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Venice, one of Italy’s most iconic cities, has a truly unique heritage of culture, art and cuisine; all of which attracts more than 35 million tourists and visitors each year.
Located in North-Eastern Italy, Venice is the capital of the Veneto region and floats on more than 100 islands that are created by more than 150 canals that crisscross the city. Situated in a natural lagoon that lies between the Rivers Piave and Po, Venice is connected by almost 400 bridges which allow its residents to get from island to island within the city.
Venice is a romantic city with its own architectural style that has long been one of Europe’s most important cities of culture. The city has an ‘old world’ feel and with one of the main forms of public transport being the famous gondolas, Expats who relocate to Venice never tire of the enchanting fairy tale atmosphere.
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However, there’s a lot that you should know before you decide to move to Venice. Having a good understanding of life in the city will help you settle in much more quickly and allow you to make the most of the opportunities that await you in Venice.
Venice – A Brief Overview For Expats.
Venice has a resident population of around 250,000 people, with just over 50,000 living in the historic center; although the city still maintains a nice, friendly atmosphere which can often feel more like a village than a city! There’s a strong Expat community in Venice with a lot of Americans and Western Europeans making it their new home.
Venice is divided into 6 main districts which are split in two by the Canal Grande, with 3 districts on each side of the central canal. The 6 districts of Venice are called: Cannagegio, San Marco, Castello, Santa Croce, San Polo and Dorsoduro.
During the heyday of the Republic of Venice, each district chose one ‘ducal counselor’ to help the Doge of Venice, who was the head of the city-state, to make important political decisions. Traditionally, there was a lot of rivalry between the various districts of Venice although in the modern world this only remains in a very light hearted manner.
Getting Around Venice.
Venice is an easy city to walk around. In fact, private cars are banned within Venice’s historic center where there are no modern roads to drive on! Instead, there are only footpaths and canals to help you get around. This means that if you own a car you’ll have to arrange to leave it parked outside the city limits during your time there.
The main way to get around the city is therefore either on foot or along the canals in a gondola or boat. This gives Venice a really special feeling in the modern world since there is very little pollution and no noise from city traffic.
You can also travel around the city by bike, a popular option with the locals, as well as catch municipal buses and taxis in the more suburban parts of the city.
The Main Transport Options In Venice.
There are several ways to get around in Venice:
- Water Taxi: These are quite expensive but are a great way to get around quickly.
- Gondola: These traditional symbols of Venice are popular with tourists but are still used by locals and Expats on occasion.
- Traghetti: The word ‘Traghetti’ literally means ‘ferry’. These are basically large gondolas which are used by locals and tourists. Due to their larger carrying capacity the Traghetti are relatively inexpensive.
- Bus: Publicly managed bus services are available for parts of the city outside of the historic center.
- Alilaguna: The Alilaguna company runs ferry routes throughout Venice as well as to the Marco Polo Airport.
- Water Bus: These modern boats are frequently used by locals to get around the city.
Where Should You Live In Venice?
Each neighborhood in Venice is unique with its own pros and cons. If you can, before you move to the city, you should try to visit Venice first so you can get a personal feel for the place. This will help you to narrow down your search for an apartment or property to live in.
In short, if you’re looking for a tranquil life in Venice then neighborhoods such as Dorsoduro or Santa Croce might be the best options for you. Alternatively, if you want to live amongst the bustle of Venice then neighborhoods such as San Marco and San Polo would be a better choice for your relocation.
As the original location for the famous Shakespeare play ‘The Merchant of Venice’, Cannaregio is steeped in history and is the site of the iconic Rialto Bridge. Cannaregio is primarily a residential district and has a great selection of properties including top of the range luxury apartments as well as much more modest accommodation which is quite reasonably priced.
This is one of Venice’s quieter neighborhoods although it is home to a remarkable number of restaurants, cafes, coffee shops and family run boutique stores. This is an ideal district for Expats who are looking to have an authentic Venetian lifestyle. The neighborhood has the widest street in Venice, the Via Garibaldi, where you’ll find some of Venice’s favorite restaurants and coffee shops.
This is Venice’s most artistic and Bohemian neighborhood where you’ll find street artists and musicians as well as some of the city’s top museums, including the Accademia Museum where you can see much of the artwork that was commissioned by Venice’s wealthy elites throughout the centuries.
As Venice’s most centrally located district, San Marco contains many of the city’s most famous attractions including St Mark’s Basilica and St Mark’s Square. This is a very touristy district and during the summer months it can be completely swamped! Property prices in San Marco are fairly high and it’s probably not the best place to relocate to for long term Expats.
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That’s not to say you can’t visit the district during your time in Venice but living there can be a bit of a headache during the tourist high season.
