Moving To Florence: Studying And Living

A lot of people who read this blog are either drunk or interested in moving to Italy, or both, which is why my community of readers are both fun and adventurous and basically better than everyone else. Since I love all of you so much I’d like to help import you to Italy by supplying whatever information I’ve learned to get you here and keep you here (mostly) legally. If you live in Italy or have lived in Italy feel free to comment and add to my suggestions!

Staying Longer Than Three Months And The Dreaded Visa

Let’s start with visa information. Compared to other countries, it’s fairly easy to get a visa for Italy if you’re from a developed country (if your country is considered third-world, they’ll still give it to you but you’ll have a few more hoops to jump through. I’d recommend just taking a boat and running for it.). There are a few different visa options and what you choose will probably come down to what you can afford. Anything up to three months doesn’t require a visa at all and that’s great if you want to come and do some tourism or a WWOOF program for the summer.

After three months you’ll need either a student visa or an extended tourist visa. Getting a work visa in any country is nearly impossible so I wouldn’t even bother. If you choose to do some kind of study program here you are allowed to work twenty hours per week which is nice although keep in mind that the average hourly pay here is like seven euros. The easiest way to come here is if you’re already attending an American Uni that has connections with a Uni here in Italy. However, I didn’t do that. I took out huge loans and attended the post-bachelorette program at SACI. Though, there are much cheaper schools here for literally everything you can imagine from cooking to wine-making, to sculpture and language and let’s not forget about apprenticeships. Getting a student visa is a pretty straight shot. The website lists everything you need to do and submit and once you do that you should be fine for whatever amount of time you’re studying. If you are an artist or a writer you can probably do a Self Employed Visa, the only downside of this is proving you have the financial means to coast through a year or so. You’ll find the information on the same website I linked above.

Money is for sure the biggest problem to tackle because getting a visa requires you to have 1,000 bucks in the bank for every month you ask to be in Italy. It can be a lot. I didn’t do that, instead I submitted bank statements showing that I get paid regularly a certain amount and then I had my mother do the same and write a letter saying she would help me financially if I needed it and that worked just fine. (You should try to have at least a couple grand saved before you move here just in case you don’t find a job right away.).

With that said, I do know a few people who never bothered with the visa, instead they just leave the country every three months to go on a mini-vacation outside of the Shengen area. Apparently, this works, although the risk is that if you get caught over-staying your visa you are banned from Italy forever and also it’s not easy to find work if you’re not legal. Probably better to get the visa.

After you get your visa, when you arrive in Italy you need to go to the Police station within eight days and apply for a Residence Permit or a Permesso Di Soggiorno. I’ll be honest and say that IT FUCKING SUCKS. You’ll be in line for hours, plan on having a shitty day, it’s part of immigrating here. The Permesso is nice to have because once your student visa runs out as long as your Permesso is up-to-date you can  still stay. My old room-mate originally came on a student visa, but then she found a job as a tour guide and stayed on her Permesso alone. Make sure you have it and keep it current. 


Going to an Italian school is a good deal cheaper than going to an American school. Well, basically going to school anywhere on earth is cheaper than an American school but Italy is really cheap. As far as grants and loans are concerned there are a number of cultural grants that one can apply for from most countries (I know Canada offers them for example). The downside is I haven’t found many in the United States because ya know Ammmmmerca doesn’t fund a lot of cultural exchange programs. However, Italy gives some money to humans who want to study in Italy. 

Finding the right school can make all the difference. If you study your ass off before you come to Italy you can go to an Italian school which is cheaper, but everything will be taught in Italian. If you are like me and you suck at languages (because you are shy and awkward), you can find schools that are affordable and cater to English-speaking humans. Make sure the school is reputable, and that the degrees, certifications, etc. transfer to your home-country. More than anything just make sure you cross compare schools to make sure that you’re not getting ripped off. And do not do housing through the school! They always jack up the prices on student apartments and many schools make a large profit on the apartments. I know from experience.

