Finding work in Italy

My experience with finding work in Italy is mostly positive. Despite Italy having a high unemployment rate, especially compared to the UK, I feel it hasn’t been awfully difficult finding work in Italy. Although it depends on what type of employment you are searching for. Now if I wanted to carry on with my current career (wildlife conservation or ecology) I think I would have a much more difficult time. However, my plan for my first year was simply to find a job. Seek employment, bring in some money, learn Italian in my free time, and then in a years time re-evaluate. I was hoping my Italian in one year of living there would be sufficient to seek employment in the field I want.

That has what led me to teaching English as a foreign language. I already had a TEFL qualification from 2017 which I have never used. I have a degree (not in English studies of course) and I speak English at a mother tongue level. All of the qualifications needed for a EFL teacher in Italy.

Applying for jobs

This part was relatively straight forward. I google’d ‘English Language Schools in Bari’ and opened up the web pages for every single one of them. I looked for any application forms (and applied for the two that did have application forms). For the rest, I literally sent off a CV and a cover email to every single one of them, even if they weren’t advertising positions.

After just a few days, I had replies back off three different schools. One of them didn’t have any jobs going as a teacher in the school but she was looking for someone to help with the younger children (but I would need a car). And I had another two offering me an interview.

The interview

Actually, both interviews were pleasant. The interviews were both more of an informal style chat on Skype. Both ladies interviewing me were absolutely amazing, super nice, very warm and I had fun. That is not something that is often said about interviews – they are usually fear-inducing meetings that make your skin crawl with anxiety.

The interviewers both started off with asking me to tell them about myself. Now when they ask you to tell them about yourself, they usually don’t want you to tell them about yourself. I am sure they don’t want to know what I ate for dinner, what my hobbies are, and what I did when I was 12 years old. They want to know where I have worked and what qualifications I have. Both interviewers asked about my experience (or lack of in this case) which I elaborated on other job roles and the skills I learned during them which are important for teaching (patience, attention to detail, planning etc.)

The rest of the interview was spent talking about the school, the curriculum, the age of students that they teach, and covered stuff about actually living in Italy such as travelling, my level of Italian etc.

The first school said they needed to get in touch with their partner school but would be in touch. The second school said that when I arrive in Italy to get in contact and I can come in, visit the school and we can talk about contracts and salary.

What next?

Well this is still a work in progress. I am still hoping to hear off some more schools. I need to hear back off the first school I interviewed with (this one is in Santo Spirito so is close to home).

I will keep you all updated on my progress, so keep an eye out if you want to see how it goes.

Italian bank accounts

Unicredit is a very popular choice amongst Italians. They have over 8,500 branches in most cities and towns in Italy, so you will be able to find a branch, or an ATM almost everywhere. Unicredit offer several different accounts with varying benefits and fees. For traditional bank accounts there are three levels – silver, gold and platinum. The silver account offers a prepaid card, release of check forms and SEPA transfers online, this account costs 9€ a month. The gold offers also the Flexia credit card with an annual fee and costs 12€ a month. Finally the platinum offers 2 debit cards, an additional credit card as well as the ability to transfer money from ATMS in Italy and abroad. This costs 22€ a month. They also have 2 types of investment accounts – gold and platinum, costing 5€ and 7€.

ING are a good international bank but not found in as many locations around Italy so you may not have a branch in your area. ING have the conto corrente Arancio which you can manage from an app as well. You can pay the 2€ fee for the Zero Vincoli which offers free cash withdrawals from anywhere in the EU, as well as up to 50,000€ free SEPA transfers.

HYPE is part of the Banca Sella group and is a mobile banking platform. They offer a free bank account, as well as the piano plus and the piano premium. The free bank account and the piano plus only give you a prepaid card where as the premium one gives you a debit cards. The premium account gives you other services including access to airport lounges, travel insurance, ATM theft policy purchase protection policy and even support over whatsapp. The cost for the piano plus is 1€ a month and for the piano premium it is 9.90€ a month.

