How Moving to Italy as Digital Nomads Went Wrong…

Even though I’m European I haven’t lived in continental Europe much as an adult, as I spent most of the time in North America or London, and I really only worked in the Netherlands in Europe. While we can safely assume that I’ve been Americanized to a point, I still wasn’t too bothered by European habits like the lack of dryers or shops and restaurants closing early. 

Living in Europe seems cheaper than in the US. In most countries, you can get a bigger apartment and pay less, healthcare is free, and eating out can be done on any budget. At least in theory. Traveling around Europe seems easier too since there are trains, buses and distances are shorter. 

Why did our move turn into a disaster? Let’s start from the beginning…

Moving to Italy digital nomads

Living as Digital Nomads

There’s a huge difference between being a digital nomad and actually living somewhere. In this day and age, many people will try to convince you to become digital nomads to chase your dreams and live anywhere. Hubs like Chiang Mai, Playa del Carmen or Bali become epicenters of digital nomads, but frankly not many of those who claim they live there actually do. 

Living somewhere requires dealing with bureaucracy in one way or another. There’s no way around it and while you can avoid paying taxes or establishing residencies or correct visas for a while, it’s no way to live long term. Unless obviously, you want to be a beach bum living out of AirBnBs forever. 

I quickly realized that living out of a suitcase in an AirBnB in cheap destinations while doing visa runs every month isn’t for me. Not only because it’s exhausting, but it’s also an imitation of an actual life somewhere. Truth to be told most digital nomads prefer to interact with other nomads only and not making local friends.

Every time I moved somewhere I made an effort to learn the language, hang out with locals, actually get a right visa and other necessary paperwork. Not because I wanted to be cool, but because otherwise eventually you’ll stumble upon many issues. Plus, living out of the suitcase only works if you’re a healthy individual without any dependants.

Before Italy I’ve lived in 6 different countries. In some places adapting was easier than in others, but this time things weren’t as simply as just not adapting…

Let’s start the story from the beginning!

Moving from California to Texas

After getting my green card Matt and I lived in California, after a failed experiment of trying to live in Colorado. Colorado was definitely not a place for me, but that’s a topic for a long separate post. 

We liked California, don’t get me wrong. Despite Los Angeles being dirty, dry, and the traffic being awful, we had friends there and I could always find myself new activities to do. However, we always knew that staying in Los Angeles permanently wasn’t an option. I cannot imagine raising my kids in LA and buying a house seemed like a ridiculous idea when the crappiest small houses are going for a million dollars these days. 

We wanted to give Europe a try. 

Right after Matt got his Irish passport we decided to move to Europe for a bit. Since he wanted mountains nearby we only considered places that weren’t flat, so the Netherlands was out of the question. I wasn’t too keen on living in Austria and we heard of potential issues other blogging friends encountered in Germany, so we picked Italy as a base. 

I used to study in Florence, visited Italy many times and my language skills are satisfactory to the point that I can get my point across. Plus, it was surely affordable. Not without a reason, there are so many American retirees living in Italy. 

While we were originally planning on considering staying in Europe forever, after half a year of living here we know that we won’t be staying long-term. And nope, it isn’t because we don’t like the Italian lifestyle – we like Verona. However, truth to be told, our move turned into a disaster with everything we planned for blowing up in our faces.

First, because our original plan of staying in California a few months past our contract for the house wasn’t possible. It turned out that our landlord was planning on selling the house and actually preferred us to be out even earlier. Since we were still in the process of establishing our businesses and couldn’t leave the US straight away we ended up in Austin, Texas for 3 months before crossing over to Europe.

Why Texas? We needed to be in Austin for other reasons, such as conferences and projects, so if we were to move out of our house in California it seemed easier and cheaper than finding a short-term rental in California. 

Austin tx

Moving to Another State While Pregnant

Finding a short-term rental in Austin wasn’t hard at all. I found a well-located apartment building online and we were able to book it beforehand to avoid staying in an AirBnB at first.

However, we needed an unfurnished apartment since all the furnished ones included bills and we would have zero proof of address for most things. After renting a ridiculously overpriced U-Haul (since it was in August when most students were moving) and attaching our jeep to it we took a 3-day drive to Texas. 

Why 3 days since Google Maps says it should take 20 hours? Well, two factors: pregnancy and a cat.

Since I was already pregnant during our moving and during the first trimester I basically couldn’t breathe at all, I wasn’t able to drive as I had breathing issues (still waiting to do the much-needed surgery). Plus, we had Poofy with us and while he’s a good travel cat we wanted to give him breaks to stretch his paws. 

Both times in LA and Austin we hired people from TaskRabbit to help packing the whole house, so it really was almost a painless process. 

We knew that we needed to transfer our Californian health insurance to Texas once we get registered there in case of an emergency. We had very good insurance in LA with Kaiser Permanente. Expensive, but so it any health insurance in the US particularly for self-employed, but good. 

Honestly, every time an American friend complains about the US insurance and says that in Europe it’s better, I have to stop myself from making a comment. If you’re healthy then absolutely – health insurance in Europe for European residents is pretty convenient. However, if you need any serious treatment you have to go privately. I remember my friends and family in Europe waiting for a needed surgery for 2 years sometimes because the hospital ran out of limits. 2 freaking years! Quite often to see a specialist I had to wait at least half a year if not longer.

