Why live in Italy?
Perhaps a better question is — why not?
The familiar Italian phrase ‘La Dolce Vita’ literally translates as ‘the sweet life’, and it’s the temptation of this blissful life in almost perpetual sunshine in a land rich with culture, history, glamour, glorious gastronomy and vitality that prompts many Brits to consider moving to Italy from the UK.
Life in Italy is relaxed, thoroughly enjoyable and endlessly interesting, and expats living in Italy benefit from a very high quality of life.
Here’s our guide to the most important things you need to know if you’re thinking of making a move to Italy…
Living in Italy: Best Cities
The north of Italy features spectacular mountain scenery and the glittering lakes of Como and Garda where the jet set come to experience the luxurious surroundings.
Nestling at the base of the Alps, the elegant city of Turin is the hub of Italy’s most up and coming music, food and arts scenes. A host of art nouveau and contemporary architecture, dotted with wide, tree lined avenues and grand squares make this city unique.
Italy’s central region includes the lush rolling countryside of Umbria and Tuscany. It’s here that one of Europe’s great art cities, Florence, is a cultural delight for expats.
Works by Michelangelo, Botticelli, and Leonardo da Vinci are just some of the artistic wonders to be marveled at in this grand city, and it also boasts an effervescent restaurant and nightlife scene.
It goes without saying that Italy’s capital city is a remarkable destination. Rome is endlessly romantic and inspiring.
The city’s historical monuments are some of the most impressive in the world, its streets and piazzas pulsate with energy, and in the evenings traditional trattorias, chic cocktail bars, world class restaurants and hip night clubs all throb with cheerful revelry and invite you to join the party.
In the south the islands of Sicily and Sardinia gleam like pearls in the Mediterranean Sea. Sicily charms your heart with jumbles of pink hued buildings and zesty scented lemon groves.
On the east coast volcanic Mount Etna smokes moodily amongst the dramatic mountain scenery, and the southern coast offers up seductive beaches where you can dine on freshly caught fish and seafood whilst listening to the gentle sound of the ocean waves.
In Sardinia the prehistoric villages and stone structures of the long dead Nuragic peoples are scattered amid the breathtaking natural scenery.
Magnificent sand dunes and superb sandy bays are the perfect place to soak up the sun.
For a taste of how the other half live, head on over to the glitzy Costa Smeralda on Sardinia’s northern coast — it’s a popular hangout for film stars and supermodels.
Cost of Living in Italy
Italy generally lingers at the top end of the list of most expensive EU countries to live in, but this is dependent on where you are based.
Living costs in the wealthier northern part of Italy tend to be higher than in the south, and Italy’s big cities are expensive places to live compared to the country’s rural areas.
That said, on average living in Rome is significantly cheaper (around 30% overall) than living in London.
Taxes in Italy tend to be much lower than in the UK, particularly in the south, but gas and electricity are slightly more expensive.
Cars, fuel and insurance are expensive too, so if you’re on a budget it’s best to make the most of Italy’s excellent public transport system.
Prices for renting or purchasing property vary vastly depending on area, but on the whole accommodation is more affordably priced than in the UK.
In rural areas it is still possible to buy a property at a fairly low price, and live very comfortably on a small income.
If you have children, education in Italy is of a good standard and public education is free. Healthcare is also excellent and is mostly free for expats.
Like for most other things, the climate in Italy varies dramatically from north to south.
In the heart of the mountainous northern regions the weather has seasonal extremes, with winters being snowy and cold with temperatures dropping below freezing, and summers being hot and particularly humid — often with thunderstorms.
Coastal areas benefit from a typically warm Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot, dry summers. Refreshing sea breezes in these areas serve to offer some respite from the sizzling summer temperatures.
The south of the country — including Sardinia and Sicily — can achieve scorching temperatures frequently 32° C or higher in summer, with long periods of continuous sunshine.
The south of Italy has the least rain and the most hours of sunshine of any other part of the country.
The Legal Side of Moving to Italy
Because Italy is a part of the European Union, British expats are free to live and work there without requiring any special visas — of course with Brexit looming on the horizon, in the future this may be subject to change.
For now though, UK expats who want to move to Italy can stay and work without a permit for the first three months.
After this time it is necessary to apply for a residence permit and provide a legitimate reason for their continued stay in the country.
Permits are granted for different periods of time up to two years, after which they will need to be renewed if you wish to continue living the sweet life in wonderful Italy.
Have you thought about moving to Italy from the UK?