Italy was one of the founding members of the European Union and is heavily involved in the expansion and development of the Union. The country itself is renowned for its exquisite architecture, and is a popular country for romantic breaks. The climate and terrains of Italy are one of he most varied in Europe with a climate and landscape for all tastes.
Italy seems to be attracting more and more foreign nationals, with official figures showing some immigration statistics as 4.288 million Expats living in Italy at the beginning of 2009. Since the expansion of the European Union, the most recent wave of migration has been from surrounding European nations, particularly Eastern Europe, and increasingly Asia, replacing North Africa as a major source of migrants.. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italy
The influx of migrant workers has led to a number of problems with the economy, and while it is steady at the moment, there have been historic bouts of high inflation. Political instabilities of the past have not helped the situation either.
Italy has perhaps one of the most varied cultures of the world, having been heavily involved in art, languages, poetry and architecture – leaving a lasting impression on all who visit the country. It has often been at the centre of radical movements such as the Renaissance and Baroque who’s history and emergence can be traced back to the many wars and conflicts in and around the country of Italy. Despite the political and social isolation of these region ns, Italy’s contributions to the cultural and historical heritage of Europe remain immense. Italy, as of 2009 is home to the greatest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites with forty-four venues to date.
Italy seems to be forever known as the city of romance (although it has strong competition from France for this title) attracting visitors from far and wide.
While offering a variety of employment opportunities, Italy is renowned for motor vehicles, clothing and luxury goods to name but a few – hence the large migrant worker population. The country is however moving into a new stage of development with technology and media becoming more prominent in the Italian business community.
Unfortunately unemployment is fairly high in Italy (with some areas showing figures of 19% but overall pegged at 8%) and while there are opportunities in up and coming industries such as media and technology, these tend to be reserved for graduates and highly qualified personnel.
As you would expect, you need to have an official tax reference to work in Italy, which can be obtained from the local tax office. As Italian financial regulations are changing on a regular basis, it is strongly advisable to consult with your employer before taking up a position. General income tax is deducted at source for salaried workers, currently rates at 25.5% in 2009, however self-employed workers need to arrange payment of their own income tax liabilities.
Italy has some of the tightest working regulations in Europe, with the government recognizing the close relationship between employment and everyday life. Upon the payment of taxes from any Italian employment, you are automatically integrated into the system, and covered by numerous protection laws.
The Italian Property Market has “stabilized but growth will have to wait until the end of 2010 at the earliest’. Compared to places such as France, UK and Spain, Italian properties are very much cheaper, with a similar cost of living. This has resulted in a very active overseas investment market, with overseas investors looking to take advantage of the ongoing price catch-up. Another factor is the conservative mortgage debt that has shielded the market from the cycles of boom and bust.
The Italian benefit system is slightly different to the European norm with a greater emphasis on protecting and assisting workers of the few multi-nationals which operate in the country. The same benefits, only to a lesser extent, are afforded to workers of medium-small sized employers in a country where employers are very much expected to contribute heavily to the social benefits system. Unemployment benefits in Italy as of 2009 consists mainly in cash transfers based on contributions (indennità di disoccupazione), up to the 40 percent of the previous wages for up to seven months.
Sickness benefit, maternity benefit, family allowances and income support are just a few of the major benefits available to those resident in the country. The cost of the system is set to increase even further with Italy amongst one of the fastest aging populations of the developed world. The pensions system is creaking under the weight of expectance and if current trends continue many experts expect the population of the country to reduce by 25% by 2050 – not before a major hike in the cost of state pensions.
Italy is a stark mixture of beauty, culture and varied landscapes, set against what has often been a difficult economic and political background. However there are signs that economic targets are being met and the political situation is beginning to calm down – leading to more consistency. All parties know that they have to act together to increase the attractions of the country to foreign nationals and investors.
For those looking to the future, Italy offers plenty of intrigue if not a little more risk than many other countries. However, if the current trend of improvement continues, now may be an opportune moment to take a closer look. Some have already taken the plunge Italy Expat Forum last 29 April 2009:
“I love to go to Italy for vacation, but living there is just so different from here. My main concern is activities for the kids and the schools.”
Some others emigrate because of work opportunities and Italy Expat Forum last 2 July 2009:
“Unless you are READY for a change, love adventure or want a lasting memory do not do it! Your comfort zone is where you are! It took me till I was 40 to travel, but once I did, London, Paris, Hong Kong, Germany, Spain and Italy…..And there is so much more to see.”
Capital : Rome
Official Language : Italian
Government : Parliamentary Republic with President and Prime Minister
Size : 301,318 km2
Population : 58.8 million
Currency : Euro
International Dialling Code : +39
Economy : 7th largest in the world (4th largest in Europe)
Religion : Predominately Roman Catholic