I was never able to get the medication I needed for my psoriasis. I’ve waited years to finally be eligible for the US insurance and had to medicate myself with meds imported from Mexico, but it wasn’t ideal. In the US I was getting my psoriasis medicines without any issues, plus we already did an introductory pregnancy appointment with a nurse at 6 weeks. 

However, imagine my surprise when I discovered that we couldn’t change our health insurance to Texas after we moved from California. While it might be different for those who move and have insurance through their company, there were three insurance companies in Austin that offered insurance for self-employed people like us and were willing to accept us based on mid-year relocation. However, here was the issue…

The first insurance was cheap but basically didn’t cover anything: not my psoriasis medicine or pregnancy. The second insurance covered everything BUT pregnancy, and the third insurance offered a deal that they’d cover pregnancy-related appointments and things after we cover the first $10,000 ourselves. Which left us without any options.

Now, I imagine someone will comment that it’s illegal in the US to exclude maternity coverage or other pre-existing conditions. It IS illegal, but insurance companies still imply these rules, especially in Texas. 

This is why we kept health insurance in LA and I had to fly for a day for my other pregnancy appointments or to pick up my supply of psoriasis medicine. Going privately in Texas wasn’t an option since most Obgyns we called had no appointments available or required two introductory appointments to even get to an ultrasound, paid separately. 

Since flying to LA was time and money consuming we also found a private 3d Ultrasound in Austin where I ended up doing my gender check and some check-ups.

Sure, they’re not doctors but technicians, but truth to be told it was the best picture of the baby I’ve seen so far.

I was eager to come to Italy since healthcare was supposedly universal and free once you register in their health system… allegedly.

Storage in NYC

We thought we were going to save money on not hiring an expensive moving company. We weren’t bringing any furniture, so we thought we would fit in 3 suitcases per person by paying for an additional suitcase on the plane. We shipped the remaining boxes to Matt’s parents in NH and planned on storing them in NYC and pick them up sometime later.

Our extensive research we decided to sell the car instead of shipping it to Italy, since registering an American car in Italy can often be a mission impossible. Thinking about it now – thank God we sold the car!

Getting to the East Coast wasn’t an issue at all. In New Hampshire we arranged all the necessary paperwork for Poofy the Cat and we drove to NYC without any issues. 

The storage was cheap, easy to book and convenient. We left 4 boxes there, shipped 2 boxes to Italy with a special box company and went to check-in for our flight. Here’s when a lady charged us over $800. It turned out that while in Texas they couldn’t care less for a 3-4 lbs overweight at JFK they cared a lot. 

I straight up refused to pay by saying I’d rather wear a few coats on me than pay that much, which turned into an hour-long process of getting a refund with the manager and repacking. 

gender reveal with a cat

Moving to Verona, Italy

Our initial move to Italy went smoothly. We had an AirBnB pre-booked for the first month and the apartment we looked at before even coming to Italy turned out to be available. 

We knew about all the nuisances like having to rent out a place for 4 years with a 4-6 months notice, 3-month deposit and long waits for registration appointments, but what we didn’t expect was an extremely high agency fee we had to pay to rent the apartment. We had to pay 10% of a yearly rental which came down to about 1,5-month rent which seems to be standard in Italy. Basically, we had to pay 5,5 months of rent before moving in!

Then it came to installing the Internet. We were assured by the landlord and Internet provider, that we can get 1 GB fast connection which we need for work, but after we signed a contract the person who came to install everything started to even doubt if in this building they can install Internet at all, since cables turned out to be too old.

Fortunately and unfortunately at the same time, they managed to set up a connection, but… that’s not even 100 MG promised to everyone and practically it just works in one room. Plus, we can only connect 4 devices, so forget a smart TV, printer, baby monitor, security cam unless we disconnect everything else. Not to mention we still have to pay like for the fast connection.

After our agency registered our contract officially they helped us schedule an appointment at the town hall to register us as residents. Since we’re both European we needed a housing contract, Italian fiscal codes which we got, and proof (such as tax returns) that we make enough money to sustain ourselves in Italy. That was at least in theory.

In reality, the town hall in Verona refused to register us unless we had a job contract in Italy or moved our entire businesses to Italy, which we cannot do or several reasons. While it might work differently in other regions of Italy, in Veneto they told us that we cannot become residents by proving financial stability and even paying some taxes unless the company will be moved. Even as EU citizens we couldn’t be anything else, but practically tourists in Italy. 

Edited in October 2019: Basically, we wanted to be legal and pay their taxes, but they refused us. A few months later I actually found out that it wasn’t just us. While living in Verona we met another American couple who also tried to register. While their situation seemed easier at first as they weren’t self-employed and one of them was actually Italian, they got refused by the town hall as well. They were told that because the wife changed her last name and the marriage certificate is from America (so it doesn’t state the new last name) the Embassy would have to issue a statement saying that she’s the same person as she was before, which the Embassy cannot do. They issued her another passport with an annotation of a previous last name and the date it was changed (ironically, she actually kept her maiden name as a middle name which should already tell Italians she is the same person!) and the town hall still refused them. Hence why they’re also not able to become residents in Verona.

Our original plans of potentially buying or leasing a car went through the window and no registration also meant no health insurance.


