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Moving to Rome

Expats moving to Rome are likely to become entranced by the imagery of the living, breathing ancient city. Magnificent ruins and foundations built on the rich fabled history that was once the centre of the world are immediately invigorating. Expats would be hard-pressed not to allow themselves to fall for regal Rome and its noble roots.

However, many find that the initial love affair that accompanies arrival is short-lived. Rome has a reputation for being an amazing city to visit and an incredibly difficult city to live in.

At first, the elegance of the architecture and food in Rome is unbelievably accessible. Yet, as expats begin to settle down, they may lose themselves in the logistics of organising their lives and often find that Italy’s capital and largest city is layered and enigmatic.

If expats have not arranged a work permit and a job before landing, they will find themselves in the middle of a challenging job-seeking environment. What's more, expats without a solid knowledge of Italian will not qualify for most positions and will be competing with a close-knit community for limited job opportunities.

The city’s bureaucracy is notorious for being impossible to navigate, complicated and unapproachable. This can make seemingly simple tasks like finding accommodation, registering children for schools and obtaining identity documents exceptionally frustrating.

Furthermore, despite Rome’s role as the seat of the all-powerful Roman Empire, many basic operations are racked with inefficiency while its appeal as a year-round tourist destination has inflated the cost of living.

That said, expats that have moved to Rome and never left will insist that the worries of day-to-day life can easily be washed away in the magic of the metropolis. With excellent public healthcare, a fantastic food and wine culture, and the residents’ appreciation for art and beauty make for endless opportunities to see and do. This is coupled with the fact that getting around the metropolis is easy as the public transport is both comprehensive and affordable.

In light of both the pros and cons of relocating to the Italian capital, expats who allow themselves to remain in awe of the age-old city and surroundings will continue to enjoy their life in Rome.

Pros and Cons of Moving to Rome

Rome is seen as a beautiful city, rich in history and culture. While this is true, in reality, expats living in Rome share a broader experience which includes a range of ups and downs.

It’s worth considering a range of factors before deciding to relocate to Italy’s capital. Here are some of the main pros and cons of expat life in Rome.  


Culture shock in Rome

+ PRO: Friendly locals

Italian people tend to be warm, friendly and generous. They are also very family-orientated so it’s common for new arrivals in Rome to find themselves being invited for home-cooked meals with local families, which certainly helps one settle into life in a new place.

- CON: The language barrier

There is no real way to avoid the language barrier. As the capital of Italy, expats are likely to find large numbers of locals in Rome speaking English fairly fluently. However, taking the time to learn a few key phrases in Italian will help make life easier, while learning the language can be fun. Moreover, those that speak other Latin-influenced languages like French or Spanish shouldn’t find Italian too difficult to pick up. 


Healthcare in Rome

+ PRO: Healthcare options to suit a broad range of budgets

Expats living in Italy do have access to a solid public healthcare system. However, despite doctors being highly qualified, the service at some hospitals is undermined by bureaucratic issues. For this reason, most people prefer to use a mixture of private and public healthcare options. Having a broad range of options allows expats to use the facilities that best meet their circumstances. 


Education in Rome

+ PRO: Access to affordable public schools

Public schooling in Italy is free until the age of 16 when parents will need to pay a negligible amount for enrolment. This option is viable for expat students who speak Italian fluently or have families who are looking to settle down in Rome for a longer period.

- CON: Fees at international schools are very high

Rome has long been a popular expat destination. There is a range of international schooling options to support the expat population and Italians who opt for these schools. However, fees at many of these institutions are high so expats should try to negotiate an allowance to cover these costs as part of their employment package, if possible.


Transport in Rome 

+ PRO: Excellent public transport

Getting around in Rome is simple thanks to the city’s extensive public transport network that gets commuters almost anywhere. Whether it's by bus, tram or metro, expats will easily be able to get to where they're going.

- CON: Traffic is a nightmare

If possible, expats should avoid driving as traffic in Rome is terrible. Furthermore, the narrow streets can be difficult to manoeuvre around and the behaviour of local drivers can be quite aggressive. Parking, especially in central parts of the city, is difficult to find and pricey.   


Lifestyle in Rome

+ PRO: Italian food

Italian food needs no introduction and expats moving to Rome will certainly be in for a treat. New arrivals will find beautifully prepared home-cooked dishes at local trattorias. Produce in local supermarkets also tends to be fresh and organic. 

+ PRO: Reasonable cost of living

While living in Rome is by no means cheap, it’s certainly less expensive than other European capital cities such as Paris or London. The fact that the country’s economy is relatively stable also means that prices don’t fluctuate too much. 

+ PRO: Family-friendly city

Expats moving to Rome with children will find there are a lot of family-friendly activities on offer. Most museums offer free or discounted entry for kids and spending time outdoors at one of Rome’s many parks or gardens is a great summer activity for the whole family. 

- CON: Lots of tourists

Rome is a tourism hotspot. In the summer months especially hordes of people, both from abroad and from other parts of Italy, descend on the Italian capital. While tourism is an important income-generator for Rome, the masses can become an annoyance to locals (and expats) because major attractions become incredibly crowded and prices are driven up. 


Working in Rome

- CON: The job market is highly competitive

The largest expat population in Italy is concentrated in Rome so expats need to be suitably qualified to secure a job in the Italian capital. While it isn’t necessary for every field of work, the ability to speak Italian fluently will give expats an edge over their peers when it comes to securing a job.

Working in Rome

Finding steady work in Rome isn’t easy. Although the Italian economy has displayed growth in recent years, unemployment remains high and even Italians find it hard to get jobs in particular professions.

