by Adrianne George

“I love living here. I found my home”. — Arlene Gibbs


I wouldn’t call all native New Yorkers jaded, but it may be safe to say they are not easily impressed. Arlene Gibbs calls Rome, Italy home, and the native New Yorker is not looking back. She can’t even think of any customs she misses from the States. “I love living here. I found my home”, she says of Rome. But ever since she was a junior high school student she wanted to live in London or Paris.


I have a better quality of life on less money.

Arlene makes her living as writer. She is the co-writer of the Sony film Jumping The Broom. “My income is not stable, however, the cost of living in Rome is much lower than L.A. or NYC. I have a better quality of life on less money”, she says. The people she has met have been the best part of living in Rome. And she doesn’t schedule things weeks in advance any more.



I’m not fluent but getting there.

Arlene thinks it is very important to learn Italian even though it is easy in Rome to get by because there are so many English speakers there. However, she doesn’t understand the point of living in a foreign country and not learning the language. You will never understand the culture if you don’t. “I’m not fluent but getting there”, she confesses.

Because of the large expat community in Rome, Arlene has been able to make close friends without joining any formal groups. And of course she has friends of friends.

Panoramic view of the Colosseum.

It’s a long list.

Arlene puts The Pantheon, Sistine Chapel, and Piazza Navona at the top of the list of the dozens of attractions in Rome. But why stop in Rome? When in Italy be sure to go to Venice, Florence, Positano, Cinque Terre, and Sienna for starters. “It’s a long list”, she states. Her list of achievements while living in Rome includes selling a screenplay, receiving her first feature film credit as a screenwriter, learning that it’s okay to ask for help, and having balance in her life. “The changes in my life have been profound”, she reflects.


Don’t think it’s going to be like a movie.

Arlene writes movies and warns potential expats against romanticizing a life abroad. Her advice is potent. Save a lot of money. Get the correct visas. If possible, spend an extended amount of time in the country before you move. Rent an apartment or house vs. staying in a hotel. Learn as much of the language as you can before the move. Do your homework. Read the blogs of expats. Don’t think it’s going to be like a movie.


Living & Spending in Rome


Monthly rent:

For a one bedroom, depending on the neighborhood 600-1500 euros a month


Cost for meals:

Food costs here are MUCH lower than Los Angeles and New York.


Compared to your home country are most things cheap/same/expensive?

Housing is cheaper. Utilities are higher.


Any legal hurdles all foreigners have to face to live there?

Non EU citizens must have a visa/permesso di soggiorno etc.

Left section of the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
Photo credits: Arlene Gibbs by Courtney Nzeribe, all other images sourced from Wikimedia.


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3 Responses to “Arlene Gibbs – The Eternal City suits this native New Yorker to a T”

  1. Arlene says:

    Grazie mille for the interview.  It was great to “meet” you. 


  2. Arlene says:

    Grazie mille for the interview.  It was great to “meet” you.  


  3. You are most welcome! You are fab and your story is so inspiring! The next time I am in Rome I hope you are there and will have time to meet.

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