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A Complete Guide to Living in Italy as an American

Americans living in Italy

Buongiorno! Have you always dreamed of moving to Italy? You’ve come to  the right place!  With a population of over 60 million people, and the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites of anywhere, there are many reasons why foreigners, including Americans, are relocating to Italy.

Before delving into learning about how to make your dream of moving to Italy a reality, take a moment to think about the following questions. 

  • Do you imagine being in a country where you get to see architecture and art that you’ve learned about in school?

  • Do you imagine being able to indulge in pasta, pizza, and gelato made from the finest ingredients whenever you’d like? 
  • Do you imagine moving to Italy and having endless options of where you’d like to live? Whether it’s a large city like Rome, a tiny village or settling in a quaint coastal town like Palermo.
  • Do you also imagine being able to hop over to Spain, Croatia, or anywhere else in the region for the weekend – just because you can?

If you’re nodding in agreement to these questions, now’s a good time to stop imagining and start making your dream of living abroad happen by reading this complete guide to hitting refresh in Italy.

Can Americans move to Italy?

Yes, but you’ll need to get your paperwork in order before going. In addition to being able to visit Italy for a total of 90 days within a 180-day period as a tourist, you’ll soon learn about visa options available to U.S. citizens (and other nationalities) planning on moving to Italy.

 

If you’re looking to obtain citizenship, some Americans may qualify to move to Italy through citizenship by descent. If you’re eligible, you could gain an Italian passport and all rights to live and work anywhere in the European Union without the need for a visa or 90-day limitations. 

How to move to Italy

As with any major life decision, relocating to Italy requires time, patience, and research. To help get you going, check out She Hit Refresh’s list of the 12 things you need to do before you move.

In addition to doing your due diligence, try to spend as much time as possible in your future Italian town or city so that you have a better sense of what to expect once you officially move abroad. This can help mitigate potential challenges like
expat depression and apartment search stress.

Visas for Italy

Italy has a few visa options for Americans who’d like to live in the country for an extended period of time. Some possibilities for those interested in relocating to Italy are the residence visa, student visa, work visa, and even a self-employment visa.

For an in depth guide on all your viable visa options in
 Italy, get your copy of I’m Outta Here! An American’s Ultimate Visa Guide to Living in Europe.

book cover of an american's ultimate visa guide to living in Europe

Jobs in Italy for English speakers and Jobs in Italy for Americans

The type of job you can get as an American in Italy depends on your work status, i.e. can you legally work in Italy?

 

While tourism and English teaching jobs are popular opportunities for Americans living in Italy, there are other high-demand jobs that English speakers may qualify. This includes working for an international company focused on tech, science, finance, engineering or other qualified skilled laborer. In addition to having the right credentials, speaking Italian will help you secure a job in these fields. 

 

Along with obtaining work sponsorship from an international company, another option may be to  work remotely if you’re able to obtain a self-employment visa.

Cost of living in Italy

Living in Italy will be about 30% cheaper than what it costs to live in a major city in the United States. For example, a montnly transit ticket in Rome will run about $40 and $127 in New York City. Rent will also run about 44% cheaper in Rome versus New York City with the average amount for an apartment in the center being $1200 compared to $4100 a month.

vespa in italy

Prices for daily expenses and rent are even cheaper if you decide to live in a smaller town or village. Furthermore, while the northern part of Italy tends to be more expensive than the south, prices are still affordable throughout the country. For instance, it’ll cost just over a dollar for one-way transit ticket and a gallon of milk in the southern region of Puglia. A one bedroom apartment, outside the center, will be around $500 a month in this part of the country too. 

Produce is also much less expensive and better quality throughout the country.

Expenses in Italy aren’t as high as other Western European countries such as Ireland and France. However, like most of Europe, gas and electric can add up and be a surprise if you’re used to American prices.

 

Since many people interested in relocating to Italy consider living in Rome and Florence, read on to learn about what your expenses might be if you choose to live in these cities.

