5 Reasons You Should Ignore the Hype and Avoid Retiring in Italy

Written by Sam Hindman
Published: October 13, 2023
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If you’re nearing retirement age, and want to move out of your home country, Italy is certainly an option that you’ve seen many choose for a retiring destination. It would be remiss not to admit that Italy has some wonderful aspects when it comes to retirement, but you should not allow this preconceived fantasy to cloud your judgment. There are actually many people who, for a variety of reasons, should not retire in Italy. And, who knows? You could be one of those people. If you’re intrigued about Italian retirement and want to make sure you get both sides of the story, then this article is for you. So, strap in as we take a stroll through five reasons why retiring in this European nation might not be up your alley.

Colosseum in Rome at sunrise, Italy, Europe.

Italy has a rich history, and plenty to do. It’s certainly no wonder why it’s such a popular destination for international retirees!

©prochasson frederic/Shutterstock.com

Retiring in Italy is a cliche, but it’s one that has earned its right. The fact is, Italy is a beautiful country. The residents are known to be quite friendly, and the weather is pleasant year-round. Not to mention, their top-notch healthcare system has earned the country a high ranking in life expectancy. This is an important consideration for retirees.

Besides, there are countless things to do! The culture there is rich with heritage that spans hundreds of years. You can spend your days touring ruins from ancient Rome or gawking over Renaissance-era artwork in some of the most beautiful museums in the world. The Italian lifestyle, essentially, is all about leisure. Whether that comes in the form of outdoor activities or sipping on fresh wine from vineyards, there’s a good reason why retirees choose this destination above all others.

However, nowhere is perfect. The benefits of retiring in such a place might appear evident. But, they can be so evident that they discourage people from looking beyond the surface. In actuality, there is a negative side to this decision. If you are choosing where you are going to pack up and spend the rest of your life, it’s imperative that you examine this decision from all fronts. That’s why, in the sections below, we’ll be explaining why some people should not retire in Italy.

Why You Should Not Retire in Italy

1. International Living Isn’t For You

Grandmother, mom and child hug in a portrait for mothers day on a house sofa as a happy family in Colombia. Smile, mama and elderly woman love hugging young girl or kid and enjoying quality time

Consider that retiring to another country adds a hefty amount of distance between you and the ones you love.

©PeopleImages/iStock via Getty Images

Before you think about retiring not only in Italy but any country besides the one you currently live in, ask yourself this: Am I prepared for the headache that’s about to ensue? The fact is, picking up your life and moving to another nation is not nearly as thrilling as it sounds. For some, it can be feasible, but most people should not retire in just Italy, but probably shouldn’t move countries in the first place!

If you’re living alone or with a partner that’s one thing, but if you have a network of close friends and family whom you cherish, it can be quite difficult to say goodbye to them on a permanent level. Though you’ll see them again, it can go from weekly to yearly visits in the blink of an eye. Being forced into a brand-new culture, with people who you’ve never met before, can be a lot of hassle and heartache.

Another consideration is this: What else could you spend the money on? Would you prefer to move to Italy, place all of your savings into this investment, or travel to as many countries as you want with the knowledge that your current home is already paid off? Before deciding on Italy (or anywhere else) analyze this choice. Make sure that it is well thought out, and not spontaneous.

2. High Cost of Living

woman man outdoor senior couple happy lifestyle retirement together smiling love piggyback active mature

Picking up and moving countries can be a massive financial burden.

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This leads us to the next aspect of moving to Italy that can be less than glamorous: The cost that it comes with. To make a long story short, you should not retire in Italy unless you have a great deal of savings. In fact, there are specific income requirements necessary to even be eligible to move there. You need evidence of a significant annual income, $42,920 for couples, for visa consideration.

Many argue that the cost of living is cheaper than that of the United States in Italy. Although that is true, this does not magically offset the costs that come with moving. You’ll need to find and purchase (or rent) a home, then you’ll need to decide if you’d like to furnish said home out of pocket or pay the drastic international shipping fees that will inevitably come with transporting your old items to your new country. This, on top of purchasing a mode of transportation and setting up utilities, is no small fee.

3. Possible Language Barrier

flag of Italy

Tourist-filled areas might have English speakers, but outside of cities, there are limited English-speaking areas.

©Philipp Dase/Shutterstock.com

If you do decide to move to Italy, be prepared to learn an entirely new language. That is, unless you already speak Italian. We’ve already discussed the costs that come with moving to Italy, and as I’m sure you can discern, the more expensive areas to live in are the ones that are most associated with tourism. With tourism, though, comes an abundance of English speakers. So then, you’re effectively forced to make a tough choice. Would you prefer to live somewhere incredibly expensive with natives who can understand what you’re saying, or would you rather live somewhere relatively cheaper with no one around who can comprehend your language?

According to My Elated Oddessy, only 34% of Italians speak English. This is fewer than several other European nations and can create quite a rough barrier for those who have no knowledge of Italian speech. Even across the United States, where nearly everyone can speak English, there are subtle social norms and etiquette throughout each state. Imagine, then, how difficult it would be to adjust somewhere that doesn’t even share your language. That being said, it doesn’t make it impossible for you to enjoy your time living there. But, in all honestly, you should not retire in Italy if you have no intentions of learning Italian.

4. Several Beurocratic Hurdles

The Italian government is known for providing a bureaucratic headache.

©iStock.com/titoOnz

The logistics of moving abroad are far wider than the financial and physical. Indeed, you’ll also need to navigate the bureaucratic elements of moving and attaining your visa. Italy in particular is a country that is often criticized for its tangled bureaucratic web. This is especially daunting for retirees trying their best to manage legalities in a non-native language.

For retirees, the most popular kind of visa is called the Italian Elective Residence visa. These are examined on a case-by-case basis, and they won’t actually grant you the ability to have a job in the country. For this, you need to gain permanent residency. You need to show not only proof of income but also proof of home ownership/renting, as well as valid EU health insurance.

On top of all of this, there is an additional stipulation: Mandatory classes. Once you arrive in Italy, you have to take a number of classes to help you “adapt,” teaching you things like the civil structure and the basics of their language. You should not retire in Italy unless you want to go back to school!

5. You’re Limiting Yourself From Better Options

Streets with shopping area and Zytglogge astronomical clock tower in the historic old medieval city centre of Bern, Switzerland

Remember that there are other retirement destinations available (like Switzerland)!

©Marina Datsenko/Shutterstock.com

The last reason why you should not retire in Italy is because, frankly, there are better options! There are plenty of places, some also in Europe, to retire. Consider for a moment why you want to retire in Italy. Is it because you genuinely love this specific place and culture, or because you’ve heard it’s a good place to go? Before making the leap, really survey your options. Take a look at the many other countries that retirees flock to each year. It’s even advisable to take a trip or two before deciding where you land.

According to a study conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), none of the ten cities ranked with the highest livability were in Italy. In fact, three were in Canada, and two were in Switzerland! Though this is merely one metric, you should not be fooled into believing that Italy is the end-all-be-all “best option.”

This is not meant to discourage you if your dream is to retire in Italy. In fact, it is not even meant to dissuade you. Instead, it is meant to present to you both sides of the coin. Do not allow this decision to be pushed onto you by anyone, on either side of the debate. Instead, take your time. Look through all of the options, and determine for yourself (and your partner, if applicable) what the right choice is for you.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Grisha Bruev/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Sam Hindman is a writer at A-Z animals covering a range of topics, including pet care, plant care, pest control and travel destinations. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Multimedia Studies at Point Park University, set to graduate in the spring of 2024. A resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, when she isn't writing, she's spending time with her beloved cat Archie.

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