Buying Property in Italy: A Guide for International Buyers


Sorrel Barnard
Sorrel is a new addition to the writing team at FXcompared. A resident of Brooklyn, she is married to an English expat and is very familiar with the processes and challenges of transferring money… Read more

Whether it’s the rolling hills of Tuscany, the art and architecture of Rome or the wine and food just about anywhere, the culture and way of life in Italy is undeniably appealing.

If you’re looking to buy a second home on the Amalfi coast or want to spend your retirement learning to make pasta, there are some practical considerations to make before buying property in Italy. Here are some of the main things you need to know.

Define Your Goals For Buying Property in Italy

Before anything else, think about what you want from your Italian property. Will it be a primary residence or holiday/vacation home; restoration project or holiday rental? How will a purchase fit into your overall finances and what are the possible practical, legal and personal challenges of maintaining a home in another country or possibly retiring there?

Before entering any agreements, it is wise to engage an attorney in your home country who is bilingual and familiar with both international and Italian property law. You will also want to engage an estate agent local to the Italian region you wish to buy. 

Rome property buying guide

Rules For Foreigners Buying Property in Italy

The good news is there are no restrictions on foreign ownership, but be warned: the slow pace of life is a large part of Italy’s charm, and buying property in Italy can require a bit of patience – particularly if you are working with a bank in the country to provide financing for the purchase.

If you are looking to live in your property and are a non-EU resident, you’ll need to apply for the right visa depending on your personal circumstances and property purchase. For example, if you’re a non-EU resident looking to retire in the country, you’ll need to apply for a residence visa requiring proof of a certain amount of income, a valid passport and proof of your property purchase in Italy, amongst other documentation. 

Deciding Where to Buy in Italy

From the beaches of Sicily to the urban sprawls of Rome, there are plenty of popular places to consider buying a property in Italy. In case you haven’t yet decided on a location to buy, we’ve included a few of the most popular regions below. 

In all cases, it’s a good idea to visit the area you are considering multiple times, rent a home similar to the one you’re looking to buy, shop for food, do laundry and go about your daily life as if you were living there to allow yourself the full residential experience before taking the plunge.


Known for its breathtaking landscapes and being the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, Tuscany is home to the historic cities of Florence, a bastion of renaissance architecture on the banks of the Arno river; Pisa, of Leaning Tower fame; and Siena, home to the region’s biggest open air market. 


This coastal region set along the Italian Riviera is home to miles of coastal old towns, hiking trails and dramatic mountain-backed views. Despite being in the north of Italy, it maintains a Mediterranean climate and is home to Genoa, a port city steeped in maritime history (and the birthplace of pesto). 


The largest island in the Med, Sicily may be separated from the mainland by a couple of miles of water, but it has just as many cathedrals and castles to explore, while stunning beaches in Palermo beg to be tanned on. The port city of Catania is a popular choice for overseas buyers, but if living under a volcano doesn't appeal, there are more affordable picks at Agrigento or the far west of Sicily. 

Italian lakes 

An abundance of parks, woodlands and wildlife make Italy’s biggest lakes a perfect retreat for nature lovers – if you can deal with a heftier price tag. Lake Garda is Italy’s second biggest lake, making it a hot spot for watersports, while Lake Como’s showbiz appeal has earned it a starring role in films like Casino Royale. There’s also Lake Iseo, which is smaller and less touristy but is still home to some of the country’s most picturesque villages.

Other Payments and Fees

In addition to the purchase price, the property will be subject to various other payments and fees, including registration tax, VAT and land registry tax, as well as legal, notary and real estate agent fees.

When purchasing international property, particularly property for sale in Italy, the ability to compare exchange rates and the services international money transfer providers offer, can make a huge difference in the ultimate purchase price as well as the costs of ownership and maintenance.

Once the purchase is complete, be sure to check out the FXCompared Guide for Regular Overseas Payments for information on how best to pay for regular expenses like management and maintenance of your new home.

Planning For Your Purchase

The sheer logistics of purchasing international property can seem daunting. In particular, it can be difficult to know you’re getting the best deal when sending money abroad, whether that’s to overseas real estate agents, foreign bank accounts, lawyers or anyone else involved with your Italian property purchase.

The good news is that international money transfers are now easier than ever thanks to mobile applications and online tools. Engaging a money transfer provider early in the process allows you the benefits of a dedicated account manager and fair exchange rates. 

Additionally, a money transfer provider can help you automate international payments and advise you on strategies to hedge risk in future international payments.

You can compare money transfer providers in our free guide here, or take a look at our checklist of general things to consider when buying property abroad.

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