• published on 10/25/2023
  • 5min

Living in Italy as an Expat

Relocating to a new country can be exciting, providing plenty of opportunities for adventure. If you’re considering moving to Italy or have recently moved here, understanding different aspects about Italian life can be useful.

Living in Italy as an expat

Table of contents

1. Italy's healthcare system

2. Speaking the language

3. Finding a place to live

4. Transport

5. Visas and residency

Knowing how the healthcare system works, how to navigate the transport system, or speaking the language can be incredibly helpful when you have just arrived in your destination and everything feels unfamiliar.

We’ve put together a blog with information to help you understand more about what life in Italy is like for expats.

Italy's healthcare system

Italy’s healthcare system is called the Servizio Sanitario Nationale (SSN) and is funded by taxes. You must register with the SSN if you’re going to be living in Italy for longer than three months.

Under this, you can access some basic medical services for free, which includes GP appointments and specialist consultations with a physician who is registered with the SSN, as well as certain prescription drugs. However, there might be occasions where you need to co-pay for healthcare in Italy, and some services that are not included with the SSN.

As an alternative, you could also consider an international health insurance plan to help protect your healthcare needs. This is a good option if you travel around a lot, as you can seek treatment in different countries within your area of cover.

It can also give you peace of mind that your medical needs will be met if you fall ill unexpectedly. To learn more about what is covered in international medical insurance plans, check out our blog here.

Speaking the language

When moving to a new country, speaking the local language can be valuable. It can make everyday tasks easier, such as going to the supermarket, talking with people over the phone, or understanding directions.

If you decide to move to Italy, consider taking some language classes before your go. This will help you learn the basics of the dialect and allow you to feel more confident talking with people when you reach your destination.

Being able to speak Italian can also be beneficial when completing important administration tasks. For example, talking with property agents, utility companies and local government offices in Italian may make the process faster and more straightforward.

It is a great way to immerse yourself in Italian culture as well, enabling you to understand dialogue in TV shows and literature. You can use it as an opportunity to make some new friends in the area, making the location feel more like home.

Finding a place to live

Take the time to think about what is important to you in a destination when you begin looking for somewhere to live. Factors to consider include cost of living in the area, schools, climate, and job opportunities.

There are many options available for expats, from the colder temperatures and mountainous landscapes in the north, to the soaring temperatures and picturesque Amalfi coast in the south. Major cities in Italy include Turin, Milan and Brescia to the north, and Naples, Rome, and Palermo to the south.

Once you have decided on a destination, the next step is to find accommodation. Whether you want to rent or purchase a property will depend on your individual circumstances. If you wish to rent a place to live, some of the main rental contracts you could encounter are:

  • Long-term contracts: One popular long-term lease is known as the 4x4 contract. It lasts four years, and can be renewed for a further four years at the end of the initial period. Other kinds of long-term leases include the 3x2 agreement, which works in a similar way to the 4x4, where the tenant signs a contract for three years and then can renew for another two years.

  • Short-term contracts: This agreement will normally last between one year and 18 months.

  • Student contracts: These rental contracts are usually for a period of between three months and three years.

For people who want to buy a property, there are many ways you can begin your search: looking online at property listings or getting in touch with a real estate agent are some of the main methods for this. Buying a home is a big investment that may take time, so it is important to bear this in mind.

If you don’t speak the local language then enlisting an agent’s assistance can make the process easier for you.


There are a variety of different transport options to help you travel around Italy, which includes trains, metros, and trams. Most major cities, such as Milan, Rome, and Turin, have large metro systems which provide fast and reliable transport.

Italy’s efficient train network consists of both high-speed and slower-speed travel options. A high-speed train offers easy connection between various cities in the country, travelling at distances of up to 185mph.

Slower trains are a more cost-effective way to travel, but you will likely stop at more stations on your journey. One of the benefits of using trains it that you can enjoy views of the beautiful Italian countryside as you travel through different landscapes.

Another mode of transport in Italy is buses, which service smaller areas as well as larger cities. Long-distance bus routes also act as an alternative form of travelling across the country when train services might not be available in your location.

Visas and residency

Another important matter to think about if you want to move abroad is securing your visa and also residency in some cases. The type of visa you need for Italy will depend on your individual situation, but could depend on the following factors:

  • How long you are staying in the country for

  • Your nationality

  • If you’re planning to work in the country

If you want to become a resident, then the requirements will differ based on your nationality. For example, if you’re not from the EU and are remaining in the country for longer than three months, then you will need to to apply for a residency permit.

The process of applying for a visa for Italy could be lengthy, so it is recommended you give yourself plenty of time for obtaining one before your move. To find out what kind of visa you need to live in Italy, check out the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affair’s website.