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Italy attracts a wide range of Expats, immigrants and tourists who yearn to live the Dolce Vita while experiencing the culture, heritage and society for themselves. Many Expats who move to the country originally came as students, others with families or as couples and others as single people.
Recent research has estimated that around 20% of people who are planning to buy property in Italy are single. Furthermore, according to Immigration News, the total number of people in Italy who are living alone, including Expats and locals, is at almost 30%. This is one of the highest figures in the world, coming in 4th on the league table, with only Japan, the UK and Sweden having higher numbers of people living alone!
This might come as a surprise to many people because traditionally Italians had large families that would very often live together; with children rarely leaving home until they were in their mid to late 30s. However, all this has been changing in recent years, partly because many young people move to the cities or other countries in search of work and to pursue their careers, but also because Italian families have been shrinking.
Another reason why so many Italians now live alone is simply because the cost of housing is so low; with rents starting at just $300 to $500 per month, depending on the location, and the house prices are also among the lowest in Europe.
All in all, a large proportion of Expats, and locals, in Italy live alone, each for their own reasons; but is it right for you?
Why Is Italy A Good Place For Solo Living?
There are many reasons why Expats choose to live alone in Italy. Many people move to Italy to start a new life, follow their career or simply to revel in the natural and cultural beauty of the landscapes and cities.
Living alone brings with it plenty of advantages, many of which you may not have thought of before if you’re used to living with friends, family or other loved ones. If you are thinking about moving to Italy but are worried about the prospect of living alone, once you take the leap you’ll soon realize that it was worth taking the chance!
Personal Space And Privacy.
When you live with other people, particularly roommates at college or with friends as a young professional, you’re bound to come up against problems with cleaning routines and sharing the chores!
There’s always someone who shirks their duties and leaves piles of dishes in the sink which you’ll have to clean up before you can have your dinner! This can be hugely frustrating but when you are living alone all of these issues simply disappear.
I live in small apartment in the third floor inside the walled city of Volterra. I have my own living room, bedroom, bathroom and a small kitchen. Outside of the main cities of Italy, spaces like this are very affordable. You can have your own peace and quiet. All, you have to do is to step out of your apartment, and you will be right in the thick of things.
You’ll Get To Know Yourself Better.
As an Expat living alone you’ll have the time, space and calming environment to really get to know yourself. Living with other people can be stressful and full of action, noise and drama; but when you’re alone you can do things at your own pace and enjoy some serious ‘me time’. You’ll also have the precious time to compose yourself and focus on the things in your life that you want to achieve or improve.
I live alone in Philadelphia also, so living alone in Volterra was not a big deal for me. However, living alone in a major American city like Philadelphia is somewhat different from living alone in a small hill town like Volterra. But I have gotten used to the slower pace and when I had enough, I take a plane and head back to Philly!!
With no one around to consider in your plans, you are absolutely free to live as you please! You can eat out any night, pop down to the local bar for a drink and chat with the locals, or flop in front of the TV and binge watch a Netflix series!
Living solo you can decide precisely what you want to do and when to do it. For many people, this is a huge liberation and you’ll find a beautiful sense of inner peace without the perpetual interference of others. In no time at all, your confidence will grow and you’ll be feeling better about yourself than ever before.
More Time For Your Interests.
When you are living alone you’ll soon find that you have far more spare time than you did before. This can be daunting for some people but if you embrace it then you can turn your time of living solo into a hugely positive experience; so why not take up painting or learn to play the piano or guitar?
The best way to thrive while living alone is stay busy and focus on self improvement and other personal projects that you might have had in mind before but could never quite make the time for.
I eat all kinds of food. You need food to get the energy to keep you going. But I am not a foodie. So I am less interested in the Italian cuisine. However, I am very interested in art and architecture and history in general. So I focus on that when I am in Italy. I do not have to compromise. This is a big advantage of living solo.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Solo Living In Italy?
Before you start to live on your own you need to be honest with yourself and remember that it’s not all upsides!
Higher Cost Of Living.
It’s only natural that if you’re not sharing the daily costs of life such as rent, utility bills and the groceries, then it will be more expensive. There is an old saying which points out that 2 can live as cheap as 1; and although it’s not quite true it’s pretty much right.
However, unlike in other Western countries, the cost of living is so low in Italy that even if you are living solo the costs are by no means unmanageable. You can rent an apartment for as little as $350 a month in rural areas and $500 to $700 a month in the cities!
Food is also very cheap, especially if you buy it in local supermarkets and cook for yourself. You can save more money by taking public transport instead of driving because the buses and train tickets are extremely reasonable; with generous loyalty card schemes you can take advantage of to bring prices even further down.
Solo Living Can Be Lonely.
I can go without any significant human contact for years and still be very happy and content. But I know that solo living is not for everybody. There are always going to be times when you get home after a tough day and would just like to tell someone about what happened; but when you’re living alone this is not possible. Some people suffer more from loneliness than others, particularly if they are extroverts, but with modern telecommunications you can always connect with friends and family overseas.
Another factor to remember, if you’re worried about loneliness, is that Italian society is very friendly and open. This means you can walk into almost any bar or cafe and strike up a conversation and start making new friends. The great thing is, once you start to make friends with local Italians they will quickly start to treat you like their own family; so if you get out and about a little bit you won’t stay lonely for long!
Italy is one of the safest countries to live in the world with an extremely low crime rate compared to most major American or Western European cities. As well as the low crime rates, neighbors and communities are very friendly and always look out for one another, and this includes newer arrivals such as Expats. You’ll quickly find yourself with a nice network of friends and acquaintances in your community once you move to Italy.
Some people will naturally worry about safety issues while living alone. This is true if you are living solo in the United States also. Italy is similar to the US in the sense that your safety depends on where you live. If you live in the big Italian cities like Rome, Florence, Milan, Naples, Turin, Palermo, Bologna and Genoa, you have to take the precautions that you would take if you live Philadelphia, New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston. Also, not all neighborhoods in the Italian cities have a crime problem. You have to talk to your real estate agent and get a feel of the neighborhoods before buying or renting a property in these cities.
Another thing that you have to consider is tourism. Do you live in a town or neighborhood that sees a lot of tourists? If yes, you can assume that the area will experience some criminal activity. Pickpocketing and other small crimes aimed at tourists are very common in Italy and also in Spain.
There’s No One To Help You.
There are times in all of your lives when we need a little bit of help, and whether it’s a large or small thing it’s nice to have someone around you who can always offer you a hand. Living alone means this is often out of the question and you’ll have to deal with any issues that arise on your own.
But once again, remember how friendly the Italians are! If you’re in a tight spot you can always turn to your local friends for a little help. Alternatively, even if you are new to the country, the large community of Expats will always be willing to help you out in any way that they can. Try to get connected with other Expats, even if it’s just on social media groups, so you know that someone has your back in an emergency.
Solo Living Isn’t For Everyone But It Can Be Massively Exhilarating.
Although it’s true to say that many people would never like to live alone, there are many others who thrive and find it a wonderful experience. Don’t forget either, just because you live alone today it doesn’t mean that you need to live alone for the rest of your life!
The best way to look at solo living is to see it as a major opportunity for self improvement, personal growth and development. You can use the time to focus on your work or studies while exploring the incredible culture and society of Italy.