Moving to Rome
Rome is without doubt one of the most captivating and eclectic cities in the world. There are few places on earth where you find 2500-year-old ancient monuments sitting unchanged in the middle of a vibrant, modern capital city, making Rome utterly unique. The aptly named ‘Eternal City’ is one of the oldest continually inhabited settlements in the world and the first thrilling sight of the Colloseum, the opulent Vatican and Michelangelo’s Sistine chapel masterpiece leaves visitors awe-struck.
However there is more to Rome than history, art and hordes of tourists. Home to the Parliament, President of the Republic and Supreme Court, Rome is Italy’s political, religious and economic centre. With its population of 4.2 million people, the city produces 6.7% of the country’s GDP and boasts a large and thriving economy.
With all the chaos of the city, it is easy to forget that Rome is also within striking distance of the Mediterranean Sea, where a €7 ticket from Termini train station will take you to sandy beaches and small fishing towns. Rome is also the most internationally diverse city in Italy, with large numbers of expats attracted by the mild, dry climate, bustling cosmopolitan lifestyle, and extraordinary cultural heritage.
The Job Market
With unemployment at a rate of 12.6% (2015), finding work in Rome is not as easy as it was before the recession. Expats will find that Italians themselves are savagely competing for jobs in their chosen professions and many of the jobs that traditionally went to foreigners are now going to the locals. Italians take university qualifications very seriously so having a degree and fluency in Italian will put you ahead of the competition.
Job sectors that are more open to employing non-Italians are; marketing and communication, media, services and tourism and education (TEFL). Expats working for large multinational companies can also transfer to Rome through international business partnerships.
Finding a job in Rome can be significantly hampered by Italy’s nepotistic ‘who you know’ culture of awarding employment to friends and family. People in Rome are very sociable and rarely hire on the strength of an email so it’s advisable to be in Rome when searching for work. The job/accommodation search Wantedinrome.com is a great resource for expats arriving in Rome.
Select the Size of Your Move to Get Free Quotes
Rome is a capital city and major tourist destination so it is not a cheap place to live. Rents, food, going out and transport all cost more in Rome than in other parts of Italy. However, you are likely to find more money in your pocket here than in cities such as London, Paris, Sydney and New York if you choose to live outside the centre and avoid tourist hotspots.
Those considering moving to Italy’s capital should also bear in mind that, although living costs are lower, the average monthly salary of €1270/month is considerably lower in Rome than other European capitals, resulting in less purchasing power. A cappuccino will cost around €1.50 and glass of beer around €3-5 (as long as you are not drinking it in a café next to the Trevi Fountain). Depending on where you live in the city, rents range from €700-€1000/month for a one-bedroom apartment and €1200-€2150 for a three-bedroom with basic utilities around €150/month on top.
Despite afall of 4.1% in house price, Rome is still in the top three most expensive cities to buy and rent in Italy, along with Milan and Venice. If you dream of buying an apartment overlooking the Colloseum, prices start at an average €9800 per square metre, depending on the apartment. In the suburbs and towards the coast prices range from around €3000-€5000 per square metre.
Renting in Rome does not come cheap. You will pay around €1000/month for a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre and €2150/month for a three-bedroom property. Outside the city centre rents are a more reasonable €700/month for a one-bedroom and €1200/month for a three-bedroom apartment.
If you want to avoid real estate agents (who have a slippery reputation in Rome), some expats choose to trawl the affito sections of local newspapers, such as La Repubblica Roma.It is advisable to spend some time in Rome before relocation so you can negotiate with landlords and agents. Knowing some Italian is an advantage when securing accommodation.
Rome is in the Lazio region and although the city centre is fairly compact, its urban sprawl stretches 24 km to the coast where the main airport, Fiumicino, lies. The city sits on the River Tiber and is divided into 15 municipi (administrative areas). When choosing where to live, it’s worth considering how you will get around. Rome’s transport system is severely over-burdened and under-funded so if you live further out of the city centre, getting to work can be laborious and stressful.
- Family Friendly: Monteverdeis a leafy neighbourhood that is popular with expats with families. The area contains Villa Pamphili, Rome’s largest public park and good transport links. Also Vigna Clara is a quiet residential area with an international school.
- Hip and Trendy: Popular with international students, Trastevere is where you will find artsy cafés, bars and nightclubs. Also, Monti, near the Colosseum has elegant shops and bohemian bars.
- Upmarket: The area around the 2,300-year-old road Via Appia Antica is populated by owners of luxury gated villas and manicured lawns. Further out is the golf course district of Olgiata, where the wealthy elite escape the city at weekends.
- Up-and-Coming: Testaccio was once a stolid working class district, famous for its slaughterhouse (now a museum). The area is now popular with expats and young professionals and offers affordable accommodation.
Cost of Moving
The shipping costs of moving to Rome can vary from inside and outside Europe. A 20ft container will cost around €1600 from the major European cities such as London, Paris or Madrid. From further afield such as New York, Dubai, Sydney and Melbourne you will pay between €6000 and €8000.
