Italy is happy to welcome retiring expats and their spending money. But to legally live in Italy as a retiree, you’ll need to be able to show that you still have an income.

Retirement income can come from many sources including:
  • Social security checks
  • A pension
  • Investment returns and dividends
  • Retirement accounts such as 401ks or Roth IRAs
  • Real estate



Even if all of your income comes from abroad, you'll still need to file an annual tax return with Italy. When they file their taxes, expats may be required to complete additional filings and be subject to specific reporting requirements. 

Note: Taxation regulations vary between countries, so consult an accountant for advice on how to remain tax compliant back home and in your new country.

Retiring to Italy from USA: retirement visa

US citizens don’t need a visa to enter Italy and can stay in the country without one for up to three months. But foreigners who retire to Italy should apply for an elective residency visa. 

This visa does not allow you to work in Italy and is intended for individuals with private income originating from pensions, annuities, income from properties or regular income from economic and commercial activities.

You can apply for an elective residency visa at the Italian consulate in your home country, and then apply for a long-term permit once you arrive in Italy. Different consulate locations have slightly different systems for booking appointments, so you’ll need to double check the details for your area online. 

In most cases you must attend the consulate in person and take along a set of documents to support your application, including¹:


  • Completed application form
  • Passport photos
  • Your valid passport — if you’re not a US citizen you’ll also be required to show proof of legal residency in the US
  • Documents showing your income source
  • 2 years of income tax returns
  • Lease or deed for the property you’ll live in in Italy
  • Letter explaining why you want to move to Italy



How to retire in Italy

While the overall cost of living in Italy is lower than in many locations in the US, there are still huge regional differences. Life in a city like Rome or Florence will naturally be far more expensive than in a more rural area — which makes it important to consider your preferred location and lifestyle before you arrive. 

Here are the key steps you’ll want to take to arrange your Italian retirement:

Step 1. Research and build a budget for your preferred location

Step 2. Get connected with locals and expat retirees in Italy through social media or an in person visit

Step 3. Consider learning Italian to make it easier to settle into your new life

Step 4. Open a Wise multi-currency account to hold and exchange euros cheaply

Step 5. Find a home to buy or rent — you’ll need to show the property information when you apply for a visa

Step 6. Apply for your Italian retirement visa in the US

Step 7. Once you arrive in Italy you’ll be able to apply for a long term residency permit



How much money do you need to retire in Italy?

While life in a Roman penthouse or Milan high-rise can be costly, there are ways to enjoy the splendor of Italian life on a modest income. The further you get from the touristy areas of the country, the easier it is to live cheaply. 

If you have savings of at least €175,000 ($200,000) and a steady source of income from social security, a pension or investments of around €1,750 ($2,000) to €2,300 ($2,650), you can afford to retire here comfortably. 



What's the cost of living like in Italy?

Italy is very appealing to expats for a number of reasons, which gives it one of the higher overall costs of living in the Eurozone, and the wealthier north has a higher standard of living than the south. 

Let’s have a look at how that plays out in day to day costs for Rome, Florence and Bari. 



  Rome² Florence³ Bari³
3 course meal for 2, mid-range restaurant 61.19 USD 65.56 USD 54.64 USD
1 pint domestic beer 5.19 USD 5.46 USD 3.82 USD
1 gallon milk 5.78 USD 5.17 USD 4.25 USD
Rent 1 bedroom apartment in city center 1,087.87 USD 820.27 USD 580.51 USD
Rent 1 bedroom apartment outside city center 741.65 USD 670.42 USD 471.24 USD

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