While I found a good English speaking private doctor for my pregnancy appointments and everyone (including my doctor) assured us that as EU citizens we are entitled to free emergency care and birth in a hospital, without the insurance it meant no psoriasis medicine which I desperately need.

In California, I had to pay $250, 5 times a year for it. Without insurance, I’ll be forced to pay 3000-4000 Euros 5 times a year.
Edited in October 2019: I was actually naive to think that even with insurance I would be prescribed the medicine that I needed. With public insurance or even willingly paying out of pocket no doctor in Italy, Poland or the Netherlands was willing to prescribe it to me. I tried multiple doctors, multiple hospitals, public, private – you name it. The answer was always the same: I could try starting therapy from scratch and maybe in 2 years if I checked myself into a hospital I would get it, but they doubt that. Many private doctors told me I’m wasting my time here and I should go back to the US. Absolutely ridiculous. I ended up flying to Mexico to get it which I wrote about here.

We tried to get private health insurance or expat insurance for Italy. Our efforts turned out to be unsuccessful since all of them rejected me due to my pre-existing conditions (excluding pregnancy since we knew this wouldn’t be covered) and expensive psoriasis medicine. Our only option was to get my medicine by getting the US health insurance again, but mid-year sign up isn’t possible. Basically, we accepted the fact that we got screwed, but here’s when things became even worse.

Despite what my own doctor has told me, what I thought I knew from experience as a European citizen and my Italian friends assured me of, giving birth in Italy was more complicated. When we went for an orientation meeting at the hospital it turned out that somehow in Verona emergencies and ER are covered for Europeans, but only if they’re registered in another country in Europe and have a European Health Card. Which we obviously don’t have since again – our businesses are based out of the US, not Europe and Matt was never even a resident in Ireland. 

After we finally got through to a lovely English speaking doctor at the hospital she tried to make things work but told us that labor isn’t going to be free and we’ll receive a bill for an emergency visit.

She naturally had no clue how much would that cost, but after extensive research, it turned out it’s going to be between 2500-7500 Euros, depending on how things go. While it’s still cheaper than giving birth in the US and I was willing to pay for it (I guess it wasn’t a choice, but must), in Italian hospitals you share a room with many people, you don’t get anything included like gown, towels, formula – in some you need to even bring your own fork and knife or bedsheets. 

While they have private birth clinics, they’re not really hospitals so in case of any complications they can’t have you and would transfer you to a regular public hospital. Which in my case wasn’t an option either as we already knew I had complications. 

The bigger problem arose when I asked what happens in case the baby doesn’t come out until the due date. Since it wouldn’t be an emergency visit, we will need to be in the Italian health system to check on the baby and perform a possible induction or c-section. The same goes for signing up with an anesthesiologist, so even if I wanted to sign up and pay extra for an epidural (as it’s the only painkiller they use in Italy) it wasn’t going to happen. Basically, unless something super dangerous like I’d suddenly start bleeding or my waters broke they cannot technically treat it as an emergency and admit me, paid or unpaid.

Not to mention that we were waiting at the ER for over 6 hours to even get a phone number from someone before I gave up and decided to leave the ER, while still being charged for waiting in the corridor. It wasn’t the best introduction to how things worked or rather didn’t in Italy. The only thing they solved for us in the ER was that they called my doctor and sent us an email that they still don’t know what to do about me. 

giving birth in Italy

Last Minute Trip to Poland

Going back to the US to give birth last minute would result in a giant medical bill, who even knows how much. I thought of going to London since I’m still in their health system, but the problem was that due to Brexit traveling with a pet to the UK is basically a mission almost-impossible.

Thankfully, my friend recommended a private hospital in Poland. It was surely cheaper than in the US, I’d have a private room and everything could be taken care of. It was decided – we were going to Poland.

This is when another problem arose: transporting Poofy the cat. I researched EU pet passports a lot and even on the official EU website it says:

As an EU national, you can freely travel with your cat, dog or ferret if it has a European pet passport. This passport is available from any authorised veterinarian and must contain details of a valid anti-rabies vaccination.

However, this quickly turned out not to be true, since Italy wouldn’t issue us a pet passport without residency. Plus, since the cat is from the US his microchip wouldn’t read in Europe and it seemed to be an issue to an Italian veterinary system. While we finally managed to figure out that we can fly with a certificate of good health, we had less than 48h to arrange his certificate and my certificate stating that I’m still good to fly. Surprisingly enough, we managed. 

As there were no good flights from Verona or Venice or the airlines wanted us to book non-refundable tickets just to tell us upon arrival whether Poofy can fly or not (looking at you KLM!), we rented a car and drove to Milan for an evening flight with LOT Polish Airlines. 

We were forced to pay more for these flights than for a flight to the US, I kid you not, only to find out once we passed through security that the flight is actually canceled. While I wasn’t too surprised since I almost never fly with zero issues, at 39 weeks pregnant there was a possibility that after running around the airport, then waiting for over 3 hours for hotel vouchers and fighting over a shuttle bus to the hotel with a crowd of angry Polish people throwing their suitcases on the driver, I might give birth on the terminal floor. 

Most airlines cut you off after 36 weeks pregnant for flying without a doctor’s note, but truth to be told no one was even mildly interested in asking about my pregnancy, let alone the doctor’s note. There was no such thing as priority anything, better seat, skip the line, nada. 

That said, we’re in Poland now!

