A real expat's advice: Venice is not just for tourists
It's a real pleasure to welcome a guest post: Alice Mulhearn, who lived in Venice for 6 months, is sharing her hints with us and we totally agree on her point: Venice is not just for tourists. When travelling back and forth is not easy, planning a long term stay in Venice could be and be an option to consider - be sure that here at Luxrest Venice we will be more than happy to assist you finding an accommodation and providing local advice!
"With more than 400 beautiful bridges, magnificent architecture and a unique, immersive culture, it’s no wonder why Venice is one of the most popular tourist hotspots in the world.
This doesn’t mean it can’t be an ideal place to call home, however. You only have to look past the tourists and you’ll see why Venice can also be attractive to expats.
Assuming that travel restrictions will start easing in countries across the globe, now is the time to start thinking about your new expat life. To help paint a better picture of what life can be like for an expat in Venice, here are five compelling reasons why Venice is a great destination for expats – from the close community to the attractive work/life balance.
1. Delicious and surprisingly affordable food
If you’ve ever visited Venice, then this may come as a surprise to you, but buying food in Venice isn’t as expensive as you may initially think. While eating out in a restaurant isn’t cheap, especially if you venture anywhere near tourist hotspots like St. Mark’s Square, you can find affordable, fresh ingredients and produce in the city’s well-equipped markets. In fact, most locals tend to cook at home.
Food shopping in Venice is very much a “learning experience” expresses Alice, author of To
The Table, a British expat who lived in Venice for six months. She continues to say that expats should “be prepared to fill up a shopping trolley with groceries and lug it across town to get everything back home” because, as you may already be aware, cars are not allowed in Venice. As the city of water, however, you’ll find an array of transportation options including vaporetto (water bus) and water taxis.
When it comes to Venetian cuisine, it “is a far cry from the pizza and pasta that we all know and love” says Alice. She adds that “authentic Venetian dishes include Bigoli in Salsa, a whole-wheat pasta with slow-cooked onions and anchovies – delicious!”
Due to the city’s seaside location, expect plenty of seafood like cuttlefish, ink pasta, octopus salad, and fish risotto. “Another important food tradition is cicheti – a sort of Venetian tapas (although don't let a Venetian hear you say that)” warns Alice. “When you first move to Venice, it's really fun to jump from bacaro to bacaro, sampling the fried and bread-based nibbles on offer, ranging from polpette to the famous crostini with whipped cod. You'll soon
find your favourite spots!” she advises.
2. Close community
Although Venice is often crowded with tourists, it’s home to a relatively small but very close community. You’ll quickly discover that making friends is easy, because once you meet a few people, they’ll likely introduce you to their own friendship groups and before you know it, you’ll have a substantial circle of friends.
Venice is home to “a really strong expat community – thanks to the number of international offices and the undeniable allure of Venice as a place to call home” says Alice. She continues to say that “one of the best places to connect with fellow expats is through Facebook, where you'll find a friendly community happy to meet up for coffee or share advice on living in the city”.
Even better, “in Venice, pretty much everybody speaks English” says Alice. This is not to say that you shouldn't try to learn the local language, however. “Venetians will appreciate it if you make the effort to speak in Italian, and they'll be able to help you out if you get stuck” she adds. You’ll also find integration a lot easier and feel much more at home if you can speak to Italian.
3. Attractive work/life balance
When compared to other European countries like the UK, the work/life balance in Venice tends to be a lot better. Rather than face a stressful commute, you can stroll to and from work with ease, or hop on a water bus. While the mythical 'long lunch' isn't a given here, you can expect a slightly slower pace of life than larger Italian cities.
Finding a job in Venice can be a little more tricky depending on your skillset and what you’re looking for. For example, employers in Venice often opt for applicants who have skills that can be advantageous to the local industries, especially tourism. You may also find opportunity in teaching English as a foreign language and au pair work.
4. Quality healthcare
As an expat, an important part of living abroad is knowing that the healthcare system and its services will take care of you when you need it. Luckily, if you're from an EU country, accessing healthcare in Venice is easy. With your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), you can access the same quality of healthcare as if you were a resident. If you’d prefer to use the country’s private healthcare services, you will need to invest in a global healthcare
package to cover the difference in costs because private healthcare in Italy can be expensive.
“Luckily, I never had to test out the healthcare services myself, but I have friends who work in the hospital (one of the most beautiful buildings in Venice), who assure me that it's as high tech, clean and organised as any other northern Italian hospital.” Says Alice. “You'll also be able to find English speaking doctors and dentists throughout the city.”
5. Immersive culture
Last, but by no means least, Venice boasts a beautifully immersive culture that is adored by locals, tourists and expats alike. As well as being home to some of Italy’s most extraordinary architecture such as the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark's Basilica, Venice hosts some incredible cultural events and festivals. For example, the annual Carnevale in February, which attracts visitors from all over the globe. There are also plenty of other, more low-key festivals, like Festa della Salute in November and Redentore in July, where the lagoon basin is lit up with a
show stopping firework display.
Many refer to Venice as having ‘two faces’ – sometimes it’s as if Venice is very much designed for tourists, with its expensive restaurants, souvenir shops, and overly priced gondola tours. Look closer, and you’ll see Venice’s more appealing side, with its independent eateries and shops.
Remember, always go where the locals go, and be sure to follow in their footsteps! For example, when you’re out and about, you’ll often find that locals will stand at the counter when drinking their morning coffee and eating their breakfast. That way, they won’t incur the charge for table service and the cost of eating out becomes significantly cheaper. By learning from the locals you’ll soon discover why Venice is such an incredible place to live.
As a last piece of advice, Alice shares that expats should, “make an effort to reach out to other Venetians, support local businesses, and step out of the expat bubble. Despite what many people think, real life goes on in Venice, but for it to continue, expats need to play an active part in the community. Open yourself up to this new way of life, and Venice will soon feel like home!”"
Alice’s insights were coordinated by fellow travel blogger Tabby Farrar of JustCantSettle.com