward to someday making Italy my permanent home.

I find the discussion generally fascinating. I am however uncertain as to how a person born and bred in one country can simply choose to move to and settle in another unless they are able to get citizenship. That would seem almost impossible unless you already have family ties either through your own parents or granparents. So for me this becomes nothing more than a a hypothetical issue. Am I missing something here?Cheers

Why have I chosen to live in Italy? Culture. Community. Connection.Yes Italy has it's " problems", but what country doesn't? Australia had plenty, I just became immune to them and over time, learnt how to work around them to minimise the problems. I guess I'll learn the same for here if and when I come across similar problems! I'm getting my business up and running and when I get frustrated, I remember I faced the same thing in Oz when I started out and it took the same effort. It's how you research, prepare and reset your expectations of what this country offers and the way of living you're going to create, that matters. If I came here with my Australian expectations (or attitude!), I'd be a wreck! In Italy, there's an essence of sharing and caring. Admittedly I speak the language so that's helped, but I'm still doing a one month course, 5 mornings a week to get my grammar right. The people I'm meeting and the added level of conversation I'm having as a result, is just awesome! (I think my English grammar was off in that paragraph!).Curiosity and genuine respect go a long way here. People I've only just met have been heartfelt helpers and ask me " are you joking?" when I thank them immensely for something they've gone that extra step to help me with. It's just normal for them to share and care. When you don't come with attitude. I've noticed arrogance or obnoxios approaches have the wall go up. No one likes their attempts to share and care mistreated or disrespected.The food has more flavour and reminds me that simple, fresh, unprocessed eating is actually better for my body and mind. Yes it's an adjustment to how I do my shopping, but I'm snacking way less between meals because I'm actually satisfied and satiated. The " inefficiencies" I've sometimes caught myself out whining about are actually a reminder that  some of the habits I made " normal" in Australia were off base. Italy forces me off the treadmill and reminds me to enjoy the daily and momentary beauties. When I get stressed, I say smile at a local who has an emphatic greeting back, or I look up and check out this amazing building and find out the story of it's history.... far out, I want to do an italian history degree.I'm changing my old Oz hermit habits to actually ensure I get to know my neighbours in a qualitatively different way than I did in Australia. It's a challenge for me personally but the culture, community and connection positively support me to do it, or I won't get far here. My ongoing learning.Am I sounding biased? Probably! It's what I'm making of my adventure to Rome. A system is a system to be worked with, in, around! When frustrations come and go, the more common heart and soul sharing of the culture, community and connection is what will have a stronger memory trace :-)   

O my goodness.  I think I started a firestorm.  Everyone's replies are extremely valuable to my thought processes.  I do not know the language and will need to attend a language school...there.  You all have knocked into my head enlightenedhow important knowing Italian will be, Having only been to Italy as a tourist, I've yet to determine which area would be most suitable to my lifestyle.  Once I've made that decision the need for other decisions will naturally follow.  I've thoroughly enjoyed the research I have done so far, and Marche is high on my list but the entire country is so beautiful I need to look around more.  Would you share your thoughts on the areas you prefer? I would be a solo resident so there are lots of issues.  I have no patience & ineffciencies make me nutz no matter where I am.  Guess that makes me typical (urban)American.One thing I was not aware of are the stats that were posted.  I agree that the healthcare system seems to be more efficient than here  and I am saying this from experience with the Italian system due to a laughfall I had while running to board a bus in Naples,  Better?  Debatable!  we might leave this topic for another postEveryone's heartfelt responses have touched me and I thank you for taking the time to post.  This thread is wonderful.Catherine          

Re: Le Marche - It is beautiful! I spent some time in Ascoli Piceno, and it was un self-conscious and passively welcoming. Drove north to Urbino, and was able to see snow to the west and the Adriatic to the east. But, the days seem very short, as the sun drops behind the mountains early.If you like the feel of Le Marche, you might try getting into the mountains of Umbria. Check out Norcia; small but sophisticated. Best pork in the world.If you want a little bigger town, but still crave a truely Italian lifestyle, visit Trento up near Lake Garda.

