If you’re thinking of moving to Italy, you might not know where to begin in the process. How can one legally live there? Where is the best place to live? In this article, we outline the most important things to know when it comes to relocating to the Bel Paese.

  1. Initial research

When embarking on the journey of relocating to Italy, it’s crucial to begin by defining your objectives. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to establishing a new life in this beautiful European country. Your objectives should encompass both career aspirations (such as employment or education), your preferred place of residence, and ensuring alignment with your financial resources.

Italy has numerous enchanting destinations to offer, from the hills of Tuscany to the mountainous areas in regions such as Trentino-Alto Adige, to the bustle of cities like Milan and Rome. While Florence and Rome are captivating places, it’s essential to consider that property prices in these cities can be quite steep due to their immense tourist appeal. For this reason, it is worth exploring less touristic cities, such as Turin, or even Palermo, the capital of Sicily.

However, don’t discount rural locations either. Italy offers numerous picturesque countryside vistas beyond the well-known Tuscany, which remains one of the country’s most expensive property markets, commanding an average of €2,344 per square meter, according to the 2022 Idealista Price Index. The southern regions, including Basilicata and Puglia, boast some of the most beautiful landscapes Italy has to offer. Additionally, a region like Emilia-Romagna offers the best of both worlds, with charming villages and enchanting countryside. Rest assured, wherever you choose, you will find plenty of good food and welcoming communities.

After deciding where to live based on your work, studies, budget, and/or personal preferences, it’s time to search for a dream apartment or home. To safeguard against potential scams, consider enlisting the services of a trusted company to help in your search, such as Italian Real Estate Lawyers. We are dedicated to helping you find the best accommodation that aligns with your goals and lifestyle in Italy. Our support encompasses every step of the process, commencing with the initial property search, conducting property due diligence, drafting offers, and guiding you through the intricacies of the final deed of sale. We specialize in assisting clients making overseas purchases—an invaluable resource when physical presence is not feasible.

Another crucial aspect to address from the start is your budget. Will you be working in or retiring to Italy, and what does your income situation look like? A clear understanding of your financial means, both in terms of your current resources and your anticipated income in Italy, along with the overall cost of living in your desired region, will greatly facilitate your planning process. Generally, the cost of living in Italy is considerably lower than the U.S., around 30%-40%. This is heavily dependent on where you choose to live, your income, and your lifestyle. Italian salaries are also generally lower than those in the U.S., although this can fluctuate significantly based on your industry and the specific region in Italy where you are employed.

  1. The legalities

The next question to consider is how you can legally move to Italy. Luckily, there are a number of visa options available for non-EU citizens. If you are an EU citizen, you won’t need a visa. Additionally, certain individuals might even qualify for Italian citizenship by descent, allowing them to complete their application while in Italy. For all planning to relocate, it’s important to understand any work-related stipulations associated with your visa category. For example, those on a student visa are limited to 20 hours per week, while those on an elective residence visa are prohibited from employment and must rely solely on passive income sources.

For non-EU citizens, there are many visa options, depending on your goals. These include:

  • Study visa
  • Work visa
  • Family reunification visa
  • Self-employment visa
  • Elective residence visa
  • Investor visa
  • Research visa

Be sure to look on your local consulate’s website for the particular requirements for the visa you intend to apply for. It’s advisable to schedule an appointment with your consulate well in advance, as they may experience significant backlog periods. Additionally, ensure that your passport contains a minimum of three blank pages and is not in need of renewal. Gather all your required documents, and if necessary, have them professionally translated. It’s recommended to commence the preparation of these essential materials at least three months before your intended application date.

Residence permit (permesso di soggiorno)
Regardless of the type of visa you obtain, you will need to apply for your residence permit, or permesso di soggiorno, within eight days of arrival in Italy.


The permesso di soggiorno application is referred to as a “kit” and can be found at most Italian Post Offices. Typically, you will need to include much of the same documentation as originally required for your visa application, so make sure to have both the originals and photocopies with you.

