Florence is the cultural, artistic and economic hub of Tuscany and attracts thousands of Expats who want to immerse themselves in the daily life of this remarkable Renaissance city. Located on the banks of the River Arno, Florence is the capital of Tuscany and has excellent transport connections to the rest of Italy and beyond.
With some estimates saying that around 100,000 Expats from all over the world are living in Florence, the foreign community is certainly thriving in the city! Florence is best known for its Renaissance heritage, the incredible museums, galleries and boutique stores as well as the bustling markets, laid back lifestyle and superb Tuscan cuisine.
Despite being quite small relative to Rome or Milan, Florence has all the benefits of a large city without feeling overwhelming or oppressive. While you’re living in Florence the iconic Tuscan countryside is only ever a 20 minute drive away for those moments when you want to forget about your worries and relax at a secluded beauty spot!
However, before you move to Florence there’s a few things you should be aware of. The more you can learn about the city, and its surroundings, before you relocate the better you’ll be able to plan and prepare yourself for this new chapter in your life.
The Job Market In Florence.
The Florentine economy is largely based on the tourist industry which actually accounts for almost 70% of employment in the city. This includes hotels, restaurants, and commerce as well as tour guides and museum staff. This is hardly surprising though, given that around 15 million tourists visit each year!
However, the financial and manufacturing industries are still an important part of the economic life of Florence. Florence is famous for its high quality leather manufacture, an industry which has continued to thrive for hundreds of years in the province. There is also a blooming organic farming industry that thrives in the surrounding Tuscan landscape that provides fresh organic ingredients and wines for the markets and restaurants of the city.
For Expats in Florence there are plenty of job opportunities in a wide range of fields. Firstly, a large number of Expats work as English language teachers and either work in schools or as private tutors. Other Expats work in a remote capacity, making use of the excellent high speed internet access throughout the ancient city.
For bilingual Expats, who speak both English and Italian, there are opportunities to work in the interpretation and translation services as well as in property management and the real estate sector.
If you’re a creative person you can make an excellent living selling handmade jewelry and other types of arts and crafts to local galleries and the art markets in and around the city.
If you need a little help in finding an English speaking job in Florence the English Jobs Italy is a great place to start your search.
The Cost Of Living In Florence.
The daily cost of living in Florence is very affordable, particularly if you shop in local stores and markets for your groceries and get into the habit of cooking at home. However, even the restaurants are extremely reasonably priced if you stay away from the main touristy parts of town. For example, restaurants that primarily serve Florentine locals price an evening meal at around 20 to 30 Euros per head, including wine!
Rental costs in the city vary considerably from district to district. If you want to stay in a flat near to the Duomo then your rent will be a minimum of about 1,200 to 2,000 Euros per month, if not considerably more. On the other hand, if you live in San Nicolo you can rent an apartment for as little as 750 to 900 Euros per month.
For Expats looking to live in the city on a budget then you should be prepared to pay around 1500 Euros per month, including your rent. This would be a fairly frugal existence though so to give yourself a little more leeway you should be able to cover around 2000 Euros per month, including rent, to live comfortably in Florence.
Of course, there’s always a wealth of free things to do in the city. For instance, galleries and museums are free to enter on the first Sunday of every month while you can always enjoy wandering around the markets and city parks for free, any day of the week!
To save a little extra money on your groceries you can also shop in the local supermarkets like the SISA, in the Mercato Centrale, or the COOP at the Piazza Tasso. Also at the Piazza Tasso, you can buy food in bulk at the Eurospin store where prices are even lower than at the other supermarkets. Farmers markets are another excellent place to find great deals on your grocery shopping, especially if you get to know some of the vendors who might then give you an extra discount on your purchases.
What’s The Climate Like In Florence?
Unlike the Southern provinces of Italy, the Florentine climate is far more changeable. Generally, the climate is very Mediterranean with hot summers, from early May until early September, with temperature highs of well over 30 Degrees Celsius. During the winter months, between November and February, the temperatures can get quite cold and tend to hover around 5 to 10 Degrees Celsius.
The Property Market In Florence.
Despite property prices falling across Italy over the last few years the Florentine housing market has remained relatively stable with only slight drops. The market is kept buoyant by the large number of foreign investors and Expats who often bring income from overseas to purchase properties in the city.
The average property price in Florence currently stands at just under 4000 Euros per square meter. This is above the Italian average although you shouldn’t let this put you off because there is a wide variation of prices within the city.
