Tips on finding and purchasing your Italian dream home

Frans de Wit

Buying property in a foreign country can be a logistical, cultural, and legal minefield. When I started house hunting in Italy, I was a complete novice, and with hindsight would have done many things differently – learning to speak Italian at least semi-fluently would have been number one on my to-do list!

I’d passed through Italy briefly on an Interrail trip years ago and seen Gladiator enough times to mistakenly consider myself an expert, but Italy is a diverse place and it’s important to have a feel for the country as a whole before you consider making a purchase.

Tips on finding and purchasing your Italian dream home

Frans de Wit

I had my heart set on Italy’s Alpine North and immediately began contacting private sellers (this could have been a result of the seemingly constant Italian coffee-high I found myself on). And while this tactic meant I avoided agency fees, it wasn’t without its difficulties. My limited Italian, combined with sellers’ limited English, meant that correspondences were sometimes confusing, and before I knew it the deal was done, without really knowing what I had gotten myself into.

Tips on finding and purchasing your Italian dream home

Tristan Ferne

Given this was my first property purchase abroad, I’d forgotten to ask about additional costs, like utility bills and regional tax policies. This isn’t to say that working with estate agents will result in a better process, but if you do go through a private seller, I suggest having a list of important questions ready from the get-go. It also helps if you have someone there to act as a translator, just in case things become a bit heated or confusing and you both end up speaking of different things while thinking you are in agreement.

There were also numerous legal hurdles associated with living abroad, so settling into your new home straight away will likely not be a reality. First, you need to acquire a “codice fiscale,” which is provided by either the Italian Tax Office or the Italian embassy. You’ll then need to open an Italian bank account, make a formal offer, and pay two separate deposits (the second of which is non-refundable). I know, I too thought, “why do I have to pay two deposits to secure a home?!” And in truth, that is just one way of ensuring you can’t change your mind nearing the closing point of the contract.

Tips on finding and purchasing your Italian dream home

Joakim Wahlander

Luckily I was moving to Italy from within the EU, so the logistical challenges after all the aforementioned hurdles seemed much less significant, but it is worth bearing in mind that if you are considering a move abroad, anywhere, take a look at expat blogs and find people who have been in the same situation. Taking their advice and asking general questions is wildly helpful. These communities are, more often than not, made up of wonderful people who really do want to help you get off to the right start in Italy. Besides that, I don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t have a checklist of the steps required to buy a property in Italy. I spent hours searching in forums and scouring the internet for answers to my numerous questions, but I did discover that companies like Gate-away tend to have useful guides and tips for anyone wanting to move to Italy, with a multitude of information gathered in one handy place. After all, even if you are very organized, it does not mean that the people you will be doing business with will be, and you may end up having to produce any number of copies of documents.

Tips on finding and purchasing your Italian dream home

Mark Notori

It may seem like a given, but if there is one last thing to prepare for, it is the local weather. My Italy trips occurred in the height of summer and did little to prepare me for the snow-filled winters in Torino, although it has prompted me to take up (beginner) skiing lessons.

Related links:

  • Carin talks about gelato and beaches on her summer vacation in Terracina.
  • Bought your Italian villa? Time to get cooking! Steve shares advice on mastering traditional Italian cuisine.
  • Chocolate, coffee, and cream? Yes, please! Afar advises at least one cup of bicerin on your next Italian vacation and even gives you a recipe to make it back home.

Written by Imogen Davies for the HiP Paris Blog. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.


Imogen Davies

Imogen is a Senior Travel Consultant at She specializes in everything Italy and loves nothing more than traveling the world. Imogen is an Italian property expert and has helped develop Gate-away’s new Italian Property Guide. When not in the office, Imogen enjoys sampling the sights of Italy and traveling further afield.


  1. I find it hard to believe already being an EU resident you didn’t do extensive research first. Nobody goes into investing in real estate without meaningful research and expert help. We bought into a fractional ownership in France because we fell in love with a particular apartment that met all our needs. All the financial obligations were worked out before we signed anything. We had been looking and renting apartments for several years and knew what we were getting into. We wouldn’t even buy in the US in our native tongue.
    I’m glad you finally got things the way you wished for.

  2. I always love following this blog because it transports me to places I probably will never be able to visit. After initially being drawn in by the picture I read the post too. See I’m a lover of HGTV and HGTV International where it seems very easy to just sweep into Paris or Italy and purchase your dream home…but you just shed the realities or purchasing a home abroad. Thank you!

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