The submission of these documents varies depending on your specific type of residence permit, which is linked to your visa, and your location within Italy. In most instances, you will submit the application kit along with your documents at the local Post Office (where you obtained the application kit). They will then provide you with an appointment at the Questura (Police Office for Immigration) for a later date, which may be several months away, a common occurrence. It’s important to note that you should only provide copies of your documents to the Poste, not the originals. At the Questura appointment, you should bring your original documents and copies. A good rule of thumb is to bring more documents than you think you need, as the requirements can change depending on your specific visa type and the location of your application.

For EU citizens planning to stay in Italy for longer than three months, it’s also necessary to declare residency at the local police station.

  1. Things you need in Italy

There are a number of practical items that will be essential for day-to-day life in Italy, and some of these may be required for your upcoming Questura appointment. Therefore, it’s advisable to obtain these items as soon as possible upon your arrival.

Tax code (codice fiscale)
Another important thing to get is your tax code, or codice fiscale. Unlike the American equivalent, the Social Security Number, the codice fiscale is widely used for various purposes in Italy, including work and housing contracts, opening a bank account, and even obtaining an Italian phone number.

Obtaining the codice fiscale is relatively straightforward. Visit the local Tax Revenue Agency (Agenzia delle Entrate) with your passport, proof of address, visa, and permesso di soggiorno. Keep in mind that they may request additional documentation, so it’s a good idea to check their specific requirements online before your visit.

Health insurance
One valuable benefit you should make use of is Italy’s national healthcare system. You can enroll in it at the local regional Health Department (Azienda Sanitaria Locale, o ASL). To complete the registration, you will need to provide your passport, permesso di soggiorno, tax code, and pay a small fee.  It’s important to note that you must also be a registered resident in Italy, and you might be asked to provide a copy of your residential declaration from the Anagrafe (records) office of the town where you reside.

If you are an EU citizen and have health insurance in your home country, you will be covered in Italy.

Italian SIM
It is also recommended that you get an Italian SIM card. There are numerous phone companies to choose from, and monthly prices typically offer generous data allowances at affordable rates (for example, €14 for 70 GB/month). This will facilitate your communication needs during your stay.

Italian bank account
Something you might also want to consider is opening an Italian bank account. The necessity for this will depend on your employment situation and the source of your income. For instance, if you’re a student, it might not be a mandatory step. The specific documents required for opening a bank account can vary based on several factors, including whether you are an EU or non-EU citizen, your status as a registered resident of Italy, and other individual circumstances.

Driving license
Obtaining a Driver’s License is optional and is most likely not necessary if you’re planning to live in a city. If you are an EU citizen and have a driving license from an EU country, it is valid in Italy. If you are outside the EU, it depends. There are some cases in which you can exchange your license for an Italian one. In other cases, including for Americans, you can drive on a touristic International Permit (that accompanies your valid driving license) for one year. After that time, you must apply for an Italian driving license, which includes passing a comprehensive theory exam in Italian as well as a driving test. Keep in mind too that in Italy, as in the rest of Europe, manual cars are most common, but automatic transmission vehicles can be found.

  1. Embrace Italian culture

A final wise word of advice is to embrace the culture — Open yourself up to new experiences, exploration, and meeting new people. Stay flexible and be receptive to all the opportunities that come your way.

Learn Italian
Regardless of whether you’re a student or require Italian for your work or studies, investing time in learning the language is crucial. It not only simplifies day-to-day tasks and bureaucratic procedures but also enhances your ability to integrate into the culture and connect with others. Seek out language schools in your vicinity to explore your options.

Build a Support System
When embarking on a significant move to a foreign country, it’s essential to think about your support system. This can encompass individuals you’re relocating with, co-workers or fellow students, contacts already in Italy, or perhaps religious or volunteer groups you intend to join. Moving to a new place can be challenging, and having a network of people you can rely on can make the transition smoother.

In conclusion
This article has sought to break down a general list of things to keep in mind if you’re planning to move to Italy. If you’re interested in purchasing property in this beautiful country, we are happy to assist you! Feel free to contact us at info@italianrealestatelawyers.com.


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