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Housing in Italy
Everything You Need to Know About Finding a New Home
Whether you plan on renting or purchasing, you can start searching for accommodation in Italy online or through real estate agents. Different types of contracts are accommodating for however long you intend to stay—from shorter leases no longer than 18 months to three or four-year contracts with the possibility of renewal.
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If you are looking or housing in Italy, you should first get acquainted with the different types of houses and apartments for rent—from the common appartamenti in affitto (apartments to rent) and its specific terminology, to a villa in the countryside.
Finding short-term rentals shouldn’t be a concern. Whether you need accommodation for just a few weeks or a whole year, you can find options for vacation rentals or apartments with short-term contracts, or contratto transitorio.
If, on the other hand, you plan on buying a house, you will find prices in Italy to be some of the lowest in Europe. You can sign a rent-to-buy contract to ease you into becoming a property owner, and you may even find homes for as little as 1 EUR (1.1 USD)—mind you, you should enjoy renovations as that is part of the deal.
Renting a House or Apartment
Learning how to rent houses or apartments in Italy well in advance will save you some surprises with your budget and your calendar. Find out how you can rent a house or an apartment in the country, from how much it will cost, to the duration of rental contracts, and more.
How Much is Average Rent in Italy?
The average monthly rent price in Italy is 800 EUR (880 USD). However, this largely varies by region. Below is a list of average rental prices in Italy, from the most expensive city to the cheapest:
|Region||Rent EUR||Rent USD|
The minimum rent you would pay in Italy is around 300 EUR (330 USD), although you will typically only find this price in small towns.
Furnished or Unfurnished
Whether your future Italian home is going to be furnished or unfurnished will depend on the duration of your contract. Long-term rentals, between two and four years, are typically unfurnished. Unfurnished in Italy means no appliances whatsoever—no refrigerator, no stove, no oven. When it comes to short-term rentals and short-term contracts, you can expect apartments and houses to be fully furnished.
Renting in Italy as a Foreigner
While some expats experienced difficulty securing a home, others state having no trouble at all. The majority of Italians are friendly and open-minded towards foreigners.
If you don’t want to take any chances, whether to have a speedy rental process or avoid language barrier, you can always rely on real estate agents to help you find the most suitable home for you.
Types of Rental Contracts and Deposit
There are three common types of rental contracts in Italy:
- A transitory contract (contratto transitorio) is a special temporary contract that can go from one month up to 18 months. The duration of this contract depends on the specific reason for the tenancy, making this contract non-renewable.
- 3+2 contracts are valid for three years and automatically renewed for two. The rental deposit for this type of contract can be established by territory agreements between tenant and landlord organizations or ministerial decrees—it can be up to 20% more than the rent.
- 4+4 contracts are valid for four years and automatically renewed for four more years. For these types of contracts, landlords and tenants are free to establish the deposit, with no need for a bond.
Rental Process and Rules: For Landlords and Tenants
In Italy, most apartments or housing for rent are privately owned, and very few belong to big real estate agencies. This means you can typically work out the rental rules with your landlord directly. This is also valid for the price—you can and should try to negotiate the price of your rent and deposit for a possible reduction. Keep in mind that, by law, your landlord cannot ask you for more than three months’ rent for a deposit.
You may also be asked for an insurance policy that covers rent for a maximum of one year in case you are unable to fulfill your obligations. This insurance costs around 2% of the annual rent and is paid entirely by the tenant. Alternatively, the landlord may ask for a guarantor.
Although the word affitto will show up on ads for rentals, you will see the term locazione in your contract instead. Below is a list of other important terms for renting and their translation in English:
|Italian term||English term|
|Appartamento in affitto||Apartment for rent|
|Contratto di affitto||Rental contract|
|Due camere da letto||Two-bedroom|
Documents and Requirements for Renting
Some documents are required by both tenants and landlords to rent an apartment or house in Italy. To sign the rental contract, tenants and landlords need the following documents:
- Identity document;
- Tax code;
- Map of the building;
- Copy of the deed of purchase or land registry;
- Energy certification of the building (ACE).
- Identity document (as well as of other cohabitants);
- Social security number (as well as of other cohabitants);
- Two last pay slips or the last CUD (certificazione unica dipendente), if you are a salaried employer;
- The last modello unico and Chamber of Commerce inspection, if self-employed.
After signing, the owner has 30 days to register the contract with the Revenue Agency. Although this process is carried out by landlords, you may like to know the requirements to register a rental contract, which are listed below:
- two copies of the rental agreement with original signatures;
- completed Model 69 for registrations;
- receipt of payment of the registration tax;
- payment of 32 EUR (35 USD)—two 16 EUR (17 USD) stamps.
Tenants may be asked to pay extra fees (such as for registrations and stamps) in equal parts with the landlord. This depends on the scheme agreed upon by the two. However, note that the tenant must never pay the full price of these fees, and in case of debt, these payments are the legal responsibility of the landlord alone.