So far my experience at a private hospital in Warsaw has been pleasant. For the first time, someone has asked me what do I want since in Italy they didn’t offer much choice. The doctors and nurses also speak English, so Matt can actually communicate. 

After the birth we’ll be going back to Italy until the end of the year (on and off between travels obviously) before embarking on new adventures.
Edited in October 2019: Dylan was born on April 4th via c-section and my experience was excellent. He’s already a well-traveled baby. He’s an expert flier, travels alone with mummy like a champ and visited Mauritius as his first overseas holiday.

There you have the guide on how NOT to move to Italy and how being a digital nomad isn’t always as convenient as it’s portrayed. Despite the disaster, I don’t regret this decision. Now I can happily say that we won’t be thinking that maybe we’d be better off living in Europe.

71 thoughts on “How Moving to Italy as Digital Nomads Went Wrong…”

  1. Much ado about nothing. Not to be rude or anything and you’re probably not going to publish my comment, but you both sound so clueless. You obviously didn’t plan for this, tried to live this fairytale life and it just doesn’t work like that. We don’t expect you to have a normal life, but it sounds like you skipped what’s called nesting and life took you by surprise. See the big picture for once, so you’re not going to suffer once your baby comes. Believe it or not, the pregnancy was the easiest part.
    Good luck to you, be safe, take good care of your growing family… but you both need to grow up fast.

  2. Great details on the experience. Sorry that you had to go through so much while pregnant. Are you guys considering any other country in Europe or is it back to US in future.

      • Hi Anna, maybe consider another city in the US, that is more affordable and better to raise a baby with a big airport, like maybe Houston? or even Austin, I’ve flown from Austin a lot recently, they even opened another terminal, the South terminal, and its always been smooth for me, Also if you don’t love the traffic in Austin, there’s always San Antonio 45 minutos away, i think San Antonio is the aperfect city if you have a baby. and the weather is awesome, Hope you guys find something that works for you 3, Regards from North Mexico

  3. Great post – thank you for sharing your story! I am glad everything worked out more or less for your medical troubles. 🙂
    -Jenna ♥

  4. It’s so irresponsible to fly at 39 weeks, not only for your own safety, but because no one wants to make an emergency landing or turn around midflight because this pregnant lady didn’t have a birth plan in place. You should be as close to home (and your doctor) as possible.

    You’re also more likely to experience blood clots, but then again you also went skiing like a pro. I am not using this against you, but stop publishing and promoting this stupid behaviour. Stick to your Instagram #ad for cat food.

    • Close to which doctor? The one that can’t receive the baby? Lol! Seems like you know me medical history better than me and my doctors. Are you a medium? People commenting without actually reading the post are always my favorite -_-

  5. Oh shoot, this was such a terrible nightmare. Thankfully you’re in good hands now. I didn’t know Italy was just as bad with the red tape as Germany is. I can’t even imagine the stress you suffered from all this.

  6. Sorry to hear about your experience Anna. I expect to face many similar issues here in Spain although without a foreign company, cat, or pregnancy to deal with hopefully we’ll get through it with less hassle.

    At least summer should be nice in Warsaw and you’ll be closer to family! Good luck with the birth and hope to see you all in Europe at some point!

  7. You’re not the first person I’ve heard of going to Poland for heath care. All the best as you welcome your little bundle!

  8. Wow! Thank you so much for sharing your story! We often only see/hear the pretty picture version of the magical life of the digital nomads living abroad! I’m so happy that you have found good pregnancy care and can breathe easier now! Thank you for being real and honest! All the best to you (&the ????), Matt & Poofy ❤️

  9. What a nightmare… I wonder if Spain, where I’m from, would be so complicated for someone in your situation.

    Regarding this part: “While they have private birth clinics, they’re not really hospitals so in case of any complications they can’t have you and would transfer you to a regular public hospital. Which in my case wasn’t an option either as we already knew I had complications. ” –> Being transferred to a public hospital is what you want in case of complications as these have the best doctors and equipment, despite being more crowded.

    What people do is get a private insurance as a complement to the public service, these are good for things like dermatology, shortening waiting times, getting a second opinion and getting a private room (which tbh seems very important when having a baby).

    Some people combine both but some, like me (autoinmune disorder sufferer), are ok with the public health system. My experience with Spanish and British public systems has been great so far.

    It is extremely difficult for health professionals to get a position in a public hospital in Spain, the bar is really high for them to get in (not so much in private hospitals but there are exceptions, of course). I believe it is a very different system than the american one.

    I’m digressing, my point is: in Spain’s case it is a good thing to end up in a public hospital if something goes wrong, perhaps in Italy is the same?

    In any case what you are going through seems unreasonable… does not make much sense it’s so complicated… I’m glad you found the right place in Polland 🙂

    • No clue about Spain, but what I do know that my meds are approved in Spain actually. In the UK they’re approved too, but only certain doctors will prescribe them and since you know, it’s a lottery which specialist you’ll get assigned to, my GP was trying to get me to someone who could approve my drugs three times with no luck. Otherwise, I really cannot complain about the NHS in the UK (well, before Brexit, no clue how things are going to be there now 🙂

      You’re absolutely right about the fact that sometimes it’s better to be transferred to the real hospital. The thing about private birth clinics in Italy are not hospitals is that if you know straight away that there are complications or you need a c-section then you cannot even sign up for them. That’s why it wasn’t an option for me. The one in Poland is basically a private hospital not birth center, performing surgeries and neonatal care, so there’s no need to be transferred elsewhere in case of any extra emergency.

