The best places to live in Italy for expats and their families

Photo by Michele Bitetto on Unsplash
Photo by Michele Bitetto on Unsplash
20 July 2020, Emma Donaldson

Starting a new life in Italy is a dream for so many, and although it may seem like a romantic ideal, there is no reason why expats shouldn’t consider making Italy their home. La dolce vita is an enticing prospect, particularly in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic where interest in property abroad has increased.

Why is Italy a good country for expats? Italy is a very varied country and has something to suit everyone, from cosmopolitan cities to rolling countryside and beautiful coastline. The climate, food and quality of life make Italy stand out, but the Bel Paese is so much more than just a holiday destination when you consider the high quality schools on offer, among these international and English language schools. As a result, this also makes Italy an ideal destination for those with children. So, for those considering making the move in Italy but haven’t quite decided where, let’s have a look at a selection of the best destinations to live in Italy for expats and their families.


If you’re after a lively and dynamic expat experience, then Milan could be the place for you. While Rome is Italy's political capital, Milan is regarded as the financial and industrial powerhouse of the country, making Italy’s most cosmopolitan city a great place to look for a job for expats. There is also a wide range of international and public schools, perfect for intergrating kids into the Italian culture, as well as being known for having a high quality of life. This is confirmed by the recent “Quality of Life 2020” survey in which Milan topped the list as the best city in Italy to live in. Although living in the centre of Milan is infamously expensive, moving to the outskirts of the city to the suburbs of Milan, which are well connected with public transport links, could be an option which is a lot more affordable.


The city of Bolzano is located in a beautiful valley surrounded by mountains and is one of Italy’s bilingual cities where Italian and German are spoken freely. The city in the north of Italy is home to one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, as well as a number of thriving start-ups and growing businesses. The city is home to a growing expat community and is ideal for young working families, as well as featuring highly in terms of quality of life. Bolzano also has a reputation as being one of Italy’s safest cities and property prices are much lower than in Milan, meaning you will get more for your money in this charming town.


If you want to raise your family in a quiet place, then perhaps few places in Europe are better than Trento: this small Italian city is safe, environmentally friendly, and surrounded by nature. If you like mountains, then this is the perfect destination for you and your family as the locals get discounts in the nearby ski resorts during the winter. Although the city is somewhat smaller than the main metropolises in Italy, the area is once again known for having a lively business sector, as well as being one of the major educational, scientific, financial and political hubs in Northern Italy. For this reason, the city offers a range of employment opportunities, as well as high living standards and a great offer of leisure activities for all the family.


The city of Bologna is well known for being a safe, walkable city which is welcoming and friendly to expats. Located in the north of Italy, Bologna is one of the country's most popular destinations for expats, with its lively social and cultural scene, as well as a large range of professional opportunities for those looking for work. As one of Europe’s main educational centres with exceptionally high education standards, this city also is perfect for families, as well as being a popular choice for international students. With affordable rent prices and excellent transport, the city of Bologna would therefore provide the complete package for young families looking to relocate to Italy.


Palermo is the capital of Sicily and one of the biggest cities in the country. The city is unique, and its energy and lively southern Italian lifestyle isn’t be matched by many cities in Italy, possibly due to it’s hot summers and generally warm year-round climate. Palermo is the major cultural and economic hub in the region of Sicily and for that reason, it attracts expats from all around the world and provides them with several opportunities. By choosing to live in Palermo, you will enjoy a true Mediterranean lifestyle, as well as an unbeatable culinary and cultural heritage mixed with spectacular architecture and lively streets. Sicilians also tend to speak very limited English, so for a truly immersive Italian experience, Palermo could be the perfect destination for you and your family on the Italian coast.

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