What Are the Pros, Cons, and The Best Places to Retire in Italy?
Living in Italy is a dream come true for many people, especially those who are used to the hustle and bustle of crowded metropolitan regions. If you’re planning to hang up your work boots, you should consider about retire to Italy, a peaceful destination where many expats find comfort. To understand why we wrote an article about retirement in Italy, some context first.
Our consultancy’s team penned this article after reviewing similar pieces about other popular retirement destinations for non-EU and EU citizens, such as:
- Why Retire to Bali (Indonesia)
- The Pros, Cons, and Costs of Retirement in the Dominican Republic
- All You Need to Know about Retirement in Nicaragua
- Retirement in Jamaica – Pros and Cons
- Retirement in Argentina – An Unbiased Guide
- Peru: Retirees Choose This Country Due to Low Costs and Simple Pleasures… But Is It Safe?
- Retirement in Finland – Pros, Cons, and Costs
- The Pros, Cons, and Costs of Switzerland as a Retirement Destination
- What You Must Know to Retire to the Netherlands
- The greatest cities to retire in Spain as a foreigner.
- The Best Places to Retire in Portugal.
And we must be honest: while the distance and traffic of Bali, the violence of Jamaica, and the economic instability of Argentina are big cons for anyone considering retiring there, it is truly difficult to find points against retirement in Italy. The capital of this country is also one of the most beautiful European capitals overall.
We believe you already considered Italy in your plans, which must be why you are here. Italy is a beautiful place—the scenery, weather, food, ambiance, adventure, and many other attractive qualities. These qualities make Italy one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
Is Italy A Good Place To Retire?
Your retirement is prime time. It’s when you can freely explore the world at your own pace. You want to avoid being stuck in a place you don’t enjoy. That is why we decided to take most of your pain away by showing you an ideal retirement location—Italy.
If you are considering retiring abroad, our list of 24 countries that offer retirement visas is a must-read. For a place close to Italy but even cheaper, check our piece about retirement in Croatia. If you are looking for a place to retire on the western side of the Atlantic Ocean, check out our article about retirement in Uruguay.
Retiring in Italy – Pros and Cons
Pros of Retirement in Italy
Here are a few things you’d enjoy as a resident of Italy;
Italy is known for the quality of its healthcare system. It is ranked as the 8th country with the best healthcare systems by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Without sound healthcare systems, a lot of things will go wrong. There will be a poor quality of life and a lower life expectancy. This is why you must consider a country that offers this perk, and Italy is one of them. All this is even more important when we are talking about retirement.
Additionally, Italy has also some top-notch private hospitals, especially in the northern part of the country.
Italy is a safe place to live in. Generally, it has a low violent crime rate, so you don’t have to worry much about violent attackers, burglars, and the like. If it weren’t so safe, it would not continue to house thousands of tourists year after year; think about it.
The homicide rate of Italy is only 0.57 murders per 100,000 residents per year. That is extremely low. To put it into perspective, the entire country has less than 400 murders per year. That is a number similar to a single city in the US (Baltimore).
Italy usually has a predominantly warm Mediterranean climate with dry and sunny hot summers and cold, sometimes rainy winters. The weather is very different for each region, though. Sometimes, the weather can change greatly across the different regions, granting a healthy variety even during short trips.
Cost of living
The cost of living in Italy is relatively low—15.85% lower than that of the United States. It is one of the cheapest countries to live in. It is ranked as the 4th cheapest country in Western Europe. So if you have a low budget in mind, this is the perfect place for you.
According to Numbeo, Italy has a lower cost of living than countries like Uruguay, France, or Belgium.
The main reason why Italy is on the top list of the most visited countries in the world is because of its great scenery. Italy is so beautiful, with a great vibe that is especially perfect for retirees who are not used to such everyday sights.
Cons Of Retiring In Italy
Like any other thing in the world, retiring in Italy has its downsides. Here are a few you must take note of;
● Language Barrier
Although some residents of Italy speak a considerable measure of English, you won’t find that everywhere. You may need to learn a bit of the Italian language, especially if you want to live in rural areas. So if you can’t speak Italian, you may have difficulty navigating and settling in these places.
However, in larger cities in the south or almost any city in northern regions like Lombardy, you would be ok with English, although learning Italian is still recommended and fun.
