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The Differences Between Living in Italy vs. the US
Having the opportunity and ability to live in Italy, either as a student or full-time resident with dual citizenship, immerses you in Italian culture and opens a world of historical and ancestral landmarks to explore. Italy and the USA share many rich traditions, and you can expect to be welcomed warmly.
Still, it helps to be prepared for a few notable differences between American and Italian culture, so you can embrace them fully. As the saying goes, “When in Rome”—the quickest way to integrate into a culture is to live as the locals do!
Here, we’ll look at the US vs. Italy, with cultural differences and the benefits of dual citizenship, including cost of living, travel, and healthcare options.
Household Budgets Are Similar but Different
The cost of living in Italy versus that in the USA appears very similar at the highest level; however, there are many differences in categories like fuel and housing. Also, costs can be very different between northern and southern regions, just as they are in some regions of the United States. In general, you can expect:1
- Higher costs of living in the north of Italy, with a greater focus on tech and higher-paying jobs
- Lower costs of living in the south of Italy, with somewhat fewer job opportunities
- To pay less for housing and rent
- To pay more for services and utilities
- To pay less for groceries
- To pay more for dining out
- To pay less for medical care and prescriptions
- To pay more for transportation and travel
US vs. Italy Cultural Differences
“Soccer” Is Football and Fans Are Passionate
The sport we call “soccer” is known as football, distinguished from “American football,” and fans are enthusiastic and dedicated. Businesses sometimes close down during matches, and popular players are national heroes—one of the most notable comparisons of Italian society vs. American society. American culture places great importance on professional sports as well, but the level of passion for football in Italy may surprise you.
Eating Habits and Shopping for Food
Rather than shopping for a week’s worth of food at a large grocery store, Italians shop at daily food markets and focus on freshness and the quality of ingredients. They will visit different vendors for fresh meats, produce, pasta, pastries, and cheese for meals they intend to cook that day or the next. The importance placed on cooking also influences mealtimes and daily habits.
Many businesses will close down for one to two hours for lunch, to allow time to cook and eat a fresh meal before returning to work. Lunchtimes are later, usually 1-2 p.m., and the evening meal is often served at 8-9 p.m. Pasta is common for lunch and meat or multiple courses for dinner. Breakfast is often espresso or cappuccino and pastry, or meats and cheeses, rather than American coffee, eggs, and pancakes.
Travel Options Abound
Life in Italy offers many travel options, and Italians love their cars as much as Americans do. Only about 20% of Italians don’t own a vehicle, but most people also use public transportation for long-distance travel. Metro systems serve major cities, and the rail system known as Trenitalia offers fast transport all across Italy.
Residents can easily travel across Europe from major hubs in Italy, either by car, air, or high-speed train. Travel and tourism are popular among Italians, who have so many historic and cultural destinations within easy reach.
Italian Citizens Are Part of the European Union
Traveling to Italy as a tourist is an amazing experience, but living there as a full- or part-time resident offers many benefits to those who qualify for dual Italian citizenship. As part of the EU, Italian citizens can travel the region without additional visas, and they are given preference for many job opportunities.
Basic Healthcare Is State-Managed
A wide range of healthcare services are covered by the state. Italian citizens can obtain free primary or inpatient care from their preferred provider. This contrasts greatly with the healthcare system in the US, which is mostly run by private companies, making it extremely expensive. Hospitals, clinics, and insurance companies are mostly privately owned as well; even if you have health insurance coverage, it likely covers a limited set of services and involves costs such as copays and deductibles.
As an Italian citizen, you can apply for a Tessera Sanitaria card. It grants you access to the public health system and you can purchase additional private insurance for services the state doesn’t cover. However, treatment for many illnesses or accidents is covered, unlike in the US, where patients are often responsible for exorbitant medical bills.
Access to quality healthcare is one reason Italians live about three years longer than Americans, on average.2 Genetics and a diet rich in fish, fruits and vegetables, and olive oil help as well. But it’s not only healthcare in Italy you can take advantage of.
By applying for a European Health Insurance Card, you can receive one free of charge, and your Italian insurance will be recognized by any other European Union country you visit or stay in temporarily.
Read our article on Italian citizenship and healthcare for more information.
Contact Us Today
If you long to experience the culture and lifestyle of Italy, contact us to see if you will qualify for dual citizenship; an Italian passport; and the many cultural, medical, and educational opportunities Italian citizenship provides.