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5 Tips for Renovating a House in Italy
Are you interested in renovating a house in Italy? There are many historic and partially restored properties for sale in this region. Buying a property in Italy might allow you to live in an exceptional climate while you work on renovating a home with star-vaulted ceilings or tile frescos. Of course, there are pitfalls you might encounter along the way, but these tips will help you turn your dream into a reality.
1. Choose the Best Region in Italy
Do you want to live in the countryside, where properties are affordable and picturesque? Or do you prefer coastal landscapes or historic cities? Which region of Italy you choose will have impacts on your budget and renovation project planning. The location of your home in Italy will determine the cost of materials, your timeline, the availability of utilities, and the fees charged by local architects and the town council.
Some of the best regions to consider include:
- An out of the way treasure, Abruzzo offers cities, beaches, and mountains, with a small community way of life. A property located in this region is likely to be both affordable and breathtaking.
- Lake Como. The beautiful and tranquil towns in this lake community are perfect for country living and are just 40 minutes from Milan by train, or only 5 kilometers from Switzerland.
- Le Marche. Rapidly growing in popularity and opportunity, this region has low housing prices and offers a low cost of living as well. With 28 small villages and excellent healthcare, Le Marche is catching the eye of retirees and entrepreneurs.
- Liguria and Cinque Terre. These western coastal regions have a warm and comfortable climate year round: sunny with mild winters. Beautiful towns and cities in this area include the Cinque Terre or “five lands.”
- The architecture and culture of Lombardy is surrounded by natural spaces and features luxury shops and fashion designers. Close to Milan, this area is a luxurious and elite place for renovating a property in Italy.
- Living in the city of Rome itself gives you access to the living history and cultural destinations this city offers. While costs of renovation may be higher, Rome is a central hub for travel, with Naples and Florence a short train ride away.
- The island region of Sicily features white sand beaches, delicious regional cuisine, and cultural festivals all through the year. Buying a house in Sicily is surprisingly affordable.
- The landscapes in this lush coastal wine country are second to none, with miles of coast and beaches to enjoy. The capital of Tuscany is Florence, an incredible city with unique architecture and world-class art museums and galleries.
2. Set a Budget to Buy a House in Italy
Renovation work will almost always run over budget. There are many variables to consider, but in general you should plan to spend no more than half of your budget on acquiring the property itself, and then add an additional 10-20% for unforeseen costs.
Some budget items to remember that may be unexpected include:
- Costs involved in finding the right property, including travel and lodging
- Planning for the costs of a well and electricity in the countryside
- The total amount of work needed may not be revealed until renovation begins
- Solar panels are common in Italy and may be required in remote areas
- Plan for fees from real estate agents, notaries, attorneys, and local council permits
3. Buy Your Ideal Italian Property
If you are planning on renovating a house in Italy, you should be aware of these terms:
- Da restaurare or Ristrutturare. These terms mean the property requires substantial renovation and is probably not considered habitable. You may need to budget for living expenses while the property is restored or remodeled.
- Restaurato or Rinnovato Parzialmente. This means the property is partially renovated and is probably considered habitable. Habitable does not necessarily mean comfortable and there may well be disruptions to staying in the home when major renovations are taking place.
It is important to note that, under Italian law, not all foreigners are eligible to purchase property. Italian or EU citizens can purchase Italian properties, as can those who do so under national reciprocity agreements. If you have a direct Italian ancestor, it is likely you can obtain Italian citizenship yourself. Keep in mind that, without this citizenship, you might own property but still need time-limited visas to stay in Italy.
4. Work with Reputable Professionals
Even before you finalize your purchase of property in Italy, you may want to engage the services of a geometra to inspect it. This Italian property professional is an architect, engineer, and surveyor. A trusted geometra may be able to offer you referrals to local renovation contractors. They will help draw up necessary plans, file planning application paperwork, advise you on local regulations, help you obtain permits, and perform inspections as the work progresses.
It is part of Italian culture to network and having an insider working for you will smooth the way for your renovation project. You should also expect to negotiate on prices and be willing to say you are going to shop around for the best building quotes. Be sure to get your chosen quote as part of a contract, which holds the contractor to that cost per square metre under Italian law.
5. Obtain Italian Citizenship and Move to Italy
If you are descended from an Italian citizen, it may be a simple process to apply for Italian citizenship. When you choose to become a dual Italian citizen, you have the same rights to live and work in Italy as any other EU citizen. The benefits go beyond the right to own property and live in Italy, and your citizenship is automatically passed down to your children.
The Italian American Citizenship Assistance Program can help you make your plan to renovate a property in Italy much simpler. Contact us today to see if you might be eligible for full Italian citizenship and take advantage of tax-free importing of your personal property, as well as having as much time as you need to find and purchase the perfect home in Italy.