Italian employers also have a preference for hiring Italian residents, or at least EU residents, as this means that they won’t need to bear the burden of completing work permit paperwork. In fact, expats dreaming of employment in the heartland of ancient civilisation should note that securing that first job in Italy is reasonably difficult. This is thanks to the country’s very tricky work permit and residence procedures which are required of non-EU residents seeking employment in Italy.


Job market in Rome

Rome has the highest concentration of expats in Italy, so foreigners should expect additional competition when it comes to landing a working position in Rome. Speaking only English is no longer enough for expats looking to get secure work in Rome and many companies will not consider hiring an expat until they are reasonably proficient in Italian. 

That said, expats who aren’t fluent in Italian can still find employment in Italy, especially if they have a desirable university qualification. In Italy, qualifications are held in high esteem and having a degree and experience in one’s home country will impress most employers.

Those with marketing and communication degrees will have the most success in finding a job in Rome, as well as those who have worked in the business side of the hotel and tourism industry. Additionally, those who can demonstrate expertise in the digital realm, such as online marketing, fare well.

Large companies and multinationals that work frequently with international business partners and clients remain keen on hiring English-speaking expats. 

Non-skilled professions, such as waitressing, bartending and reception positions in hotels, resorts and hostels, are still available but are less common than they used to be in Rome. Expats applying for these types of positions will require basic Italian language skills if they want to put themselves ahead of the competition. Being proficient in an additional language, such as Japanese, French or German, can be a serious advantage when seeking employment in the tourism industry in Rome. 

A certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) from an accredited agency is almost always necessary for expats looking to teach English in Rome. Those with a TEFL qualification and teaching experience are likely to land a job teaching English in Rome. 


Finding a job in Rome

Many Italians disregard CVs or any written documentation and are more likely to hire an expat once they’ve met them in person. For non-EU residents, the best course of action is to obtain a position before leaving their home country. Intra-company transfers do provide opportunities, as do multinational companies that regularly hire foreigners.

Expats should pinpoint possible companies that they’d like to work for, and then consult the 'jobs' section of the individual companies' websites. 

For those looking for something a little less corporate, there are online and storefront recruitment and volunteer agencies that will secure the first job for expats in Rome. This is usually in language schools, as au pairs or within the tourism industry. Expats going this route should ensure that the agency is accredited and trustworthy before signing up. These agencies usually require some sort of financial contribution from the applicant for their services.  

Expats can peruse the job sections of local newspapers, a few of which are in English. Online job portals are also a good place to search while registering with a job centre in Rome can also be a good way to get a foot in the door.


Work culture in Rome

Rome is a big city and there are more expats than jobs in most industries. As a result, employers have been known to take advantage of expats, especially non-EU residents. Accepting a position without a residency permit (permesso di soggiorno) is extremely unadvisable as it is impossible to seek any legal assistance if the employer underpays, abuses employee rights or refuses to pay altogether.

In Rome, more than anywhere else in Italy, it is important to be charismatic and enthusiastic during job interviews. Romans are very sociable and are more likely to overlook formal education or Italian language proficiency if the applicant is someone who they have a good first impression of, and who appears to have admirable and interesting reasons for wanting to work in Rome. 

Expats should be mindful that Rome still has a relatively high unemployment rate for a European city, and friends and family often take precedence over foreigners when openings do become available.

Cost of Living in Rome

While Rome is not necessarily a cheap city to live in, it is less expensive than many of Europe’s other capital cities, like Paris or London. Expats moving to Rome will encounter an economy that is generally stable. This means prices tend not to fluctuate dramatically from one year to the next.

In 2020, Rome ranked 65th out of 209 cities in the Mercer Cost of Living Survey. This places it as more expensive than cities such as Seattle and Melbourne, but cheaper than major business hubs such as Hong Kong and New York City.


Cost of accommodation in Rome

Like in any city, accommodation in Rome can take up a large part of an expat's monthly budget. Housing prices vary a lot depending on where one chooses to stay. Naturally, the closer one lives to the city centre, the more expensive accommodation will get.

Expats should be aware that rent does not always include utilities like electricity. It would be wise to ask about this before signing a contract. Also, note that property owners will often insist on being paid monthly and in cash although bank payments are the best and safest option.


Cost of transport in Rome

The price of fuel is rather high in Rome. However, European and Italian cars tend to be smaller in size which makes them more fuel-efficient. Parking in Rome can be quite expensive too. 

Public transport in Rome is cheap, extensive, and user-friendly. This makes public transport the preferred method of transport in the city.


Cost of schooling in Rome

Public education in Italy is free from primary school to university. There is, however, enrollment tax that becomes mandatory from the age of 16. This enrollment tax is merely a once-off fee that is paid at the start of the school year when children are enrolled in school. 

The cost of going to a private school varies. Some private schools are supported by the state which makes them affordable. International schools, the option many expats choose, can be very expensive. Annual tuition fees are extremely high. Some are all-inclusive but the vast majority don't include additional costs for uniforms, bus services, school lunches or excursions.


Cost of food in Rome

One of the best things about living as an expat in Italy is getting to enjoy all the incredible Italian food. Expats will find buying local produce much cheaper than buying imported foods. In general prices in Rome are slightly cheaper than what one would pay in Western cities like New York City or Toronto. Coffee, wine and fresh bread are top of the list of products that are cheaper in Rome. However, prices in Rome are much higher than one would find in Asian cities like Seoul or Manila.


Cost of clothing in Rome

Italy is famous for designer clothing and shoes. There are many outlet stores and flagship stores that sell designer items for cheaper than one would find in other countries. Electronics tend to be more expensive in Rome.


Cost of healthcare in Rome

The national health service in Italy provides universal coverage to citizens and residents, with public healthcare largely free of charge. Most expats employed in Italy will qualify for the local government healthcare network by being a resident. Though costs in the public health sector will vary based on several factors, expats report costs as reasonable. Many centres offer private treatment. These tend to be rather expensive.