This is the smallest district in Venice but it’s also one of the busiest. There are plenty of restaurants, souvenir stores, bars and beautiful open markets where you can buy fresh ingredients as well as clothes and other items. There’s a lot to do in San Polo and although it can get busy during the summer it’s one of the city’s favorite neighborhoods among the Expat population.
Santa Croce is mainly a residential district where you can get a taste for the genuine Venetian lifestyle. The district has a lovely calm feeling although there’s always enough going on to stop you getting bored or restless. One of the advantages of relocating to this district is that you won’t see many tourists and can enjoy getting to know the locals.
Lido is one of Venice’s most underrated neighborhoods. It’s a long barrier island with a relatively large population of around 20,000 people. It has a relaxed atmosphere with plenty of coffee shops, restaurants, stunning villas and it even hosts the Venetian Film Festival. This is one of the most popular neighborhoods for Expats to relocate to and is certainly a part of the city to keep in mind when planning your move.
Real Estate And Rental Prices In Venice.
As with any city, there’s a wide variety of properties available that range from multi-million dollar luxury apartments right down to very affordable small houses. Venice is one of the more expensive cities in Italy although compared to other Western European cities such as Paris or London, Venice is fairly cheap to live in.
You can rent an apartment for as little as 750 to 1000 Euros per month although the average rental prices in Venice are closer to around 1500 to 2000 Euros per month.
If you’re planning to buy property in Venice then prices can be quite high. To live in one of the city’s most famous districts will cost between 8000 to 12000 Euros per square foot although in the suburban parts of the city you can find much cheaper apartments and houses.
The Job Market In Venice.
Venice has an unemployment rate of just under 10% and even though that might sound quite high it’s actually lower than many other parts of Italy. If you’re looking to get a job in Venice then you should start to make enquiries and explore the job market before you arrive.
It’s a major advantage if you have a network of friends and colleges in Venice already but even without insider help you can still find plenty of suitable jobs in the city.
One of the main sectors in Venice is the tourist industry but there are also a wide range of jobs for English speakers including teaching, software development, design work and plenty of back office positions with the international companies and hotels in the city. Of course, remote work is also very popular with Expats who only need to be able to access the internet to do their work.
To help you get started with your job search in Venice you can check “Find a Job in Italy”. This website focuses on English speaking jobs which means you won’t have to learn Italian to get the work you’ll need to maintain your lifestyle in Venice.
Schools And Education In Venice.
For Expats with children then there’s a good selection of International Schools where lessons are taught in both English and Italian. This means that your children will quickly pick up Italian while still being able to take most of their classes in English.
This means that they won’t fall behind their peers back home and, if anything, they will probably receive a far broader and well rounded education while living in Venice.
There are also famous institutions in the city, including the State Art School in Venice, Ca’ Foscari University and the International School of Venice. Fees for the privately run schools tend to start at about 10,000 to 20,000 Euros per student per year.
If you don’t want to pay for your children’s schooling you can send your children to the free public schools; however, in the public schools lessons are only taught in Italian.
Healthcare In Venice.
If you have obtained a legal residency permit then you can access the free state run healthcare system. However, if you speak to other Expats you’ll quickly discover that there are famously long waiting times and the service is not always what you would expect from a modern, 1st world country!
Therefore, most Expats do make use of the free state run healthcare for simple procedures and routine checkups but they also have their own private health insurance for emergencies and more complex treatments.
Is Venice A Safe Place To Live?
Living in Venice, as an Expat or local Italian, is very safe compared to other major cities in Europe and the United States. In fact, even compared to other Italian cities, such as Rome, the crime rate is very low and you’ll rarely even see police patrolling the streets.
There is a small issue with pickpockets in some of the major tourist areas but as long as you take a few basic precautions you should be absolutely fine. For instance, you should always keep valuables and money in a zipped up bag and never leave your valuables on display.
Essentially, with a little common sense you should have no reason to worry about you or your family’s safety while living in Venice.
Moving To Venice – The Start Of The Next Chapter Of Your Life Abroad.
Taking the plunge and moving abroad can be a little daunting but the moment you arrive in Venice you’ll instantly realize that you made the right choice! The city is beautiful, steeped in amazing culture, art and history so no matter what you’re looking for you’re bound to find it.
There’s a friendly Expat community in Venice which will welcome into their ranks with open arms. You can join online social media groups to get in touch with Expats in Venice before you arrive to ask questions and begin making new friends.
If you have the opportunity to live in one of the world’s most romantic cities, Venice, then you should certainly embrace it. Even so, a little preparation and forethought will help you to settle in more quickly to your new life overseas.