Ritaruth Image
04/10/2010 - 12:11

Hi, have just joined this community as my husband and I are hoping to retire to Italy in 2011/12. There is lots we need to know. I don't really know where to start, but having read some of the posts, there seems to be someone out there with an answer to just about everything. At least that's what I'm hoping!! Wish me luck!


Well Ritaruth the only advice I would offer is make sure you have plenty of money set aside, as living in Italy (at the moment) is more expensive than the UK, also spend as much time as you can researching the place you wish to live and spend some time there in both Summer and Winter. Good luck

Hello and welcome, Ritaruth. I would not agree entirely with Tinker regarding the cost of living... some things may be more expensive, but others are cheaper. Have you decided where you would like to retire? I would advise you to look around before making any decision.

Sorry Tinker, re: cost of living... depends on all sorts, importantly, where and how you live...  Yes fuel is expensive here (same uk), iatlian eqivalent of council tax is now nil, and if you use markets and shops like Lidls for food-stuff you will save a packet compared to other supermarket chains...just buy 'choice'  things there.....and the sun does shine here alot more than back home.......Easy choice.... 

Sun apart, I took off my Rose tinted specs a while ago, and yes there is no Prima Casa Tax but if you add Rubbish tax, Water Electricity Rates I think you'll find that your splitting hairs if you say it's cheaper. No all of us have a Lidl or such on our doorstep so location is important as I said. Growing your own helps cut food costs but generaly things (building materials, DIY, clothes, shoes,electrical items) are more expensive £ to € in Italy and I think you'd be foolish to think otherwise.

Well.... that was going to be one of my first questions! How does the cost of living compare with the UK? I guess it's swings and roundabouts then! We do intend growing some of our own produce. Maybe we should turn vegetarian!... but no, I can't think of Italian food without meat! Sorry all you veggies out there!

Hi Brian   My Italian is pretty good, almost fluent but a bit rusty. My mother was Italian, a war bride and she spoke no English when she came to England so when I was born I grew up speaking both English and Italian.

We live very differently in Italy than we did in the UK, and much more simply, comparison with prices is difficult, but as a general rule living expenses seem to  be on a par from my experience. Huge savings in the summer against large heating bills in the Winter, a consideration when buying property, vaulted ceilings may be charming , but are a huge expense to heat. Keeping chickens and growing produce is fun, but I am not sure that savings are made, especially if you buy locally and in season when there is a glut. But you have a huge head start by speaking Italian, something that many of us still struggle with so good luck and do plenty of research. 

Thanks for that. I think if you want something enough, you should be prepared to change your way of life. I can't wait for the simpler life myself. Getting out of teaching this summer will be a great start. \then just got to wait for my husband to retire next year and then start looking for a place in Italy!

As I said before, its all about how and where you live.  Biggest expensive as Angie says is heating in the winter.  Electrical goods I do get from Amazon and shoes and clothes can be bought on-line....M&S only charged £5 for one or several items to be sent here last Christmas so if you search you may find cheaper.... 

Hi and welcome! just ask and hopefully you'll find a load of answers! at least I hope.. I'm sure many members have already experienced a move to Italy and have enough knowledge and advice for you.  Do have a look at the Property and Living topics of the community. Which region are you interested in? Buona fortuna!

In reply to by Valentina+c

We're looking basically at Tuscany, but the cheaper areas! Ee are open to ideas. The only problem is, that I feel that if we give ourselves to many options we will never find anything. Italy is such a beautiful country that just about all the regions have their merits.

Yes, you're right, when you are looking for something in a big country it would be best to answer a few questions: I'm looking for a place totally different from where I live? Am I open to climate changes?  I'd like to live in a tiny village or in a big metropolis?  After you answer these and other personal questions, you may concentrate on a specific area. I know it doesn't help you a lot, but at least it is a beginning! :) good luck!

1. Weather. Weather varies all over Italy - summer and winter. 2. Accessibility to and from airports. 3. Vicinity to civilisation i.e. shops and services. 4. Whether you want the freedom/hassle of cultivating/maintaining land. 5. Prices and what you get for your money in different regions. 6. Toursity or not. 7. Earthquakes/Volcanoes. 8. Cost of living. 9. Access to healthcare.

"2. Accessibility to and from airports." Remember [especially if flying 'budget' airlines] that routes change - sometimes just for Winter, but also sometimes forever   Where my place is [up North, so not where you are looking] there are 4 airports within 2 hrs of the house [5 if you include Geneva] and you can drive there in a day [if you're mad/desperate] or by easily get there by train in under 24hrs

Have a look at Northern Tuscany, particularly Lucca Province, two airports within easy reach: both Pisa and Florence, good train connections, good roads, within easy reach of large cities such as Lucca, Pisa, Florence, Siena and even Bologna, Modena. We can include as day trips Lake Trasimeno, the Versilia Coast, the Cinque Terre, Arezzo.... Prices are still reasonable and we find it extremely convenient. You do not get bored at all.... And the region is beautiful, with interesting microclimates. My advice: go there and spend some time looking around until you find the right spot for you.

I have been to Lucca on several occasions and love it there. However we did also go up the Garfagnana, and although it is very beautiful we found the valley quite claustrophobic. I think we are going to have a look around Lunigiana and Versilia (my choice) before heading down towards Bolsena.

I see many warnings going out about the cost of heating. I think I should chip in to say that paying huge heating bills is a voluntary thing. It is perfectly possible to install excellent heating systems that by using the cheapest heat sources - solar and wood - have minimal 'gas free' running costs and indeed by using the solar photovoltaic offer available even these small costs can be matched by income to give an absolutely free heating system. Come on out - the water is lovely!

Please would you expand on your "excellent" and cheap heating system, I would be very interesting in reducing bills and keeping warm. What exactly is the solar photovoltaic offer you mention?. And what are the initial costs involved. I am intruged by a "free heating system", so lets hear more. 

I'll try to answer briefly but if you want greater depth there is a free heating guide on  If you find the pdf file is a bit big just PM me and I'll send you a lighter one. Basically you use a heat bank - big tank of water - to integrate the two cheap energy sources; wood and solar... properly balanced you will be able to go ZERO GAS with obvious savings. After that there is a deal with GSE that enables you to collect loads of EU money for being ecological with some photo voltaic panels.  To take my system as an example: the 4.6kW car port today would cost 28,000 odd and would make about 4,000 worth of free electricity and payments to me from the production meter every year. Your old meter is replaced by a bi-directional one so you get paid for exporting to the grid AS WELL AS FROM THE PRODUCTION METER.  It's got nothing much to do with heating really... more like a cash machine in the garden that pays some bills for you. My panels have already hit over 5kW and it's not even summer. The combined tariffs come to about half a Euro per straight in the old sky rockets - Muhatma Ghandi or what? If you want to be really crafty you can go even further by multiplying your free electricty with a heat pump but I'll leave Badger to take up that one.

Hello and welcome. I'm sure you'll make friends and get lots of advice here.  I moved to Sicily with my dog 5 years ago and the best advice I can give you is to get as much information as you can from several different sources.  This may seem confusing at first but sometimes what we read on websites isn't up to date info or doesn't apply in our particular circumstances.  Also the Itals are great ones for changing rules and regulations all the time!  Don't let this put you off - just get well informed and go for that dream! Please don't hesitate to contact me if you think I can help.