For example, even a tiny property near the famous Duomo will set you back around 6000 Euros per square meter whereas if you buy just outside of the city center you can find lovely apartments for around 3500 Euros per square meter. Of course, if you buy a property in the suburbs or outside the boundaries of the city you can snap up some really great bargains.
If you’re looking to rent a property in the city then you’ll face similar variations in the prices. You can rent a one bedroom apartment from as little as 600 Euros per month right up to 2000 Euros per month and above, largely depending on location, the quality of furnishings, the availability of nearby amenities and the architectural prowess of the property itself.
Outside the city center, in Giardino Torrigiani for instance, you can rent a one bedroom apartment for about 600 Euros per month or a more spacious 3 bedroom apartment for around 1200 Euros per month.
The Best Neighborhood In Florence For Expats.
Florence is a city that has expanded over thousands of years and so each neighborhood has its own unique and distinctive heritage. The main tourist spots are situated alongside the River Arno and although it might be tempting to live in the shadow Duomo in the long term most Expats have a better experience by living away from the main tourist attractions.
The Best Family Friendly Neighborhood.
The Campo di Marte is situated in the North East of the city center and has a large playground, superb transport links and a popular sports center. For a quieter family friendly neighborhood Bagno a Ripolito has a renowned International school for your children and is close to some lovely public parks.
The Trendiest Neighborhood For Expats.
Santo Spirito is undoubtedly the hip and trendy neighborhood where young professionals, students and Expats rub shoulders in the bars, clubs, restaurants, galleries, boutique fashion stores and more. There’s often live music on the streets and there’s a distinct Bohemian vibe in the district while property prices are still quite reasonable.
The Best Luxury Neighborhood.
If you’ve got a seriously large budget then the neighborhoods surrounding the city, including Fiesole, Settignano and Careggi contain gorgeous villas and mansions where property prices are often in the region of 20 Million Euros or more!
The Best ‘Up And Coming’ Neighborhood For Expats.
Oltrano is a charming neighborhood to the South of the River Arno and has recently undergone a lot of improvements. There’s plenty of bars and restaurants as well as music venues and a good range of property prices on offer.
Schools And Education In Florence.
Education for children over the age of 3 is free in Florence, including for Expats. It becomes compulsory to send your children to school from the age of 6 until 16, either at a free state run school or at a private school.
Florence has almost 600 primary and secondary schools to choose from as well as a nice selection of International Schools. If you send your children to an International School they will usually be taught in both English and Italian so they’ll be bilingual and upon graduation they will receive a prestigious International Baccalaureate. Fees for the International Schools range from between 10,000 to 20,000 Euros per student per year between the ages of 13 and 18.
Florence is famous for its superb art schools, including the Florence Academy of Art, where they teach some of the most respected sculpture and painting classes in Europe. There are also 10 universities in Florence including the University of Florence which was established in 1321, making it one of the oldest in the world.
Is Florence Safe To Live In?
Florence is a very safe place to live with low levels of violent crime and house break ins. The main safety issue that you need to keep in mind is the pickpockets who often target tourists and Expats in the markets and at other tourist hotspots. However, there are ways that you can mitigate the risks of being pickpocketed while you’re out and about.
While you’re in busy markets, train stations or other crowded spots you should just be aware of your surroundings and not leave your purse open or other valuables on display. Generally speaking though you should have nothing to worry about in Florence. It’s a safe place for Expats to live and a great city to bring up your kids.
Codice Fiscale And Residency Permit.
To settle down in Florence you will need to have a Codice Fiscale and a Residency Permit. Before you move to the country you should have already applied for a long stay Visa which will give you 90 days in the country to arrange your affairs.
After arriving you can apply for your Codice Fiscale. This allows you to pay taxes, set up a bank account and apply for a permanent Residency Permit. To apply for a Codice Fiscale you need to contact the Italian tax agency. Alternatively you can apply for your Codice Fiscale at an Italian consulate in the United States before departing.
After you have your Codice Fiscale you need to apply for your Residency Permit. This has to be applied for in two parts. Firstly, you need to apply at the Poste Italiane and then at the local police headquarters. This will allow you to get an Italian driving license and access the free state healthcare services.
Florence Is The Perfect Home From.
Florence has a booming economy and an international community of Expats who enjoy the laid back lifestyle, superb cuisine and incredible scenery. There’s so much culture and art to explore the city you’ll never get bored and with easy access to some of Italy’s most iconic countryside you can always take a quick day trip to a nearby village for a relaxed Sunday lunch.
Florence is a wonderful place to bring up children but it’s also great for students, young professionals and retirees! The city has something for everyone and the existing Expat community is always very welcoming so you’ll quickly make new friends.