Intesa Sanpaolo is a result of a merger from Banca Intesa and Sanpaolo IMI, and they have 4,825 branches across Italy so likely have one in your locality. At the moment they are offering the XME conto free for people under the age of 35 if you open by 30th of June 2020. This allows you to withdraw cash from any ATM in Italy and SEPA transfers abroad. The normal cost of this account I believe is 7.50€ a month.

Banco nazionale del lavoro is another popular choice, and is the 6th largest bank in Italy. It offers a lot of different types of bank accounts – BNLX semplifica ogni giorno (smart, powered or full) as well as i conti di base BNL, one for kids and a tennis one. The BNLX semplifica ogni giorno smart offers a debit card, as well as in branch, telephone and online banking. It is around 6€ a month but you can get a discount on this (if your under 30 it is free). However, you have to pay for ATM withdrawals. You can purchase an extra package that allows you to withdraw from ATMS twice a month and this costs 2€ a month. The powered bank account includes these 2 withdrawals a month and a credit card for a monthly fee of 9€ a month, and the full allows unlimited withdrawals worldwide and unlimited SEPA transfers. As well as unlimited counter transactions and a free cheque book. This account costs 17€ a month.

Crédit Agricole Italia provides retail and corporate banking across 10 regions of Italy. Their bank account offers you unlimited cash withdrawals from their own ATM machines and 24 cash withdrawals from other banks for free. Cash withdrawals from other banks after the 24 are 2.10€. The cards are free except for the NEXI classic credit card which costs an annual fee of 30.99€ and they charge up to 2.50€ for SEPA transfers.

There are also a load of other bank accounts that I haven’t managed to look into yet. One thing is certain, you pay for your bank accounts in Italy (which is crazy to understand coming from the UK). If you go for the cheaper options then you have to pay to withdraw money, pay for a debit/credit card etc. So its best to find one that suits your needs. Hype is good if your tech savvy, but if you want to go in person to the bank then it would not be a good choice. If you want unlimited cash withdrawals then its better to go and get a higher premium account, however, if you use a credit card a lot then go for one with a lower charge for unlimited credit card use. Just shop around.

How to move to Italy.

Always dreamed of a life in ‘Il bel paese’? Want to make the move but don’t know how? I was in the same situation just a few months ago. Here is all of the information I have managed to gather over the past year.

Do I need a visa?

This depends entirely on where you are travelling from. If you are travelling from the EU then I am sure you already know, the answer is no. You do not. If you are travelling from outside of the EU (or are from the UK like myself) then the answer may change.

As of the 31st of January 2020, the UK has formally left the EU. We are no longer a part of it. However, currently we are still within the transition period. The transition period runs until December 31st 2020. This transition period is too allow both the UK and the EU to establish a new fair trade agreement. After the transition period has ended, the UK will leave the single market and customs union. During this transition period the UK will still follow all EU rules and will maintain the same trading relationship. This also means that until December 31st 2020 we have nearly the same rights as we did before leaving the EU, including moving to countries within the EU and gaining residency. After December, all current residents in Italy will be allowed to remain in the country. This means that we have until the 31st of December to sort out all of our affairs, get residency, exchange driving licenses etc.

After the transition period then we will likely be classified as a non-EU country and will have to follow the same rules as other non-EU countries.

To live and work in Italy as a non-EU citizen then you need to have a visa and a work permit.

Work visa’s can be granted for employment, seasonal work that is related to either agriculture or tourism, scientific research, sporting activities and some other reasons related to employment. You can also get a visa for study, medical care, tourism, religion or other reasons, these visa’s do not permit you to work.

The work permit you will need to work will be completed by your employer in Italy. They will need to show a copy of your i.d documents (such as passport), a work contract, proof of accommodation, and evidence of your residence contract.

There is also the blue card for highly skilled workers. More information on that can be found out here.

Once you have a visa to live and work in Italy, your family can also apply for a visa under family reunification.

I posted a bit about the process of getting the permesso di soggiorno here.

Renting or buying a house?

Housing prices and rental prices vary vastly depending on the region you are searching for. It is important to do your research when looking for which region you want to locate to. As I am moving for a specific purpose, I have never looked up rental prices or housing prices in any other region except for Puglia. And specifically within the city of Bari in Puglia.