Schools and Education
Education in Italy is free and starts at age 3 (kindergarten) up to and including university. School is not compulsory until age 6 and the system is divided into primary, junior and secondary, when students choose a high school to match their specialisms.
While the Italian state school system in Rome has a good reputation and is free to non-Italians, many expats choose private international schools for their children. Rome has 16 such schools, including British, German, French, Japanese and American institutions. Lessons are taught in English and Italian and students work towards international qualifications. One of the most highly regarded is the St George’s British School which offers the International Baccalaureate. Fees range between €11,000 and €20,000 per year.
Rome has four universities: Sapienza University of Rome, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Roma Tre University and Foro Italica University of Rome. The Sapienza University is the largest in Europe and with over 135,000 students enrolled it lives up to its nickname of ‘the city within a city’. It is also one of the oldest universities in the world (est.1303) and is ranked 202nd on the QS World University Rankings, second only to Bologna in Italy’s higher education institutions. The university is particularly noted for its faculties of engineering, natural sciences, biomedical science, and humanities.
Moving to Rome from the UK
When in Rome, do as the Romans do’ is a proverb commonly attributed to St Ambrose, a 4th Century archbishop of Milan. Those moving from the UK to Rome would do well to take heed, since the Italian capital makes most British cities look like a sleepy country village. The stoic British reserve on roads and in restaurants will have to be abandoned in favour of the use of the horn, a raised voice and demonstrative gestures; plummy vowel sounds in favour of the punchy Romanesco dialect of Italian; expectations of efficient bureaucracy with a mixture of resigned shrugs and a willingness to get stuck in.
Living in Rome then is not without its difficulties - obtaining documents for ID, registering for schools, getting a driving licence, setting up a bank account and sorting accommodation can all be vexing operations, often requiring multiple attempts and the ability to spot a raw deal. (Many Italians eschew the notoriously slippery estate agency business by letting out their properties directly.)
But the chances are you’ve been attracted to Rome not by promises of an easy life but by the vivid appeal of its history, cuisine and culture. Maintain your affinity for those and you’ll never fall out of love with Roma.
Comparing Rome vs London
Rome’s mediterranean climate is a lot warmer than London’s with average high temperatures in the summer months of July and August averaging around 31 °C, or a good eight degrees higher than in the UK capital. While Rome sees 36% more rainfall than London it almost all falls in the winter, leaving the summers both hot and dry. Roman winters are also less cold than London’s, with average lows of around 3-4 °C in December and January (compared to 2-3 °C in London).
The cost of living in Rome is, on the whole, considerably lower than in London. This is largely due to property prices and rents (which are about 36% lower) but lower prices for groceries, consumer goods, utilities, public transport and entertainment also contribute.
Because of lower salaries though, the average Roman has less purchasing power than the average Londoner. They also, on average, report feeling less safe, receiving poorer healthcare, and experiencing more pollution.
Ranking Against the World
The seat of the Roman Empire and credited for being the true birthplace of Western civilisation, Rome has earned its place in history as one of the most important cities in the world. Although its power and reach are diminished, Rome remains a major player on the global economic and cultural stage. It was ranked 32nd on the Global Cities Index, the highest ranking city in Italy. Rome contributes 6.9% of Italy's GDP, second only to Milan. As well has being home to Italy’s central political, judicial and religious institutions, Rome is also the seat of the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organisation, multinational corporations and global banks.
Rome also ranked in the top ten of most educational, historical, cultural and beautiful cities by the City Brands Index (2013). Indeed its ancient monuments and heritage attract millions of tourists every year and it is the 3rd most visited city in the EU. It also has the largest amount of green space among the European capitals. However, despite its unparalleled reputation for culture and history, Rome was ranked in 51st place on the Mercer Quality of Living Survey, far below London, Sydney, Paris and Berlin, particularly in the categories of traffic, pollution and healthcare.
A Day in the Life
The saying goes ‘when in Rome do as the Romans do’ which is good advice for survival in this frenetic but remarkable city. Expats will find they are in perpetual awe of Rome, where daily life offers sumptuous architecture, food and lifestyle coupled with choking traffic jams, eye-watering bureaucracy and a ‘what will be will be’ attitude. There simply is no city on earth like Rome.
A typical day may start with joining the thousands of commuters on the Metro or those who take life in the own hands by traversing the ancient cobbled streets by bicycle. Italy’s famous extended lunch hour is less common in Rome so lunch might be panini and salad in a café. After work you can shop for the freshest vegetables, cured meats, fish and cheese at the ancient Mercato di Testaccio, or head to one of the rooftop terrace restaurants overlooking the Dome of St. Peter for a glass of chilled Frascati and a plate of gnocchi . You can then party all night with the artsy crowd in Trastevere, before watching the sun rise behind Colloseum.