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It’s the dream of many people of all ages and walks of life to move to Italy. The Italian property market is very competitively priced and the culture, cuisine and ancient heritage is a major magnet for millions of tourists each year.
Living in Italy as an Expat is a very different experience to visiting as a tourist because you’ll really be able to get to know the country and the community you live in. However, moving to Italy is, as you might expect, a little more complicated than visiting for a couple of weeks in the summer.
You’ll have to arrange your finances, accommodation, school for your children and all the other aspects of daily life which tourists don’t need to worry about. This means that you need to do some detailed research and planning before you make the move so your transition is as smooth and hassle free as possible. Also, please read my article about the important things you should do in the United States before moving to Italy.
Research, future planning and wise forethought are all vital for a successful move to Italy. The following considerations are essential for you to take into account before and after your transition to Italy
Is Your Move Temporary Or Permanent?
If you’re planning to move to Italy then one of the most important things to be clear about is how long you are planning to stay. Everything else that you need to arrange will hinge on how long you’re going to be in the country.
As a US citizen, you do not need a Residency Permit if you are planning to stay for less than 90 days. If you plan to stay for longer than 90 days then you will need to apply for a Residency Permit to be allowed to legally stay. You’ll need your Residency Permit to arrange healthcare, a driver’s license, your accommodation and to fulfill the country’s tax requirements.
Applying for a Residency Permit is easy to do although you have to get started on the process as soon as you can after your arrival. It’s a legal requirement for you to make your application within 8 days of arriving in the country which you can do at a local post office, or ‘Poste Italiane’. You simply need to pick up the registration pack and fill out your details.
Which Part Of Italy Are You Planning To Move To?
The cost of living varies significantly throughout Italy. The highest cost of living is in the major cities while the cheaper prices are to be found in rural parts of the provinces. There are also large differences in price between the Northern and the Southern provinces; with the North being more expensive as a general rule.
It’s not only the price that varies across Italy. The weather in Southern regions is far warmer, with a Mediterranean climate, beaches and olive groves, while parts of the North have alpine climates with long cold winters and thriving ski resorts!
You should also consider the cuisine of the country, particularly if you’re planning to move for the long term. The types of food available in your area will make a huge difference to your daily life although you can still always access supermarkets with plenty of international options.
Nonetheless, it’s a real pleasure to shop in local markets and use regionally sourced ingredients in your cooking. The food varies immensely from region to region, with seafood specialities in Southern coastal regions and more Germanic inspired foods in parts of the North.
When you move to a region of Italy you will need to do some advanced research to find out what the transport facilities are like. Most of Italy is well serviced by public transport but this is by no means the case in the more remote parts of the country.
For instance, if you plan to return home regularly during your stay you may want to live near an international airport. If you’re moving to a rural part of the country you should find out whether the town or village you are moving to has adequate public train and bus services? If not, will you purchase a car in Italy or will you ship your current vehicle across with you? Refer to my article about where to live in Italy for more information.
All these factors, and more, need to be considered before you select the location for your move to Italy.
What Is Your Financial Plan?
Before you move to Italy for any period of time you need to be absolutely sure that your financial situation is sustainable enough for you to live a good quality of life with enough extra funds available to cover any unexpected emergency situations.
You need to take a serious look at your savings and income and after some careful calculations decide whether you can afford to move abroad. In the first instance, you should estimate your monthly cost of living in Italy. The cost of living in Tuscany is very different than cost of living in Milan. This figure should include all your basic expenses as well a little extra to enjoy the finer things in life! On top of your regular income you should have enough savings set aside to cover any emergencies or periods of no income that may arise in the future.
Ideally, you should have a minimum of between 4-6 months of living expenses set aside in savings. You can use this to cover rent, medical expenses, food and other essentials if your income dries up or you find yourself in a temporary financial limbo. This is especially important to be prepared for because once you are overseas you will be cut off from your normal support networks back at home.
Finding work in Italy as a foreigner can be difficult if you don’t speak the language. There are opportunities in certain sectors of the economy, including tourism, the high tech industries, programming and teaching English. Of course, if you work in a remote manner then you’ll find that Italy has excellent internet coverage throughout most of the country so you can easily work from home.
However you intend to finance your time in Italy you must ensure that you have a financial backstop to rely on as well as an ongoing source of income to live from.
Healthcare In Italy.
Italy has a world class healthcare system which is a mix of state and private provision. Once you have a Residency Permit you are entitled to use most state healthcare services for free. The state healthcare services can assist you with minor or serious conditions for free or at a very low cost.
