This is not an easy question to ask yourself. But be brutally honest, can you handle all the pitfalls, bureaucracy and inevitable disappointments that come with a move to a foreign country? I will never stop being amazed at the resilience and sheer strength of my clients. People determined to make a life in Florence, who get set back after set back, and still they rise, continuing the bureaucratic process as if it were fun. They just get on with it, and I truly admire them. Honestly, in their place sometimes, I think I’d give up.
My clients win
I haven’t yet had a client of mine give up on the process yet, probably because I have a good legal team in place who can get documents in order and save time, money and frustration, however clients who come to me half-way though the process, sometimes end up deciding it’s too high a mountain to climb, and I really don’t blame them. Moving to Italy is a long and arduous process, it requires so many documents, phone calls, queues, disappointments, and a mammoth amount of patience. When you finally do move here, getting the simplest thing done, also requires a lot of patience and time, you suddenly understand what the dolce vita is about, the Italians have no choice, they have to be laid back, the alternative doesn’t bear thinking about.
The worse thing for a lot of people who are trying to move to Italy, or have just arrived, is to see others posting and raving about what a wonderful time they’re having in the country. I have people call me and ask if their difficult experience is unique, they’re so upset to imagine they’re the only people to ever arrive in Italy and wonder if it was the biggest mistake of their lives. Of course they’re not, any big move is filled with doubts and scary moments. Any adjustment to a new culture is difficult, it’s meant to be difficult, otherwise you would just be the same old you after living in a different country, and what’s the point in that?
I have a client at the moment, who is an intelligent, assertive, resourceful woman, she’s come here with her family (husband and two beautiful young kids), I helped them find a home, the family was already quite advanced in the immigration process, so I wasn’t able to help them on that side. Anyway, mistakes happen and no legal team is perfect, and processes often have unexpected hiccups, but this lovely family who was settling beautifully into a life in Florence, is now in Croatia (non-Schengen) to wait out time in order to have their papers processed. They arrived at the beginning of the school year (that was a whole different set of problems, but we need an entire blog post for this one) started to make friends, enjoy life, set up their business, and bam, you have to leave. I must say, they’re taking it pretty well and enjoying the life they’re making in Croatia, knowing it’s temporary and counting down the days to when they come back. In her shoes, I don’t know how I would feel or what I would do, but she’s doing it, one day at a time, one bureaucratic hiccup at a time, and I think soon, they’ll be back and they will love their lives here even more.
Little set backs
This is just one example of things that can go wrong when you move to Italy, not to mention simple little things like trying to install a good internet connection, or even get electricity in your house. It’s all so unnecessarily complicated, I remember not understanding how there was time for anything else in Italy, how they managed their two-hour lunches and still got work done, if they had to wait all day for the electrician to come to their home. But you change pace, it’s that simple. This urgency we feel in our « other life » just leaves our body, we understand that if something needs to be done, it will, just not necessarily in the time line we imagined, and everyone around us understands that too. They know what it’s like. They will not get upset with you for not being on time, if you explain simply with « sono andata alla posta prima di venire qui » (I went to the post office before coming here). They know!
Prepare and relax
How do you avoid some of these problems when you move to Florence? Are they even avoidable? Some of them no, you just need to understand things are different and that’s that, you’re not going to change a culture in a country because it annoys you, or you know better. Like if you ever drive on an Italian roundabout you will want to scream and try to help them understand how it actually works, but you can’t do that, just drive carefully… Some problems, yes, you can avoid. But how?
Preparation! Do your homework, get help, talk to me first. I’ve done it all before, in several different countries, I have a team who can help you, I have great contacts here, I can help improve this experience for you. Will it be stress free? I don’t think so! But it will be easier than if you try to do it alone. So pick up the phone, or write that email, we’re here to help you make this dream come true, but please only come if you have your eyes open, if you know things can go wrong and if you’re willing to be flexible, this is Italy, il dolce far niente, not the land of efficiency, and this is why we love it.