Retirement Around the World – Italy

Published on August 1, 2013

Benvenuti in Italia! Welcome to Italy!

When I think of Italy I think of food and sun, so why wouldn’t it be a great place to retire?  Not only is there great skiing (the Italian Alps, anyone?) but also sunny coast, exciting cities and beautiful countryside.  Italy is known for its food, wine, history, and la dolce vita.  There is so much to do and see in Italy that retiring there would be an adventure.

As you go from region to region you notice how the food and culture changes.  Each region of Italy is so different that picking which one you want to retire to takes a lot of thought.  Spend time exploring the different regions before deciding which one best suits your retirement needs and the type of life you want to lead.

Retirement for the Italians

The official retirement age in Italy is 66 years old.  From the time Italians begin working to when they retire they contribute to the Italian Social Security System.   The Italian Social Security System is made up of three parts:

1.) mandatory old age insurance
2.) pension funds and
3.) private annuities.

Unlike in the United States, Italy has universal health care making that one less thing Italian retirees have to worry about.  In Italy, the public services that are offered vary from region to region so depending on where people live, they will qualify for different social services.

In the past Italy’s pension plan had been a very generous one; however, with the aging population there has recently been a change.  This change came about because of the increasing age of the population and the fact that many Italians are able to retire early with full benefits causing the system to have financial issues.  Therefore, the age at which Italians can collect their state pension has risen and will continue to rise for the foreseeable future. For Italians retiring right now the benefits are still really good, but over the next several years it will become more difficult to retire at an early age and receive a full pension right away.

Americans in Italy

to have a passport, sufficient funds, a place to stay, and the visa application forms when you go.  It is important to know that before you even apply for a visa you must have a place to stay in Italy; this means if you are planning to rent you have to have that arrangement ready in advance.

Americans looking to live in Italy will also have to buy health insurance.  There are private health insurance plans in Italy, but since they are intended as supplementary insurance plans they may not cover everything you need.  It is probably a good idea to look into companies outside of Italy that will cover medical costs in foreign countries.

Getting Around

Once you get to Italy and you’ve settled in, it’s time to start exploring. Depending on where in Italy you choose to live will determine what types of activities you are most likely to do. Italy is slightly larger than the state of Arizona and although you can easily travel around the country, each region has so many things to see and do you may not want to go too far.  Most people think of just Tuscany and Rome but there are 20 different regions in Italy, each with its own capital and history, food, wine, culture, landscape and so many other things.

All of the different regions in Italy hold their own little secrets that are just waiting for you to discover, but be warned that driving in Italy can be scary – you may find people driving as though they are Mario Andretti!  When I was in Italy we drove on a narrow, winding country road in the hills with no guard rail; this was a two-way road and I was pretty sure we were going over the side.  Once you get past the initial fear, driving in Italy can be exhilarating.  If you are planning to do just local drives many people opt for Vespas; from the young to the old you see all types of people riding around on these motor scooters.  They are especially helpful if you are trying to navigate the narrow city streets.

Cost Of Living

Living in Italy is not cheap.  Prices are higher there and you will need to budget accordingly.  Depending on what city you choose to live in will greatly affect how much you are going to pay for a place to live. In Rome the rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is 1,000 Euros a month ($1,318.22).  To buy an apartment in the city center of Rome you will be spending around 10,000 Euros ($13,182.13) per square meter; outside of the city center it costs about 4,500 Euros ($5,931.98) per square meter.  In less popular areas of the country your rent or the price per square meter will be much lower.

If you go to lesser known areas of Italy you can find affordable housing.  Staying away from the traditional tourist destinations can lead to huge savings and it doesn’t mean that you will be giving up the quintessential Italian life. Even in the smallest of villages you will be able to find the charm and beauty you would expect from Italy.

La Dolce Vita

If you are able to afford Italy you will be living a more relaxed lifestyle, as the Italians have a way of living life that makes everyday feel like a holiday. La dolce vita means the sweet life and in Italy it certainly is. Italians’ love of life and food is contagious and soon you will find yourself leisurely strolling through the streets on your way to the piazza for a gelato.  If you are a pasta lover you will be in heaven, but it’s not just pasta that is amazing – it seems like every dish they make is the” best thing you have ever eaten.”

Italy is rich with history and culture with lots of things to do and see.  Italy’s long history means that you will be able to visit ruins or run across them just walking through the streets.  The sense of antiquity follows you throughout the country and as you think back to what you learn in history class it’s amazing to be able to see these places in person.

I’m going to leave you this week with my own story of my time in Italy.

I spent a week exploring Siena and I can honestly say I have never been happier or more at peace.  The city is small enough that you can learn to navigate the streets quickly and go exploring by yourself, which I did often.  In Siena, I was never on edge about strangers and I met some of the nicest people there.  One night at dinner a group of men were sitting next to my group and they brought out a guitar and we all starting singing- a perfect example of Italians’ warmth and their love of life.  The warmth of the Italians and their love of life is contagious.  When I was in Rome with all of its huge monuments and history I felt as if I had stepped into my history textbook.  I finally got to see all of the things I had been reading about for years and they were more impressive in person as they were in my textbooks.

I became, happily, overwhelmed by the beauty and history of the places around me and it made me realize just how young the United States truly is.  From the moment I stepped off the airplane I knew I was in love.  Italy has captured my heart and my imagination and it is a place I plan to go back to many times.

For those who are able to retire to Italy you are in for a treat; besides the food and the people, the country itself, the very land, draws people from around the world.  In Italy you will be able to have all of the modern conveniences but your day-to-day life will feel completely different than in the States.  The la dolce vita lifestyle is one where you take your time doing things that you enjoy.

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