When we moved to Italy in 2008 we learned a lot fast. The process might have gone smoother if we had known some things beforehand. In this post I share our most important insights for those who think about moving to Italy.
- Learn the language BEFORE you make the move.
Although Italians learn English at school, they do not practice (all foreign language series and films on TV are dubbed) and forget most of it in real life. Professionals especially prefer to express themselves in Italian rather than English. And you’ll enjoy your stay much more;
- Read as much as you can about the horror stories of other people who bought or tried to buy a house in Italy. There are books (such as mine) and you’ll find a lot on the internet as well;
- Buy a practical how-to book about buying a house in Italy and study it carefully. You may have to read it over and over again to get familiar with the technicalities and jargon of the buying process;
- Employ a geometra, which is an officially recognized technical engineer. Find your own, do not rely on one provided or by the seller or real estate agent. He should be the single one person you can trust in the process.
- Get a codice fiscale C.F. tax identity number as soon as you can. Without it you do not exist as far as Italian official institutes are concerned. The Agenzie delle Entrate can provide it but you better try the Italian consulate or embassy in your home country first;
- Make Italian friends, talk about your plans when you are in Italy and ask fir advice. Most people will come up with names of reliable people you may need, technicians, builders, plumbers etc. Or they can tell you things about the house you are interested in;
- Never trust the real estate agent of the seller, who is per force also yours! Have everything checked by your geometra. Make sure you understand every detail of the buying process (see 3);
- Do not expect things to run smoothly, promises will be broken, time limits neglected, assurances. The whole process is likely to take twice as much time as you originally think;
- Keep in contact with all reponsibles involved to let them know you are on to them so they won’t ’forget’ you and deliver what they promised;
- Negotiate about the 3% commission the real estate (of the seller!) will ask from you. Whatever he will state about it, it is perfectly legal and normal to ask for a reduction.
If you want to have a good laugh and know how we did it? Read my book Living in Italy: the Real Deal.