Living in Milan: pros and cons of moving here

Lifestyle / Wednesday, July 20th, 2022

You can read this article in Italian here.

Since I write a blog on Milan, I frequently find myself responding to questions from people thinking about moving to Milan and are researching it. Given the interest in the topic, I made the decision to write a blog post that, in my opinion, lists the benefits and drawbacks of living in Milan.

The points below obviously are a reflection of my own opinion and how I experience the city as a woman of roughly thirty with a stable career, no children and a love of food, born and raised in the small city of Varese, in Lombardy far from the sea, etc. The goal of the post is to provide a broad overview of the advantages and disadvantages based on my personal experience; clearly, each reader is allowed to reach their own opinions.

Positive sides of living in Milan, in my opinion

  • the city offers a lot of opportunities in every area, including good universities, there are many employment opportunities, theaters, concerts, book presentations, and events (from fashion weeks to “nerdy” events like comic cons)
  • there are a number of major international chains as well as neighborhood stores and starred restaurants, so there is a lot to do and it is impossible not to find something you like here
  • there are people from all over Italy (and the world) so there is a lot of integration of other cultures, religions and sexual orientations
  • there are more people, you are not limited to your smalltown “high school friends” or to your circle of colleagues, because you have the opportunity to meet many people and among them find people who have the same interests as you
  • between metro, tram and bus there are a lot of convenient means of transport that take you more or less everywhere
  • there are car sharing, bike sharing and motorcycle sharing options… in short, between vehicles and sharing you don’t need a car to live in the city
  • here all the new apps are tested so in addition to the delivery of food (JustEat, Deliveroo etc.) you also have those who come to wash and iron your shirts, those who do your make-up and do your hair at home… everything. Here are some of the most useful apps in Milan
  • it is a city that “grows” because it re-evaluates and redevelops neighborhoods, for example, now Isola and Porta Nuova are a marvel, while ten years ago they were much less desirable areas of the city … the same is happening to Lodi TIBB, Porta Vittoria and Certosa, which are being re-developed and may become the “next big thing”
  • it’s a fairly safe city (I’m more afraid to walk alone out of the center of Varese at 10pm than to walk in Milan alone at 3am …)
  • you have 3 airports available, various train stations… traveling for work or leisure is easy
  • it is very easy to make day trips (ex: Bergamo, Lecco, Varese, Como …) or weekend trips out of town (to mountains, the sea, etc …)
  • there are beautiful museums (Brera, Museo del Novecento …) and in general a bit of art in every neighborhood (for example the Liberty in Porta Venezia and Monforte) … I assure you that just exploring the city will make you walk for kilometers in the wonder

Negative sides of living in Milan, in my opinion

  • the cost of living in Milan is very expensive, starting with rent … a room costs at least € 500, a studio apartment at least € 800, a two-bedroom apartment at least € 1000 … here I’m talking about Milan’s city center and not the suburbs, of course
  • saving is difficult, given the cost of living in Milan
  • if you have to cross the city (eg: going from Porta Venezia to San Siro) it can take up to an hour, both by transport and by car
  • there is smog, it is useless to deny it
  • in summer the heat is almost unbearable and there are a lot of mosquitoes

Living in Milan: yes or no?

To conclude… Milan offers you a lot, but you must have the money to live it or you will end up not having a good experience and you will leave.

Milan will give you a lot if you are young and looking for stimuli, but it could be the wrong choice if you have a very limited budget, if you have a large family to support, if you cannot stay away from the sea or mountains, if you need an environment where you know everyone, if you find comforting the idea of always doing the same things with the same people in a town that never changes. Milan always changes. And you have to keep up, preferably with a full wallet.

Please note the following part was written by an American friend who helps me with this blog

Living in Milan as an American

As for living in Milan pro and cons, from the point of view of an American expat living in Milan for almost 10 years, you really come to know the all sides of living in the city. In general, from the point of view of someone who is used to the public services and amenities in large cities like Chicago or Detroit, moving to Milan and getting accustomed to life in this Italian international city was not a difficult transition to make. 

Things like public transportation and public services typically work well, though of course there will be moments of frustration due to cultural and societal differences that take time to come to terms with, such as the high cost of living in Milan and low salaries, strikes of union workers (an Italian constitutional right of workers) or non-continuous hours of operation. 

All in all, Milan is an international, dynamic city that has changed and continues to change every year with a lot to offer anyone who moves there.

Want to read something else? Here are the best cheap restaurants in Milan, gluten free cafes and restaurants in town and the Milan food bloggers to follow.