Being attracted to Italy by its weather, cuisine, wine and lifestyle is laudable, but doesn't rate highly as an employment qualification. You should have a positive reason for living and working in Italy; simply being fed up with your boss or the weather isn't the best motive (although thoroughly understandable). It's extremely difficult to find work in rural areas and isn't easy in cities (even Rome or Milan), especially if your Italian isn't fluent. You shouldn't plan on obtaining employment in Italy unless you have a firm job offer or special qualifications or experience for which there's a strong demand. If you want a good job, you must usually be well qualified and speak fluent Italian. If you plan to arrive in Italy without a job, it's wise to have a plan for finding employment on arrival and to try to make some contacts before you arrive.
There's a huge difference between northern and southern Italy in terms of wealth and job opportunities. The Mezzogiorno (the name given to the southern area of the country comprising the regions of Abruzzo, Molise, Campania, Calabria and Basilicata, and the islands of Sicily and Sardinia), which constitutes some 40 per cent of Italy's total land area and 35 per cent of its population, creates only around 25 per cent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Unemployment in the south is around three times the northern rate and wages are some 40 per cent below the national average.
Many people turn to self-employment or starting a business to make a living, although this path is strewn with pitfalls for the newcomer. Most foreigners don't do sufficient homework before moving to Italy. While hoping for the best, you should plan for the worst case scenario and have a contingency plan and sufficient funds to last until you're established (this also applies to prospective employees). If you're planning to start a business in Italy, you must also do battle with the notoriously obstructive Italian bureaucracy (buona fortuna!).
This excerpt has been republished with permission from Survival Books. Some of the information may apply to EU citizens only. If you would like to get the inside track on moving to Italy, pick up your copy of this great book by clicking here.