Cost of living in Rome

A one bedroom apartment in the heart of the city will set you back about $1200. You can anticipate paying approximately $35 for internet and nearly $200 per month on utilities if you decide to make Rome your home.

Cost of living in Florence

While overall expenses for a single person in Florence are slightly less

than Rome, you can still expect to pay about €750 for a centrally located apartment. Your monthly utility costs will also be slightly less than Rome. 

Best places to live in Italy

You’ve just read about the cost of living in Rome and Florence. In the following section, you’ll learn more about why these cities, as well as a couple of others, are considered some of the best places for Americans moving in Italy. 

Colosseum rome

Rome: Aside from being the largest city in the country, Rome is appealing to those seeking to live in a part of Europe that’s rich in history and culture. Foreigners are also drawn to Rome for its work/life balance, opportunities to build community, close access to the sea, and lower cost of living compared to many other Western European countries. 

Milan: As the fashion capital and one of the most modern cities in Italy, Milan appeals to expats interested in a trendier lifestyle. Even though it’s the most expensive city in Italy, it’s still more affordable than living in European countries like the Netherlands and Germany.

Milan’s location also makes it convenient for traveling to northern Italy and other parts of Europe. Additionally, English is more widely spoken here.

Bologna: Known as the food capital of Italy, if you’re a foodie who loves lasagna and tortellini, you might want to consider getting an apartment or house in Bologna. With a population of about 390,000 people, this charming city is also home to the University of Bologna and students from all over the world. Compared to other Italian cities, Bologna is more liberal and vibrant. There are also plenty of opportunities to enjoy concerts, take in a museum, and attend cultural events.

Florence: Based in the Central-Northern part of Italy, Florence is the capital of the Tuscany region. Along with being more affordable than Milan and Rome, you’ll get to experience all four seasons if you decide to live here. Of course, another perk to living in this part of Italy is treating yourself to wine from Tuscany anytime you’d like!

For more information about the best cities for Americans relocating to Italy, check out  I’m Outta Here! An American’s Ultimate Visa Guide to Living in Europe.

Pros and cons of living in Italy

If you’re ready to relocate to Italy, you’ll be happy to hear that it’s an affordable country to live in and has excellent health care. Other pros to making Italy your new home is that you’ll be able to eat fresh and wholesome food every day, have access to a topnotch education system, a good public transportation system, and gorgeous scenery. Essentially you’ll be living where many Americans only dream of having their ideal vacation! 

Along with all these benefits, you’ll get to enjoy meeting friendly Italians too!

But you might also face some challenges too. This includes adapting to extreme weather patterns in parts of the country, finding a job, learning Italian, and dealing with culture shock. There’s also high unemployment and it’s important to note that English is not widely-spoken.

To help prepare for any foreseeable (and unexpected) challenges upon moving to Italy, take read more about how living abroad can affect your mental health as well as these 11 ways to cope with feeling homesick abroad

Health insurance in Italy

Italy has an excellent health care system that’s extremely affordable compared to the United States. However, care is considered better in the northern part of the country compared to the system in the south. 

 

Most Americans are eligible to access to the public health care system once they’ve met their visa residency requirements. Before then you’ll need to purchase a private plan.

 

To learn more about healthcare in Italy and private insurance companies, check out I’m Outta Here! An American’s Ultimate Visa Guide to Living in Europe.

Can U.S citizens retire in Italy?

Similar to Spain and Portugal, Italy does not have a specific retiree visa for retirees. However, like both countries, there is a visa option for those who can provide proof of income and do not intend to work. You can find more information about visas for retirees in I’m Outta Here! An American’s Ultimate Visa Guide to Living in Europe.

older woman on bike in italy

Purchasing property in Italy

The United States and Italy have an agreement that allows citizens from either country to buy a home in the other country. But keep in mind that purchasing property in Italy isn’t nearly as straightforward as it might be in the U.S. Therefore, it’s recommended to work with a licensed and reputable real estate agent. Feel free to reach out to members of She Hit Refresh’s community to learn from other expats who’ve bought property in Italy. 