If quality of healthcare is a major concern, then I would reccomend Rome or one of the large cities to the north. Unfortunately in southern Italy, La Camorra of Naples and the Mafia of Sicily syphon off a huge amount of the public funds sent that way, much of which includes monies for healthcare. Naples does have the Poloclinico, but even there, at least 20 years ago, the atmosphere was not what Americans are used to. No private rooms that have the feel of a nice hotel. I imagine though that the doctors, nurses, and the care they provide are world class. Just don't expect the amenities you get here.As far as organized crime, there is no reason to concern yourself with it. I have never heard of anyone who wasn't somehow involved being a target, unless they start a business, in which case they will likely be "asked" to pay protection money.One of the things I also tell everyone considering even traveling there is to be aware of crime. In Naples and Rome, and quite probably in the other large cities as well, pickpocketing is quite common. Pickpockets in Naples are often referred to as the most skilled in the world. The key is to be aware of it and take precautions. Keep any valuables you have on you in front pockets, and preferably wear clothes in which those front pockets are fairly tight and not easy for another person to reach into. Also, if you carry a purse, do not put the strap around your neck. It is not uncommon for someone to grab a purse and try to run off with it, sometimes resulting in injury. If you feel you must carry a purse or bag, have the strap over the shoulder on the same side of your body on which you carry it, and hold it close as opposed to letting it swing lose. It's best also not to wear watches or jewelry which appear expensive. I know to many this sounds unreasonable, but as long as you take the proper precaustions and stay aware, you rarely will have any problems. I know I never did in the total of nearly four years I lived there, nor during the month I spent there in 2011.If sun and being near the water is what you are looking for, then just about anywere along the coast is beautiful. I prefer the Naples area myself. To my mind the beauty there is unsurpassed. If a rural setting is more to your liking, then there are countless small mountaintop towns to chose from, and the cost of living in one of them will likely be less than on the coast or in one of the large cities. Casserta Vechia is a perfect example. Also, from the area of Naples on south, the climate is semi-tropical during the late spring and summer, and even in Winter never gets what I as a midwesterner would consider freezing. Cold, but much more tolerable than what we experience here.

Hospitals are pretty rough and ready in most parts of Italy, including north of Rome. Pharmacies are excellent with highly trained staff. Doctors make house calls (at least they do where I live in Tuscany) - remember those? Good, modern ambulance service even out in the country. OK, back to hospitals. I had my life saved in a Florentine hospital (not the best one) - in a way that's all that mattered at the time. Wards not rooms and three guys died very audibly in my ward while I was there. Very good nurses. Doctors seemed good but you can't tell because they absolutely do not pass on any information to the patient - that's a marked difference between Italy and any other place of which I have experience. I once required some work done on my head - I have to say I went to Switzerland to get that done. There the doctors provided total information and the physical structure and equipment of the hospitals was much, much better. Of course, it was free in Italy and, um, not free in Switzerland.

yes i had the best experience in italy, other countries have an health care of a third world place that's why italy beside our personal experience have the second best health care in the world, like it or not you went to south italy for sure, florence, rome, naples or any of this bad part of italy

I for one do not believe most stats that are published regarding the state of healthcare on the planet.  Denny let me say that most R & D in/for the medical industry is done in the USA and given to other countries for a song.  American taxpayers pay for this R & D at top price while outside countries feed off of our success.  Remember this please.Personally I do not believe government run healthcare anywhere is better than ours even though we pay through the nose for it.  Personally I do not believe government run anything is any good anywhere.  Let's start a thread on this topic as well.The USA has the top medical schools and we send our doctors with the knowledge gained in this country to other countries  to keep their population alive and to train their healthcare workers.I would like to see statistics on health outcomes rather than longevity to prove who has the better healthcare.  For example, which country has the best outcomes for treatment of various cancers or brain injuries.  Can you post information on outcomes?Italy is just one country that owes the USA a handshake for our sharing of our knowledge even though profit is what drives us, foreign countries have benefited greatly.

We do not live permanently in Italy. We come here twice a year but we live 6 months of the year in Spain  and the rest of the time in San Francisco, where our daughters live. I should add that  that we have also lived in different countries and continents and that we adapt very easily to different environments, as we speak several languages. We find Italy a great place to live in and the advantages are greater than the problems. In that respect, I would agree with most of the positive comments made by other members. Services and facilities may be different according to the particular region and the same would apply in any country in the world. When looking for a house, we fell in love with Bagni di Lucca as it had everything we wanted and more. Now, 7 years later, we still feel the same. In any case, it is a personal choice and it is worthwhile to spend time which is the right place for you. As for health services and facilities, I think that countries such as France, Italy or Spain can teach a few lessons to the world. Do not beliieve everything that the lobby machine says. Statistics are more reliable than vested interests..

We came to the U.S. when I was 7 but I've been back to Italy a good 15-20 times since we moved here.  Italy has its problems.  There is no doubt of that.  The bureaucracy and the way it stifles enterpreneurship is downright maddening.  Life is not easier in Italy but I do believe life is better.  The food, the people, the lifestyle, the history, the unbelievable variety in terrain, the pace... one could go on and on.  We make it a point to go back as much as we can.  We spend 2-3 weeks in Italy each summer and, yes, it is not as easy but who cares.  I would downsize our house, our car (who needs a big car in Italy although an Alfa 4C would be just fine) and our lifestyle to move back.  Admittedly, I speak the language and I have citizenship so I have a built in advantage.  I will also have a very deep, emotional connection to Italy that I don't have anywhere else.  Missing my home can make me tear up... I would go back.  Amarcord.