A Few School Recommendations For Florence:

Rent And Apartments

I think it’s similar throughout Italy but most of my experience is with Florence. In Florence you’ll pay around 300-400 euros per month to rent a bedroom in a shared apartment. I highly recommend doing this. Frankly, it’s better for  money, you’ll learn Italian faster, and you’ll be living like the locals. Italians don’t rent their own apartments usually. They live with their parents or they rent a room in a shared apartment. They’ll probably ask for a deposit and first months rent, you’ll most likely have to sign a contract which you can break anytime in Italy with a written notice. Most rent should include utilities. The best way to find a room for rent is to come to Italy and go to universities or cafe’s and look at bulletin boards. This is how most people find room-mates and places to live. Ideally take a friend or someone with you just to be safe. If you are in Florence and insist on an English speaking room-mate try to find someone from the rent wall at the European Institute.

Jobs: How To Make Money

Almost everyone I know either works as an English speaking tour guide (easier to qualify for the job than you might think), teaches English, or works in a pub of some sort. There is also the dog-sitter or nanny thing but those are jobs that take some time to establish. Most other jobs will require to to speak Italian fairly well.  A lot of the people who I know that teach English just tutor kids or whomever here or there. You can advertise in a number of ways from putting up an add online to posting things around the city. Remember, Italy is not very internet friendly. Most things are still done in physical form such as posting “English Teacher” ads on boards in coffee shops or at schools etc. around the city. It’s not easy landing a job before you arrive here. People conduct everything face-to-face (a cute habit which quickly becomes irritatingly inconvenient.). Another option is to do freelance work for American companies. That’s what I do and I love it. You can sign up to a number of freelance websites to write ( or are examples), or do graphic design, or a number of other things. If you can do this steadily before moving to Italy it’s probably the easiest option in the beginning.


You’ll probably arrive here and fall madly in love with some Italian Stallion because a lot of them dress well and they are good at the sex. It’s not that difficult to land an Italian man these days since there are way more of them than there are Italian women. Most of them, because of the culture, are what anglo-saxons equate with “prince charming.” Although keep a few things in mind: His mother probably controls his life and irons his panties. He is probably still friends with every girl he has ever slept with and he comes from a country where having a little somethin’-somethin’ on the side is considered normal and is talked about openly among dudes. He also might be fascist like all “yay fascism”. If you find one who isn’t a cheater, who has stopped breast feeding from his poor mom’s dry and chaffed teets, who isn’t pro-mussolini, and who washes his own panties: marry him. Then you can stay forever and make super cute mixed babies. Tuscan rainbows.

What would you add? Did I miss something? Let me know in the comments below. 😉


72 thoughts on “Moving To Florence: Studying And Living

  1. Hi,

    Great info. Just a few things to clarify, though. There are no “mini breaks” outside of Schengen. It’s 90 days in and 90 days out. People are getting popped left and right anymore for overstays, even by countries like Spain and Greece. You won’t be banned only from Italy, but all of the Schengen area.
    Work visas are pretty easy to get in almost any country BUT Italy, actually. Pesky “we want jobs only for us” type of set up.
    Florence is expensive, yep. Other than Milan, Rome and Venice, Italy is pretty cheap. Think 350-450 euros for a BILOCALE, not a room. So, as you noted, be prepared to have some serious cash if considering living in any of the above mentioned cities, or be prepared to hustle.

    • Great addition, thank you! I should mention (just to clarify my own article) that I don’t recommend people overstay their visa. I only included it in the article because I’ve met so many people who use the illegal “mini-break” system. You’re right, you will be banned from the entire Shengen area, which is huge. Also, how embarrassing to tell your friends and family that you were deported. Who wants to be that guy?

  2. Strange thing happened the last time I was there; I flew in from Dublin to Rome and never received a stamp or scan of my passport- nothing. I was told I had the dream passport. I went to other countries and they all asked where I lived yet no stamp or problem, except I hate Ryanair and their baggage fees. Anyway, I was tempted to stay because no one knew when I truly entered. An Italian Stallion began looking me a job even though I would be illegal and undocumented. I got nervous and in the end I took my return flight home, figured I would again return legally for a longer stay.
    Oh and FYI even when his mother has passed on (God Rest her Soul) she is still there, she is always there.
    Love your work Misty!

