For Expats moving to Italy one of the most important decisions to make is whether you want to live in the countryside or in one of the cities. There’s a world of difference between life in a major city, such as Milan, Florence or Rome, and life in a small Tuscan village!
It’s impossible to deny the appeal of living in rural Italy where you’ll be surrounded by some of the most picturesque scenery on the planet while being able to get closer to nature and experience the rural idyll for yourself.
On the other hand, city life in Italy is chic, fast paced and cosmopolitan with plenty of large events, famous venues and museums to visit in your down time. There’s a huge range of restaurants and cafes to visit and you’ll never run out of things to do.
For some people they will instinctively know exactly where they should move to in Italy but for others the choice will be much harder. Both the rural and urban parts of Italy have their pros and cons and without giving it some thought it can be hard to decide which is really going to be better for you.
The Pros Of Living In Rural Italy.
Following are the advantages of living in rural Italy.
- Property prices in rural parts of Italy are far cheaper than in the urban areas. This means that you can get onto the property market with far less savings or by taking on a much smaller mortgage. In fact, property prices in parts of the Italian countryside are incredibly cheap!
- Living outside of the cities allows you to have a larger garden and outdoor spaces which may include a swimming pool, out houses and even your own organic garden.
- Rural Italy is a quiet, tranquil and peaceful place to spend your time. Rural living is a popular option for retirees and nature lovers who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of busy modern life.
- Italian rural landscapes are stunning and incredibly picturesque. To live in the midst of rural provincial life can often feel like you’ve woken up in a classical oil painting.
- Smaller rural communities have a much stronger sense of community which can be supportive and welcoming if you’re a new arrival. While you’re living in the countryside you’ll really be able to get to know your neighbors and can become a valued member of the community.
- The air and environment is much cleaner and healthier in rural Italy particularly when compared to some Northern Italian cities where air pollution is a major health concern.
- For Expats who want to set up an agriculturally based business then it’s essential to live in the countryside where land is available and prices are low.
- Levels of crime are far lower in rural Italy than they are in the cities where gangs and street criminals regularly commit crimes against locals, tourists and Expats.
- For enthusiasts of outdoor activities such as hiking and cycling the countryside of Italy is a paradise of walking trails and bike paths all just waiting to be discovered.
- You have much easier access to small local food producers in rural Italy with plenty of roadside stalls and regular farmers markets in the villages.
The Cons Of Living In Rural Italy.
The following are some of the key disadvantages of living in rural Italy.
- It can be harder to make friends or find a partner in rural settings because there are less people to meet! This also means that it’s less likely that you’ll find clubs or social groups in the niches you’re interested in. For instance, you may not find a tennis or chess club in most Italian villages so you’ll need to be willing to adapt to what’s already in place.
- Public transport in rural Italy is not always very good and if you live remotely you will certainly need to have a car to get around. There is reasonable access to the major cities by train or bus but timetables are subject to frequent changes and coverage is not always great for small towns and villages.
- There are fewer schools and educational opportunities in the countryside which can be a major problem if you have children or personal ambitions to develop your career and learn new skills. Of course, this can be mitigated to some extent by taking advantage of online learning platforms.
- If you don’t work remotely it can be very difficult to find a job in rural Italy and so unless you are financially independent or are planning to set up your own business, such as a B&B, then this is something you’ll have to think very carefully about.
- Not only are there fewer jobs but those which are available tend to have much lower salaries than their city equivalents. This is partially counterbalanced by the lower cost of rural living but it’s something you need to consider in your decision making process.
- Small rural communities are not usually as tolerant of certain lifestyle choices and so if you’re unlucky you might find yourself feeling ostracized from community life. Admittedly, this is beginning to change however compared to the cities there is much less tolerance for alternative lifestyle choices.
- Nightlife in rural Italy is almost non-existent with the exception of local taverns and restaurants. So if you want to party and stay out late in nightclubs and bars then rural Italy is not for you!
- Healthcare facilities are very limited in rural Italy and if you need any major treatment or ongoing care you’ll have to travel to the nearest large town or city to receive it. This is a very important factor to keep in mind if you have ongoing health conditions or are planning to retire to the Italian countryside. There are, of course, local clinics, but the services that they can provide do not compare with what you can expect in the cities.
- You have less access to entertainment and other cultural events in rural Italy and although there will be some local events if you’re a real culture vulture you may be disappointed by what’s available.
- There are not many shops and large chains, including supermarkets, in rural Italy so you’ll have to rely on local producers, markets and village stores. This means you won’t be able to enjoy such a large variety of food and you’re very unlikely, for example, to have a local Chinese takeaway down the road! Of course, you can order extra food, clothes and other items on the internet but it’s not the same as being able to walk into a store and browse the racks to see what’s on offer.
- Internet and other telecommunications are improving in the Italian countryside but internet speeds and coverage are not as good as in the cities.