      • Thanks for your reply. I does look like italian private hospitals provide very limited options… no wonder you looked elsewhere! I feel for the UK too: I was living there until very recently, I still haven’t made up my mind about going back or not. I’m glad you found one single place taking care of everything. I can’t imagine how it feels having to change hospitals in those circumstances… I wish you all the best, thanks again for providing an insightful view on such a femenine and intimate matter 🙂 And regarding hate comments, omg… what’s wrong with some people!? I’m in shock…

  10. I am so glad you made it safely to the hospital. Bureaucracy sucks big time and I am glad I actually ended up registering my business in Poland, where I am from, instead of going through the whole residency bull shit. I have been through it so many times and I can feel your pain, at least to a certain extent. At least now you have something to look forward – a baby! 🙂 Hugs to you girl!

  11. Dear God what a read.

    I get what you’re saying about Colorado. It’s a great outdoorsy state with people who love hiking and biking and everything, but it’s so far from EVERYTHING. I wouldn’t want to live there either.

    Everything you said about the healthcare throughout Europe is why Americans don’t want universal heath care. I get it, it sounds great, everything is “free” (paid for by taxes) but that means if you need to get anything done through emergency care it takes forever and that’s not okay! At least us Americans are willing to say it’s not perfect. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone saying Italian healthcare isn’t perfect.

    Traveling across country lines with a pet sounds like a nightmare no matter where you are in the world. Europe isn’t any different even with the EU.

    • Quick comment on traveling across borders within the EU with a pet – in theory, if you have that European pet passport, there is not going to be an issue. In reality, I’ve never had to show that passport even once while traveling between Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France with my dog in the car.

      • In the car for sure! But actually, you cannot take a rental car and cross between Poland and Germany or Austria if you want to drop it off not where you picked it up, so that’s why we had to fly.

        • The one-way rentals are very rare indeed, and when you find one it will most certainly be so much more expensive than almost any other means of transport. (I assume getting there by taxi will be more expensive)
          I was just commenting on the statement about traveling with pets sounding like a nightmare even within the EU – I’m sure traveling by car makes it easier in the EU than in many places in the world.

          that being said, would traveling by train have been an option? Aside from switzerland, there’re probably no real border controls there either

    • Actually if you need to see a specialist urgently if enough that your general practitioner put a code on the “ricetta” and according to his request they have to book you an appointment before the next 72hours or 10 days.
      Also normally for a scan you have the appointment in a couple of days and other non urgent visit the wait can vary between a few days and a month. If in your hospital the wait is long and you prefer to get a closer date, they can book you anywhere else nearby or in the region, and you decide which one to choose.
      Health system and food are probably the best thing we have in Italy, but sometimes you just need to know how burocracy works.

  12. This was so interesting to read! Thank you for sharing.

    My husband and I are living the nomad lifestyle in France and researching other cities in Europe to move to and potentially have our first baby. Just getting my French Visa has been issue enough that I’m starting to realize there is a lot that I do not know!

    I hope you share how the Polish hospital and birth experience goes and how you like living in Italy with a newborn!

    All the best!

  13. I’m not sure how is this about Digital Nomadism, because you’re obviously not nomads.
    First you weren’t well prepared, you got too much stuff (that’s why you need a storage), you have a pet and making the move to be a digital nomad while being pregnant is also not the best idea.
    Actual digital nomads are not going to encounter any of the problems you did. But they’re also not going to try to become residents.

    • Digital Nomads = “Digital nomads are a type of people who use telecommunications technologies to earn a living and, more generally, conduct their life in a nomadic manner.”

  14. Yikes! Maybe touchbase with @anamericaninrome she’s navigating Italy with a baby at the moment. That being said, I’ve heard good things about the private system in Poland, I would certainly be interested in getting more about your experience

  15. I think you might have misunderatood what free healthcare means. Healthcare in Europe is free for those who pay taxes or for students, children and the unemployed. Thus if your business isn’t registered in Italy and you’re not contributing to the system aka paying taxes then why for gods sake would you assume that they got you covered? Keep the golden rule in mind, if everyone in Italy would demand free healthcare but register their business in a different country then the entire system would collapse. European countries unlike the US are still based on a social contract where everyone contributes (via taxation). And if you’re honest, you never planned to contribute anything to Italy or to Verona. You wanted free healthcare, good food, mild weather and stunning Instagram pictures. It doesn’t work like this. You’re welcome back any time you’re willing to change your mind.

    • Actually, you’re not entirely right: giving birth in Italy according to the law should be free for anyone regardless of the status and they cannot reject you. Which happened. Since as I said from the beginning I went privately for other appointments. Again, I’d be happily paying for private insurance but no insurance approved me.
      P.S. Public health insurance in Italy is also not entirely free since you have to pay a fee to register for it.

    • Exactly. She tried to “cheat” the system. Healthcare is free for people who pay taxes, students, kids and unemployed, but not for those who want to abuse that. If you have your business registered in Italy and you pay your taxes and everything, there wouldn’t be a problem, right? And come on, don’t say it like that. You wouldn’t be rejected, the doctors would have helped you, but like you said, they would have to charge you… Just like in the US, right? Getting free healthcare is not easy, and it shouldn’t be.