  3. Pingback: First Time On Surviving In Italy? | Surviving M.E.: Living In Italy

  4. This is some of the most succinct, efficient and HELPFUL information on the web all in one package, esp. this entry. I am looking in to moving to France or Italy in 3- 5 years to pursue more traditional jewelry design and jewelry houses. For now I am moving to Melbourne, AUS for my Aussie fiance’s job. Stepping stones . . . Anyway, came across your blog and it’s loaded with great info!Thank you so much!

    • Krystle,

      I’m glad that you found me and even more glad that I could help you. Let me know if there is anything else you’d be interested in knowing and I can guide you to the right posts or write one for you. A presto!

  5. Hi M.E.- (very clever)
    I just interviewed for a job in Florence, but the employer isn’t willing to sponser a work permit. Did you come over on a student visa and then convert it to a freelancing visa? I’m wondering if it is possible to apply for the freelancing visa to get the permission to work and then take the job offer in Florence. Thanks!

  6. Surprisingly enough, Florence is considered one of the most antifascist towns in Italy! I lived in Florence myself and I must say it’s a very rich town and, in Italy, rich people tend to be pro Mussolini/Berlusconi. I hate this. But, luckily, Italians aren’t all fascists! 😉

  7. Great post, girl! Very informative!
    I really liked the fact that you took the time to explain the most important aspects of living abroad (visa, school, work, accommodation) in such detail!
    I had the chance to live in Florence for a short while, but I look forward to returning to this amazing, beautiful, (just perfect, really) Italian city! I’ll definitely take you advices next time around! Thanks for the great post and for linking to my post as well!
    Un bacio! 🙂

  8. Pingback: Keep Calm And Go To Italy: 12 Steps To Move To Florence Italy |

    • I don’t know. I’ll ask one of my Italian friends that are girls to write a post and see what they say. I asked my husband and he said, “NO, TRUST ME NO! SAVE YOURSELF!” I don’t know what that means.

      • Haha, sounds like you’re a miracle to him compared to Italian women. That said, I might just intentionally forget what you’ve told me, I’ve met far too many lovely Italians.

      • I’ve asked a few of my Italian female friends if they would answer questions. I’ll get a post together for you soon. 🙂 If you have any specific questions in mind, let me know!

  9. You are so adorable! Every post/comment makes me laugh. And I’m at work so this is kind of embarrassing. You just took my “I want to move to Italy” stage from a level 4 to a level 10. I’m coming.

    • Thank you! That’s really sweet. I’m glad that you’re thinking about moving to Italy! It’s a great experience. Let me know if there is anything I can write to help you out on your journey!

  10. Hi, my name is Madison and i just graduated high school and am attending community college and getting my associates degree in 1 year. After that I plan to move to Italy and get my TEFL certificate there and then teach English. I’ve been doing some research and so far what I’ve read my chances would be better if I had a bachelors degree. One question would be where is a good/cheap university to go to. Also, I have started Rosetta Stone for Italian,would that be enough to go to classes that are taught in italian? Also, I don’t want to be a TEFL teacher forever, is there a good career to go into while in Italy for an expat? I’m really interested in expat life and I just want to have a plan before I change my entire life. Thank you!

    • Madison, I received about 30 similar questions in the past week so I’m going to add it to the FAQ page I’m working on. I’ll have it up asap (end of the weekend), and I’ll send you a link to it. 😉 I’ll make sure to answer it to the best of my ability.

  11. Pingback: Frequently Asked Questions: Studying, Moving, Working, Loving In Florence, Italy | Living In Italy.Moving To Italy. Loving In Italy. Laughing In Italy.