An American expat in Italy

Jennifer, 49, is both a survivor and thriver. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, her refresh to Italy was far from an overnight process. During the 10-year span it took Jennifer to make her way to Italy, she left an abusive marriage, dealt with two significant health crises, and processed a failed second career.  

 

Upon leaving her toxic relationship, Jennifer took time to regroup. This led to her accepting a teaching position in China that turned into a three year stint. She also dealt with a brain injury and severe COVID lockdowns during this time. These events propelled Jennifer to research how she could start a new life in Italy.

 

Jennifer made her move to Italy by qualifying for citizenship by descent because her great-grandparents were part of the massive migration that took place in the early 1900s from Italy to America. Since her great-grandparents had become U.S. residents, they were given the choice in the 1940s, (as WW2 came to a close), to obtain U.S. citizenship or be interned. They opted to become US citizens.

 

In the 1990s Italy began to recognize descendants of Italians who did not willingly choose to give up their citizenship and allow them to reclaim it and be recognized as Italian citizens. This is a process called jure sanguinis

 

When Jennifer learned of jure sanguinis, she gathered all required documents and applied for citizenship by descent. Now, she is a recognized Italian citizen with all rights to work, live, and enjoy life just as any other natural born Italian citizen in Italy and any EU member states. 

 

The kindness of a stranger that she met in a Facebook community led Jennifer to Palermo. Ironically, this is near where her great-grandparents are from. Today, Jennifer lives about 200 feet from both the Mediterranean sea and the main piazza in Palermo. 

 

Jennifer has learned to embrace her experience in Italy as an adventure. While she’s had to deal with bureaucracy and struggles to speak Italian, she’s thrilled to be living outside of the U.S., have access to affordable healthcare, be able to buy fresh local produce, and immerse herself in Italian culture. 

 

Jennifer encourages anyone considering relocating to Italy to embrace the uncertainty, learn the language and do plenty of research. She’s also realized that it’s okay to ask for help and be willing to accept it as Italians are extremely kind. 

 

Through Jennifer’s process of becoming an Italian citizen, she and her Sicilian friend established a full-service start-up to assist other Italian descendants from the U.S. and U.K. who would like to become recognized citizens in Italy through jure sanguinis. 

 

In hindsight, Jennifer wishes she would have realized how easy it actually was to qualify for citizenship and moved to Italy 20 years earlier with her children who were young at the time. While this would’ve been an enriching experience for her children, they’re welcome to visit her in Italy whenever they’d like! 

Next steps for relocating to Italy

Now that you’ve reviewed this complete guide, are you ready to get started on planning your move to Italy?

 

If you’re still in the exploratory phase of deciding where in Europe you’d like to live, take a look at She Hit Refresh’s complete guides to Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Ireland, Germany, France, and Iceland for more helpful information that’ll help you decide which country checks all your boxes.

 

Don’t forget to also join She Hit Refresh’s thriving online community to connect with other women over 30 who’ve chosen to live a life of travel.

 

Arrivederci!

All information included in this piece is based on most recent information available at time of writing – January 20, 2022.

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7 thoughts on “A Complete Guide to Living in Italy as an American”

    1. She Hit Refresh

      Hi Sarah! Great question, I do not believe you can pass down citizenship if you are a naturalized Italian citizen.

  1. Angela Whitaker

    Sarah,
    I just obtained my citizenship through descent in February. Because I am now an Italian citizen through blood my two adult sons applied through my consulate and are now also Italian citizens. Because they also live near me they were able to use my consulate in Los Angeles and piggyback on my three years of obtaining all the necessary documents. Good Luck
    Angela

    1. She Hit Refresh

      That’s amazing Angela!! I didn’t realize you can pass on citizenship visa naturalization. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Hi Angela, I’m looking to do the same. Did you use any third parties to help you through the process? Where do suggest beginning my research? Also, what can be expected cost wise? Thank you for any info!

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