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Where In Italy Should I Move?

I see this question a ton in Facebook groups filled with people who want to move to Italy. It's not an easy question to answer, so I'll walk you through the process I used to find my sweet home in Calabria.

First: What Kind of Climate Do You Like?

Having grown up in Arkansas and lived in Florida and California, I knew I wasn't a winter kind of girl. In fact, I was looking at a seaside town near Genoa (because of the easy proximity to Nice, France, which I love), but when I saw that the temperatures dipped to below freezing in the winter, I scratched it off my list.

Keep in mind, even down where I live in Calabria, it can get cold. It snowed in the Sila mountains a few weeks ago. And even in Soverato, right on the Ionian Sea, it can get down to the low 40s in winter. Sicily may be a little warmer, but realize: you're going to have winter in one form or another in Italy!

Pro Tip: Add the locations you're interested in to your phone's weather app and see what the weather is doing throughout the year.

Next: What Size City or Town Would Be a Good Fit?

Having lived in moderate-sized metropolises for decades, I decided I was ready for a change. I craved small-town life (or my idyllic image of it) where I'd know everyone and life was simple.

However, when I started my hunt in Calabria, I quickly realized that small towns often equal limited resources and stores. I was in Scylla for a few days and only found one grocery store I could reach on foot...after quite a schlep up a hill. No way.

Living in Montepaone Lido last year, I didn't like the lack of clothing stores. I had to drive to Soverato to buy anything other than groceries, so what was the point in living in such a suburban area? Not for me.

Pro Tip: Once you decide on the size city, I recommend staying there at least a few weeks to get a feel for it. You might be surprised at how your fantasy shatters when real life takes over!

What About Surroundings?

I'm super lucky in that I live steps from the Ionian Sea, and yet I spend my weekends in the mountains of Davoli. Italy has some amazing landscapes, so you can choose your own adventure.

Love intense hikes? Look at areas around the Dolomiti in the north. Love the idea of being surrounded by vineyards? Look at Tuscany. Want rugged landscapes and the sea? Sardinia might be a good fit.

Also consider your tolerance for tourism. Living near the Coliseum in Rome might get pretty annoying in the summer when the throngs arrive (I'll ask my friends Patti and Tom how they feel about it this year). Even in Calabria, Tropea can get overwhelming if you hate crowds like I do. While half of the year is wonderfully tranquil in Soverato, I will have to fight for parking come August.

Okay...What About Driving?

You already know that, initially, I didn't want to have a car in Italy. My Italian fantasy was that I would walk or take the train everywhere.

If I'd moved to a bigger city up north, that would likely be my reality, but in Calabria, you 100% need a car. Yes, there are several grocery stores I can walk to (none of which I really like), but for bigger hauls, I need to drive 10 minutes or more.

And of course, you're going to want to explore your region! In Calabria, there are buses that go along the coast, but they don't go to all the mountain towns. And with all the back-and-forth Fra and I do to Davoli, which is a 20-minute drive, a car is a necessity (to carry all the food Mamma sends us home with!).

Is an Expat Community Important?

This also is based on preference. I didn't want to jump into an expat community because I felt it would block me from getting to know Italians and practicing my language skills.

In fact, in Calabria, I know very few Americans. Like...three. And I'm good with that. But maybe you want the safety net of people who get your culture and speak your language. You'll find it more common up north.

Final Words

In reality, no one can tell you where you should live in Italy. It's going to be different for everyone.

If you have trouble deciding, the way I did when I had a map and a marker during the pandemic, plan a trip and spend at least a few days in each town you're considering. Pretend you're a local and see things from the perspective of needing to go grocery shopping and navigating everyday life. You may be able to find an expat group on Facebook, so plan ahead and schedule a coffee meetup or two to get the dirt on what it's really like to live there.

And good luck! Choosing where to live in Italy is a fun part of the adventure! If you need help with the process (particularly in Calabria), I'm an expat coach and can help. You can book a Pick-My-Brain session here.

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