  12. Hey

    Great job ! Thank you
    It really helps me more to know about Florence other than websites , as I am looking forward to get in for studying

  13. I love your blog and everything you have to say! I also studied at SACI for a semester in January to April and fell in love with Italy. I am aiming to move to Florence once I graduate college in a year and really hoping it works out. Mostly because I also fell in love there and we’re still together. So weird. Everything you say is so true!!! 🙂

  14. My fiance told me just to walk down the coast and pick out whatever “bitch” (beach) I wanted to lay on and that he would be there soon to join me… this is one of many language mix ups that happens rather consistently. 🙂

    Thank you for all of this practical information. I will be making a move to Milan in the next several months (right before the world’s fair… oops) and have just begun the process of getting everything in order. So far, everything that I have read has been great. My fiance and his family have been helpful when it comes to the visa and schools, but it is the job part that has been the area in which I need some additional ideas. I am going to look more in depth into the list of suggestions you gave!

    Thanks again!

    • Hi i have started going to florence design academy and my course is till may next year. I wanted to do some part time job so that i can atleast earn my pocket money. Im new to florence and dont know italian at all . what can you suggest for a part time job?

      • Honestly, you’ll probably have the most luck in a restaurant or pub. You’ll probably have to wait until you’re in town and just go around asking if anyone is hiring. You can also try the hotels, and of course the tour guide companies. What will you be studying specifically?

      • hello bani, i am also looking forward to go to Florence design academy for interior design as i am already a college drop out, i don’t wanna make any wrong decision and have been researching about FDA for a few months but i am not able to find out exact information i am looking for which is- living cost , wheather the college is worth?, is it easy to get a part time job and what can i expect from my future after FDA , so i was thinking if you colud help me figure out some things ,
        thank you …

      • Hi everyone!
        I wanted to know if Batman got the answer to his doubts
        One year after and here I am asking myself the same questions
        I wonder if he could help me! But there’s no way to see his email
        Does anyone have it? Tks!

  15. Hello I have seen you referring to a couple art programs in Florence (Studiofuji and SACI). Can you share a bit of how you transitioned from being a non-art undergrad to being in the post-bac and graduate school program? I studied at SACI for a short summer course and completely fell in love with doing arts. I do not have much skills and knowledge because I’m a business major (yah I know), but I’m hoping to pursue a post-bac or potentially Masters in Fine Arts upon graduation.

    How was your experience with the post-bac program in SACI and studiofuji?

    Thank you for your time!

  16. I am from India flying to Florence in Jan 2015 to study at Florence design academy. I am a female and want to know ” How Safe is Florence for Girls”. What is the general living expenses

  17. I think this is one of the greatest things I’ve discovered this month! An awesome blog that makes me feel like I’m in a conversation with a friend. As a Mexican that has lived in USA and now in Florence, you’ve been of great help on getting a gist of just what I’m getting myself into
    Excellent writer and even better wit! Congrats 🙂

  18. So, let me start by saying how hilarious I think you are. I definitely understand the humor. I spent 3 months in Italy toward the end of last year, some time in Sicily and the other in Florence and I have to say that as soon as I landed I KNEW I was home. Id been traveling the world for months running my business and no matter where Ive gone, my heart is still in Italy. That said, I made the decision to save my moolah to purchase a property by the end of the year and then apply for a resident visa. I can tell you now I will be studying your site for the next few months. I was reading one of your posts about hat not to do in Italy, like show up empty handed to someones home. Ooops… messed that up on my first trip. Good to know as I will always show up with wine from now on! Im in Bali now, headed to Malta on Monday and then back to Sicily as I cant seem to stay away.

  19. I just found your blog. I’m moving to Florence next month with husband and am grateful for all the advice! My name is Andrea and I’m a girl so I’m super excited for everyone to give me the side eye when I meet them.

  20. Hey
    i’m moving to florence design Academy for a masters in graphic design next month. I’m Nigerian & just trying to have an awesome year ahead. How’s the marijuana??? 🙂

  21. Hey!

    I am so glad to find your blog because I am in the process of studying/moving to Italy and this is becoming some sort of a pain. I am thinking on traveling on a few weeks there to get in touch with all the details from the university.

  22. hey the post was really informative .. i wanted to know is florence safe and im going there for masters in interior design to florence design academy….. is it a good college?

    • Florence is very safe but it’s always important to practice caution everywhere you go. I honestly don’t know if that school specifically is good but I haven’t heard of very many schools in Florence that aren’t.

