6 Reasons U.S. Retirees Are Flocking to Italy

Limone sul Garda waterfront view, Lombardy region of Italy
xbrchx/iStock via Getty Images

Written by Erica Scassellati

Published: February 5, 2024

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Travel and tourism are a significant part of Italy’s economy, but many Americans are also choosing to make Italy their permanent home. The country’s mild weather, great food, and universal healthcare make Italy a great place to retire. Let’s dive into all the reasons retirees are flocking to Italy.

1. Italy Has Universal Healthcare

Laptop, stethoscope and doctor writing in notebook for research planning or medical tech innovation in hospital office. Healthcare medic worker, research strategy book notes and online communication

Italians have access to some of the best healthcare in the world.

Italy has some of the best healthcare systems in the world. The country’s universal healthcare system, known as the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale or SSN, was established in 1978. It covers Italian citizens as well as legal foreign residents, according to the International Citizens Insurance.

It’s worth noting that the quality of care may depend on the region of Italy you choose to settle and wait times to see a specialist may be long. Retirees have the option of supplementing the national health plan with a private plan of their own.

2. It’s Generally Easy to Gain Citizenship for Retirees in Italy

flag of Italy

There are three ways for Americans to gain citizenship in Italy.

There are three ways for American retirees to gain citizenship in Italy. The first is if you happen to fall in love with and marry an Italian citizen. The second is to be a descendant of an Italian citizen (Jure Sanguinis).

You might think that you need to be a child of an Italian to gain citizenship, but that’s not actually true. Italy’s Jure Sanguinis laws do not have a generational limit. According to Italian Duel Citizenship, you can apply for citizenship through parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great-grandparents.

Obtaining Italian citizenship by blood involves gathering the required official documents from your family member’s hometown and completing the proper applications. The process can take anywhere between three months to three years.

Finally, if none of the other options work, ex-pats can gain Italian citizenship simply by establishing a legal residence in the country for typically at least 10 years. while the naturalization route takes time, it’s relatively easy to attain citizenship this way.

3. Italy Has a Lower Cost of Living Than the U.S.

Florence Duomo. Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower) in Florence, Italy. Florence Duomo is one of main landmarks in Florence

The cost of a one-bedroom apartment in Florence is cheaper than in many places in the U.S.

Depending on what region you choose to call home, the cost of living in Italy can be considerably cheaper than in the United States. Even the more expensive northern regions and big cities in Italy are typically less expensive than in the U.S.

According to the International Citizens Group, rent for a one-bedroom apartment in expensive large cities such as Rome or Milan ranges between $1,150 and $1,400 per month. That’s still a better price than you can find in New York City.

Small towns in the south of Italy, such as Lecce, can also be as cheap as $350-$430 per month for a one-bedroom apartment. In mid-sized cities like Florence, you can find one-bedroom apartments for around $690-$850.

Some items in Italy, such as clothing and gasoline, will likely be more expensive than in the U.S. However, it’s worth noting that most major cities in Italy have excellent and affordable public transportation.

4. Italy Contains a Blue Zone

Sardinia Italy

Italy contains a Blue Zone where people regularly live to age 100.

Studies show that Italians live longer than Americans and Brits, despite many locals enjoying their cigarettes, wine, and carbohydrates. The average life expectancy in the U.S. is 77.28 years, while in Italy it is 82.34 years. So why do Italians live longer?

It could in part be thanks to the country’s national health system. Reports also suggest that the Mediterranean diet and Italian lifestyles play a role in its resident’s longer lifespans. While Italians enjoy wine with meals, BBC News points out that binge drinking is less common than in the U.K.

Italy is even home to one of the world’s five Blue Zones — regions in the world where people live longer than average. Located in the Mediterranean Sea, the Italian island of Sardinia is a Blue Zone and people are said to often live to age 100.

While it’s hard to determine just what leads to this increased lifespan, the Blue Zone’s website points out some common themes among Sardinian centenarians. This includes moderate consumption of red wine, strong family values, lots of laughter, and plenty of walking.

5. Italy Has Excellent Weather and Natural Landscapes

Courmayeur ski resort, Italy Val d'Aosta

Italy features breathtaking landscapes such as the Alps.

Italian locals enjoy a mostly Mediterranean climate, with hot, sunny summers and cool, wet winters. Retirees can find the level of cold weather and snow they want to experience by carefully choosing the region they want to live in. For example, Turin receives quite a bit of snow, while an accumulation of snow has never occurred in Naples.

Italy’s geography is also a paradise for outdoor lovers. Enthusiasts can enjoy a range of activities from swimming in the ocean to hiking the Alps. Italy’s lovely climate and plethora of ways to stay active and get outdoors is likely one reason locals live so long.

6. You Can Enjoy the Best Food in the World

Vine landscape with wine still-life in Chianti, Tuscany, Italy

Enjoy some of the best food in the world in Italy.

While “good food” can certainly be a matter of opinion, culinary experts commonly place Italy’s cuisine among the best in the world. Retirees can spend their days tasting incredible food that is intrinsic to the culture of Italian life.

And there’s more than just pasta and pizza to enjoy. Its location in the Mediterranean Sea makes seafood an incredibly popular and fresh choice. Italians also enjoy quality cheeses, robust wines, sweet treats such as cannoli and gelato, and more.

Summary of 6 Reasons Retirees Are Flocking to Italy

NumberBenefit
1Universal healthcare
2Easy to gain citizenship
3Lower cost of living
4Longevity / Contains a Blue Zone
5Excellent weather and natural landscapes
6Cuisine


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About the Author

Erica is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on history, food, and travel. Erica has over 3 years of experience as a content writer and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, which she earned in 2018. A resident of Kansas City, Erica enjoys exploring her home town and traveling around the world to learn about different cultures and try new food.

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