So Denny, my first internet try shows that Forbes magazine (see below) has rated (still) the USA  as first in R & D.  I have no idea what you wish to argue about.  I am delighted that that you believe the EU as a whole and Italy in particular is surpassing all expectations but the USA is still the tops in medical technology and its related industries.  Without USA aid  in the past, the countries of the EU would not be where close to  the level of superiority as you think they are. I will say if there is a buck to be made we will be happy to share our knowledge with others or if we are shamed we will share for a song with developing countries. I wish this thread wasn't going off topic and we stayed with discussing the delights of Italy.Thanks to many who responded to this post, I have an idea where the  better healthcare is to be found in the various regions.  As I said originally my experience with italy's healthcare system was OK.   So when it comes to biology and medicine, U.S. researchers are publishing more than those in other countries. And this probably shouldn’t come as much of a shock. You can see the effect of the U.S. dominance in biology and medicine in the behavior of big drug companies.  Novartis, a Basel, Switzerland-based drug giant, nonetheless chose to place its research headquarters in Cambridge, Mass., near Harvard and MIT, and to put a Harvard doctor and biologist, Mark Fishman, in charge of R&D. Sanofi-Aventis gives nearness to the U.S. research hubs as one of the reasons behind its pending purchase of Genzyme, the U.S. biotechnology giant.The pushes to establish other countries as research challengers to the U.S. in medicine have often proceeded with fits and starts. For a while, it appeared that South Korea was making a go of it when it came to stem cells and cloning, but then it turned out that one of its leading researchers, Hwang Woo Suk, had faked results. There is a big movement to move some drug research to China — Pfizer just moved its antibiotic research to Shanghai — but the bulk of the work is still very much U.S.-centered.  There may be threats to America’s position in biomedicine, but at best they are hoof beats in the distance, not imminent dangers.

Catherine, with all due respect, there is a big difference between patriotism and jingoism. All countries have their pros and cons;  however, if you are going to spend the rest of your life missing all the idealised things that you left in your country of origin... you are going to have a miserable life. Italy does not seem to be the place for you. Either you love it or you hate it, warts and all. Because those of us who love Italy, are able to recognize that nothing is perfect. My sincere advice would be to find yourself a nice place in Florida. To come to Italy will prove an exercise in futility.

I moved to Italy in December from the Puget Sound area, and have been living in Trieste since February. I've been enjoying life here, though learning the language is taking time. I started studying online and with books about four months before I came, and am progressing a little at a time. I've taken 10 hours of Italian classes here so far. I can pay my bills and do some really basic conversation in Italian now, which is helping. A lot of people here do speak some English, so between their broken English and my broken Italian, I manage to do the things that need to get done. And there are also a lot of fluent English speakers in the city as well. Every time I get out of the house and do things without speaking English is a bit of a triumph for me.I got here on an elective residence visa, with the help of my brother, who has lived here most of the last 24 years and is a permanent resident. I'm living on Veterans Administration disability and Social Security and am doing well on that amount -- better than I'd have been doing in Seattle by quite a bit, as it's a very expensive city to live in. My brother told me that all countries have their own sets of problems and to move is just trading one set for another, so it depends on what you're willing to tolerate and what bothers you the most as to whether you'll be happy somewhere not.I just got my Permesso di Soggiorno a couple of weeks ago after several months of waiting. Right now, I'm waiting for the police to come by and verify my residence so that I can get my Carta d'Identita. Sure, waiting around for them is a bit of a hassle, and I'm feeling impatient about it, but it's really not that much of a problem; even the Italians are annoyed with their bureaucracy, so it's not like I'm alone. In comparison with the VA bureaucracy, it hasn't been that bad at all so far. I had to fight with the VA for 12 years to get my disability pension, and the VA health care system really depends on where you are for how good it is. In Seattle it's not bad. In Missouri, where my mom and her husband live, they literally don't have enough money to keep a person on the switchboard to answer the phones.So far, I've been meeting both expats and Italians, and having a lovely time. People have been wonderful to me, even when I inadvertently do stupid things; at least I'm able to apologize in Italian. I've found folks in Trieste to be patient and helpful, for the most part. Making an effort to speak Italian, even if I'm not that good at it yet, seems to go a long way. The city is beautiful, the Adriatic is gorgeous, the food is good, and there's usually something interesting to do. Public transportation is good, with trains and buses easily available, though yes, there are sometimes delays. Because of health issues, I can't drive a car, so being in a walkable city with good public transit is very important for me. The quality of life is good and there are a great number of people here who live past 100 years old. I've met and become acquainted with enough people that I am now starting to run into people I know around town when I go walking.Overall, I think I made a good decision to come here, though I've been here less than a year so far. My brother is thrilled that I've joined him; he lives a couple of hours away. He's been taking me traveling around northern Italy, primarily Friuli Venizia-Giulia and the Veneto, and I've been loving the adventures. I'm looking forward to traveling around more of the country, as well.