  23. Hi! Do you know if with the student visa for Italy you can work as a freelance in internet? Thanks!!

  24. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for! So much information and exactly what I need to know! I don’t know if you would be able to help me but, I’m 17 and next year (when I’m 18) I want to move to Italy and study the language. Is it possible to study it for a long time (like a year)? how would I afford living there when you’re only allowed to work 20 hours p/w on around 7euros p/h? im already saving so by the time I move I’ll have a few grand so I’ll be okay for a little bit but what’s your suggestion on getting set up and finding a school/university to study at and to start living there long term as an 18 year old girl?

    • If you’ll be 18 and graduated from high school, if I were you, I’d look for a college that offers a study abroad program in Italy. There are a lot of them, and that will make the visa process easier and cheaper. Your other option is to go to a language school in Italy. That will also give you a student visa and you can stay for up to one year. There are dozens of schools so I’d just research them really well and compare them to each other. The university of Florence also has a language program and is super cheap but their website is a pain In the ass to navigate so I’m not sure how to get more info. You might have to call a rep. Your rent will be about 300 euros per month if you live with other people (everyone lives with roommates until they get married basically), then another 100 per month for food and 200 more for other expenses. If you can save as much of that ahead of time as possible your life will be much easier. I’d also recommend getting Rosetta Stone and practicing every day starting now. Even if you plan on going to language school, you’ll need basic Italian to find a place to live, etc. 😉

  25. Hello!

    I recently received my study visa and I will be spending a year in Florence. So far, I have everything set up, but I’m not sure exactly what to do about my phone. I’ve read about SIM cards, but I’m curious to see what option worked best for you, and your opinions on it. Thank you for all the great info!

      • Hi M.E!! I’m in the same boat as Emma here, I will be in Italy in a month. I have an iphone but I rely on it a disgusting amount for GPS, so I would like to keep a smartphone type. Should I wait until I go to Italy to go to a “wind” store? Or what could I do in the US to make this switch? Thank you!!

      • Korynn, if you want a smart phone your option is to call your provider and see what options they have for your trip abroad. But be careful and ask a ton of questions. At no point do you want to end up paying 1,000 per month for service. Your other option is to buy your smartphone IN Italy. The reason is that most US smartphones (Apple, etc), are locked. Meaning, you can’t swap out the SIM card to work in other countries. You can buy unlocked smart phones in Italy. Or, you can just use data on your smart phone and call your service to see your data options but get a Wind phone in Italy to make phone calls, etc….

  26. Hi!,
    I’ve been searching online about how to stay in Italy for more than 90 days since I want to live there for around a year or less and a working holiday visa came up. Do you suggest getting one of these? Are the easy to get? Thanks!

  27. Such a great article!! I loved the way you have put everything about Italy. I am a student in Florence and stuggling my way through and I can totally relate to everything you ve put there. It would be great if you could suggest some websites where I can find part time jobs. Also I am still learning the language.
    Thanks 🙂

  28. thank you for this article..
    am applying for arts mgmt in Milano next year. lot to do….phew!!! but whatever i have read for non EU students they say that self employment isn’t allowed. so i guess freelancing comes into this. isn’t it?

  29. great information… but please can you tell me how do work here cuz the problem is i cant speak italian and and seriously looking for a job. i am ready to do anything for it. like you said dog sitting how do i start my job as in where should i apply for it. please help me with this i am really struggling i walk 4 hrs everyday searching for a job in resto.. bars pubs etc i am here for my studies of industrial design and i am an artist as will. i even use to sell my paintings when i was in India.

    • You can find some jobs posted on cork boards in random places throughout the city (at the universities, in laundromats, etc). You can also create flyers yourself and post them around yourself. Are you in Florence?

  30. Hi! So I am already here in Firenze (been here since September) as a student and I really want to find a job. I have my student visa and my permesso is in the works, is there some work permit I have to apply for? Do you know how american students finding jobs works?

  31. Hi! The information you shared is very great and informative!
    I am moving to Florence from India for doing my masters in FDA university and can you please tell a better way that how we get a LOCAL SIM CARD, and can you guide more about freelancing jobs or other jobs.
    Hope to get back from you soon!

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