The Pros Of Living In Urban Italy.
The following are the key benefits of living in urban Italy.
- Italian cities have superb healthcare facilities that can handle any emergency or health condition so no matter what your complaint you’ll be in good hands. If you have a good health insurance policy then you’ll be seen quickly and given the highest levels of care. However, even the free state provided healthcare services are very good as well although you may have to wait longer for treatment.
- Urban Italy has an excellent range of schools, colleges, universities, libraries and private institutions that offer great educational opportunities for children and adults alike. You can also find plenty of courses and programs that teach in English so whether you want to learn to cook, study art and fashion or get qualified to further your career you’ll be able to enroll on a course within the cities.
- There’s a wide range of job opportunities for Expats in Italian cities, particularly in the more cosmopolitan ones such as Milan, Rome and Florence. Salaries in the city also tend to be far higher than in rural regions and commute times to work are much lower. All in all, if your move to Italy is primarily to further your career then you will probably be better off living in one of the cities.
- Italian cities have great supermarkets, fashion stores and all the international brands that you could imagine. Shopping and fashion are central to the economic life of the cities and so if you live in an urban area you’ll be spoilt for choice! There are also regular markets and stalls where you can buy fresh food, arts and crafts as well as jewelry and clothes.
- Every Italian city has thousands, if not tens of thousands, of important historical monuments and tourist hotspots that you can visit during your stay. There are also world renowned museums, galleries, churches and palaces that attract tourists from all over the planet! If you’re living in the city then all these amazing cultural treasures will only be a stone’s throw away so you’ll be able to immerse yourself in the incredible heritage of Italy without having to travel very far.
- Public transport is highly developed in the cities with most residents relying almost entirely on it for commuting and getting around. Italian cities, particularly the center of town, tend to be ancient and were not built with cars and high levels of traffic in mind. So even if you do have a car it can be extremely difficult to find parking spots and to maneuver around the narrow winding roads. This makes using public transport the obvious thing to do and since it is heavily subsidized by government and municipalities the costs of a ticket are very low compared to other parts of Europe and America.
- If you enjoy clubbing, late night bars and parties then the city is the place for you! Most cities have areas that are almost entirely dedicated to entertainment and nightlife so if you choose to you can find yourself right in the heart of the action.
- City communities are far more tolerant of alternative lifestyles than in the countryside. This inevitably goes hand in hand with the cosmopolitan atmosphere but it can make a huge difference for many people.
The Cons Of Living In Urban Italy.
The disadvantages of living in urban Italy.
- City life in Italy can be very expensive, especially if you’re living in a desirable part of town. Cities like Rome and Milan have very high property prices and utilities such as electricity and gas are also fairly costly.
- Ancient Italian cities were not designed for modern life and consequently they are often crowded and congested with long traffic jams and dangerous roads to drive on. Parking spaces are also hard to find and expensive to rent within the city.
- Air pollution in parts of Italy, particularly the North, is among the worst in the Western world and can have serious impacts on your long term health. The government is taking steps to address this ongoing problem but at least for now this is something that should be considered before you commit to living in certain parts of Italian cities.
- There are significant societal inequities in most Italian cities with large areas being extremely poor in comparison to other wealthier parts of the city. This can cause social friction and can be off putting for Expats.
- Crime rates and the levels of violence in the city are far higher than in the countryside with street gangs, pick pockets and even Mafia organizations causing major problems for local residents. Train stations are plagued with pickpockets and you really have to keep your wits about you when you’re out in busy parts of town.
- Italian city streets are often dirty and strewn with rubbish. This is partly because municipal cleaning and garbage pick up services are underfunded and poorly managed but it’s also a result of overcrowded neighborhoods and the difficulty for authorities to easily access certain areas to clean the streets and collect the rubbish.
- City life can be lonely and isolating if you don’t already have a network of friends in the area. There is much less community cohesion in the cities and it can be difficult to make new friends when you first arrive.
The Pros And Cons Dependent On Your Personal Perspective.
Many of the advantages and disadvantages of living in rural Italy will depend entirely on your own perspective! For example, the slower pace of life in rural Italy may be an advantage for some but a disadvantage for others. For people who want to live a more traditional Italian lifestyle the slower pace of life will be something that they are looking for whereas for somebody who wants to experience an active nightlife it could represent a real problem.
In another case, many people may enjoy the relative anonymity of city life whereas others may find it lonely and isolating, in which case a rural location will be more fulfilling for your move to Italy.
That’s why you need to research and do some deep thinking about where you would like to move to in Italy. If possible, it’s always a good idea to visit a place before you commit to moving there. Internet research and photos are a valuable source of information but it’s always better to get your boots on the ground and see the place for yourself!
Overall, both the Italian countryside and the nation’s major cities have a huge amount to offer Expats so no matter where you end up living you’ll have a wonderful experience.