Milan City Guide

By Victoria Fellows


Our guide to living and working in Milan

While Milan is known throughout the world as a fashion capital, it’s also Italy’s main tech city, making it a lucrative place for people in the industry to relocate. A proposed Innovation District could propel Milan further into the realms of top tech cities in the coming decades, while offering a fascinating culture for those living in the city to explore.

Housing in Milan

Most expats moving to Milan prefer to rent, especially to begin with, and will find that housing across the board is expensive. The majority of accommodation in the city centre consists of small apartments, so the suburbs are more appealing for those looking for family homes, condos and villas.

When choosing between a furnished, semi-furnished or unfurnished rental property it’s worth bearing in mind the latter might not even have light fittings. Leases are typically for three to four years, with shorter ones costing more. It’s common for three months’ worth of rent to be paid upfront.

UK’s visa requirements for working in Milan

UK citizens relocating to Italy require a work visa, which can be applied for as soon as a job offer is received. As well as filling out the application form, a passport-sized photo and identity document will be required, with the process taking anywhere between three weeks and three months.

Once in Italy, a residency permit must be applied for within eight days. Do this at the post office, where you will be given an appointment at the police station and documents to fill in. Pay specific attention to whether these can be submitted as translations and if an inked signature is needed.

The cost of living in Milan

Milan has a reputation for being the most expensive city in Italy, with its fashion scene and chic culture. Rents are typically between €720 and €1,800 depending on the type of property required. Despite this, it’s still 47 per cent cheaper than living in London.

A three-course meal for two in a mid-price restaurant costs on average €78, while a combo meal at McDonalds or an equivalent establishment is priced at €10. A domestic beer can be bought for around €6 and a litre of milk is €1.50.

Salaries in Milan

The average salary for a software engineer in Milan is €37,000 a year, but those with specialist skills can expect to earn more. There’s a clear career trajectory in this area that could lead to an average salary of just under €49,000 once an engineer reaches the senior level.

Commuting and public transport in and around Milan

Milan’s integrated public transport network makes getting around the city and commuting fairly straightforward. It consists of buses, trams and a four-line Metro system, which has confusingly been numbered M1, M2, M3 and M5.

Despite being a densely populated city, Milan stretches for just 15 kilometres end-to-end, making a commute manageable even for those living in the suburbs. The ambitious Cambio biciplan is currently under construction and will result in 750 kilometres of cycle paths across the city.

The education system in Milan

Education is compulsory in Italy between the ages of six and 16, with the school system divided into four stages: kindergarten, primary school, lower secondary school and upper secondary school. As well as public schools, there are a number of international options in Milan, but competition for places is high.

When students turn 14, they must decide which subjects they wish to specialise in and then attend an institution based on these choices. This will lead some children to stay in school until the age of 19, before attending university if they wish.

The thriving technology sector in Milan

Milan is already a hub for start-ups and a number of multinational organisations, such as Amazon, Facebook, IBM and Microsoft have a presence in the city. It’s not, however, standing still and a project to turn the former site of the World Expo into an Innovation District is underway. Twice the size of the Vatican, this abandoned fairground is looking to be the next Silicon Valley, with a cash injection of €4.5 billion.

Once completed, it will include research labs, a startup accelerator, a science campus and housing for up to 60,000 people. The Milan Innovation District will be connected to the city’s public transport network with a high-speed rail line.

Life in Milan outside of work

City life in Milan offers plenty of cultural opportunities from exploring the famed Duomo, its myriad art galleries, opera house and castle to enjoying authentic Italian food. For those who enjoy retail therapy, the city is home to the oldest shopping mall in the world, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

Famed artist Leonardo da Vinci lived in Milan between 1482 and 1499, painting the Last Supper during that period. The immense mural is located in the refectory of the Dominican convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie and can be viewed when tickets are booked as part of a package.

There is no shortage of parks in Milan, with the most famous being Parco Sempione. This vast 95-acre expanse of green space often draws comparisons with New York’s Central Park. It was originally laid out between 1890 and 1893 in the style of a traditional English garden. As well as stunning planting, it’s home to a number of buildings that house everything from an arts venue to an aquarium.

Local delicacies to try include panettone, with a delicious example of the sweet bread available from Pasticceria Cucchi on Corso Genova; and gorgonzola from Asso di Fiori, which translates as the ace of cheese. The town of Gorgonzola is in the greater Milan area, making the blue cheese a must-try in this part of Italy.

From Milan, it’s easy to visit other areas of Italy, such as Venice, Verona and the Italian lakes, while the city’s airport is also a busy international hub, offering flights to a wide selection of destinations.

We currently have have a number of job opportunities in Milan across software, semiconductor and sales and marketing - check them out now.

Related articles and insights

Browse all insights