Last Updated on December 14, 2023 by Michela
So, you are thinking about moving to Italy? That’s amazing news. But now comes the hard part: how in the world can you decide on the best places to live in Italy when the country has so much variety to offer? Let a future fellow expat help make your difficult choice a lot easier.
I have lived in northern Italy for just about 3 years and traveled up and down the boot for just as long. What is so amazing about Italy for expats is the variety of landscapes, experiences and places it offers all tied to this overall romantic cultural identity of “Italian.”
Choosing where to live in Italy is no easy feat, but I hope my personal insights combined with the latest living in Italy stats will smooth your decision-making process.
Disclaimer: It would be impossible for me or anyone else to know what kind of experience you would have in the place you decide to move in Italy. These suggestions are based on personal knowledge earned from living multiple years in Italy and on data conducted on quality of life and cost of living in Italy. I cannot guarantee that you will have a positive or negative experience if you choose to live in one of the places I have listed or in any other place in Italy.
Furthermore, saying one thing about one place does not exclude it from being true about another place. Our ideas of convenience, cost of living, and all of the other factors mentioned in this article are all relative. If you have specific questions about things, I will do my best to help you get your answer in the comments. Before actually moving and choose where to live in Italy, you should conduct your own in-depth research. Thank you!
Things to Consider Before Moving to Italy
How do you choose the best place to live in Italy? There are many factors to consider. It is also important to recognize that the importance that each individual puts on certain factors will vary.
You might be more interested in finding a place that is convenient to reach, whereas others may put more emphasis on finding a place that aligns best with the landscape they wish to wake up to every morning during their new life in Italy.
Everyone’s definition of convenience will be different, but I mostly mean convenience in terms of location. Is it easy to get around? Is it easy to reach other places and the main facilities and services you could need living in a foreign country?
Cost of living
The cost of living in Italy can vary greatly from region to region, city to city and even town to town. Out of 43 countries in Europe, Italy ranks number 17th in cost of living as of mid-2023. Overall, it finds itself in the middle to upper end of cost of living.
Being an expat in Italy, you may or may not want to make friends with local or other expats. I have tried to outline in each place how easy it is to meet new people and develop new relationships if being in a social atmosphere is on your wishlist.
A lot of expats come to Italy for the views and the food – and who can blame them? It is a fundamental part of what makes Italy so culturally relevant to the entire world. So, considering the environment, the landscape, the cuisine and other cultural elements.
If you’re coming to retire in Italy or are already set up to work as a digital nomad, don’t worry about this last point. But if you are making the move to work and earn a living in Italy, moving to a place with career opportunities is an essential factor to consider.
In general, if you are moving to Italy from the United States or anywhere else in the world, I would tell you that you should learn the Italian language. Not only is it just nice to show you are making an effort to join in on your new culture, but it will also ease so many of your interactions, as well as positively effect your career opportunities.
The Best Places to Live in Italy According to Your Lifestyle
As I mentioned before, the best place to live in Italy for you is going to be completely personal. These are simply recommendations based on what I know and have experienced of these places and what kinds of people I believe they would be right for.
I have included a mini analysis of the factors to consider when moving to Italy listed above so that you can decide for yourself, based on the factors you consider most important, if that area or city seems right for you. This is not meant to be a complete analysis and you must do your own in-depth research to understand if somewhere is right for you.
1. Tuscany: For the quintessential, slow “Dolce Vita” lifestyle
It may seem cliché, but after traveling to Tuscany a handful of times, you realize why you can never get sick of it.
Tuscany is a region in central Italy that just oozes culture, history and all the dolce vita goodness you dream about living in Italy.
Tuscany is a large region, so saying “move to Tuscany” would be generalizing a lot of what it has to offer, meaning it is best you research individual cities and towns to understand what could be the right place for you.
However, I had to put it all in one because any area I have traveled in Tuscany has the same “fall in love with life” character that I am sure many people who desire to move to Italy are after.
Not counting Florence, some of the top areas to live in Tuscany are:
- Siena: The perfect compromise between wanting a bit of city life and the slow Italian lifestyle vibe. Siena is a stunning city that is small but active and well-connected by public transport.
- Montepulciano – Staying in southern Tuscany, Montepulciano is more scenic and definitely more of a small village vibe.
- Lucca – Northern Tuscany, more conveniently located to a lot of different areas, including the sea, Florence, and northern Italy in general.
- Volterra/Chianti region: The area right outside of Florence could be the perfect compromise for those who want the slow and scenic Italian lifestyle but also want to be close enough to a big city to be able to reach convenient facilities.
2. Trentino-Alto Adige: For the nature & mountain lover
If you are all about nature, there is no more spectacular place to live than in Trentino-Alto Adige. This northernmost region of Italy is for someone looking for complete immersion in nature, a slower lifestyle and a particular Italian culture.
The South Tyrol area of Trentino-Alto Adige is a very mountainous region, which means public transportation is fewer and far between. Its culture is also completely unique compared to the rest of the Italian peninsula, as its vicinity to Austria has created this blend of Germanic and Italian tradition.
Convenience is more of an issue in Trentino depending on where you are located, as some places are hard to reach, long to reach or you simply just have more limited options when it comes to things like food and transportation.
Some of the prettiest areas to live in the Trentino-Alto Adige region are the Val Gardena, the Val Pusteria, Bolzano or even in towns more conveniently located along the highway like Bressanone.
3. Milan: For cosmopolitan & career-driven city living
Milan is one of Italy’s biggest cities and a fashion capital of Europe. It is a headquarters for international and large companies, making it one of the most active career-focused places in Italy.