Rental prices vary but probably the more expensive areas are Milan, Florence and Rome.

Within cities, most of the places will be apartments or an appartamento. In Italy, apartments to rent are advertised by number of rooms monolocale, bilocale, trilocale etc. A monolocale is like a typical studio apartment in other countries. You usually have a kitchen and a bedroom/living room in one room and a bathroom. Within a bilocale the bedroom and living room is usually separate.

Rented accommodation usually comes either furnished or unfurnished.

I will be posting more about renting property in Italy in a later post.

How about healthcare?

Healthcare in Italy is generally excellent. And free to all residents in Italy. The public healthcare system in Italy is called the Servizio Sanitorio Nazionale (SSN) and you can register for it once you have your permesso di soggiorno. You sign up for the SSN in your local Azienda sanitaria locale (ASL). Once you are registered for the SSN you obtain your Tessera Sanitaria and chose your family doctor (Medico di base).

If you are employed in Italy then you will be eligible for mandatory registration, however, if you are not then you will have to pay a voluntary contribution. You will be able to find out if you are able to get mandatory registration at your local ASL. The form you get given to register for the SSN will need to be filled in and then payed for at the post office. From what I can gather, most things you need to pay for are done at the post office.

It is possible to find English speaking doctors however, you will need to research this. I find that if you ask on expat groups (in facebook) or on forums, a lot of expats from the area will be able to advise you on this.

Opening a bank account.

Just like in the UK, there are various types of bank accounts you can open in Italy. Conto corrente is a current bank account, and this is the standard type of bank account that people use for their day-to-day activities. Another common bank account is a chequing account or assegno.

Other bank accounts include joint bank accounts or Conto corrente cointestato, savings accounts Conto di risparmio and deposit accounts Conto di deposito which is similar to a savings account but with less flexibility and a higher interest rate. Bank accounts in Italy are generally not free, and you will have to pay a fee for them. All bank accounts charge different amounts so it is important to do your research on them.

To open a bank account in Italy you need to have your codice fiscale which is your tax code.

Getting a mobile phone

You can either get a pre-paid sim card called a ricaricabile or a mobile contract abbonamento. This contract is usually at a fixed monthly rate and is either a contract for 12 months or 24 months. With the pre-paid sim card you must top up your phone with vouchers ricariche which can be bought at stores, tobacconists, bars, magazine shops, ATM’s or at the store or website of the provider. Like with bank accounts, you need to have your codice fiscale to purchase a pre-paid sim card or to get a mobile phone contract.

The most popular providers in Italy are TIM, Vodafone, WIND, Fastweb or 3. All of these providers offer different packages and services so it is better to research them first to find the best deal for you.

Transport in Italy.

Trains are very cheap in Italy. Especially the regional trains (which are also slower). You can buy train tickets at the station (at the desk or at the machine) or you can also buy tickets online through mobile phone apps.

Trains are either run by Gruppo Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane or by Italo.

Types of trains are Eurostar Italia or Frecce services, which are considered the fastest. Seat reservations are mandatory on these services. Intercity (IC and IC+) run across most of Italy and between cities and Large towns. You can either book first or second class on these trains. On intercity + seat reservations are mandatory but are included in the price of the ticket. And finally Regionale trains are the ones that stop in all of the smaller towns. These are cheaper in price but because they stop off in all of the small towns, they are much slower than the other train services.

Using a car in Italy can be expensive, petrol is generally quite expensive, most roads in Italy are very poor (in comparison to the UK) unless you are travelling on the Autostrada. And in my opinion, it is definitely true what they say about Italian drivers. They will force their way out into traffic, usually putting out their arm to let drivers know they are doing this.

If you are buying a car in Italy then you need to tax, MOT and insure it. Car tax (Bollo) is mandatory and you must keep the receipt in case you are stopped by the police. There is a fine if you fail to produce this. An MOT or Revisione is also required on all cars older than 4 years old. These are only required once every two years unlike in the UK where you have to do this every year.