● Cost of Living
Is this a means to go against the point we made in the previous section? Not. The cost of living in Italy is low, but not in large, richer cities. For example, the cost of properties in Italian urban cities—such as Milan, Rome, Turin, etc.—may cost higher than in cities in the rural region. So if you really want to move to Italy but have a low budget, you may need to cut your coat according to your size.
In Italy, tax rates are progressive and also depend on your region. But generally, they range from 23% to 43%. Additional taxes are also due at the regional (0.9% to 1.4%) and local (0.1% to 0.8%) levels. Compared to the U.S., Italian taxes are 23% higher.
The Italian government and agencies can be frustrating at times. There are times when you need urgent attention with administrative issues, but the bureaucracy can get in the way. Getting official things done can be quite time and effort-consuming in Italy.
How Much Does It Cost To Retire In Italy
Before you move to Italy, it is very important to manage your expectations beforehand. You should know how much it costs to live in the country, so you can plan your pockets accordingly. That is the purpose of this section—to help you plan.
Now, the following are the most important living expenses you should note and how much they cost on average; in a mid-sized city (meaning NOT Milan, Rome, Firenze, etc.)
● Housing (85 m²) – €860 per month
● Private healthcare for an elderly couple: from €1,500 to €2800 per year, depending on pre-existing conditions.
● Food and groceries for a couple: from €410 to €780, depending of the standard.
● Utilities – from €120 to €190, although prices vary between the summer and winter (more expensive due to heating).
● Public transportation pass (per month) – €35, but sometimes it can be for free, depending of the province and the age.
● Internet – €27
Generally, the farther to the South you go, the lesser the cost of living, unless we are talking about cities like Rome or Florence.
Cost of Living in Bergamo (Italy) vs Valência (Spain) and Tampa (the USA)
It’s time for a comparison of the cost of living in Italy. I will not compare the living costs of Italy with those of New York or London, because nearly anywhere in the world is cheaper than those two cities.
Let’s compare the cost of living in a mid-sized Italian city (Bergamo, in Lombardy, a city very close to Milan and served by an international airport) with the best city for retirement in Europe (Valencia, Spain) and one of the favorite cities for pensioners in the USA (Tampa, Florida).
Remember that there are multiple cities in Italy that are cheaper than Bergamo, especially in the southern regions.
|Values in USD
|Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant
|Domestic Beer (0.5-liter draught) in a supermarket
|Eggs (regular) (12)
|Chicken Fillets (1kg)
|Gasoline (1 liter)
|Utilities (Electricity, Water, Garbage, etc.) for 85m2 Apartment, monthly
|Internet (60 Mbps or More)
|Cinema, International Release, 1 Seat
|Short visit to private doctor (15 minutes)
|Standard men’s haircut in an expat area of the city
|Rent of an apartment (1 bedroom) in the City Centre
|Price per Square Meter to Buy an Apartment in the City Centre
Can Americans Retire in Italy?
Yes, absolutely. There are 29,182 pensioners or beneficiaries who are U.S. citizens living in Italy as we speak. All you need is the right visa and permit. How does it all work?
If you’re a member of the European Union or merely visiting Italy, you don’t need a visa. But if you’re not, you definitely need a visa. The most popular visa for retirees is the Italian Elective Residence visa.
The visa will not give you access to hold a paid job in Italy, though. For that to happen, you’ll need to submit some proof of sufficient income or assets. Also, be prepared to submit proof of owning or renting a home in Italy and proof of EU-wide valid health insurance.
Note that without the Italian elective residence visa, you can’t apply for or gain permanent residency. You also need to provide evidence of sufficient retirement funds— an annual requirement of €31,160 for individuals and €38,000 for married couples.
Once your visa is approved and you move to the country, it is advisable to apply for a temporary residence permit called Permisso di soggiorno.
After living in Italy for five years without interruptions, you can then apply for a permanent residence permit called Carta di soggiorno. With this permit, you can live and work in Italy and enjoy similar rights and benefits to Italian citizens.
