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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Italian Expats: A Career Move before Anything Else

Expats from Italy mostly move for better career opportunities, preferring to settle in countries close to their homeland.
  • Finding friends abroad not easy for Italian expats
  • Move abroad means higher income for most
  • Italians prefer to retire at home
  • 80% speak three or more languages

Expat Statistics 2016

Expat Statistics on Italians Abroad — infographic

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Staying Close to Mamma

When asked about the most important factor in choosing a new country, Italians are focused on the availability of jobs. In fact, 23% found a job in their new country on their own while another 18% say they were sent by their employer. Around the globe, 15% and 13%, respectively, say the same. Consequently, the two main expat types among Italians are the Foreign Assignee (17%), and the Career Expat (17%). Italians abroad can also be seen as experienced expats, since only 19% say this is their first stay abroad, compared to 27% of expats globally.

Italians have the image of being very warm and friendly people, but 16% of them report having a lot of trouble making new friends in their country of residence, compared to 10% of expats worldwide. However, this may also be explained by their destination, as the local culture there surely plays a role here as well. In fact, Italian expats tend to stay close to home, with the top three countries of residence being Switzerland (13%), Germany (11%), and the United Kingdom (7%). And with ranks 63rd, 58th, and 43rd out of 67 countries, none of these do particularly well in the Finding Friends subcategory of the Ease of Settling In Index.

Excellent Language Skills

Italian expats seem to be more proficient in languages than the norm, since more than three-quarters (80%) speak three or more languages, compared to only 62% of all the survey participants. Moreover, 40% say they speak the local language(s) of their respective country of residence very well, compared to 28% of expats worldwide. The fact that only 3% live in a country where their mother tongue is spoken gives them even more credit; especially in light of the global average of 11%.

Italian expats rarely chose to move to another country to improve their language skills (only 2%), at least when it comes to their main motivation for relocating. However, they are still more likely to do so than expats from other countries (1%).

Highly Specialized and Well Paid

Nearly two-thirds of Italians abroad (61%) hold a postgraduate degree or PhD, while less than half of expats (47%) can say the same worldwide. This high level of specialization does not mean that Italian expats hold higher positions than others, though. In fact, more than half of them (54%) are employees or managers — compared to 41% globally. Of these expats, Italians abroad are less likely to be employed as top (9% vs. 14% globally) or middle managers (19% vs. 22% globally).

Nor, it seems, are the PhD holders particularly attracted to academic, teaching, and research work, since only 4% of Italian expats work in this field, compared to 8% worldwide.

It also seems that Italians prefer to retire at home: a mere 3% chose retiree as their status, which is less than half the percentage of global survey respondents (8%).

Finally, it is also worth noting that 69% of Italians abroad who are currently working say that their income is higher than back home. Over three in ten (31%) even go so far as to say their income is a lot higher than it would be back in Italy.

More Pragmatic than Romantic

Italians have the reputation of being a romantic people, but this stereotype may be surprisingly untrue for expats: over four out of nine Italian respondents (45%) say they are not in a relationship, compared to only 37% globally.

Italians are more likely to have a partner from another country than their own or their host country (28% compared to 22% worldwide). Furthermore, a fifth of Italian expats who are in a relationship are in a long-distance one. Different career priorities are the most common reason for this, according to 38% of Italians abroad. The fact that this is the case for only 20% of expats in a long-distance relationship worldwide underlines the importance of a career for Italian expats.

Further Reading