Paying Utility Bills in Italy
You may be able to include your utilities in your rent. In that case, it’s a good idea to ask your landlord to itemize the amounts for each bill at the end of the year, so you are fully informed of the costs of your expenses. If, on the other hand, these are not included in your rent, you will have to set up and pay your utilities yourself.
When it comes to paying utility bills, tenants are expected to pay:
- Phone line
Know that in Italy, TV owners have to pay an annual tax of 110 EUR (120 USD). You can pay this fee at your local Post Office.
Short-term Rentals: Prices and Things to Know
If you find yourself in need of short-term rentals for your first days or weeks in Italy, you can look for vacation places. These are usually under affitto breve (short-term rentals), and you can start your search on popular websites in Italy like Subito, idealista, Casa.it, or Mio Affitto.
The average price of these rentals will largely depend on the region where you are renting and the season.
In Italy, short-term rentals under one month may have rental contracts. However, these don’t need to be registered with the Revenue Agency, like transitory contracts (contratto transitorio).
For this type of contract, landlords ask for a deposit which can be returned in full at the end of the tenancy if there aren’t any damages. At the end of the lease, the landlord must issue a receipt for the accommodation, which includes a tourist fee the tenant must pay.
Italy’s Convenient Rent-to-Buy Scheme
You have an option in Italy to rent-to-buy or rent-to-own properties. This scheme allows you to live in a place you are considering purchasing and experiencing living there first-hand for three to five years, before committing to signing a purchase contract.
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Buying Property as a Foreigner
If you want to know how to buy a house as a foreigner in Italy, you will be happy to know that the country’s property prices are still some of the cheapest in Europe.
Can Expats Buy Property?
There are no restrictions on land ownership in Italy. However, you may still need to hold a valid resident permit if you are a non-European citizen. Non-European citizens may buy property in Italy if their country of origin has a reciprocity agreement with Italy—for example, US citizens may buy property in Italy, just like Italian citizens can purchase property in the US.
House Prices in Italy
Property prices in Italy cost somewhere between 1,800 and 1,900 EUR (1,980 and 2,090 USD) per square meter, or around 165 and 175 EUR (180 and 190 USD) per square foot. An apartment in the city center in Italy costs around 3,550 EUR (3,900 USD) per square meter or approximately 330 EUR (360 USD) per square foot.
The cheapest regions to purchase property are Calabria, Molise, and Sicily. On the other hand, some of the most expensive cities in the country to buy property are Rome, Venice, Milan, and regions such as Tuscany or mountainous areas near ski resorts.
The Famous One Euro Houses in Italy
You inevitably stumble upon this initiative when looking for houses in Italy. In some remote areas of the country, you can buy a house for no more than 1 EUR (1.1 USD). However, you must refurbish it right away and spend a minimum of 15,000 EUR (16,800 USD).
Types of Property in Italy
You will find a variety of apartments and houses in Italy. Apartments, or appartamenti, can be found in major cities and metropolitan areas. These have different terminologies depending on their size: studios (monolocale), two-bedroom (bilocale), three-bedroom (trilocale).
Houses also go by many names in Italy:
- Casa Gemella is a semi-detached home
- Casa Padronale is a country house
- Casale is a farmhouse
- Casetta typically refers to a small house
- Villa is a detached house with a garden or surrounding land
- Villino is a cottage or small house with a garden
Process and Steps for Buying a House in Italy
If you are thinking of buying a house in Italy, there are a few steps you should know.
The Italian real estate market is regulated, but it may be biased against the buyer. It is recommended you hire a real estate attorney if you want to ensure a safe purchasing process.
Make an Offer
Once you have found a place that you are happy with, it’s time to make an offer. You will typically have to make a payment equivalent to 1% of the final price, as a gesture of good faith. This is binding only on the side of the buyer—the seller may still receive and consider other offers. Make sure you specify a time limit in the offer document.
Once the seller accepts, the agreement is considered binding, and that is when both you and the seller sign a preliminary contract or compromesso. This contract is drawn up by the seller and his attorney or real estate agent and should contain the final price, as well as the deposit, details of the property, and other relevant information about the parties and the place. The deposit is typically around 10-20% of the sale price. In case the seller forfeits the agreement, the buyer is owed double the deposit.
The entire process may take between six to eight weeks. The signing of the deed of sale (rogito) must be witnessed by a notary or notaio, for which you will need an identification document and a tax code. It is then up to the notary to present a copy of the deed of sale to the tax office and Land Registry.
Requirements to Buy Property in Italy
When purchasing property in Italy, you must have a tax number and an Italian residence permit if you are a non-EU citizen. If you are a nonresident, you may still purchase property, but it comes at a much higher cost.