      • You guys do realize that despite where the business is registered you still have to pay taxes where you actually LIVE? So it’s the opposite – I wanted to pay taxes IN ITALY, but since they don’t want to give me a residency then I cannot pay any taxes in Italy.

        • You don’t really need a recidency, “Domicilio” is enough, and for that is enough to show the contract of your rent at the townhall.

          • It’s not in Verona and it wasn’t just our case. Our friends had the same exact issues as well – they were giving them shit and not letting them register, despite one of them being an actual Italian resident.

  16. Local bureaucracy is the bane of anyone moving anywhere. It’s not confined to Europe. It’s partly the reason my trip to New Zealand was a bust. Being a tourist is fabulous, but working there, having to pay taxes, having the police pester you to get a NZ driving licence before you’ve decided whether you want to stay or not is just not on. I lasted 16 weeks before I threw in the towel and came back to the UK. As a fellow psoriasis sufferer would you mind telling me which medication? I control mine with diet and vitamin D3

    • I don’t know how severe your psoriasis is, but I’m way passed diet, vitamins, topicals, methotrexate etc. I’m on biological drugs with antibodies that you have to inject yourself with, but that’s only if you have over 80% of your body covered plus/and arthritis.

  17. Gotta agree with some of the “haters”. All this was planned extremely poorly. also you must understand that when you keep criticising a certain lifestyle and several countries’ systems, you WILL get backlash .
    I don’t understand why you didn’t research the health care system and its options. In most EU countries, the health care system is extensive. Slow for non-urgent treatment, but sufficient for millions of people. And that includes the birth facilities. I have never heard of people having to go to private facility. It seems like overkill.
    I am aware you may have complications I know nothing about, it just seems weird that the publich health care system isn’t enough for any health issue you have, be it birth, psoriasis medicine etc
    My family and I have lived on several countries too (3 different EU countries and Thailand) – as proper residents too – and yes, there are always a lot of issues in the beginning – but it’s easily overcome if you plan extensively beforehand. All the information about taxes, health care, visas, languages, medicine available, housing, credit checks, schools and so on are ALL available online or via phone calls. And in most EU countries, public office workers can speak at least a tiny bit of English, so there is no excuse for not planning ahead.
    Please don’t blame all you troubles on the county you are in.
    It’s you who did a poor job of preparing yourself (and chose a damn poor timing too considering the pregnancy).

    • I don’t think you understood what I said though. All was researched beforehand and I speak Italian enough to talk to everyone in Italian. We were told it’s all good and we can register, until we showed up and they suddenly said no you cannot.
      Actually, in terms of psoriasis doctors in Poland told me not to waste time since I’ll never be given my meds there. In Italy it’s also very uncommon because they treat it differently and these treatments don’t work for me.

      • Anna,

        I don’t think many people understand what it means to plan for the unexpected in a way you feel comfortable. You absolutely deserved to give birth in a place where you felt accepted and able to have your son the way you want to. Kudos and congrats! My son was born the same week via c-section in the US.
        Looking forward to more of your family travel blogs. I’m dealing with chronic pain since my son’s birth, and I’m a bit sad that travelling puts me in pain now. I hope to still show my son it can be done.

  18. Please check other European countries, eg Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and such. You can very easily get residence there as EU citizen, you basically show up in your nearest town hall, show that your landlord is OK with living at his place and that you have savings or work to support yourself. Then you get residency immediately… And with residency there’s health insurance, which is then valid everywhere in Europe, as you describe… Not all places are as backwards as Italy it seems…

    • Actually, that’s not right at all – at least not in case of Poland. I have residency in Poland because I own a property and it DOESN’T give me health insurance. As a self-employed I’d have to register my company there again and as a self-employed pay a monthly fee for health insurance. In fact, you need to pay a huge lump sum in the beginning as well when you haven’t lived in Poland for years, so even citizens coming back from abroad often cannot afford it. Also, having a health insurance doesn’t guarantee certain necessary treatments. I actually wrote another post on why I had to go to Mexico for medical tourism – simply because both in Italy and Poland I was refused these drugs even when I was willing to pay for them out of pocket.

  19. Hi,
    I’m Italian and I live half of the year here, half abroad.
    The rent thing in most of southern Europe country is just like these: 3 months deposit+ the current month. You can skip expensive agency fees by renting directly with the owner.
    There’s also another option that’s not residency, but something very similar too and give you more or less the same things: Domicilio. It means you live in that house but is not your main one. So your business don’t need to be settled in that city/country.
    If you have the health card of any other European Countries, health system will be free in all EU.
    And those things about you have to bring your own sheet to the hospital are not just impossible, but even illegal. This is not a 3rd world country, and health system is actually one of the best in the world. In the south you may found some weird situations but those are spare cases and not the norm.
    Since you’re a citizen in another country is enough to go to your Embassy/or easier the offices in the country itself to just ask for your card, and since then all will be covered, unless the “ticket” which is actually the only fee we have to pay to access (es. Blood test 27 to 70€, less for doctor visit, free Er, White code at the ER 25€) same for Italian and European citizens with the health card.
    Some ward in older hospital still got bigger rooms (like for 4 or 6 people) but in maternity ward their are always for 1 or 2. And also details are different in any regions. So if in Verona it was harder probably in Milan you wouldn’t have any issue and will give birth for free, like everybody else. Another perk of italian hospital is the food, many options and so so good.

