Why should you buy a house in Italy and what are the benefits?

All the reasons why you should purchase real estate in the so-called “Bel paese” and why many consider it to be a smart financial investment.

House to buy in Tuscany, Italy
House with a lemon tree in the garden, Tuscany. Photo: Raoul Droog on Unsplash.

Italy has always been an attractive destination for those looking to experience inspiring art, ancient architecture, and natural beauty. Not only just for tourism, but many make Italy their second home and buy property in this desirable locale. Other than simply for daily access to pizza, pasta, and gelato, many wonder if there are other reasons to buy a house in Italy. This article will outline those benefits and why it may be advantageous to invest in Italian property.

Ever since the 17th century when upper-class aristocrats toured the most beautiful and culturally significant parts of Europe, most notably being Italy, the country has remained a top destination for visitors. Tourists are attracted to the scenic landscapes, relaxed lifestyle, and renowned architecture. In fact, Italy has the highest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world. In 2022, 50.5 million tourists visited Italy, which ranks the country as the 4th most popular tourist destination in the world.

One reason why Italy is so beloved is that it offers visitors a variety of geographies and experiences. The rolling countryside of Tuscany, dotted with cypress trees, leads you to the artistic and cultural epicenter that is Florence. Rome, the eternal city, a place of the utmost historical importance and the 3rd most visited city in Europe, has been seeing their yearly tourist numbers grow year after year.

For those who want to escape the city life, Italy has the breathtaking scenery provided by the Alps mountain range, ideal for winter or summer activities of skiing and hiking. Alternatively, many visitors love an adventure of going off the beaten path, exploring smaller villages and discovering their individual character and charm. Of course, the picturesque coastal beaches should not be overlooked, where many come to sit back, relax, and soak in the Mediterranean Sea and sky.

In addition to historic locales, the food and wine of Italy is unmatched. No matter where in the country, you are sure to taste the tradition celebrated in each local dish. Italians prepare food simply, to showcase the fresh and local ingredients their region has to offer. From homemade tortellini in Bologna, to pizza Margherita in Naples, to pesto Genovese in Liguria, Italian food is made with passion and love.

On top of offering incomparable culture and gastronomy to its visitors and residents, buying property in Italy can have economic benefits as well. In recent years, an increasing number of US buyers have been looking to the international real estate market, rather than domestic. Many consider Italian property to be a good investment due to the country’s strong economy and affordable housing market. Even despite a global pandemic, many Italian cities have experienced positive rental and capital growth over 2023. Italy has also seen GDP growth over the last five years and remains the European Union’s 3rd largest economy, making it attractive for foreign investment. As far as purchasing property, Italy’s transaction costs are lower compared to other European countries like Spain or Portugal. Italy also offers lower interest rates and potential tax incentives for buyers. The Italian government has introduced new policies that can reduce registration, mortgage and cadastral taxes, as well as deductions for the purpose of incentivizing renovation works to increase energy efficiency levels in households.

An important benefit to buying a house in Italy is that, on average, the property prices and overall cost of living are less in Europe compared to the US. The House Price Index, a metric managed by the European Comission that measures changes in housing transaction prices, reported that house prices in the EU were down 1% in the third quarter of 2023, compared to the same quarter of 2022. Furthermore, according to Idealista, Italy’s leading property portal, 48% of the house listings for sale on Idealista in the fourth quarter of 2023 were priced below 150,000 euros. Even prices in Milan, Italy’s most expensive market, on average remain 15% less than those in London.

For those looking to relocate or retire in Italy, buying real estate in Italy offers benefits as a long-term investment. Alternatively, there is also the possibility to rent the property to generate passive income. Living in Italy can mean being able to access the healthcare system, where many, if not all, medical expenses are covered.

Access to education in Italy is also important to remember if you are planning on relocating with your family for a long period of time. Education in Italy is free and you are also in close proximity to highly acclaimed Italian and European universities. Italy’s location in the heart of Europe is ideal and strategic, allowing for easy and fast travel to other popular European destinations.

It’s important to note that you do not need to be an Italian citizen or even residing in Italy to buy property in the country. This is due to reciprocità, in accordance with article 16 of “Decreto Regio”, no.262 of March 16, 1942, which states that foreign citizens can benefit from the civil rights which are normally granted to Italian citizens only if Italian citizens can benefit from the same rights in their counterparts’ countries. Therefore, you can purchase property in Italy if there is an international treaty between Italy and your country of origin, such as the US, that permits this condition of reciprocity.

It’s also important to remember, if you are a non-EU citizen, you do not need a visa to enter Italy and you will only be allowed to stay in the country for 90 days. If you are a US citizen, you will be able to travel to 26 European member countries of the Schengen Area for a maximum of 90 days without applying for a visa. Purchasing property in Italy does not entitle non-EU citizens to stay in Italy beyond the 90-day limit.

Nevertheless, there are visas to stay in Italy for prolonged periods of time, such as the Elective Residence Visa, which allows foreigners with high financial assets to remain in Italy for one year on the condition that they do not seek employment while living in Italy. One of the requirements to apply for the Elective Residence Visa is owning a property or renting one.

If you would like to learn more about the benefits of investing in Italian real estate, as well as purchasing property in Italy, don’t hesitate to contact our team at info@italianrealestatelawyers.com.