Probably this is the question you should start with when thinking about a possibility to move to Italy – where to.
Since our family went through the selection process quite recently, I decided to put together and share with you some of our suggestions on how to narrow down the search and really come to the place that matches your needs.
First and the most important is to understand that Italy is really a big country and it is very diverse. If you have read a bit about the history, you will understand where the diversity comes from. But this means that no region is like the other – North Italy is not the same as South Italy, every seaside is different (with 5 seas surrounding Italy), all mountains are not the same etc. Italy has 20 regions and 107 provinces and each of them is different when it comes to culture, ways of living, climate, food, and drinks and even the architecture.
Considering this my first piece of advice is to go through the basic questions and points that I have listed below and map your preferences – this will help to narrow down the area to a certain region or several regions. And this will help you to think with a clear head as it is really so easy to fall in love with the first city that you visit here in Italy and just later discover that it was not what you were looking for.
So I suggest you to ask yourself:
- Where to you want to live in Italy – do you want to be living close to the sea, or in the mountains, or maybe in the center of the country?
- If you want to live by the seaside, is it important for you to live by the well-equipped and accessible beach or also the rocky costs are fine for you (beaches are very diverse in Italy, keep it in mind). Check a bit of pictures of the seas and see which one suits your preference best.
- If you do not want to live by the seaside but want to be next to the water – would it be a lake or a river you prefer. What type of a lake or river (how big, how deep, what type of a water etc.). Look in the map where those types of water are and read about them.
- Maybe you want to live in the mountains – how high the altitude would suit you and should there be some skiing tracks nearby with some specific equipment. Or maybe you are looking for tracking options and you need another type of mountain. Again, check them in the map and read about them. Maybe you are afraid of Volcanoes? If yes, you need to know that Italy has some active volcanoes and many that are sleeping.
- Do you want a warm climate all year round, or do you prefer to have a mild winter, or maybe you want to have snow in the winter. Have you explored the wind map of Italy and are you aware that there are quite heavy winds in some of the regions. Be aware that there is a winter in Italy everywhere (but of course in South it is very mild) so if you want a place to live without a winter at all, you should aim for a different country.
Those first 5 points should bring you closer to a specific area in Italy – maybe it is still a large area, but you are getting there. Here are more questions that will help you to narrow down your search even more:
- Do you want to live in a large town, or do you prefer a smaller town, or a village, or maybe you are looking for a place in the countryside? Think of the size of the city you are looking for and look them up on the map. Anything that could match your needs?
- Do you want to live in an apartment, town villa or maybe an individual villa in the countryside?
- What is your budget – be aware that usually housing in big cities and up in the North will be more expensive than the one in smaller cities and in the South.
- Do you want to live in an international environment, or you prefer to be in a pure Italian community (as pure as it is possible here of course). If you opt for a more international environment, you need to look at bigger cities and cities that have some universities in them or also beach cities. If you are looking for an Italian environment, look more in the middle of the country or further to the South.
- Are you considering the towns that are high on tourist attractions – meaning is it o.k. for you to see a lot of tourists around you most of the time? It may sound like a very weird question, but I see many expats who are complaining about having selected towns that are too touristy thus having no privacy during the tourism season.
- What communications do you need nearby – a train line, airport etc. How close do they need to be, any specific connections that you need to have? Maybe you are planning to fly to the USA or UK every two months – in this case proximity of an airport is rather important.
- What conveniences to you need and how close they must be (depends on if you plan to have a car or not) – kindergarten, school (remember that there are 3 levels of school before university and they may not all be in one city as they are usually located in different buildings), stores, pharmacies, doctors’ offices, hospitals etc.
- Will you be looking for a job in Italy and if you have a specific field you want to work with – where are located the companies that can potentially employ you. Think of where you could possibly work and then look where those companies could be located in Italy.
- Is there any specific food or drinks that you are looking for or dreaming about that can be found only in a specific region of Italy. Of course, all food is amazing here, yet maybe you have some preferences that are worth including in the search map.
- Do you have any specific health problems that require some special conditions or treatments – where can they be received in Italy and can it be that the service quality or prices vary in different regions. It is worth exploring.
- Are you looking for indulging into sports, where is it available (of course some kinds of sports are available everywhere, like f.ex. football, but if you want to play f.ex. tennis you may not find the premises in every city). Or maybe you are a passionate mountain bike driver or a runner – what areas would suit your sports activities best?
- Are there any type of insects or animals that you do not want to live next to in Italy (there are many different ones here and they are not the same in all regions). If you have some issues with them, check out where they live not to end up living in the area where it is their home.
- Most of Italy has high levels of humidity during winter season – are you aware of it and is it o.k. for you. Also are you aware of the earthquakes and very strong winds that are present in Italy. Check the map and read about this in order first to be informed and second to know that the area you have selected is o.k. for you.
With all of those questions answered, rationally and calmly, you should be getting already one or several locations that match all the boxes. And once you have them you need to come and visit in person. Nothing can compare with a physical visit, and I suggest making a visit several times a year – not only in the best tourism season but also during the winter months to see what reality looks like. If possible, stay in an apartment rather than a fancy hotel – this will also help to grasp the reality.
And once you start feeling that you have found your spot, decide and go for it!
Life is too short to think long about making a change that you are dreaming of – make it now and enjoy the life under the Italy`s sun!
I hope the list here will help you in the start of the search journey!