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A Quick Guide to Living in Milan, Italy

A Quick Guide to Living in Milan, Italy

Milan, Italy, is often described as the world’s fashion capital. In addition to being home to many global clothing and luxury brands, such as Bulgari, Prada and Versace, it is also Italy’s central business hub and a significant European base for multinational corporations like Edison and Microsoft. Milan has prestigious universities such as Bocconi, Università degli Studi di Milano and Politecnico di Milano. People from all over the world move to Milan each year, making it Italy’s most multi-cultural and international cities.  Getting started in a new city can be tricky, especially if you’re not familiar with the country or don’t speak the language. This guide is designed to make moving to Milan as easy as possible.

Where to live in Milan

Milan has a population of over 1,352,000, and it is spread over an area of 1881 km2 (that’s slightly larger than London, which reportedly covers 1739 km2!) [source] Finding the best neighborhoods in Milan is not as hard as it seems.

Deciding where to live in Milan will depend on your budget and what is important to you as far as the type of environment you are looking for. If you like modern urban living with multi-story apartment buildings, areas such as City Life and L’Isola might be your style.  

The city’s historical center is charming and exciting but can also get very busy, particularly during the summer when the tourist season peaks in Milan. Living in the historical center is an extraordinary experience if you have the budget. Keep in mind that a 25 m2 (270 sq ft) studio apartment in Piazza Duomo costs around €2500/ month. If you are looking for something central but without tourists, the Magenta area is very central yet calm, and you can find housing, for example, 110 m2 from €2200/ month.

Students moving to Milan to study may find that the Cittá Studi is the best place to live. As the name suggests (Study City), this area is near the Politecnico campus and, as a result, the majority of the city’s students. It is accessible by public transportation and offers affordable housing, supermarkets, gyms and other residential amenities, making it a nice neighborhood. Although individual apartments can be found, shared accommodation and rooms for rent are standard in this area.


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If you are moving to Milan with your family and need space, you may want to forgo the downtown areas and live in the suburbs or nearby towns of Milan such as Varese, Monza, Como, which are also popular with the expat community. Commuting to Milan or working from home are accessible in these areas. Finding an independent villa with a garden is also easier.  

Practical advice for living in Milan

Get the right visa

Having the correct documentation is necessary. You cannot come on a tourist or student visa and stay forever.  To stay and work in Milan you will need your a Permit to stay, a Residence Card, a national Health Card or private insurance, and if you plan on driving a valid drivers license. If you are moving to Milan for work, your employer will likely help and guide you through the process. If you are moving to Milan on your own, you may want to speak with a consultant who can guide you or a specialized immigration lawyer. You will need to carry out all visa applications through the Italian embassy or consulate in your home country.

Getting around Milan

Milan has an excellent public transportation network of trams, metros and buses

If you choose to live in the city center or a district close to downtown, you will find that public transportation and getting around without a car is easy. Public transportation in Milan is widespread, runs at frequent intervals, and is good value for money, meaning that it is the first choice many people living in the city used to get around. If you decide to get a car, you may well find that one is enough for the entire family and will be used more frequently for weekend excursions than daily use.

Crime and Safety in Milan

Crime in Italy is not like in the movies, and Milan is considered a very safe city. That said, you should always take all the precautions you would in any other major city worldwide. Numbeo, which surveys and publishes statistics, has given Milan an overall safety index of 55 (based on a scale of 1 to 100, 100 being the safest).  Walking alone during the day has a high safety score of 77, whereas walking alone at night 44. Violent crimes have a low incidence rate of 36. Theft and vandalism have a high incidence rate of 55. Pickpocketing and bag snatching are the most common crimes in the city. It is always wise to pay attention to your surroundings, and if need be, call the 112 emergency number.

Making the most of your time in Milan

Scaliger Castle, Lake Garda

Milan is well connected to several other Italian cities by high-speed trains. Even cities like Rome and Naples can be accessed relatively quickly. Other towns in Northern Italy and on the Ligurian coast can be reached by regional and local trains in a few hours. Lake Garda is nearby and is famed throughout Europe for its beautiful vistas. For family fun, Gardaland, one of Europe’s best theme parks, is at your doorstep when you live in Milan.

Lake Como is only a 30-minute train ride, and you can get to Switzerland in less than an hour from Milan.  If you like to ski in the winter, ski resorts such as Courmayeur, Livigno, and Bormio are easily within reach.

Milan has three airports; Malpensa, Linate and Orio al Serio offering a range of flights to destinations throughout Europe and the world, making Milan an excellent choice for residents who have to travel regularly.

Take time to learn about art, culture and food while living in Milan. Traditional Italian food from all over Italy can be found and international cuisine. In Milan, you can try everything from Tuscan to Thailandese, but don’t miss out on local dishes like Risotto Milanese (made with saffron), Cassoeula (pork and cabbage stew) or Cotoletta (cutlet). You must also try Panettone during the holidays; the traditional Christmas cake was first created here in Milan.  

There is so much more to learn about Milan, but hopefully, some of the above tips will help give you an idea about living here.  

Your expat community in Milan

Easy Milano was founded in 1999 as a print edition and in 2018 made a complete transformation into digital format. Today, Easy Milano is an online publication with over 20,000 subscribers. Easy Milano has become a point of reference for the international community of Milan and its surroundings. The website content and social media are updated daily, and the digital newsletter is sent monthly. The events calendar and classified ads are updated regularly with community events, job opportunities and housing offers. Learn more about Easy Milano.

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Ask an Expat      

Easy Milano offers private coaching and consulting for expats wanting to live in Italy. Stop wasting time searching the internet and asking strangers on social media groups. Speak to someone living here and get practical information that will help you prepare and plan out your relocation.

Learn key information and essential insights about living in Italy that will help make your transition smoother. Contact us.

Article by EasyMilano.com

Featured photo Residenza Hadid, Milano / Wikimedia

Easy Milano

Easy Milano is the online publication for the international community of Milan. We offer practical tips, key information and essential insights about living and working in Italy. Easy Milano has been assisting English speaking expats in Milan since 1999.
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  1. Business Etiquette in Milan: how to survive – MilanoExplorer

    […] transport and infrastructure are robust, featuring an extensive public transport network. The Milan Metro, which is Italy’s largest metro system, trams, and buses facilitate efficient movement within […]

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