Securing accommodation in Florence is a priority for new expats. City-centre apartments are usually small, so expats looking for more spacious family homes should explore the suburbs. While foreigners can buy property in Italy, most expats rent, at least initially.
The key to finding suitable housing in Florence is for expats to base the search on the lifestyle they prefer. If they prefer the hustle and bustle of the city life, then the city centre is for them, though quieter and less touristy areas do exist. There are many areas and suburbs to choose from in Florence. Keep in mind that it’s a relatively compact city, especially in the Centro Storico within the old city walls. The central areas are also more expensive than the outlying suburbs.
Types of accommodation in Florence
Nearly all of Florence's housing options are in apartment buildings. These palazzi vary in size and some come with balconies, small terraces, cellar storage units or garage space, which will likely cost extra.
Few buildings have elevators, but the air and light are generally better on higher floors. Housing ranges from old buildings to newer structures, and expats are likely to get more space for their money the further they are from the historic centre.
Finding accommodation in Florence
The best place to start a property search is online. Even before moving to Florence, expats should browse web listings or even do a social media search. However, new arrivals should never commit to a lease or put down a deposit before physically viewing a property and getting a feel for the area it’s in.
For students moving to Florence, individuals can contact their institution or study programme to find out about student accommodation.
Once in Italy, expats can work through a local real estate agent or browse the affitto (rental) sections in the newspaper classifieds. There are also frequent advertisements in The Florentine, an English-language local newspaper.
Renting accommodation in Florence
Most often, new arrivals will be renting apartments in Florence. There are certain factors that one must consider throughout the search, especially given aspects of finding accommodation in Italy.
Furnished vs unfurnished properties
Expats looking for accommodation in Florence have several choices. Apartments can be rented empty (vuoti), without any appliances or light fittings at all, partially furnished (parzialmente arredati) with a major appliance or two, or fully furnished (arredati). Leases
Normal rental leases tend to be for long periods, usually for a minimum of three to four years, depending on the type of contract. This can be renewed for expats who wish to stay longer.
Shorter leases are common for foreigners who are in Florence for a short stint of work or study (one to two years) but these are more expensive. Expats staying for a shorter period usually sign a transitional-use contract with a fixed period of between one and 18 months. To enter into this kind of contract, the tenant must prove that they have a legitimate need for temporary housing. Expats working in Florence for a limited time can do this with a copy of their employment contract.
Whether or not tenants have to set up connections for utilities on their own depends on their lease. Landlords can include electricity and water in the rent or bill the tenant separately. However, often, these costs are for the tenant and so must be considered when planning financially. Utilities in Italy can be pricey, adding to one’s general cost of living.
To secure a lease, expats typically must often pay a deposit of up to three months' rent, but should always visit their prospective flat with the landlord and/or leasing agent before signing a lease to take note any repairs to be made before moving in.