Cost of living in Rome chart

Prices may vary depending on location and service provider. The table below is based on average prices in Rome for January 2021.

Accommodation (monthly)

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

EUR 1,930

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

EUR 1,200

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

EUR 930

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

EUR 630

Shopping

Milk (1 litre)

EUR 1.40

Dozen eggs

EUR 3.60

Loaf of white bread

EUR 1.85

Chicken breasts (1kg)

EUR 8.70

Pack of cigarettes 

EUR 5.75

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

EUR 8

Coca-Cola (330ml)

EUR 1.90

Cappuccino

EUR 1.30

Bottle of local beer 

EUR 5

Three-course meal at mid-range restaurant 

EUR 60

Utilities/household

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

EUR 0.20

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

EUR 30

Utilities (average per month for standard household)

EUR 177

Hourly rate for a domestic cleaner

EUR 11

Transport 

Taxi rate per km

EUR 1.50

City centre public transport fare

EUR 1.50

Petrol (per litre)

EUR 1.50

Accommodation in Rome

Accommodation in Rome is subject to a notoriously competitive real estate market. Expats will find that housing in the city centre is expensive and that property located even a small distance outside the city comes at the cost of long commute times that hardly make the lower rental prices seem like a worthwhile compromise.

Italians have historically favoured compact living spaces and Rome’s inhabitants are no exception. Perhaps the affinity for close quarters comes from a culture that views proximity as an indication of camaraderie. Perhaps it is leftover from a time when citizens huddled into towns and fortresses for safety. Still, the fact remains that the size of the average accommodation in Rome is relatively small. 


Types of accommodation in Rome

Like so many brilliant modern-day conveniences, apartment blocks may have been an invention of classical Rome. Expats will likely find that most of the available accommodation in Rome is in this form. Renting a room and sharing a flat are other common housing options when staying in Rome.

As a quaint and convenient quirk to the standard apartment block, many apartment buildings in Rome reserve the ground floor and basement for commercial use – meaning expats may be living above bakers, butchers, gelaterias (gelato ice-cream parlours) and greengrocer.

It follows that the higher up in the apartment block an expat moves, the higher the rent as these apartments experience less noise and light pollution.

No two accommodation options in Rome are the same, and expats will certainly want to spend some time selecting the perfect area and suburb to settle in. Most accommodation in Rome is in historic buildings. Although these buildings can be charming, a disadvantage is that frequent maintenance may be needed. 


Finding accommodation in Rome

Expats looking for accommodation in Rome are advised to browse local papers for ads or peruse listings online. As an alternative, expats may want to use the help of a relocation agency or a real estate agent. The fee for assistance is normally one month's rent plus a certain percentage of country tax.

Accommodation in Rome comes either furnished or unfurnished, but expats should be aware that unfurnished options are usually incredibly scant and may come with no appliances at all and so may not be preferred by those only staying for a short while. 


Renting accommodation in Rome

Leases

Leases in Italy are complicated and may seem limited. Normal rental leases require a minimum of three or four years of stay and this can be renewed. This is great for expats who plan on staying in Rome long-term, however, creates issues for those staying for only a short period.

However, shorter leases are available for stays between one and 18 months, though these may be quite expensive. 

Both the landlord and the tenant should inspect the property and draw up an inventory that both parties agree on. Finally, a proposal (proposta) can be drafted and signed together with a holding deposit and submitted to the landlord for acceptance. The housing market and high property demand in Rome tend to favour the landlord, leaving little room for negotiation, even if prices seem sky-high.

Utilities

Utility bills are often paid for by the tenant. This, as well as high demand for accommodation in Rome, means that rent in the city can be expensive. Expats should be aware of this when managing their finances as it is an additional cost to them.

Deposits

Expats can expect to pay roughly two to three months' of rent as a security deposit, and some homeowners expect tenants to give bank references so that they can collect even if an individual misses a rental payment.

Areas and suburbs in Rome

The best places to live in Rome

With so many beautiful areas and suburbs in Rome, expats are likely to find themselves spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing an area for accommodation. However, sometimes too many possibilities can make the process of finding an apartment even more difficult, especially considering that expats will also need to keep their budget in mind when house-hunting.

It’s therefore crucial for expats to evaluate their priorities and find a neighbourhood that suits their preferences. They should be especially mindful of their transport situation and how they willw get around when selecting an area to live in Rome, as some areas have no access to public transport, while in others, it's virtually impossible to find parking.


Areas in Rome for young and single expats

rome

Many single expats or expats with young children prefer to stay as close to the city centre as possible. This is especially true for those staying in Rome for a short period of time. Being in the centre lets expats get the most out of their time in Rome, and some of the frustrations that go along with living here can be easily overlooked in the short term.

Trastevere

Trastevere is by far the most popular place for young expats to live. This picturesque area 'across the Tiber' retains a village atmosphere despite being part of the historic centre, hence its popularity. There is always something going on here, and the wealth of bars, restaurants and cafés means expats will never be without something to see and do. Although this area is trendy, colourful and central, it can become noisy at night, parking is difficult to find and there isn't a metro station nearby. 

Prati

On the same side of the river as Trastevere, Prati is another popular choice with expats. Located northeast of the Vatican, this neighbourhood is within easy reach of the heart of Rome, either by foot or public transport. There are many good restaurants in Prati, although the nightlife is not as vibrant as in Trastevere and Testaccio. That said, Prati boasts some of the best and most versatile shopping opportunities in Rome. While the area is filled with tourists, this downside is offset by its position close to Rome's historic centre.