    About the cat, yes, moving around with animals is much more complicated than in the US because laws are stricter.

    Also the flight thing was quite weird, my friends have always needed to show doctor notice to take any flights or ship and no way the let you on after the 37th week.

    Try to inform better, searching on the web or just asking your Italian friend and you’ll see things will be easier.
    Good luck,

    PS: if you’re still registered on the NHS than you are fully covered in Europe too (at least till the Brexit, hence in the past months you should have been covered)

    • The EU health card is only given for residents, not citizens of another country. Therefore we cannot get it either, already checked 🙁

  20. What a nightmare! I wish things go smoothly now and you get to enjoy your new baby in peace. It is such a big change in life and at least for me, it took my desire to travel for a while. I just wanted to concentrate on my newborn. Not to mention how tiring the motherhood is… I have also gotten a green card (and citizenship) to the U.S. through marriage, and I welcome you guys back here. You should return before you will loose the green card to avoid extra visa hassle. The medical care when you have insurance is awesome with little ones. And they do get sick quite often as you know. Best of luck to your new family! Can’t wait to read about your adventures with kids!

    • Thank you so much! Yeah, we’re actually back in the US quite often to make sure immigration-wise things are all in place at least there haha 🙂

  21. Hi Anna!
    Wow, what an experience you and Matt went through!
    I’m sorry to read about what you had to endure, while being pregnant on top of everything. Thank you for being real and honest with the details, and for showing the realities of long-term traveling – it’s not all roses and rainbows!

    That said, congratulations to you guys on the arrival of your little unicorn 🙂
    I saw your Instagram stories and he’s sooo cute!
    Enjoy embarking on this new adventure called motherhood!

  22. Surely you are aware that Italy has straight up the worst health care system of Europe?
    Your complaint bakut HC is pretty hilarious and ridiculous, no offense. You chose the country with the worst health care in Europe and then said it’s bad. Well no shit.
    Had you actually done any research and chosen a country like Austria which has one of the best health care systems in the world your experience would have been very different. Health care isn’t a European thing, its different in every country. You screwed yourself over with this one.

    Italy is one of the worst places in terms of public services and gov. effciency. It’s beyond me that you chose this country and then felt it’s not as great as people say. Because it’s not. Italy is bankrupt. Hell, Rome is drowning in garbage because they have no money to get rid of it. Next time chose a country that’s actually a good example of how well things work in Europe. And then compare again.

  23. This was such a real read, thanks for sharing. I also had problems moving to Italy with my Polish passport and everything was a nightmare. Internet; as you described was hell and took about a month, paperwork with the local governments, trash and water taxes, the 6 months rent you pay up front when first renting. It was definitely an experience and I’m so glad you decided to go to Warszawa in the end. I end up doing the same.
    I look forward to reading more from you Anna.

  24. Anna just catching up on this story and it’s absolutely crazy! I’m so glad everything worked out, what a headache. Dylan is gorgeous and I’m so excited for you two, can’t wait to meet him. Maybe in Italy… or maybe the US.. 😉

    Congrats to you both, you’re amazing!

  25. Wow. Poofy will never know what lengths you went to on order to keep your furry family member with you. (this is why I don’t have pets). So glad it worked out (kind of) and you have a healthy baby. That’s the important part. Oh vey on the expensive meds. My greatest hope is that I live to see the day when both health insurance and college is free in the USA and not state dependent. Blessings to you and your new bundle of joy.

  26. my gosh poor you!! what an eye opening read! As for all the haters: Dear god get a freaking life! i mean how pathetic your lives have to be to have a go at someone who shares their problems so openly? horrible! sorry A you have to deal with these morons.. Thanks for sharing & big hugs to all 4

  27. I’m glad everything worked out in the end. I was so nervous just reading this article! I learned a lot about the healthcare system abroad as well. I guess I should stop complaining about the US healthcare so much. All the best to you, Matt, Poofy and the new little explorer! PS, don’t feed the hater trolls!

  28. I’m so sorry you had such a hard time in Italy, but I’m so glad that you have safely given birth in Poland. Congratulations!

    I’m currently an expat in Italy (we are moving very soon) and we’ve faced every issue that you mentioned here. I wish I had this post before we moved! We are on the social health care and must pay very frequently and we are also having an issue moving our cat (who has an EU passport) because of something with the microchip as well. Overall, I would not suggest moving to Italy since everything has been a continuous struggle for us.

    • Our close friends experienced even worse nightmare we did and ironically they’re a married couple with one of them being an Italian citizen. I was kinda hoping we were an exception, but nope – everyone else we know had a similar story under different circumstances.
      Also, we never got our deposit back – the agency and landlords were total assholes.

  29. I’m really sorry you had to go through all of this. I live in Italy (originally from the US with a EU passport) and I can only imagine what you have gone through.

    I also didn’t expect the lack of organization when I moved here. I also have my own business and 1.5 years later after being in Italy, still no residency! Still no registered doctor!!

    The people blaming in these comments have no idea how it is – I moved to Barcelona a few years ago and was registered for EVERYTHING within a week. Including a very good private insurance add on for only 50 euros/month. Sorry you had to go through this while you were pregnant but glad to hear everything turned out okay now! Good luck with your next move and take care!

