Retiring in Italy

All you need to know about retiring in Italy in terms of visa requirements, finances, taxes, and healthcare.

retiring in Italy couple looking at the beach in Monterosso al Mare
A senior couple looking at the sea in Monterosso al Mare, Liguria. Photo: Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash.

Known for its relaxed pace of living, stunning and varied scenery, and world-famous food, it’s no wonder Italy attracts so many retirees. The ability to explore a new place with hundreds and hundreds of years of history, museums filled with some of the most iconic works of art in the world, and food known across the globe, is a trifecta unmatched by most other places. Not to mention the access Italy gives to the rest of Europe. If you’re interested in retiring in Italy, here’s everything you need to know.

Visa requirements

If you are a non-EU citizen, you will need a visa even if your purpose is only to live out your retirement in Italy. Purchasing or renting property there is not enough alone to allow you to stay long-term, though it is a component in the visa process. EU citizens do not need a visa, but they do need to register at the municipality if they are staying longer than three months.

The best visa option for retirees is the elective residency visa. You will need to allot about six months for the application process. The most important requirements for this visa are having a stable, passive income and already having a home in Italy (rented or owned). You are not allowed to work on this type of visa; your income must all come from passive sources, such as a pension, savings, or investments. The required income is generally €31,000 for single people, €38,000 for couples, and an extra €20,000 for each dependent (if applicable). However, it is up to the discretion of each consulate, and some might have slightly variable income requirements. It is very important to be able to show that your income is stable. Also keep in mind that owning a property, rather than renting, might mean the consulate will accept a slightly lower passive income.

Following your appointment, expect 90 days for the visa to be processed and issued. You’ll then need to move to Italy within 90 more days. The visa is valid for one year, with the possibility to renew it (from within Italy) each year, so long as you continue to meet the requirements, namely having a stable, passive income and a residence. After five years, you can apply for permanent residency. Then, after five more years, you can get citizenship. However, citizenship requirements will only take into account the years you were a registered resident in Italy, so if this is appealing to you, be sure to make Italy your primary address as soon as possible.

How much do you need?

We have outlined the general income requirements for the elective residency visa, but what should you budget for a move to Italy? The overall cost of living for Italy is generally lower than the U.S., but it does depend on where you choose to live. Northern regions, on average, will be more expensive than southern regions. With the variables in mind, you can consider roughly €2,000 a month (for a couple) to be an amount you can live comfortably, while perhaps not extravagantly, on.

When looking at properties, keep in mind that two-bedroom apartments are the most common places in Italy. Again, the prices of these, or any property you’re looking at, greatly depends on the area. In non-touristic areas, you can find quite affordable apartments that average between €60-90,000. If you are more interested in a freestanding house, then these average around €180-220,000 in non-touristic areas in northern Italy. If you’re looking in southern Italy, they can be even cheaper, around €130-150,000.

Some of the best and most popular places to retire to include Sicily, Apulia, Umbria, Tuscany, Lazio, and Lombardy. Milan, Florence, and Rome, while quite popular among expats, are also the most expensive cities in Italy.

Do you need to pay Italian taxes?

If you are a registered resident of Italy, or stay in Italy for longer than 183 days, then you must pay Italian taxes. It is not recommended to spend six months in Italy then leave for six months in an attempt to avoid taxation, not only for ethical reasons but because it could jeopardize your visa status. One of the most important things to get upon arrival in Italy, that you will need for many aspects of Italian life, including purchasing a home, is an Italian Tax ID, or “codice fiscale.” While obtaining one does not mean you must pay taxes, it will be used in the case you do owe taxes, among other purposes.

Assuming then you do reside in Italy for longer than 183 days, your pension is one thing that will be taxed. However, many regions carry out initiatives to reduce the amount pensions are taxed. For example, there are some regions in southern Italy that lower these taxes as much as down to 7%. Otherwise, expats can benefit from some tax exemptions for a number of years, such as on real estate income.

If you own property in Italy, you will owe certain taxes on it too. At the outset, there will be registration and cadastral taxes, a 22% VAT tax on both the notary’s and real estate agency’s fees, as well as a mortgage tax. Annual property taxes include the Local Municipal Tax, a Tax for Indivisible Services, and a Waste Tax.

Italian healthcare

You can also take advantage of Italy’s excellent national healthcare system. You would have to pay a small fee for it, but it might be a more appealing option than paying for private health insurance. The fee is determined by your income. It is important to note, though, that in order to apply for the elective residency visa you will need to demonstrate that you have private insurance covering you. Once you declare residency in Italy, you can drop this and use Italy’s system instead.

Other considerations

Once you have your visa and property and are settled in Italy, there are a couple other steps you can take to integrate yourself into your new community. Even if you live in a city like Rome or Florence where English is widely spoken, it is advisable to learn Italian. Not only can this make day-to-day life easier for doing errands or taking care of any bureaucratic work, but the classes can also be a great way to meet new people.

Wherever you are, check to see if there is an expat community in the area. Engaging with other foreigners can make the initial move to Italy smoother, and they can be a great resource for navigating daily life.


This article outlined the considerations you need to retire in Italy. Applying for a visa and finding a property are the two largest steps to take. There are many other variables, some of which are included in this article, while others—such as whether or not to get an Italian SIM—you can decide on after your move.

If you need any help with the visa process or any other part of the relocation process, don’t hesitate to contact Italian Citizenship Assistance at or at +1 (951) 742 5830.