Testaccio

Testaccio was once one of Rome’s working-class districts famous for its slaughterhouse, which has now been turned into a modern art museum. With its proximity to Trastevere and the rest of the historic centre, it has become popular among young professionals and expats. A bit grittier than other areas of the centre, Testaccio residents claim they are living in the 'real' Rome. It is also Rome’s nightclub district with edgy bars and street food. Although Testaccio is less expensive than Trastevere and Prati, it is less picturesque.


Areas in Rome for families

rome

For those relocating with an entire family, the best place to live is on one of Rome’s famous hills. Supposedly there are only seven of these, but in reality, there are more. The following neighbourhoods are particularly ideal for expats with young children.

Aventino

This is the only quiet area in the historic centre, so it can be an ideal location for those who want a central location without the associated chaos. Some of Rome’s largest and most important medieval churches can be found here, as well as some of its best views. The area has a substantial expat community due to its proximity to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN as well as a number of international schools. The area is peaceful, centrally located and culturally rich but it also lacks nightlife and restaurants, and is more expensive than Monteverde and Balduina.

Monteverde

Situation on Gianicolo Hill, behind Trastevere, Monteverde is the ideal place for expats with families. Away from the hubbub of the historic centre, this leafy neighbourhood is full of families and parks, including Rome’s largest landscaped public park, Villa Pamphili. Parking is much more easily found here, but it is not necessary to have a car. The area provides the advantages of being close to many good restaurants and schools, but the area is very hilly and getting around may be tricky.

Balduina

This peaceful neighbourhood is just up the hill from Prati, northwest of the historic centre. Expats can easily walk to Prati and the Vatican from here, although getting to the historic centre can be a hassle without a car. The apartments are more modern and spacious than other parts of town, and many have large terraces with sweeping views. The area is quiet and it is easy to find parking but furnished apartments are rare, there aren't many restaurants or shops nearby and Balduina is not as well connected to public transport as other areas.


Areas in Rome for art lovers

rome

Historic Centre

For artists and art lovers, the only place to live in Rome is in the historic centre, which, unlike other major European capitals, is not especially vast. Within this nucleus are a few quarters that are particularly inspiring, such as the areas around Via Giulia, Via Margutta, Via Coronari, the Jewish Ghetto and Monti.

These Roman neighbourhoods will make expats feel like they’re living in a postcard and there's always something going on, but it can be inconvenient in the long term.

For one, it is almost impossible to have a car here. Though traffic is limited to residents for the better part of the day, resident permits for driving are notoriously difficult to get. Parking in these areas is also extremely limited. The best mode of transport in this area is to use a bicycle or scooter, but expats should keep in mind that this is more dangerous in Rome than most European cities, and definitely not for the faint of heart.

Healthcare in Rome

Healthcare in Rome reflects that of Italy as a whole. Both public and private healthcare options are available, and most locals opt for a combination of both.

Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN) is the national health service, providing citizens and residents with free and low-cost healthcare. This is a great prospect, especially for expats coming from countries where healthcare costs are exorbitant. EU citizens can use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access state healthcare during a short-term visit. UK citizens can make use of their Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which replaced the EHIC for UK citizens post-Brexit.

While the quality of public healthcare services is generally good and doctors are usually highly trained and knowledgeable, the quality of treatment in public facilities is often undermined by an inefficient and underfunded bureaucracy. In addition, the degree of comfort supplied in the public healthcare sector tends to be below that of the private sector.

In addition to the public healthcare system in Italy, many centres offering private treatment are available all over the country, including Rome. These are often preferred by expats as private facilities offer the privacy and creature comforts that the public sector foregoes.

This comes with a hefty price tag, however, and expats planning to regularly use private doctors, clinics and hospitals should be sure to obtain private health insurance to help them foot the bill. 

In terms of accessing medication, Rome is not short of 24-hour pharmacies. While there are few restrictions on what medications can be brought into the country, they should be kept in their original packaging where possible.


Private hospitals in Rome

Salvator Mundi International Hospital

Website: www.salvatormundi.com
Address: Viale delle Mura Gianicolensi, 67, 00152 Rome

Rome American Hospital

Website: hcir.it/rome-american-hospital
Address: Via Emilio Longoni, 81, 00155 Rome

Aurelia Hospital

Website: www.aureliahospital.com
Address: Via Aurelia, 860, 00165 Rome

Grimaldi Medical Group

Website: www.grimaldimedical.it
Address: Via Velletri, 24, 00198 Rome

International Medical Center

Website: www.imc84.com
Address: Via Firenze, 47, 00184 Rome

Education and Schools in Rome

Education and schools in Rome have roots that reach back centuries ago to the time of the classical empires. Along with the Greeks, the Romans were among the first to organise a formal system of learning that looked to accomplish more than simply promote the passing of knowledge from parents to their children.

Today that tradition of education continues in the Eternal City, and expats will find a robust state school system as well as a large selection of international and bilingual schools to choose from.


Public schools in Rome

State education in Italy is free from primary school to university (although enrolment taxes become mandatory from age 16) and is available to foreigners. This system is widely regarded as on par with the standards of its private counterpart.

Expats who predict a long-term living situation in Italy or who simply prefer their child being immersed in the Italian language and culture should consider public schools as an option.

The Italian school system is divided into four stages:

  • Scuola dell'infanzia (three to six years old)

  • Scuola primaria (six to 11 years old)

  • Scuola secondaria di primo grado (11 to 14 years old)

  • Scuola secondaria di secondo grado (14 to 19 years old)

Schooling in Italy is compulsory from the ages of six to 16. Teachers in Rome prefer to function independently with little involvement from parents. This principle may take some getting used to for expats accustomed to being active in their child's school life.

In some cases, public schools in Rome may lack funding and suffer from sub-par facilities. Overall, however, the system is highly reputed, with some Italians even preferring public schools over private schools. 