Other requirements include paying fees. Most fees for purchasing property in Italy fall on the buyer—only the real estate agent’s fee is charged to both the buyer and the seller, between 1.5 and 4% of the sale price. The buyer is charged the registration tax, between 3 and 7% of the declared value of the property, as well as the VAT, the land registry tax, the notary tax, and legal fees.
Some of these taxes differ for residents and nonresidents, such as the registration and the land registry tax, for example. If you already plan on becoming a resident in Italy, you may benefit from doing so 18 months before purchasing your place to keep these costs to a minimum.
Buying a House in Italy to Get Permanent Residence or Citizenship
Buying property in Italy to obtain permanent residence is not a straightforward process. First, if you are looking to buy a house to get a visa, you should know that that is not an option in Italy. Unlike neighboring countries Malta, Spain, or Portugal, Italy doesn’t have a Golden Visa program. Its recent addition, the Investor’s Visa, only allows investments on businesses, not properties.
Buying a house for permanent residence is also not on the cards for you. The closest you can get to “purchasing” residence in Italy is by applying for an elective residency visa, or visto per residenza elettiva, for which you will have to prove you can support yourself financially. If you prove you can support your spouse and children, these may be granted a residence visa as well.
Keep in mind this visa does not allow you to work in the country. This visa allows you to stay in the country for one year and is renewable as long as you continue to meet the requirements. After five years on this visa, you can apply for long-term residence for the EU.
Knowing the main utility companies operating in Italy beforehand will get you settled-in much faster. In this section, we cover the processes, required documents, and other things to know about setting up utilities in the country.
How to Set Up Your Utilities in Italy
The first step is to get a tax number (codice fiscale) with the tax office in your province (Ufficio delle Entrate), as you will need one to set up utilities. Once you have requested your tax number, you should go ahead and contact utility companies as soon as possible—there may be waiting times to have your utilities connected.
If utilities are already connected on the property where you will be moving into, which might be the case if you are going to live in a big city, see if you can simply change the contract to your name, instead of having them disconnected and connected back again. This will save you time and ensure you are connected to all essential utilities as soon as you move in.
As for documents and other requirements, you will typically need a tax number and a bank account number if you wish to pay bills by direct debit. You may also need to have your meter read first thing so that you are only charged the amount you consume.
Remember, you are not always guaranteed to come across English speakers, and that might be the case when contacting these companies. If you need help, request the assistance of locals, such as a real estate agent or your landlord.
Each administrative region in Italy has its own water company. To get connected to water, you must go to your local Ufficio Acquedotto. The main water supply is limited to a fixed metered account for each household yearly. The price is regulated depending on the availability of water in reserves.
If you need to use water outdoors, such as for watering gardens or swimming pools, you will need a separate contract and meter, the uso vario. Note that if you plan to live in a rural area, your home may not be connected to water at all. In that case, some construction may be necessary, which could end up costing you as much as 5,000 EUR (5,500 USD).
Electricity is provided by private companies. Basic electricity contracts are usually set at 3 kilowatts. This power can be extended to 6 kilowatts, depending on the size of your home and if you plan to use many appliances.
Gas in Italy can be found throughout the country and is used mainly for cooking and heating your home during winter. You are typically charged bi-monthly, and you can pay your invoice by direct debit or at your local Post Office.
Some of the top utility companies in Italy providing both electricity and gas are:
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Internet and Mobile Phones
Getting an internet connection in Italy is easier in bigger cities than in more remote areas. In city centers and highly populated areas, you can connect to fiber optic, broadband and wi-fi services, as well as ADSL.
You should also know that the internet connection in Italy is known for being rather slow, which contrasts with the fact that Italy was one of the first European countries to have internet. In rural areas, your only options may be ADSL or ISDN connections.
Top Cell Phone Providers
Some of the most popular internet providers in Italy are:
- Vodafone Italia DSL
- Wind Telecomunicazioni
- Telecom Italia
- EOLO S.p.A.
If you want to know how to get a phone number in Italy, you can choose from a variety of providers. These services are usually offered via phone call, so make sure you check the exact conditions to avoid misunderstandings—sales representatives may speak fast and adopt a pushy approach that may not always have your interests in mind.
Vodafone can provide both internet and cell phone services, and TIM is popular for its mobile services with internet. You can choose between prepaid cards (ricaricabile) and longer contracts of one or two years (abbonamento).
Television in Italy
Owning a TV in Italy is subject to a tax called Canone RAI, which is 110 EUR (120 USD) a year. There are plenty of options when it comes to Italian television, with over 300 different channels. However, if you are looking for channels in English, your options are limited, with Sky Europe providing most of the service.
Some combination packages may include Internet and TV services. If you want to know how to watch your home country’s TV in Italy, you might be better served using a VPN service. Besides that, look up your favorite channels from home to find out which ones have an online streaming service.
Most of these providers will ask for your address and tax number, but you may be asked to show an identification document as well.
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