Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, following Sicily, and is a favorite destination for Expat relocation. With over 300 days of sunshine per year, island life on Sardinia is laid-back and feels a long way from the hectic modern world!
Sardinia is famous for its rugged coastlines and pristine sandy beaches but the island’s interior is mountainous with hiking trails, traditional villages and extremely productive farmland. The island is well known for its Sardinian Spiky Artichokes, wines, cheeses, sausages and the Bosona cultivar of olives which are used in the manufacture of high quality oils.
The picturesque island is a fantastic place for Expats to relocate to and whether you’re a retiree or a young professional the unique opportunities in Sardinia are hard to overlook including, for example, the generous tax incentives that are offered to all relocating Expats.
However, there’s a lot of factors to consider before you move to the island so you can be fully prepared to make the most of your new life in Sardinia. I would also recommend that you read my article about visiting Sicily and Sardinia for additional information.
Where Is The Best Place For Expats To Live In Sardinia?
The following are some of the best places to live in the island of Sardinia:
This beautiful city is frequently ranked in the top 10 places to live in Italy. The colorful buildings, small shops, restaurants and piazzas on the Mediterranean coastline of Sardinia give it a wonderfully relaxed and fun atmosphere. Olbia has all the modern amenities that you could need without being overcrowded and the properties are also very affordable compared to other Italian cities.
The nearby airport, Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport, operates domestic and international flights and is just 2km from the city center. This makes accessing the Italian mainland and other countries in Europe extremely convenient.
Cagliari is the largest city on the island and is the Sardinian capital. The city’s history dates back around 5000 years and is home to an impressive Roman amphitheater, excellent galleries and museums as well as numerous archeological sites of interest.
There’s plenty of bars, including several famous jazz clubs, restaurants, cinemas, a theater and a great selection of shops and boutiques. The city also hosts multiple festivals throughout the year so if you want to experience the liveliest cultural life in Sardinia then Cagliari is the ideal place for you to live.
The city has very good public transport within its borders and excellent healthcare services. Cagliari is located on the sea front and is just an hour’s drive from some of the best beaches in Sardinia.
Property prices within the city are more expensive than other parts of the island but you can still live in Cagliari on a fairly tight budget, particularly if you buy food at local markets and cook meals at home.
You should expect to see a large influx of tourists during the peak summer season although if you own your own property you can rent it out at inflated prices and have a holiday elsewhere on the island!
Best Small Town To Live In Sardinia.
If you would prefer to live in a smaller Sardinian town, away from the cities, then there are a couple of towns that really stand out.
This quiet seaside commune is an excellent choice for Expats who would like to experience an authentically rural Sardinian lifestyle. If you live in this small town you will certainly need to have your own car to get to major shops and other local attractions.
This stunning village has a beautiful town center and is surrounded by orchards and ancient vineyards. The village hosts several festivals throughout the year, is near to several historic sites and is positioned next to its own sandy beaches. It’s not a major tourist spot but you will see more visitors during the festivals.
The Job Market In Sardinia.
The Sardinian economy is largely based on tourism and agriculture. The major agricultural industries on the island include the breeding and processing of the famous Sardinian sheep, Monteferri Red Ox and mountain goats. Meat, milk and pecorino cheese, wine, cereals and sausages are among Sardinia’s primary exports to other parts of Italy as well as the wider world.
Despite the thriving agricultural sector, job opportunities for the local youth in Sardinia is a serious and ongoing concern with rates of about 40% unemployment! This leads to many young Sardinians leaving the island to find work in the major Italian cities which damages the social fabric of the local communities.
For Expats on the island the job market is fairly good. There are ample opportunities in tourism and hospitality as well as teaching jobs and work in the startup sector. There are excellent tax breaks available for Startup businesses in Sardinia and any foreign income that you have is taxed at a very low rate; something which benefits remote workers who choose to relocate.
If you need some help looking for English speaking work opportunities in Sardinia then English Jobs Italy is a very useful site for Expats.
The Cost Of Living In Sardinia.
Sardinia is one of the cheapest areas of Italy to live in. Compared to Tier 1 cities such as Rome or Milan, food, travel and accommodation are all very affordable on the island. However, certain commodities such as petrol and electricity can be very expensive in some rural parts of Sardinia.
To give you an understanding of the daily costs of life in Sardinia a bottle of wine can be bought for under 5 Euros while a freshly made pizza in a restaurant costs between 10 and 15 Euros. Since Sardinia is such a hub of agricultural activity you can source most of the ingredients for your home cooking from local markets where prices are very cheap and the products are high quality and organic.
The cost of renting a property in Sardinia varies widely depending on the location. Apartments in the cities start at around 500 Euros per month and can range up to 1000 Euros and more. In popular tourist locations the prices tend to be significantly higher, especially during the peak summer months.
A good estimate for the overall total living costs for 1 person in Sardinia is around 1500 Euros per month, including a modest rent. This will afford you an excellent standard of living and leave you with enough disposable income to enjoy eating out in restaurants and to pay for tickets to local attractions.
