Milan is a thriving metropolitan city in Lombardy, in Northern Italy. The city is a major global fashion, business and design capital that has a superb range of high end boutiques, shopping districts, restaurants and sites of cultural importance.
Although Milan is best known for its fashion and financial sectors, it’s also the home to legendary Leonardo da Vinci mural, ‘The Last Supper’, and the Duomo di Milano, which is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in the whole of Europe.
With almost 250,000 Expats living in Milan, the city has a lot to offer newcomers; and so whether you’re planning to move for your career, for the culture or just because you’re enchanted by this magical city, you’ll soon be feeling right at home.
However, there are some factors about life in Milan that you need to be aware of before you relocate to the city. This will help you make wise choices and prepare your finances for the move as well as give you a better idea of what to expect on arrival.
The Cost Of Living In Milan.
Milan ranks as the 33rd most expensive city to live in as an Expat. It’s slightly more expensive to live in Milan than it is to live in Rome although you can still enjoy a high quality of life on a fairly modest budget. However, Milan has a lower cost of living than other comparable European cities such as Paris or London where prices are significantly higher.
The cost of living for a single person in the city is approximately 800 Euros per month, not including the costs of rent. A family of 4 can easily live in the city for under 3000 Euros a month, excluding rent.
You can keep your monthly costs down if you shop in local markets and cook most of your meals at home. Milan is well known for its shopping districts but prices can be quite high. To get some really great bargains it’s always a good idea to wait for the biannual sales where prices are often slashed by up to 70% on selected items!
Utilities and other bills in Milan can be quite high compared to other parts of Europe. For instance, the average utility bill for a month is likely to be 150 Euros and upwards, depending on the size of your home. On the other hand, cell phone bills are low in Milan and usually only cost 10 to 20 Euros.
Eating out in Milan doesn’t have to be expensive and if you eat at a mom and pop restaurant you can easily get a pizza for under 10 Euros. On the other hand, if you want to treat yourself and eat in a fine dining restaurant you should expect to pay upwards of 150 Euros per person in the evening.
If you decide to mostly cook at home you can easily cover the cost of your weekly groceries for under 30 Euros per person by shopping in the local supermarkets. Compared to the United States and other parts of Europe, groceries and food from markets are extremely cheap and of a very high quality.
This means that even if you don’t have a huge budget you can live an excellent lifestyle in Milan without breaking the bank!
The Job Market In Milan.
Milan is a famously innovative city and consequently there are lots of economic opportunities for locals and Expats alike. Milan’s history of being an economic powerhouse dates right back to the Renaissance but over the centuries it has only gone from strength to strength. Following the Second World War the automobile industry began to boom and produced some of Italy’s most iconic brands such as Ferrari and Alfa Romeo.
In recent years, the Startup sector in Milan has been thriving and leading the way in Italy, and further afield, as it begins to make its mark in the competitive high tech markets. This attracts a great deal of ambitious young Expats to the city who want to get involved in this exciting sector.
Milan is also home to a wide range of large international companies who are usually looking for English speaking professionals. In fact, many large international companies don’t even require you to speak Italian at all, which is great for Expats. Some of the major industries in Milan include finance, banking, economics, communications and marketing.
Milan is also a very touristic city and consequently there are plenty of roles available in all aspects of the hospitality industry. In hotels, restaurants, resorts and other tourist attractions there is a high demand for English speaking staff. Of course, it helps if you can speak some Italian but it’s by no means necessary to find a job in the city.
Another great job for Expats in Milan is teaching English, either at an International School or as a private freelance tutor. You can also get seasonal work at summer language schools where you can usually get a contract of 3 to 4 months at a time.
If you need a head start in your job hut in Milan then English Jobs Italy can be a very helpful website to see what’s available at the moment.
The Property Market In Milan.
There’s a huge range of property prices in Milan. In the city center you can expect to pay some of the highest prices in Italy, with prices reaching as much as 9,400 Euros per square meter! In these central areas the rents are very high too with monthly rents being around 20 Euros per square meter.
However, you can find much cheaper properties for sale outside of the city center and in the suburbs of the city. For example, outside of the city center, in the suburbs, you can buy a lovely house for around 350,000 Euros compared to a penthouse apartment in the central Piazza del Duomo where properties can easily cost upwards of 7 Million Euros!
Part of the reason for the extremely high prices in the city center is because these apartments are often bought as investments by the wealthy elite in a similar way to penthouses in Manhattan, New York.