Private schools in Rome

There is often not much difference between public and private schools throughout Italy as both receive state funding. This funding means that private schools have to adhere to certain curriculum and educational standards set by the government. However, unlike public schools, private schools tend to operate under a specific religious or pedagogic philosophy, like Catholicism or the Montessori method. 


International schools in Rome

There are many international schools in Rome and most of these schools uphold high standards, though the language of instruction, curriculum, learning environment and educational philosophies of each may vary.

Many native Romans choose to enrol their children in these schools. For expats planning on living and working in Rome for only a short time, this is undoubtedly the best choice as the disruption of the child's education is minimised by studying a familiar curriculum in their home language.

The small class sizes and high quality of facilities do come at a price, however, so expat parents should be prepared to spend a considerable amount on fees, depending on the school and the grade level of their child.


Nurseries in Rome

As a large city, Rome caters for a variety of family needs, including daycare and nursery options for younger children. There are many nurseries in Rome, ranging from bilingual or multilingual to international and private ones. Expats may choose the nursery most suitable for them and their children based on proximity to where they live, cost or preference of institution and how they approach childcare.

Nurseries are also a place where families can meet other expat or local parents who may be part of or willing to join an informal parent support group.


Special needs education in Rome

Inclusive education is deemed important in Italy, ensuring that children with disabilities can receive a proper education integrated with everyone else. Rather than separate children with special needs, schools of all sorts, be it international, public, or private, must offer various support systems. Schools adapt to the student and can provide services for their needs. However, expat parents should contact the schools directly to discuss the sorts of needs the family has and capacity of the school to meet those needs.

Rome is a large city with many schooling options, however, families of children with disabilities need to note that the capacity of schools to provide a comprehensive range of services does vary.


Homeschooling in Rome

Homeschooling in Italy is legal but not common nor widely known about. Parents have the right to educate their children outside of an established school setting, however, they must notify their appropriate school authorities each year if they intend to do so. Parents must have both the technical and economic capacity to homeschool their children. In other words, they must have completed a schooling level beyond that which they are teaching their children as well as the financial ability to educate their children. Although these rules and guidelines are in place, they are fairly relaxed and parents need not provide documentation to justify themselves. 

Because public schooling in Italy is free and of high quality, few families homeschool their children. Though this number is slowly growing as homeschooling could be more convenient for some.


Tutors in Rome

Like in other cities around Italy, tutoring is common. Many students enjoy extra support and classes from a tutor who can assist year-round or closer to exam periods, depending on the requirements and ability of the tutor. Parents can conduct internet searches, finding a range of online portals. Bear in mind that tuition must be on the terms of both the family and the tutor regarding matters like scheduling, and so a degree of flexibility on either side may be negotiated. 

International Schools in Rome

There are a number of international schools in Rome for expats to choose from. These schools cater for a range of different nationalities and follow a number of diverse curricula. Below is a list of some of Rome's most popular and reputable international schools.


International schools in Rome

Ambrit International School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Ages: 3 to 14 years
Website: www.ambrit-rome.com

American Overseas School of Rome

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: American
Ages: 3 to 18 years
Website: www.aosr.org

Britannia International School of Rome

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: National Curriculum for England and Wales
Ages: 3 to 11 years
Website: www.britanniainternationalschool.com

Castelli International School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: English and Italian
Ages: 6 to 14 years
Websites: www.castelli-international.it

Marymount International School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: American and International Baccalaureate
Ages: 2 to 18 years
Website: www.marymountrome.com

Rome International School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate and IGCSE
Ages: 2 to 18 years
Website: www.romeinternationalschool.it

Southlands English School in Rome

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate and IGCSE
Ages: 3 to 17 years
Website: www.southlands.it

St George’s British International School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate and IGCSE
Ages: 3 to 18 years
Website: www.stgeorge.school.it

St Stephen’s School

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Ages: 14 to 19 years
Website: www.sssrome.it

Lifestyle in Rome

Expats will quickly realise that the lifestyle in Rome centres around being passionate about life and to make even the most ordinary the extraordinary. Simple acts, like enjoying an espresso or unwinding from a busy day with the help of homemade gelato, are carried out with affection and devotion.

Eating and drinking at cafés and restaurants in Rome aren't the only sources of entertainment. Modern-day Rome is full of cultural affairs, dazzling events and pastimes. Rome's residents are never short of entertainment as there are always things to see and do.

Expats initially entranced by the magic of Rome's architecture and rich history will certainly find that while the city's past is certainly awe-inspiring, its present is equally invigorating.


Shopping in Rome

Italian designers are synonymous with style and accomplishment. Expats will find that shopping in Rome is an exquisite experience. Big sales in January and July make these months especially great times to shop around. From big labels to boutique bargains, the city's side streets and boulevards have it all.

The two biggest shopping streets in Rome are Via del Corso and Via Condotti, which runs from the Spanish steps. Expats can find Fendi, Prada, Gucci and many other famous brands.

For those who prefer a more bohemian shopping experience, the area within and around Trastevere and Piazza Navona offers an array of artisanal goods and antiquity shops. Everything from vintage clothing to Roman stamp collections is on display.

Rome may not be the shopping mecca that Milan claims to be, but expats will certainly find a fair share of fantastic goods at better prices than cities in the north.


Nightlife in Rome

While the city may be better known for its more austere attractions, the nightlife in Rome offers a vibrant alternative for expats looking for a night out on the town. With bars and clubs located in buildings that have been around for centuries, expats will often find themselves partying in an interesting atmosphere where nightlife and history occupy the same space.

One of the best-known nightlife areas in Rome, Campo de’ Fiori, is a square in the city centre that is close to the banks of the Tiber. Popular with expats, tourists and locals, there are dozens of bars and restaurants nearby that cater to a wide variety of tastes. It is especially recommended that expats go around sunset to relax over a drink or two as the tops of the buildings are bathed in a golden aura.

