It’s the life long dream of so many people to own land in a foreign country however when it comes to cultural charm, picturesque scenery and spectacular towns and cities there is nowhere quite like Italy. The country has a huge variation in landscapes, from quaint rural locations to the bustling centers of culture and fashion like Venice and Rome, from coastal tourist hotspots to the ancient medieval hill towns of Tuscany.
Property prices also vary widely across the country with the highest prices tending to be in the main cities; although even there you can find some great bargains, particularly if you are willing to do some renovation work after you’ve purchased the site to bring it up to the highest modern standards. The following are a few important things to consider when you are thinking of moving to Italy.
Which Region of Italy Do You Want To Live In?
If you’re thinking about relocating to Italy the first thing you need to decide is what region you would like to move to. Italy has 20 regions which represent an incredibly diverse range of landscapes, micro-cultures and cuisine. In the Northern regions of the country you can find ski resorts and mountain slopes while in the South it’s blisteringly hot summers and lazy days on the beach! Every region has its own take on food, wine and art so before you make up your mind it’s always a good idea to visit and see for yourself!
A great way to see the country and explore the regions of Italy is to hire a car and spend a few weeks travelling around. When you see somewhere for yourself and experience the vibe, character and feel of the place you’ll have a much better idea of whether you’d like to live there than if you only saw pictures online! Once you’ve made a decision about the region you’d like to live in then it’s advisable to revisit at several different times of the year because temperatures and weather change throughout the seasons.
Keep in mind that when we visit Italy as a tourist, we typically tend to visit the more popular places. These are also some of the more expensive places to live.
Do You Want To Live in One of the Big Cities?
The cities of Italy are world famous for their architectural beauty, fantastic cuisine and exciting cultural life with some of the best known museums, art galleries and historical sites anywhere on Earth. Popular Italian cities among those who are relocating to Italy include: Rome, Milan, Florence, Bologna and Venice.
Each city has its own unique characteristics and before you buy a property you should certainly do some serious research and if possible, pay a few visits to find out how it feels with your feet on the ground locally!
There’s a lot to get used to when you first arrive in the larger cities of Italy which includes language barriers and cultural norms. One of the things that newcomers to Italy first notice is the seemingly chaotic way that the locals drive, cutting across lanes and swerving rapidly through the traffic if they’re in a hurry!
The main benefits of relocating to one of Italy’s cities:
- Incredible cultural and historical sites.
- Restaurants, cafes and bars with amazing cuisine and a wide selection of local wines and beverages.
- World class shopping and fashion districts.
- Great domestic and international transport links.
- Easier to live without learning Italian.
- Larger community of Expats that you can meet, make friends with and take part in activities together.
Are You Willing To Live In A Small Town?
If you’re not looking to move into one of the hectic cities then you can scoop up some incredible bargains and experience the slower paced life of the rural idyll. Italy is scattered with beautiful historical towns, many of which have been thriving hubs of trade, culture and art for more than 2000 years!
There’s several main advantages of living in a rural historical town:
- Extremely competitive property prices.
- Stunning landscapes and scenery.
- Great selection of local cuisines that vary from region to region.
- Smaller communities which you can get involved with.
- Laid back, slower pace of life which is perfect for holidays, retirement or long term living.
Primary Residence Or Holiday Home
It’s very important to know whether you intend to live in your property as a primary residence or will just be using it as a holiday home. If you decide to use the property as a holiday home then you can rent it out while you are not there but the types of facilities and nearby amenities that you will be looking for will also be different to if you are planning to live there year round.
When looking for a holiday home you need to make sure that’s in close proximity to an airport and have good transport links. You’ll also need to consider the security of the area so that when the holiday house is empty you won’t need to fear it being burgled. Most of Italy has a pretty good record for safety though, particularly in the more rural parts of the country.
A potential permanent home will need to have different facilities, amenities and services available to you in the surrounding area. If you’re going to be working then you need to make sure this is possible whereas if you’re looking for a permanent retirement home then you’ll want to make sure there are good nearby healthcare facilities, including a hospital, plenty of things to do and maybe a local community of Expat retirees that you can make friends with!
There are many ways you can work while you’re living in Italy and with a good internet connection there’s plenty of ways you can earn a good living online. Alternatively you can set up a business in Italy, such as teaching English or running a store.
Can You Speak Italian?
It can be a pretty daunting prospect but learning Italian will open up so many doors and opportunities that you’ll never regret putting in the time and effort to do so. It might be especially important to learn Italian if you are planning to work as an Expat in your new country of residence.
One thing you’ll find is that local Italians will be very accommodating and kind while you are learning their language so there’s no need to feel embarrassed if your language skills aren’t quite up to scratch yet!
Learning Italian is far more important if you plan to live rurally where fewer people speak English than in the big cities and it will let you speak freely with traders in the markets and smaller, off the beaten track, restaurants and bars.
If you take on the challenge of learning Italian it’ll also improve your mental acuity and give you a whole new perspective on the world. You can learn Italian once you arrive by taking some local classes or can study in advance online. Bear in mind though that the more you can do before you arrive the easier your transition will be.
Move In Ready Versus Renovation.
If you’ve settled on a region to buy a property in but are finding that the prices are a little high then you can look into restoring a derelict or run down house in need of restoration. You’ll need to do some calculations to make sure that your restoration won’t end up costing more than a newer property however, in most cases, with some careful research you can snap up a real bargain!
For instance, an old traditional farmhouse on a remote hillside that is in need of restoration may seem like the ideal choice however remember that there are going to be hidden costs involved! Will you be able to get the appropriate trades people to the site or are you going to be doing most of the work yourself?
Before you take on a restoration project in Italy make sure that you contact the local authorities to find out if there are any regional planning restrictions and regulations that you need to take into account. Some civic councils in Italy have strict rules relating to restoration projects in order to maintain the look and aesthetics of the region – so they may object to you building a modern glass fronted extension within a traditional historical part of a town! In some cases there are even regulations relating to what color you are allowed to paint your house so finding out these types of details well in advance is vital to do before you invest money on a property.
One unusual thing about buying a property in Italy, whether it’s in need of restoration or not, is that you will normally have to supply your own kitchen white goods and fittings. It’s customary in Italy for the previous owner to take all their white goods with them when they move, including the light bulbs! If you want to buy these as part of the sale then you’ll have to negotiate for them on top of the advertised price of the property.
Presence Of Expat Or Immigrant Community
Moving to Italy as an Expat will mean that you need to make new friends within the community. Fortunately, Italian people are extremely friendly, hospitable and open to making friends with foreigners. Local communities, particularly in rural parts of the country, are usually very appreciative that you chose to relocate to their town and welcome the financial stimulus that Expats bring with them. This helps to keep small economies buoyant and lively and as long as you are sensitive to local customs and ways of living you will be made to feel right at home.
Before you move somewhere in Italy you can also do a little research to find out if there’s an Expat community in the region. If there is, you can quickly make new friends and start taking part in community activities such as hiking, visiting museums and sharing meals in local restaurants. You can join online forums and social media groups to find out more about Expat life in Italy and even make some connections before you move out to the country.
Spend Time Researching Before Buying Property In Italy.
Deciding to move to a foreign country is a major event in anyone’s life and although it will be exciting, rewarding and give you wonderful new opportunities, you should still do your research in advance!
The day to day life in Italy is full of fantastic cuisine, unique cultural quirks and so many interesting sites to visit you’ll be spoiled for choice – no matter where you relocate to. If you learn Italian and get involved with the local community you’ll be able to make the most of your new home and there are also many Expats who will be more than happy for you to join in with their groups and show you around.