The best are moving away! Italian Expats Abroad, Multilingual and Educated – I migliori se ne vanno? Italian Expats, multilingue e istruiti

The best are moving away! Italian Expats Abroad, Multilingual and Educated – I migliori se ne vanno? Italian Expats, multilingue e istruiti

Expats from Italy move abroad for practical reasons, rarely intending to abandon their home country forever.

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Probably due to current subpar economic conditions in their home country, Italian expats’ main motivation for relocation is often the improved working opportunities other countries can offer. Over half (53%) mention the economy and/or labor market as an important factor for their decision to live in another country and the overall single most important reason for leaving Italy is finding a new job abroad, as listed by 19% of Italian respondents. As such, typical expat types among Italians are the Foreign Assignee (21%) and Career Expat (16%).

Germany (hosting 17%) and Switzerland (10%) are the most favored countries of the Italian expats, likely because of the proximity to the motherland. The short distance to home is indeed an attribute Italians appreciate, with 28% mentioning it as an issue that was on their mind when considering moving abroad.

Expat Statistics 2015

Expat statistics on Italians abroad - infographic

Speaking Proficiently

Regardless of where expat life takes them, Italians seem to be fairly talented when it comes to languages. Close to half (46%) state they speak four or more languages including their mother tongue(s). Globally only 30% of the expats are so accomplished. Italians also seem to have a good command of the local language in their respective host country: 58% boast being able to speak their host country’s language fairly or even very well, while only 48% of all survey participants say the same. Improving language skills also serves as a motivation to move abroad: 13% of Italian expats mention it as one reason for their relocation.

Academic Accomplishments

As mentioned, Italians often travel abroad driven by better working opportunities. Highly educated – two-thirds have a post-graduate degree such as a Master’s degree or PhD – Italian expats nevertheless tend to be conventional employees and managers (63% vs. the global 47%) rather than, for example, researchers (6%), freelancers (5%), or entrepreneurs (6%).

Overall, the effort of moving abroad is rewarded in the form of higher incomes: 73% say they currently earn more than they would back home and 35% even go so far as to say their income is now a lot higher. In general, Italian expats also have slightly higher incomes than the worldwide average: 59% of the Italians say their annual household income is higher than 50,000 USD, compared to 51% among the entire survey population.

Love across Borders

Italian expats happen to be single more often than the global average would suggest (46% vs. a worldwide 38%). Of those who do have a partner, 16% are in a long-distance relationship with their better half residing in another country.

On the other hand, only two in five Italians in a relationship have a partner who is also Italian. In 28% of the cases the partner is neither from the home country nor the current country of residence.

Attending Expat Activities

Expats from Italy have a tendency to keep company mostly with other expats. Almost half (48%) say their acquaintances consist mainly of fellow internationals; around the globe only 34% say the same. When asked about the origin of their expat friends, 21% say they are mostly from Italy, too. On the other hand, close to one-third (32%) has expat friends from a third country with a different culture and no shared language.

Being work-oriented, Italian expats most commonly meet new people through their jobs: two-thirds of them mention work as a place to socialize, followed by those who find friends through other friends (55%). Italians also frequently attend expat events, with 45% saying these are a good place to make new friends.


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