Retire In Italy

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Retire In Italy: One Of Europe's Top Romantic Destinations

Reviewed by Kathleen Peddicord

Kathleen is the Live and Invest Overseas Founding Publisher. She has more than 30 years of hands-on experience traveling, living, and buying property around the world.

How Can I Retire In Italy?

To retire in Italy you will need to meet some basic requirements. Potential expats need to be aware of the following before retiring in Italy.

The most basic is that you will need a visa if you want to stay more than 90 days. This visa is the Long-Stay Visa. Luckily, the Long-Stay Visa is easy to get.

Long-Stay Visa

If you want to spend a significant amount of time in Italy you must get a Long-Stay Visa. You must get this visa before arriving in Italy.

To get a Long-Stay Visa you need to visit your local Italian Embassy.

They will give you a Long-Stay Visa form to complete. This must be officially stamped before you arrive in Italy. Once you have your Long-Stay Visa you can go to Italy and start applying for your next visa.

Elective Residency Visa

The most common visa for expats looking to retire in Italy is the Elective Residency Visa. Indeed this is usually known as the Italy Retirement Visa. This visa is for retirees who have a guaranteed income and can provide for themselves in Italy. This money should come from a pension or savings and investments. It cannot be from current employment. Please note that this type of visa forbids you from doing any kind of paid work in Italy.

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Requirements For Elective Residency Visa

You will need a guaranteed income of 31,000 Euros (US$34,400) annually or 38,000 (US$42,170) for a couple. Each dependent increases this amount by a further 20%.

You must provide proof of somewhere to stay. This can either be from buying a property or showing a rental contract. You must show that you have health insurance valid throughout the EU.

A recent, notarized police check certificate must be provided. You will also need to make arrangements to get your money sent to Italy.

The US and Italy have good relations so arranging for the money to be sent is convenient. The Social Security Administration allow checks to be sent directly to accounts in Italy.

Do You Have Italian Ancestry?

For Americans with Italian ancestry, there is the possibility of dual citizenship. This will smooth entry procedures and give you access to many benefits reserved for Italian citizens. Consult with your local consulate about your eligibility. If a member of your family is a citizen of an European Economic Area country, you may also be eligible for an expedited visa. This falls under family reunification rules.

Can Americans Retire In Italy?

Absolutely. If you follow the steps above you can retire in Italy. Italy is becoming a very popular option for Americans looking to retire overseas. The Italian government is keen to attract retirees from abroad into the country to help the economy.

What Is The Retirement Age In Italy?

In 2018 a bill was introduced to lower the retirement age in Italy from 67 to 62. The IMF has warned that this could lower productivity in the country. However the plan has proved popular amongst Italians close to retirement age.

Is It Expensive To Retire In Italy?

People often want to know how much you need to retire in Italy. The truth is there is no set amount. Retiring in Italy can be as cheap or expensive as you want it to be. Italy has plenty of great options for both affordable and luxury living.

Best Options To Retire In Italy

Italy has some of the world’s top options for a cheap retirement.


It’s a mystery how Abruzzo has managed to stay off the radar for so long. The region has it all. Miles of coastline with clear Adriatic waters. Rugged mountains where you can ski and hike in the fresh air. Abruzzo is one of Europe’s great green regions. It three national parks and five more regional parks. It has a Mediterranean climate. This means four distinct seasons but with mild winters. However if you choose to live high up on the mountains you can expect some cold weather during the winter. If you are looking for small town living then Abruzzo is a terrific option. You can buy a property for US$58,000 and in some cases even less. Property close to the beach costs more, but is still affordable by European standards. Abruzzo is a great place to grow your own produce. An allotment can put food on the table throughout the year in a very cost efficient way. On a bigger scale you invest in a vineyard or olive grove.


Sardinia became famous when the mayor Ollolai declared that he would be selling 200 homes from as little as one Euro. Over the past couple decade’s people had been leaving the town and the population was declining. One dollar homes was designed to address that balance. To qualify for these deals you need to do a few of things. One is that you must restore the house within five years. You cannot sell within five years either. You must also pay closing costs. However buyers can qualify for a grant which will fund up to 60% of the renovation costs.

The climate in Sardinia is Mediterranean. The summers are long and dry and the winters are mild but rainy. The great weather makes Sardinia a popular place to spend vacations in the summer. There is almost zero pollution here. The pace of life is relaxed and slow.


Puglia is situated in the south of Italy. If you imagine Italy as a giant boot, Puglia is the heel. Like Sardinia, Puglia has been suffering from a population exodus. Young people are moving to the big cities in search of opportunities and a faster paced lifestyle. Towns here are trying to attract new people to the community by paying them. Candela will pay people to move to their town. A couple moving here will receive 1,200 Euros. While the pace of life might not be to the liking of youngsters, it can be a retirees dream. The community spirit is strong. There is minimal traffic and life moves slowly. In some ways life here is the same as it has been for years. The climate is Mediterranean with mild winters. The summer months are hot and dry. Puglia is one of the driest places in Italy.


