Damien O’Farrell is a life coach and expat relocation expert. His goal is now to move beyond stereotypes.
With over 29 years of experience, Damien O’Farrell is a professional, life, and expatriate coach, helping thousands of clients from individuals to corporations. Ultimate Italy is a one-day, once a year, intensive course reserved for 50 people to learn up-to-date quality information about the culture, job market and other necessary information “on how to live and work successfully in Italy.”
Damien, in this interview for Italics Magazine, not only explained several elements about relocating and living in Italy, but also that his mission is to fight stereotypes. “Often people want to move to Italy for an Italy that does not exist anymore. It is alright to hope to meet the perfect ‘Italian Boyfriend’, yet the spotlight of the frequent narrative among expatriates is tiring and repeated and should instead focus on those who are bringing a change to Italy.”
“The Dolce Vita requires more cash than what people expect, for example,” underlines Damien, “For this reason I help people figure out a strategic plan and reasoning behind their move to Italy.”
“This single day intensive course is useful to get updated quality information.” Now with the expansion of the internet, explains Damien, a large quantity of erroneous information about relocation circulates online. “When I first came to Italy to help a friend in 1988 I was lucky to find the right accountant and lawyer. One important element is to find professionals who are updated and know how to deal with international clientele.”
Damien has a Facebook group with over 10,000 members, to spread and share quality information. However, as he proceeds to add, every case is different. “For example, I had a client whose child was not biologically her husband’s, therefore only court permission from the biological father could allow the minor to travel to Italy. This kind of information cannot be found online or from other non-professionals.”
“You need to sit down and talk to the client.” Damien’s job is to work one-to-one with the client to provide support for the relocation. “I work to provide a pre-arrival strategy. It has happened where expats move to Italy, and they see their friends and family back home able to buy houses and cars and even travel to Italy, while they are stuck dealing with expenses and hardships they hadn’t anticipated. This would have not happened had they planned adequately and understood the reasoning behind their relocation.”
Why move to Italy?
La Dolce Vita, a term implying a laid-back attitude linked with Rome has influenced these reasoning. “As an English saying goes, ‘If you do not know where you are going, any road will get you there’; I believe this to be true, yet my clients need a strategy that will work for them before their arrival.”
As Damien explains that expatriates often move to Italy to open Bed & Breakfasts or teach English, “unless you treat some jobs, like teaching English, as a true business, it will not provide you with the adequate income.” What you need is a plan.
“Many, as well, come to Italy with good images about Italy, like the food and wine, and do not consider the expectations about the everyday life. Much of the narrative heard among expatriate communities relies on negative comments about Italians and Italy. If you want to have a successful life in Italy, you should walk away from that narrative. Every country has its own flaws.”
He especially underlines that individual clients from outside the European Union (EU) tend to be less shocked. “These clients absorb that they will relocate abroad, meaning it will be different, whereas Europeans moving to Italy may expect certain similarities that are not there.”
“Networking with Italians is key to integrating in the Italian job market and most importantly learning the language.” Damien advises intensive 90-hour courses to make clients feel comfortable with the language before transferring. “I would go around with a dictionary at the supermarket when I first moved to Rome.”
When it comes to looking for the right job in a strong field, Damien explains that what is happening abroad is happening in Italy too: people with Information Technology (IT) and engineering backgrounds will most likely integrate well with the skills that are requested.
Future: change and immigration process
“I will work in the future to niche down. If people go right, l I go left.” Moreover, Damien O’Farrell encourages a circular economy where “the immigration process in Italy speeds up and gives priority to businesses who want to open up in the country.”
“We should focus our attention and spotlight on those who wish to bring a change to Italy.”