Tax Concessions For Expats Relocating To Sardinia.
A big draw for Expats considering relocation to Sardinia are the generous tax concessions that are currently on offer. Following legislation that came into force in 2020, any foreign workers who move to Sardinia and bring their work with them are only taxed at a rate of 10% on their personal income.
This is great news for remote workers as well as people looking to start a new business on the island. The concessions apply to anyone who has worked outside of the country for at least 2 years, regardless of their nationality.
Expat retirees can also benefit from great tax concessions on the island. Any Expat retiree who moves to Sardinia and lives in a town that has a population of under 20,000 people will only be subject to a tax rate of 7% on their foreign assets and income for the next 9 years.
Expat retirees are also exempt from the usual wealth taxes that are in place for that same period. This means that your pension will go a lot further during the course of the first 9 years in Sardinia.
The Property Market In Sardinia In Brief.
The property market in Sardinia is very competitive compared to other parts of Italy and Europe. House prices in the rural hamlets and villages are unbelievably cheap although in the cities prices are a little higher.
For a beautiful sea side villa in Sardinia you can find properties from around 200,000 Euros right up to spectacular mansions that are priced in the tens of millions!
The average price for a modern apartment in Sardinia is around 2,500 Euros per square meter. However, if you avoid the touristy spots and buy in the suburbs you can pick up some great bargains at much lower prices. As a general rule, properties on the Southern coast of Sardinia are much more affordable than those on the Northern side of the island.
Transport Considerations For Expats In Sardinia.
Unlike in other parts of Italy the public transport system in Sardinia is very limited. Getting around the island without a car can be extremely tricky and so if you’re planning to move to Sardinia you will almost definitely need a car.
The island has 3 international airports which means that you can easily access the rest of Italy and other parts of Europe if you want to travel and explore further afield.
The Disadvantages To Relocating To Sardinia.
The following are some of the downsides you should consider if you are moving to Sardinia:
The Island Can Get Overcrowded During The Summer.
Sardinia is a hugely popular Mediterranean tourist hotspot and so inevitably during the summer months it can feel pretty overcrowded. This is only really the case in the major cities and tourist resorts so if you’re living in the rural interior you’ll hardly notice the influx of visitors. Also, as you start to learn your way around the island you’ll soon find secluded beaches off the tourist trail which only the locals and savee Expats use!
Properties In Sardinia Are Not Insulated.
Despite being sunny and warm the winter temperatures can dip quite low. Very few houses are properly insulated and so it can feel quite chilly during the mid-winter. To overcome this problem you can use an electric heater to warm up your house. However, electricity is quite expensive so you might prefer to opt for a wood burning stove if you live rurally.
Not All The Locals Speak English.
English is by no means universally spoken on the island, especially if you’re living outside of the main cities. This means that you might want to learn Italian, even to a basic conversational level. However, there’s nothing to be worried about because the locals are kind and welcoming so even if you don’t speak much Italian at all they’ll appreciate it if you try to learn a few basic phrases!
Is There Much To Do In Sardinia?
Although it’s best known as a beach resort and for its beautiful landscapes there’s a lot to do in Sardinia! The entire island is crisscrossed with hiking trails and mountain paths which you can explore if you’re of an active disposition. There’s also horse riding, yachting, diving, rock climbing and kayaking on offer throughout the year!
Alternatively, you can immerse yourself into the island’s unique culture and cuisine; something which can be done at a much slower pace! The cities are full of amazing museums and galleries which house rare collections of archeological artifacts and artwork. While you’re living on the island you can also enjoy sampling the local cuisine which includes plenty of seafood as well as regional specialities such as roast pig, stuffed pasta and Malloreddus, a unique type of Sardinian pasta.
Codice Fiscale And Residency Permit.
In order to relocate to Sardinia you will need to apply for a Codice Fiscale and an official Residency Permit. The Codice Fiscale is the Italian equivalent of a social security number and is vital to have in order to be able to pay taxes, set up a bank account and apply for your Residency Permit. To get your Codice Fiscale you need to apply through an Italian consulate in America or through the Italian tax office.
Once you have your Codice Fiscale you need to apply for a Residency Permit in order to stay in the country once your Visa runs out. Your Residency Permit also allows you to access the free state healthcare services and get an Italian driving license. You need to apply for your Residency Permit in two parts; firstly through the Poste Italiane and then at the local police headquarters.
If you are having problems with any of your applications you can always contact the American consulate to get free help and advice. Alternatively, you can hire a local lawyer to handle the applications on your behalf.
Sardinia Is A Wonderful Mediterranean Paradise.
Whether you’re a retiree looking for the idyllic location to spend your twilight years by the beach or an ambitious young entrepreneur, Sardinia is a fantastic location to relocate to. There’s a strong Expat community on the island who will quickly welcome you into their ranks so you’ll soon be making friends and feeling right at home.
With generous tax breaks, unique Mediterranean cuisine and stunning scenery Sardinia is the perfect place to move to if you want to begin an exciting new chapter in your life as an Expat in paradise!