Insurance cover will differ in cost depending on type of insurance (Casco or Responsibilità civile). The first is fully comprehensive and is very expensive, most people opt for the second which is third party. You can also add on fire and theft (incendio, furto).

Foreigners in Italy can drive for one year on their driving license but after that need to switch it over to an Italian driving license. If you are from an EU member state then you do not need to resit your driving test for this, however, if your country does not have a reciprocal agreement (USA, Canada, Australia) then you will need to sit an Italian driving test.

If you are stopped by the police in Italy then you need to produce the following documents:

  • Identification document (passport or i.d.)
  • Driving license
  • Car tax receipt
  • Insurance (at least third party)
  • Logbook (libretto) with the MOT
  • A yellow luminous jacket.

It is important you carry these documents on you at all times when driving in Italy.

There are several books you can purchase that will provide a lot more detailed information. I have personally only read the moon living book which was great, although I feel it was a little more focused towards Americans.

Moon Living Abroad Italy, 4th edition
Times New Roman
The real guide to living in Italy.

Dreaming of Italy? Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of it.

Dreaming of walking through tiny, bustling streets of a beautiful Italian city? Sipping a caffè stood at a bar, watching the locals going about their daily business? Going to the local Panificio to buy warm focaccia with the sweetest cherry tomatoes on top. Travelling to Italy is really a dream, and gives you a fantasy of this idyllic lifestyle. However, the differences between holidaying somewhere and living there can be astronomical. This is something I am becoming increasingly aware of as I go through this process of moving to Italy.

Italy was never a dream of mine. In fact, it never even entered the equation. I had never wanted to go to Italy, not even to Rome. I was somewhat naively thrown into this country when I met Alberto. However, my first visit to Bari changed this. Walking down the narrow little streets of the old town, gazing at the magnificent ceiling in the Basilica di San Nicola, visiting Castello Svevo, eating focaccia, the closeness of families in Puglia, the warmness of its people, my first true Italian pizza. All of these things enthralled me. I completely fell in love. So when we decided the only option was for me to move to Italy, it was not such a hard decision for me to make.

So how do I do it?

How do I move to Italy? What is the process? How do I become a resident? How do I find a job? How do I open a bank account, get a mobile phone, pay my bills? How do I do my shopping when I can’t even speak the language? These are all questions that have plagued me since I made that decision. And these are all things I have researched over and over.

I am still not entirely sure on the answer to all of these questions but the most important thing seems to be getting the permesso di soggiorno and codice fiscale. As well as registering for the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale.

First off the Permesso di soggiorno or permit to stay. This is basically your registration card that says your allowed to stay in the country. This is applied for at the local post office and requires a number of steps.

First you get your packet and you fill in the forms. You need to get a Marca da Bollo, which you can get from a local Tabaccheria. You bring the packet, the Marca da Bollo and your passport to the post office and pay the required fees. €40 – 100 for the packet, €16 for the Marca da Bollo, €30 for the Assicurata Postale and €30.46 for printing the Permesso di soggiorno. This gets sent off to the local Questura and you get given a receipt for the Assicurata as well as a receipt for the bolletino, and an appointment at the local Questura. You must keep these receipts as the Questura will ask for them both during your appointment (as well as 2 passport sized photos), and they are also proof of your immigration registration, so you need to travel with these at all time until you get your card. After your appointment, your card will be sent to the local commissariato di polizia and you will be given a time for when you can pick this up. This whole process can take up to 6 months.

The codice fiscale is a lot more simple to get. It basically is your tax code. Italians are assigned these at birth. You need this for a number of services including a bank account. You can apply for it before hand at your Italian consulate or at any Agenzia delle entrate in Italy. This is free.

Healthcare. This is provided by the SNN. If you have a visa to live in Italy then a requirement of that is health insurance. If you are from the EU you can access the SNN using your EHIC card. Once you have your Permesso di soggiorno you can join the healthcare system. There is a cost to this I believe. I do not really know too much about this yet.

As for bank accounts, mobile phones etc. I am still researching this. But will likely do a blog post about these, and as well as finding property to rent in future posts.