What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
Name three things that you wish you had brought and three you wish you had left at home.
Wish I had brought:
1. Lots of books. The books in English here are really expensive. Paperbacks at Feltrinelli International range anywhere from 12 euros to 25 euros or more.
2. Typical American sauces, seasonings and mixes like barbecue sauce, taco sauce, cake mix, instant pudding mix, jello mix, etc. These can be found here only at Castroni and are really expensive.
3. Vitamins (bulk kind that can be found at Sam's or Costco) because they are also very expensive here and come in small bottles.
Wish I had left at home:
Most of my clothes. The Italian clothing style is chic and trendy. If you hit the massive biannual sales in February and August, you will be able to pick up some really nice pieces at greatly reduced prices (50-70% off).
What advice would you give someone preparing to move to your area about the actual move, choosing a neighborhood and finding a home?
The experience of living in the Eternal City can't be beat. The food is fantastic. Fresh pasta is divine. However, the Italian way of life is very different than that of the US way of life. At times, you will be frustrated and upset. For example, imagine going to the supermarket for days on end and there is no milk or fresh produce because there is a transportation strike going on. All notions of right and wrong do not exist here especially when driving. Italians will honk at you if you are going too slowly and they want to pass you or if you pause to wait for a pedestrian to cross the street you will be yelled at and honked at for not attempting to swerve around the pedestrian. My advice is to try to always remain calm and practice patience. If life gets too exasperating, go have a cappucino or better yet, get some good pizza and pasta and tackle your problem the next day. Another good tip, learn Italian. Make Italian friends who can help you overcome any difficulties.
What type of housing do you live in? Is this typical for most expats in your area?
We live in a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom (140 square meter) apartment with 3 separate balconies. This is typical for the type of housing available in the city. A little further out of the center, you can find "villinos" which are like townhouses or even villas with gardens.
Apartments here are either furnished or unfurnished. In an unfurnished apartment, you may even have to provide your own lights, kitchen appliances and counters.
How did you choose your neighborhood and find your home or apartment?
My husband and I looked at over 35 apartments before finally finding the "right" one. We used leasing agents. We lived in a corporate apartment for 3 months and walked around/drove around a lot looking at the buildings and neighborhoods. A lot of the apartments we saw were too dark, the spaces were all cut up into smaller areas, weren't big enough, no elevator available (big consideration when you have small children), etc.
Are your housing costs higher or lower than they were in your home country? What is the average cost of housing there?
Housing costs are much higher here than where we used to live outside of Seattle, WA. We pay 2077 euros a month for our apartment. This is probably a little below average as our apartment is on the 1st floor. The higher you go up in floors, the higher the rent. We only paid $1500 in a mortgage payment when we lived in Washington State.