Another popular area is Piazza degli Aurunci, which is situated in the San Lorenzo university district. Frequented by a younger, more alternative crowd, the steps of the piazza are occupied by all types of people gathering to enjoy time with friends and enjoy an affordable night out. Occasionally, there are music and other cultural events that happen around here.

For a more dynamic experience, expats should head to Testaccio, which is widely recognised as the city’s clubbing district but also offers some of the best authentic Italian cuisine in the city. As night falls, the district starts attracting dressed-up revellers wanting to dance the night away. Expats who prefer their music to be less electronic will also enjoy some of the area’s live music venues.


Eating out in Rome

Expats will be spoilt for choice when it comes to excellent dining options in Rome. Countless authentic Italian eateries line the streets, each with its unique charm and flavour. While restaurants serving classic Italian mainstays like pasta and pizza are plentiful, with a little exploration, expats will find many hidden gems serving all sorts of exotic cuisine like Thai dishes, Spanish streetfood or Middle Eastern fare.

There are also plenty of opportunities to pick up artisanal paninis packed with fresh and delicious ingredients at one of the many cafés dotted around the city. Lastly, don't forget to sample Italian gelato at one of Rome's many gelaterias.

One tip to bear in mind is to avoid restaurants near tourist attractions as they tend to be busy and overpriced, and the food is often mediocre or worse. There are exceptions to this rule, but they are few and far between.


Sports and outdoor activities in Rome

With great weather throughout much of the year, expats will have plenty of opportunities to get outside and make the most of the Eternal City. One of the best ways to get some fresh air and experience the scenic outlying areas of the city is to go for a bicycle ride. Jogging and playing tennis are other popular sports and activities in Rome.

As Rome is filled with football fans, expats will have ample opportunities to watch a live game. SS Lazio and AS Roma are the city’s most popular football teams and supporting one of these teams will guarantee that expats find local friends among fellow fans.

Weekend breaks in Rome

Rome is an incredible city with much to see and do. Expats could live there for years and never get over the awe that comes from being part of a vibrant city whose ancient roots are everywhere one looks.

Although, when the weekend comes, most Romans don’t stick around. Rome can be a little hectic and the tourists will try an expat's patience, both of which are perfect excuses to escape the city and see what’s around. 

Technically, one can travel just about anywhere for a weekend break from Rome. The city has two airports on its outskirts, Fiumicino and Ciampino, and it’s possible to pick up cheap tickets to many European destinations. Still, considering that the best weekend getaways don’t involve hours’ worth of travel, there are a number of destinations that can easily be reached by car or public transport.

Rome really is the heart of Italy, so there are plenty of places to choose from.


Weekend breaks from Rome

The Tuscan Maremma

The Maremma is a region that has the incredible fortune of being both close to Rome and one of Tuscany’s most beautiful and secluded destinations. The area is extremely popular with Romans because it offers the perfect contrast to their bustling city. Towns in the Maremma are provincial hubs where medieval history and Renaissance traditions keep modernity at bay. Restaurants throughout are a taste of the cultura contadina – rural culture – recreated in dishes like rich acquacotta (a vegetable soup) and pappardelle al cinghiale, homemade pasta served with wild boar sauce. 

One could spend endless weekends exploring the Maremma, but a must-see spot is Saturnia. Saturnia is two hours from Rome down the A1 and is considered to be Italy’s oldest city, existing long before the Romans or the Etruscans. 

Just outside Saturnia’s borders at the Cascate del Mulino, visitors can bathe in the most incredible outdoor pool imaginable for free. The water here flows from an underground volcanic source and is thought to have almost miraculous curative properties. 

Cinque Terre

The Cinque Terre might not be as famous as the Amalfi Coast, but at a mere four hours' drive from Rome, this coastline is no less beautiful. Its nickname, the Italian Riviera, conjures up images of romantic walks and its five towns, Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore, never fail to enchant with their brightly coloured villas and incredible seaside vistas.  

Like the Amalfi Coast, the towns of the Cinque Terre are built on steep cliffs, so their terraces hover over the ocean below. Roads are rare on the coastline, which is fine considering that most tourists come to the Cinque Terre to walk the world-famous Sentiero Azzurro trail and admire the UNESCO heritage national park that connects its towns. 

Abruzzo

When it comes to winter sports, do as the Romans do and head to Abruzzo. Located an hour and a half’s drive east of Rome, Abruzzo has plenty of mountains to choose from. Naturally, they’re not as impressive as their cousins in the Alps, but they are perfect for a quick chalet break, especially if one is on the slopes for fun. 

The two most popular ski resorts are Ovindoli and Pescasseroli. Both resorts have wide slopes and good snow coverage throughout the winter months. Snowboarders and skiers are welcome. 

Caserta

Lost in the bright lights of nearby Naples, Caserta is little more than two hours’ drive south of Rome and is home to one of the most spectacular castles in Europe, the Reggia di Caserta. 

Inspired by the  Palace of Versailles, the Reggia di Caserta was built in the 18th century for Charles VII of Naples and was described by UNESCO as the "swan song of the spectacular art of the Baroque” when the organisation first listed it as a heritage site in 1997. 

Unlike most other European castles, the palace has much of its original furniture. Together with the frescoed walls and gold cornices, the furniture paints a complete picture of the sheer opulence this family lived. 

Outside, the magnificence continues in the sprawling grounds. At more than 120 hectares, this massive green area behind the palace has an amazing focal piece: a five-piece fountain that runs the length of the space and is filled with stone sculptures depicting scenes from various Greek myths.

Kids and Family in Rome

Locals would say that Rome is extremely child-friendly with some lovely areas and suburbs for families to live in. It may seem that Roman children can navigate congested traffic, packed public transport and busy streets like pros before their fifth birthday. On the other hand, for expats with kids, the 'Eternal City' might seem a little overwhelming.