For Expats who want to rent during their time in Milan you can find some very reasonably priced properties on the market. For example, you can find a quite centrally located one bedroom apartment for around 1,200 Euros a month or a 3 bedroom apartment for about 2,000 Euros per month.
These apartments will not be right in the center of the city but they will be within easy travel distance if you need to commute to work in the financial heart of Milan. Further out from the center of the city you can find very cheap apartments with rents that start from just 500 Euros a month.
This means that no matter what your budget is you’ll be able to find a suitable apartment to buy or rent in Milan.
The Best Neighborhoods In Milan.
There’s a great range of neighborhoods in Milan to suit families, young professionals and students. Each neighborhood has a distinct feeling and a unique community that you can get involved with during your daily life. The center of the city is quite expensive and overcrowded whereas if you’re prepared to live further out then you can enjoy a much more relaxed pace of life and plenty of affordable properties.
The Trendiest Neighborhoods.
Milan is a seriously hip city with a huge fashion industry and consequently there are several great neighborhoods for young professionals, students and other Expats who want to be right in the center of the action. Brera has an artsy vibe and has a huge number of bars, galleries and restaurants. Alternatively, Navigli is famous for its nightlife and the canals that crisscross it. This neighborhood is a favorite among young Expats as well as local Milanese students and ambitious professional couples.
The Best Family Friendly Neighborhood.
Monza is a lovely town that has a safe suburban feel. Located just outside of Milan it’s ideal for commuters who want easy access to work in the city while still having a quiet, laid back lifestyle at home in the suburbs.
The Best Up And Coming Neighborhood.
Isola used to be a run down industrial area of Milan but it has undergone a great deal of gentrification and is now home to galleries, bars and cafes as well as some unmissable shopping streets. Property prices are still relatively low in this district which might make it a good investment for Expats looking to settle in Milan for the long term.
Getting Around In Milan.
One of the most frustrating things about life in Milan is the excessively heavy traffic. This makes getting around the city by car almost impossible since you’ll find yourself constantly sitting in traffic.
For this reason most people in Milan rely on the public transport system to get to and from work or to visit other parts of the city. Milan is well served by buses, trams and an efficient metro system. Alternatively, many Expats travel around the city by bike or scooter. This way you can explore the back streets and hidden gems of the city without getting stuck in the permanent traffic jams!
Education And Schooling In Milan.
It’s compulsory to send your children to school at the age of 6 while you’re living in Italy. You can either send them to a free public school or else you can send them to a private International School. Most Expats opt to send their children to the private International Schools in Milan where they’ll learn in both English and Italian.
The International schools teach students up to the age of 18 after which they will receive an International Baccalaureate. This will educate your children in a wide range of subjects including English, Math and all the main Sciences.
Milan is also well known for its universities. The three main universities in the city are the Bocconi University, the Polytechnic University of Milan and the University of Milan. For Expat students there’s a great range of courses to choose from including courses that are fully taught in English.
The Red Tape For Relocating To Milan.
For Expats moving to Italy there’s a few basic bureaucratic hoops that you’ll need to jump through before you can settle into Milan. The first thing that you need to arrange is a Codice Fiscale. This is essentially an Italian social security number which you will need in order to be able to obtain a Residency Permit, pay your taxes and set up an Italian bank account to better manage your money.
To apply for your Codice Fiscale you need to contact the ‘Agenzia delle Entrate’, which is the Italian tax office. You should apply for your Codice Fiscale as soon as you can after you’ve confirmed your job in Italy.
After you’ve obtained your Codice Fiscale you need to apply for your official Italian Residency Permit. Of course, you should have already applied and received your Visa to enter the country but then you also need to apply for a Residency Permit to stay on. This is vital to be able to access the Italian healthcare services and apply for a drivers license in the country. You need to apply for your Residency permit in two parts; firstly at the Poste Italiane and then at the local police headquarters.
Milan Is A Thriving City.
There’s few cities in Italy that have the economic and cultural prowess of Milan. Many Expats move to Milan to pursue their careers and live in the midst of one of Europe’s financial capitals.
Property prices in Milan are considerably higher than in most other parts of Italy but the economic opportunities in the city mean that you can still make ends meet and grow your career to new heights. Ideal for families, ambitious professionals and student Expats, Milan is a city that has something for everyone who is considering a move to start a new life in Italy.