    • Hey Anna,
      That all sounds like way more stress you wanted to go through at this moment. I’m glad everything turned out all right.
      I’ve never lived in Italy, but living in (mainly) Spain but also Portugal and Finland, I have experienced similar problems… although not to this extent – I have never been pregnant and don’t have a continuous health problem either, which helps. Whenever I try to explain how things work to people, I like to show them this video:
      Sure, it is an exaggeration, but the amount of red tape (or just waiting to find the ‘right’ person to help you) you have to go through some times is impressive. However, once you find your way in, you are pretty set. Best of luck!

  30. Wow Anna, sounds like you guys had a real ordeal. What I don’t understand is how you are moving to another country when you have a green card in the US? I just got my green card and my understanding is that you can’t leave the US for more than six months at a time and that you definitely can’t LIVE somewhere else while you have it or it will be voided. How are you getting around this?

    • You can when it’s not a permanent move. Plus I’m going back and forth and maintain an apartment. If you’re gone for a year then you should apply for a re-entry permit. Many of my friends on green cards went to study abroad, traveled and had no issues.

      Here’s some info for you from a .gov website:

      If you are a lawful permanent resident (green card holder), you may leave the U.S. multiple times and reenter, as long as you do not intend to stay outside the U.S. for 1 year or more.
      If you intend to stay outside the U.S. for 1 year or more, you must apply for a re-entry permit with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) prior to leaving the U.S. Re-entry permits are generally valid for 2 years from the date of issuance. Therefore, if you are outside of the U.S. longer than the date the permit was issued, you may be denied entry into the U.S.

  31. Two words: Northern California! Girl, I grew up in Los Angeles, I have NO idea how anyone lives down there after I found Northern California. If you want beauty like LA but beautiful hills at an affordable price, look at Lake Tahoe. I live in Rocklin, CA, it’s mellow. But just 20-min away are the mountains and about 1.5 hours is Lake Tahoe. It is beautiful. You should check out that area. Or anything between Rocklin and Lake Tahoe. You can enjoy the same ins you had. So sorry you had to deal with that mess. But you are the FIRST person I have read that has been honest about medical insurance as someone who is self employed. I always wanted to know how that worked and I wish more people shared that “business” side of thing; medical insurance, taxes, what happened when you are in another country and get sick, have a baby, stay too long, visa mess, the ins and outs of rules in different countries. Thank you!!!

  32. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog but I was irritated when desperate you thought about Popping back to England to use the health service to give birth.
    When did you last pay any tax here if at all.
    Just because your entitled it doesn’t make it right.

  33. One of the best posts that I have read about moving to Italy. Thanks for the no b.s. descriptions. I am an American with 10 years living and traveling in Mexico (with my girlfriend and my two dogs and cat) and I am realizing how easy we have it. Italy is on my radar as with some legal help I should be able to get ahold of my grandparent’s birth certificates in Northern Italy and apply for a residency permit. Though, let’s be honest – there are many ways to get derailed by the Italian bureaucracy. Our back-up place is the new Estonian digital nomad visa which seems relatively easy to get. Peace! Thanks for keeping it real.

  34. Anna,

    I would be curious to find out what you didn’t like about Colorado. My wife and I are considering moving there this spring and would be interested to hear if it is more of a personal taste thing, or if you experienced difficulties.

    • I think it depends on what kind of person you are and what do you want from a place. We wanted a combination between the city and outdoor stuff and thought Colorado would have it. We tried Boulder and it was just awful. It was a crowd of college students, mixed with wannabe outdoor and start-up hippie people (pretty wealthy, so the town was overpriced and everyone had the newest gear from REI, yet they couldn’t even make it well on a flat trail despite their gear – quite comical if I’m honest). Tried Denver, but it just wasn’t my city I’d say and definitely couldn’t find like-minded people. But that wasn’t even it – all the outdoor spots were super crowded. National Parks were way too packed after 9am, like worse than Zion. It was crazy.

      • Interesting and good points I think. I’ve lived in Chicago (when I was not running overseas projects) for the past 12 years, so perhaps I’m a little over cities for now. We spent a month in Colorado Springs in December and loved it. But I think you have a point about the National Parks. However, we did find more places than you could visit in a lifetime off the beaten path where there was hardly a soul. From Nomad to Nomad, good luck on finding a good spot for your next little blessing.

        • For sure! Colorado Springs is definitely nice, but unfortunately not close enough to any airport. We settled on Salt Lake City area actually and we’ve been pretty happy with it 🙂

          • Anna! I love your blog! We live in Colorado Springs, & are considering moving to New Zealand. Have you any tips for NZ? We went last year, loved it, are both in healthcare so jobs will be available…

            Thanks for putting together such a well thought out blog about travel & moving out of country. This is just what I’ve been looking for in preparation for our move. Thank you! Jen

          • I know you could easily get work permits if you’re on the list of needed professions (you’d have to check if your specific medical professions are on the list) – but it was before the pandemic so things might have changed now since Oz & NZ remain very closed off from the rest of the world still. Personally I never enquired further, because I would never move to New Zealand – it’s just too far from everything else and it’s not as idyllic as it may seem. 5 of my friends moved but 3 actually returned after a few months.

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