In the novel A Room with a View, author E.M. Forster wrote, “One doesn’t come to Italy for niceness…one comes for life.” If you want more life in your retirement, then Florence certainly has plenty of Renaissance flair. But, niceness too plays its part here, as Florence has nice cafés, nice museums, and nice people.
Retire in Florence
As one of Italy’s most popular cities, with nearly nine million visitors a year, Florence doesn’t really need an introduction. The cradle of the Renaissance, the city’s well-known museums house some of the world’s best-known art treasures. Its position in the middle of Tuscany puts it right in the heart of nearly every tourist’s dream destination. Retiring in Florence gives you not just the riches of the city, but all of Tuscany.
Florence’s medieval streets and Renaissance splendor gives the city eternal appeal and plenty to do. As a magnet for travelers, and a “must see” for most first-time visitors to Italy, it also attracts many expats too. At last record, there are more than 2,300 full-time English-speaking expats living in Florence, plus thousands more who are part-time residents and students. The compact nature of the city, and its vast wealth of cultural life, is a natural choice for those who want an Italian dolce vita retirement.
There is so much to see and do in this art-packed city that you’ll feel like you’re perpetually on vacation. You’ll find a plethora of open-air monuments and sculptures, modern art, opera theaters, events, and annual festivals which keep things lively. Florence, of course, is known for its many museums, and during the winter they host special exhibits and apertivo evenings.
To balance out the art and culture, you’ll find a nearly-endless selection of cafés and restaurants, panoramic rooftop bars with gorgeous views, clubs, and pubs. You can also enjoy the green space of the city’s parks and glorious gardens, such as Boboli Gardens, or take a stroll along the Arno River…or a boat trip if you’d prefer. Considering you can meander across the Ponte Vecchio, or gaze at Michelangelo’s David whenever you want…you are not likely to ever be bored here.
Florence’s covered fresh markets provide flavorful produce, locally-raised meats, fresh seafood, spices, and more. It is a pleasant way to shop for your meals, though there is no lack of specialty food stores and supermarkets. Shopaholics will also love the retail offering in Florence, with Gucci and Ferragamo headquartered here. You’ll find them and many other Italian designer brands in Via dei Tornabuoni. Bargain hunters will love the San Lorenzo market, also known as “the leather market,” where you can haggle with the many purveyors. And nearly every quartiere (neighborhood) has a market.
Florence is on the primary rail line, so you can easily take affordable trips around Italy…and the bus network services smaller towns around Tuscany and the neighboring regions. The airport in nearby Pisa offers convenient flights around Europe and connections to North America.
Cost of Living
Florence is not a bargain destination and it is difficult to find property in the historic center for under $300,000. The average property cost in the centro storico is $518 per square foot, and the average for the whole city is $408 per square foot. Rentals can be more affordable and furnished apartments in the city center can be found for about $750 to $1,600 a month, and up. Tuscany can be pricey, but if you go to one of the nearby towns like Pistoia, a half-hour train ride from Florence, prices drop dramatically.
Here’s an example of a monthly budget for a couple living in Florence:
|Rent (two-bedroom apartment)||$1,200|
|Utilities (gas and electric)||$150|
|Dining and entertainment||$230|