However, the public healthcare system is often slow to provide treatment which is why many people, including local Italians, opt for private healthcare insurance policies instead.
If you can purchase your own private health insurance it will afford you faster treatment and, in some cases, access to better services than the state funded public healthcare. Private healthcare insurance in Italy ranges widely in price and can cost you anything between 1000 Euros and 3000 Euros per month depending on your condition and needs.
If you’ve moved to Italy and are planning to give birth in a state funded hospital then you should be aware that you will have to bring everything you need with you! This even includes the basics such as diapers, towels, toiletries and other items you will need. The service is free although many Expat mothers have advised against giving birth in the state funded hospitals and choose to go private instead.
Your Children’s Education In Italy.
The Italian education system is made up of both private and state funded public schools and colleges. There’s a wide range of quality in the education that is provided in the public school system however the private institutions are hard to fault.
You can choose to give your children an international education at schools designed for Expats or put them through the Italian system. If you send your children to an Italian school then they will have to learn the language although young kids can pick it up very quickly with some extra curricular classes.
Once your children reach university level the options include some of the most respected institutions in Europe and the wider world with a plethora of choices of courses to study.
Your children’s education is extremely important to their future development and career prospects so if you’re moving to the country with children you should do your research before you arrive. Not all towns have good schools and colleges so you should also consider this when choosing a location to relocate to.
Have You Identified A Place To Stay In Italy?
Finding a property to buy or rent is relatively easy. The property market is very reasonably priced, for both purchases and rentals. This means that your money will go a lot further than it would do in most of the rest of the Western world.
The easiest way to find a place to stay in Italy is to use one of the main property websites. If you’re delving into smaller, localized Italian language websites then you can use the inbuilt translator function on the Google Chrome search engine to see the listings in English.
As a general guideline, you can rent a property in Italy for between 500 Euros and 2000 Euros per month, depending on location, size and its amenities. If you’re planning to purchase a property, the average prices in Italy are about 1500 Euros to 2000 Euros per square meter for an apartment or house.
There’s an excellent selection of property types in Italy that range from beachfront properties to city center apartments in some of the most fashionable cities on the planet! For a more pastoral experience you can buy or rent lovely farmhouses and properties in provinces such as Tuscany, a favorite location for Expats from all over the world. Wherever you decide to live though, you’ll find a great selection of properties to choose from.
Are You Going To Move Furniture And Other Possessions With You To Italy?
If you’re planning to move to Italy it may be both convenient and economical to take your furniture and other possessions with you. The vast majority of properties in Italy are rented unfurnished and if you’re purchasing then you’ll certainly need to supply your own furniture.
You will have to balance the costs of shipping your furniture with the price of replacing it once you arrive in Italy. This doesn’t, of course, take account of the sentimental value that your possessions may have or the cost of keeping it in storage back at home.
There are several great shipping companies that will collect your items from your address at home and deliver them to your new place of residence on a pre-arranged day. This makes shipping your furniture and other items into the country hassle free and convenient. Prices will depend on the type of items you are moving, how much space they take up in a shipping container and whether or not you want a door to door service.
It’s worth beginning to make the arrangements for your shipping as soon as you can so you can factor in the costs to your move and ensure that the move will be secure and synchronized with your other plans.
Do You Need A Car When You’re In Italy?
Italy has an excellent public transport system that covers most of the country. In fact, many Italians rely entirely on the public transport system to get around, especially in the cities.
If you’re moving to a major city in Italy then you’ll quickly find that they are not made for cars! There are lots of narrow roads and a lack of parking in central districts. This means that having your own car in a city can sometimes be more trouble than it’s worth.
This is contrasted by rural parts of Italy where it can be hard to get around without the use of your own car. There are train and bus services in most rural parts but you’ll still find that having access to your own car will make your life far easier. Rural public transport services are often delayed and timetables can be subject to change without any real explanation so having your own car is extremely useful!
You’ll have to think carefully about whether or not you’ll need a car during your stay in Italy, if you want to rent a car when needed or if you’ll purchase a new or second hand vehicle once you arrive.
Moving To Italy – Make The Arrangements In Advance.
When you’re moving to Italy it’s always best to research and arrange as much as you can in advance. Not only can things be quite overwhelming when you first arrive but you’ll have to overcome language barriers, find a new home and settle your kids into school.
However, with the right preparations your transition to Italy should be smooth and hassle free. Just remember, that if you find yourself in difficulties after you’ve arrived you can reach out to the local Expat community who will be happy to give you tips and advice.