Nestled in the heart of northern Italy, Milan emerges as a vibrant tapestry of modern sophistication and rich history. As Italy's second-largest city and the capital of the prosperous Lombardy region, Milan is a bustling metropolis that exudes an air of elegance and dynamism.
It's a city where ancient architectural marvels coexist with cutting-edge fashion boutiques, where the echoes of historical grandeur blend seamlessly with the rhythms of contemporary life. The city's streets are alive with a diverse tapestry of people, including a thriving expat community, each contributing to the vibrant cultural mosaic that makes Milan so unique.
This cosmopolitan city offers a multitude of experiences, from wandering through its enchanting, narrow cobblestone streets to indulging in the finest Italian cuisine at a chic sidewalk café. Its skyline, punctuated by the iconic spires of the Duomo, tells the story of a city that has been at the forefront of artistic and architectural innovation for centuries.
Living in Milan as an expat
While Rome is the political and historical heart of Italy, Milan is its financial leader and cultural trendsetter. Home to the country’s stock exchange and the offices of many multinational corporations, modern Milan is a buzzing commercial centre that’s best known for its fashion industry.
The city has a reputation for being incredibly work-orientated, but the work-life balance remains favourable compared to fast-paced metros such as New York or Hong Kong.
As a key element of the lifestyle in Milan, fashion is a top priority for many residents, and the Milanese people seem to do everything with style. They are also passionate about food and sports. As such, there are plenty of restaurants, shops and cultural attractions, and watching one of the city’s top two football teams, the globally renowned AC Milan and FC Internazionale, in action at the local stadium is a must.
Properties in Milan are some of the most expensive in Italy, but the choices are varied and include everything from inner-city apartments to spacious suburban villas and beyond. An extensive public transport system makes it easy to get from home to work and school.
Cost of living in Milan
Milan's high quality of life does come at a price, and it has the highest cost of living of any Italian city. Accommodation in the city is particularly expensive but, fortunately, expats can save on medical costs as the public healthcare system is both excellent and highly affordable.
In the 2023 Mercer Cost of Living Survey, Milan was ranked as the 49th most expensive city globally out of 227, positioning it slightly below Frankfurt in Germany and above Philadelphia in the United States. This indicates that while it is relatively expensive for an Italian city, it compares more favourably on a broader international scale.
Families and children in Milan
There is plenty for families to get up to in and around Milan. Despite being known for its man-made attractions such as the Duomo and Leonardo da Vinci’s famous Last Supper, natural beauty is within easy reach too. Milan is near the Italian northern lakes, the Alps and the Dolomites – a breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage Site – all great fun for families to explore.
Climate in Milan
The climate isn’t typically Mediterranean, but summers are hot and humid, with temperatures rising above 86°F (30°C). Winters are cold and wet, with temperatures occasionally dropping below freezing.
Expats who enjoy working in Italy's commercial centre while bathing in the splendour of one of the most fashionable cities in the world will find Milan to be a glorious expat destination.
What do expats love about Milan?
"I enjoy the diversity of the people in Milan. It is a very international and open city." Get some insights into life in Milan from Diana's interivew.
"The quality of life is very different to what I’m used to – there are many upsides and some downsides..." Read Alice's experiences to get a feel of the pros and cons of moving to Milan.
►Get a sense of the culture and way of life in the city by reading about Lifestyle in Milan
Are you an expat living in Milan?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Milan. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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