Obviously finding a job in Italy is an important thing to consider before making the move. I have experienced that the market is much more employer rather than employee-focused, meaning often companies have a large, competitive pool to choose from and have the advantage.
While it is the place to be if you are wanting to climb up the career ladder, you should also want to be someone who likes living in large cities. Milan isn’t for the faint of heart, as it is a place that is always active and is the poster child for a big city feel.
Cost of living is also one of the hottest trending topics in Milan at the moment. Rent is very high compared to other places in Italy, even in the outer neighborhoods. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is upwards of €1.500 per month. So, cost of living in general is typically significantly higher.
However, Milan comes with lots of conveniences for everyday life: way more people speaking English, lots of different food options, lots of places to see and visit and many well-connected options for public transportation within and beyond the city.
4. Stresa: For laidback resort-style living on the lake
If your plan is to move to Italy and feel like you are on a constant vacation, then the glamorous, quiet luxury town of Stresa on Lake Maggiore is for you.
Lake Maggiore is one of my favorite lakes in Italy, as it feels like a best kept secret. It is less frequented by tourists and still has stunning natural scenery.
Stresa is a beautiful hillside village with retro grand hotels and a bustling town center. It is also close to the magical Borromean Islands.
Lake Maggiore is the perfect slightly less expensive and definitely less trafficked alternative to Lake Como.
5. Bergamo or Verona: For convenience & culture in a smaller city
Want to move to a place that has the historic charm of Italy but is not a small town in the countryside or a major metropolitan city? Then Bergamo or Verona are for you.
You can still find great job opportunities in these cities, adore the historic centers (both are or have places that are UNESCO World Heritage Sites) and live in an active area without feeling like it is too big or too small.
They are both cities that are well-connected to other major areas of Italy. The cost of living is not as astronomic as the Milan area, but not as valuable as somewhere in central or southern Italy.
6. Florence or Bologna: For convenience & culture in a mid-size city
If you are seeking to balance modern day convenience without moving to a big city with the characteristic cultural experiences you can only get in Italy without moving to a tiny village, then Florence or Bologna are for you.
These central Italian cities are major points of reference for the entire country, however, they both manage to keep a cozier feel that you don’t get in Italy’s other major cities.
Their manageable size is complemented by still a high level of convenience in terms of transportation, cost of living and everyday life needs.
Florence is Italy’s cultural and artistic hub, and it is hard not to fall in love with this city as soon as you step foot in it. I believe Florence is one of the best places to live in Italy as a new expat or as a student.
Check out my Florence neighborhood guide for travelers to also get a better idea of how the city is laid out.
Bologna is the lesser-trafficked but equally culture-rich city of central Italy. Bologna is an incredible place for foodies and those looking for a living abroad experience that is less mainstream but, again, still remains convenient in various aspects of daily life.
7. Rome: For convenience & culture in a large city
Italy’s capital city and recognized UNESCO city, Rome, is one of the best places to live in Italy for expats because of its connections, international appeal and convenience.
Rome is a large, spread out city, but its urban areas are softened by the array of historical monuments you encounter as you make your way through. It offers extensive public transportation options, as well as the arguably most connected rail stations and airports in the country, so you don’t need a car to live in Rome.
It is also one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy (and I could even say the world). So, keep this in mind if the thought of dealing with crowds bothers you.
If you are a hopeless romantic for the big city life, Rome is the more budget-friendly compared to Milan, Italy’s other cosmopolitan hub.
Rome is the perfect combination of convenience and culture in a large city.
8. Turin: For budget-friendly living in northern Italy
Northern Italy tends to be the most costly area when it comes to living in Italy, but places like Turin can offer a wider range of budget-friendly living than centers like Milan or industrial areas.
Turin is in the region of Piedmont and is more tranquil than other large Italian cities. There are also a lot of important companies based in Turin, meaning it could be the perfect compromise for people who don’t want to live in Milan but want to have opportunity to build a big career in international settings.
9. Perugia: For budget-friendly living in central Italy
If you are looking for a budget-friendly, small-sized city in central Italy, then skip Tuscany for Umbria.
Umbria shares many similar characteristics with Tuscany in terms of landscape and feel, but being less famous as a destination, it means cost of living is generally lower.
Perugia is known as a university town, so it is a very relaxed yet culturally rich environment with many things at walking distance. Even though it seems more off the beaten path, it is still well-connected to other areas of Italy.
10. Bari: For budget-friendly living in southern Italy
If your vibe is sun and beach on a budget, then Bari is the historic port city you should definitely check out.
Located in the region of Puglia, Bari is a medium-sized city close to the sea. And while the vibe in general is more laidback, the city is actually emerging as a new economic center of southern Italy. Many companies, especially technology companies, are starting initiatives in Bari or moving operations there, instilling new life in career options.
It is a more affordable place to live than most Italian cities, especially coming from northern or central Italy.
Moving to Italy Resources
Besides this guide based on my research and firsthand experience as an expat in Italy, here are some resources that can help you in your search for the best places to live in Italy before you make the move:
- Cost of living in Italy calculator
- US Embassy Instructions on Moving to Italy
- My Guide to Gaining Dual Citizenship in Italy via Jure Sanguinis
The SGTD Take
I know I have mentioned it already, but choosing a place to live in Italy is such a personal choice.
I hope my general guidelines and suggestions have been able to help you narrow down your options or open your eyes to places you may have not considered before reading this.
All this being said, I encourage you to do in-depth research on your desired place to live. Get in contact with the town government, go visit the place in person, understand the conditions you will be living in before making your forever move.
No matter where you choose to live in Italy, one thing is for sure: you will be in for a life-changing experience.
Questions about making the move to Italy? Ask me in a comment!
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I hope you have gotten inspired by discovering best places to live in Italy!