Known by the locals as Torino, the northern city of Turin is another often overlooked retirement destination in Italy. Turin offers all the amenities of city life. Museums, cafes, restaurants, bars and excellent public transport. It is a pleasant city to walk around too with plenty of parks and green spaces. Unlike some of Italy’s other big cities, Turin is mostly tourist-free. Turin is a city with a long and rich history. For centuries it was ruled by the House of Savoy and the French influence can still be seen today. The streets and avenues are wide and impressive and so are many of the buildings.

Pros And Cons Of Retiring In Italy


Can Be Very Cheap

A retirement in Italy can be very affordable. As mentioned, real estate prices in some areas are a true bargain. Even more so for a developed European nation.

Rental prices are generally low as well. However they can sometimes require you signing every long lease agreements. The cost of living in Italy is also low.

Fresh local produce is widely available and very cheap.

A couple can live comfortably on US$1,200 per month in most places in Italy. In some cases this can be even less. However the big Northern cities like Milan are expensive.

Public Transport

Italy’s public transport is also very affordable. Cities have efficient networks known as urbanos. The networks serving the countryside are known as extraubano. Sites such as omio can help you navigate Italy by bus.

Rome2Rio is another useful site that can help you navigate your way around any transport system in the world.

Healthy Lifestyle

People tend to eat better in Italy. The Mediterranean diet has long been recognized as one of the healthiest in the world. Expats and retirees tend to move to a better diet in Italy by necessity.

Partly because their favorite unhealthy snacks are no longer available. Partly because of how good the fresh local produce is.

The diet contains a rich array of vitamins and nutrients. Fish, oils, poultry, fruit, vegetables and seeds all feature prominently. Just as well when carb-heavy foods like pasta and pizza are so delicious. Retiring in Italy usually means becoming more active too.

People use their cars much less here. Hobbies like gardening and hiking also get retirees out in the open air more than they otherwise might. Mild winters in much of the country mean you can be outside throughout the year.


The healthcare system in Italy is one of the best in the world.

The healthcare system has been well funded and it shows. Italy is a regular in the WHO top 10 rankings of countries with the best healthcare in the world.

The hospitals are clean and modern with all the latest equipment.

Finding an English-speaking doctor can be difficult. In the big cities you will be able to source one through local expat groups. If you live in more remote areas you will probably have to travel to find one.Italy offers nationalized healthcare for every resident.

Residents pay more or less depending on how much income they receive. Most expats choose to have private healthcare.

The standard is very high but so are the prices. Health insurance in Italy is a must if you are going to go private.

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Italy is one of the culinary capitals of the world. In some cases the Italian food you eat here will be nothing the Italian food you have eaten outside of Italy.

Eating out is a way of life in Italy and as a result there are plenty of affordable options. Most communities have a few fine dining options in the vicinity as well.


You Need To Learn Italian

Italy is most definitely not an English-speaking country. Even in the tourist hotspots such as Venice and Milan you are unlikely to encounter too many people who speak English.

You will need to learn basic Italian just to survive here. To integrate and enjoy life here you will need to make a serious effort to learn Italian.

Luckily Italian is a relatively easy language for English-speakers to pick up. If you already speak French or Spanish then you are at an advantage.

Medication Is Expensive

The price of over the counter drugs such as aspirin are shockingly high. You can expect to pay around US$5 for a pack of 20 aspirin. It’s no surprise that retiree’s bring a big supply with them. If you have friends and family visiting from the States then be sure to get them to bring supplies too.

High Taxes

The downside to the excellent health care and education system is high taxes. Part of the problem is misguided welfare systems (unemployed benefits can be much higher than low paying jobs).

US citizens are also required to pay taxes to the federal government.

As well as the income tax return you may need to file returns for assets held in foreign bank accounts. This form is the FINCEN Form 114.

On the plus side, your pension will only be taxed in the U.S. and not in Italy. IRA’s and 401k’s are not taxed in Italy either. You will continue to pay tax on these in the United States.

Bad Drivers And High Petrol Prices

Italian drivers are notoriously bad and aggressive. Combined with the high petrol prices, driving in Italy is not going to be for everyone. In the countryside things can be more tranquil, but if you have to take trips into the city prepare for the worst. It’s often best to park outside the city and then use public transport. Beware too, that some parts of cities are pedestrianized and you can’t drive your car there. The roads themselves are also in need of investment. Potholes are a common hazard. On rural and mountain passes the roads can be especially difficult to pass.

Other Options For International Retirement Similar To Italy

Within Europe

Within Europe there are a few options you can consider. Like Italy, both Slovenia and Croatia both have Adriatic coastline with pristine beaches. There are lots of choices for historical living and the prices can be very affordable too. France and Portugal both benefit from the same Mediterranean climate that you find in the South of Italy. Prices can vary dramatically in both countries, but both are blessed with affordable living and spectacular countryside. France, like Italy is famous for its cuisine. Portugal has some of the best beaches in the world.

Outside Europe

Argentina has a rich history and culture and is affordable for buyers with dollars or euros. Ecuador is another South American option with affordable living and a long history. Both these countries have mild climates without the humidity you can find elsewhere in South America.

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