For a residency visa (or Permisso di soggiorno) you will need, besides the requirement mentioned above, the following documents:
- passport and visa with which you entered Italy (and a copy of both)
- request form and documents about your reason for staying in Italy
- 4 recent passport photos
- a € 16.00 stamp, which you buy from a tobacconist
- a receipt of payment (make this payment to the post office with a bulletin ) of
- €40 for a permit valid from 3 months to 1 year
- €50 for a permit valid from 1 year to 2 years
- €100 for a permit valid for longer than 2 years
- receipt of payment of € 30.46 to print your permit (make this payment to the post office)
- payment of €30 for sending your request (only if you apply at the post office)
In Italy, not only the visa process and residency permit but most bureaucratic processes demand a lot of printed documents. It is a good idea to have all of them in a folder in case you need them.
Best Places to Retire in Italy
Where to Retire in Italy Cheap
Abruzzo, with some of the cheapest cities to retire in Italy
Public transportation is very good in Abruzzo. The area has easy access to Rome by train and bus. In Pescara, the capital of Abruzzo, there is an airport with cheap flights all over Europe.
People often say that the landscape looks like Tuscany. Like Tuscany, Abruzzo is full of towns and villages from the Middle Ages that sit on top of rolling hills. But the prices are nothing like Tuscany. You can live the same kind of life for a lot less money. The region of Abruzzo is known for being one of the most reasonably priced in all of Italy.
Piedmont, where small cities like Ivrea have connectivity and low costs
The town of Ivrea is located in northwest Italy’s Piedmont region and it is considered one of the best small cities in Europe to retire. The town is surrounded by five lakes: Sirio, San Michele, Pistono, Nero, and Campagna, all of which are close to the Aosta Valley. On July 1st, 2018, Ivrea was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Ivrea is a small town with fewer than 24,000 residents. Despite being small, it is situated between Turin and Milan, two of Europe’s biggest cities. Ivrea gains the particular advantage of having access to top-notch infrastructure and services while keeping very cheap living costs as a result.
Puglia, Where Sunshine Comes Together with Low Living Costs
Puglia has two airports, in Bari and Brindisi. Both airports have international flights, but Bari has more of them. A robust bus system, as well as occasional train service, connects the area’s inhabitants.
Puglia is one of the cheapest places to live in Italy and a popular place for Italians to go on vacation. July and August are very busy months. If you own property here, you can rent it out during these months and make money. This still lets you enjoy the good weather in June and September.
There are some good things about living here in the winter. The food is cheaper, and in the case of seafood, it is also fresher.
Best Places to Live in Italy for Americans
Region of Lombardia (Lombardy)
Lombardy is the best place to retire if you’ve been saving and budgeting your entire life and now want to treat yourself to a life of lavish comfort and leisure.
Picturesque though it may be, the northern Italian area that is home to Milan, the worldwide hub of high fashion, and the playground of the wealthy and famous, has some of the highest living costs in all of Italy.
Also, you don’t necessarily need to live in a large city like Milan. There are plenty of small or medium-sized cities like Bergamo or Mantua.
Expats in Lombardy gush about the region’s spectacular natural beauty and laid-back lifestyle in the surrounding countryside, as well as Milan’s outstanding cultural scene, historical architecture, and world-class medical services.
Lake Como is much more than simply a gorgeous getaway for Movie celebrities and has been featured in numerous classic movies. Due to the exposition to tourists and international stars, it is not difficult to find people who speak English.
In a tranquil setting and convenient location just outside of Milan. Relax and take a break from city life here.
Como, Lecco, and Brienno are just a few of the towns around the lake. They are breathtaking, and it’s not difficult to go from one to the other.
The pace of life in these communities is often slow and peaceful. There are several restaurants, cafés, and pubs for the locals (several of whom are elderly) and visitors, but there isn’t much in the way of entertainment, and the nightlife is often somewhat modest. On the other hand, it is not difficult to experience the night buzz in Milan, not far away.
Since Milan, home to famous fashion brands and a massive international airport is so near, residents may enjoy the best of both urban and rural settings.
Now that you’ve been exposed to all you need to know about retiring in Italy, what do you think about the idea? We hope this article helps you to make good and informed decisions in your retirement journey. All the best!
If you enjoyed this article about how to retire in Italy, here are a few other reading suggestions for you:
Levi Borba is the founder of The Expatriate Consultancy, creator of the channel The Expat, and best-selling author. Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, meaning that the author will have a commission for any transaction.