But try not to worry – Rome is a fantastically colourful and cultured place for children of all ages, and with pizza and gelato on almost every corner, delicious treats are never in short supply.


Education in Rome

There's no doubt that expats with children moving to Rome will have a lot to think about, especially in terms of education. There is a fair share of schools in Rome to choose from, including international schools, but like anywhere else in the world, these vary in quality and curriculum. So it's advised that parents consider these factors in order to have an idea of what they want before they start researching. 

Parents should look into extracurricular activities as well as whether there are any other expat families at the school. Football (soccer) and tennis are popular, and children may participate in tournaments or competitions, whilst art and music may also keep children entertained and busy.


Entertainment for kids in Rome

When in Rome, do as the Roman mums do and avoid the tourist sites. These can be pricey and, for those with very young children, a bit of a wasted experience. 

Most Roman museums are free to all children under the age of six. For EU citizens up to the age of 18, tickets are either free or heavily discounted. Non-EU expat parents should keep an eye out for free admission days. These happen monthly and can be found online.

Roman parks are generally wonderful, especially on a summer afternoon, but parents should always research before they go. Not all of Rome’s parks are in good condition or friendly locations. The Villa Doria Pamphili in the Monteverde quarter is always a fantastic option. Its spacious gardens are great for picnics and ball games, while the 17th-century villa is the cherry on top for art-loving parents. As for playgrounds, the Villa Ada on Via Salaria has well-maintained swings, slides and other play equipment.

For those wanting to take the kids to the movies, there are many English-language cinemas. Alcazar and Baberini are the best. For something much more unusual, treat them to a children’s puppet show at Teatro Verde or Teatro San Carlino. For something with a more educational slant, head to the Central Children’s Library on Via San Paolo alla Regola for English games, books and DVDs.


Parent networks in Rome

Expat parents can engage with each other through the schools or daycare centres their children go to, and  there are also social media groups online for mothers and parents in Rome. These groups often arrange meet-ups to socialise and share their experiences, so this is a great way to make friends and meet people in Rome.

See and Do in Rome

Whether exploring ancient architectural wonders, gorging on world-famous pizza and pasta, or appreciating the artistic treasures of the Vatican City, expats are bound to enjoy the many things to see and do in Rome. Of course, Rome is also the perfect city for weekend getaways if expats wish to explore the rest of Italy and Europe.

Known as the Eternal City, Rome was once the capital of one of the world’s mightiest empires and, for many, a capital of civilisation itself. While it no longer occupies this position, the monuments, memorials, museums and countless reminders of the city's prominent history exist around every corner and in every alleyway.


Attractions in Rome

Capitoline Hill

Capitoline Hill is a reminder of Roman civilisation at its strongest and is still the seat of the city's government today. Several ground-level ruins are scattered about the area, but the major attraction is the stunning piazza surrounded by three palaces – the Palazzo dei Conservatori and the twin structures of the Palazzo dei Senatori and Palazzo Nuovo, which house the Musei Capitolini (the Capitoline Museums).

Within the Musei Capitolini, expats will find one of the largest collections of classical statues in the world, including famous statues such as the Satyr, the Dying Gaul and the Capitoline Wolf with Romulus and Remus. After getting their fill of immaculate sculptures, expats can take one of the paths that climb the side of the hill for panoramic views of the ancient sites of the Forum and Colosseum.

The Colosseum

This enduring symbol is considered one of the most magnificent feats of ancient Rome and one of the greatest engineering accomplishments of human civilisation. The massive amphitheatre used to hold over 50,000 spectators and was mainly used for public spectacles and gladiatorial contests. Its architecture boasts an impressive array of Doric, Ionic and Corinthian columns and an underground network of cells, corridors, ramps and elevators that were used to transport animals from their cages to the arena. Years of erosion, pillaging and damage from earthquakes mean the structure is a shell of its former state, nonetheless, the Colosseum remains an impressive sight.

Roman Forum

For centuries the Roman Forum was the nucleus of the city's public life. The open rectangular area was the site of ancient Rome's commercial, political and religious wranglings. Some of the most notable monuments surrounding the square include the impressive Arch of Septimus Severus – designed to celebrate Roman victory over the Parthians – and the former atrium of the House of the Vestal Virgins and Temple of Vesta. Archaeological excavation continues along with various restoration and preservation efforts.

Trastevere

This medieval neighbourhood is made up of narrow cobblestone streets accented with colourful flower boxes and washing soaking up the sun. Cafés, quaint restaurants and quirky boutiques abound and the area has long been home to artists, expats and many of Rome's most famous residents.

The Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums

Michelangelo's iconic painted ceiling is the Vatican Museums’ most famous attraction. Expats should take time to explore the illustrious wings and walls of the museums which house one of the world's greatest collections of art. Works by Raphael, Botticelli, Rosselli and Ghirlandaio grace the building as well as an impressive assembly of classical statues. The museum is located within Vatican City, the residence of the Catholic Pope.

The Spanish Steps and Piazza di Spagna

Built in 1725, the Spanish Steps are a famous staircase which elegantly curves its way from the Piazza di Spagna to the Church of Santa Trinità dei Monti, a pastel-tinted neoclassical building. Bernini's boat-shaped Barcaccia fountain can be found at the bottom of the steps, along with the comparatively unassuming Keats-Shelley Memorial House.

What's On in Rome

As the centre of Italian cinema, the city’s cultural and historical wealth mean that there is always something going on in Rome.

The city's annual events calendar bursts with food, music, film, and national and religious celebrations. The various festivals in Rome encapsulate the old and the new, giving all kinds of audiences something to celebrate.

Expats who move to the city will find plenty of things to see and do and have many opportunities to rub shoulders with the locals, take part in the Italian capital’s cultural life and feel right at home. 


Annual events in Rome

Blessing of the Animals on St Anthony Day (January)

A must-see for animal-loving expats, Roman Catholics from all over gather in the piazza outside San Anton Church and bring along their dogs, cats, ferrets and horses to receive their blessing. For a day, the area turns into a petting zoo and the results can be quite entertaining.

Pasqua (March to April)

Easter at the centre of the Catholic Church is a momentous occasion. Tens of thousands of religious pilgrims descend upon the city, often to hear the Pope give his Easter Mass. Expats who would rather avoid the crowds can still enjoy the festive atmosphere that pervades the city during this time along with the flower decorations that adorn the entire capital.

100 Painters of Via Margutta (April to May and October to November)

Via Margutta is a long, narrow street that cuts through the centre of Rome, housing art galleries and antique stores. Twice a year, the street is transformed into a public gallery as onlookers have free access to marvel at thousands of artworks by 100 selected local and international artists.

Natale di Roma (April)

Held on 21 April every year, the city celebrates its formation more than two thousand years ago. Throughout the day, expats will be able to watch re-enactments of famous Roman battles – the most impressive of which occurs at the Circus Maximus, also known as the Colosseum. Many of the city’s museums and monuments also allow visitors in for free, and spectators can also watch street parades and live music throughout the day. The day ends off with a spectacular fireworks display with the city’s most famous landmarks forming an impressive backdrop.

Italian Open (May)

At the world's second-most prestigious red clay tennis tournament after the French Open, sporty expats will get to enjoy seeing some of the game’s most famous names compete for the title.

Rome Summer Festival (June to September)

Held every year since 1977 and organised by the local government, the Estate Romana is a celebration of local culture in all its various forms. Expats will be able to enjoy a diverse range of entertainment from live music and theatre to films and performance art.

International Rome Film Festival (October)

With several events running concurrently, the festival celebrates films of various genres from all over the world and from Italy itself. Unlike other festivals where award winners are chosen by a jury, the biggest awards at the International Rome Film Festival are chosen by the people, with spectators getting to vote for their favourite films, actors and actresses.

Getting Around in Rome

Expats should find it easy to get around Rome, thanks to its comprehensive and efficient public transport networks. The metro system is extensive and runs frequently, with suburban train routes that stretch into its outskirts. Some buses run to areas not connected by train.

The city runs on an integrated transport system, so tickets are valid on city buses, trams, the metro and some trains.


Public transport in Rome

Metro

The Roman metro may not always be punctual, but it is very well organised. Trains depart regularly and many stops are appropriately named after the monument that they’re closest to. However, it’s worthwhile noting that the metro goes around rather than through the historic centre. At the end of each line, there are connecting suburban trains.

Trains

The suburban train line, run by Trenitalia, connects the outskirts of Rome with the metro and the rest of Italy. Expats should be aware of beggars, pickpockets and street performers on the trains and at stations. Timetables and maps can be viewed on the Trenitalia website.

Trams

Rome’s tram system is of limited use. Although trams can squeeze into some of the city’s smaller roads with ease, the routes followed are limited and don’t link up with the metro.

Buses

Buses are the least common form of public transport in Rome. The metro has made them redundant in places and between the traffic and the tiny streets, buses can be a very slow way to get around. However, the routes offered are extensive and lists of routes and timetables are available online.


Taxis in Rome

With an extensive public transport network, taxis are usually the last resort in Rome. They’re expensive and drivers have a bad reputation for overcharging for their services. If expats do catch one, they should always look for the official white or yellow cabs and insist that the meter be used, or at least negotiate a flat fare before getting into the car.

Alternatively, ride-hailing services such as Uber, Lyft and MyTaxi operate in Rome. Many expats prefer using rideshare apps as they minimise language barrier issues and allow expats to view routes and fares, which prevents drivers from overcharging for fares. 


Driving in Rome

Italian cities, as a whole, are not car-friendly places and Rome is no exception. It was built before cars and attempts to rectify this have created a confusing mess of one-way streets, impossibly tight alleys and deathly roundabouts. Parking is also limited and expensive.

Moreover, a ZTL (Zona Traffico Limitato) is in place in Rome to reduce congestion, limiting access to certain areas. Hefty fines are charged if individuals drive through these zones without a permit.

Expats in the city are advised to walk or catch public transport. If they want to explore Italy or one of its neighbouring countries, renting a car is an option and plenty of vehicle rental offices offer good cars at affordable prices.  


Cycling, scooters and Vespas in Rome

In the past, bicycle paths in Rome were few and far between. More often than not expats would have to ride on the road, which can be extremely dangerous. However, recent initiatives in Rome have led to more cycle paths being constructed. This has multiple benefits including health, ease and safety of getting around, and reducing traffic congestion and air pollution.

Electric scooters are a popular option amongst residents and visitors alike, especially given Rome's scooter-sharing system. By simply downloading an app, e-scooters can be found, accessed and ridden at a low rate.  

Another alternative is Vespas and there are many rental agencies for them dotted around the city. However, despite a prevalence of Vespas and motorcycles, driving by scooter can be dangerous considering Rome's aggressive driving culture. 


Walking in Rome

Whether walking around Rome is a feasible mode of transport depends on one’s fitness levels and the area where one lives. Most people go on foot in the central district, but sights like the Vatican and the Colosseum are farther out. Unless expats live in the centre of Rome, they’ll need to rely on public transport to get at least part of the way.

Once there, the footpaths are wide and clean and there are always people about, day or night. The only thing expats need to be careful about is crossing the road. They should never jaywalk or use the designated crossing without stopping and looking as Italian driving culture often asserts that drivers, not pedestrians, have the right of way.