Renting an apartment in Milan is not a simple task.
Milan is an attractive metropolitan city, and many people, both Italians and foreigners, are drawn here every year for work, school, or tourism. As a result, apartments can be expensive and difficult to find.
First of all, the competition is very high, making this process quite frustrating. You will need to be prepared to move fast and be ready to sign a contract.
Also, the prices are quite high, and the apartments are often subpar in terms of quality. You will need to be prepared to pay a bit more than you would any other city in Italy, and, unfortunately, lower your expectations.
1. What to expect when you rent an apartment in Milan
Demand is sky high
There are students from dozens of universities and schools in Milan, workers from hundreds of multinational companies, and millions of tourists competing for apartments in Milan every day.
Thus, competition is very harsh, especially if your budget is on the lower end. And you’ll have to be very responsive checking out listings multiple times a day if you want to secure something in a reasonable timeframe.
First come first serve
Let’s say you’ve been watching the listings like a hawk and phoning as soon as you see something you like. So, you’ve made an appointment, you’ve seen the apartment, and the good news is that you’re interested in moving in! It’s yours, right?
Not so fast. Sadly, landlords and (particularly) agents frequently keep showing the apartments, but if someone else has seen it before, they have first dibs on moving in. It’s important that you act quickly!
Leases are very flexible and protect tenants
There are a few different leases to choose from (described below), but regardless of which one you sign, you have the right to leave at any time (upon providing the required notice) whereas the landlord often has no such right.
As early lease termination is not an option in many countries, subletting is often the only viable option for those who need to move out before their lease is up.
This leads to the following point:
Most landlords don’t allow sublets
Because of the flexibility of the lease, most of them prohibit subletting.
However, the notice is often short enough to be very convenient (more on that in the lease section). If you find yourself in a situation where you need to leave before the end of the specified notice period, you may either work out a compromise with your landlord or help in the search for a new renter.
Apartments are furnished
Most apartments in Milan come furnished. This can be a benefit or a hindrance, depending on your needs.
It might take more time to find an unfurnished apartment in Milan if you want to live there for an extended period of time and want to furnish it yourself.
Although most landlords would not remove furniture from their apartment, it never hurts to ask!
On the other hand, if you are only staying in Milan for a short time, your apartment will be ready from day one!
Many apartments aren’t…beautiful
Milan is in such great demand that landlords don’t need to worry about making their apartments enticing to tenants.
And I think you know what it means.
The competition for the good ones is fierce, as if finding one wasn’t already challenging enough.
Many apartments don’t have amenities
Unless you’re renting a top apartment at Bosco Verticale or another super fancy high-rise new building in Gae Aulenti or City Life, you can expect to have little to no amenities in your apartment complex.
No dedicated parking space
But do you really need a car in Milan? Sometimes though, the building has a yard where you can park your bike.
No walk-in closets
You’ll find those only in super fancy apartments. We Italians use old-school wardrobes!
And often… no dryer
If the first time you visited Italy thought the lines of clothes hanging out to dry were cute and characteristic, you’ll change your mind when living here.
The drying rack is a pain in the neck.
We Italians are known for being anti-air conditioning and only use it rarely. Air conditioners are a luxury that we infrequently have at home (and cooling is DEFINITELY NEVER centralized).
However, Milan is more modern than the rest of the country, and you may even luck into a newly refurbished place with air conditioning.
No mail room
But some (not all) buildings have usually one person working at the door, most of the time only working half a day, sometimes all day, and almost exclusively during weekdays.
This person, called “portinaio/a” is your best friend if you’re waiting for mail or packages and you’re not home.
Managed buildings aren’t a thing
Apartment buildings in Milan are not commonly managed by a company or superintendent. Instead, every apartment is individually owned and managed.
So, everything, including maintenance, goes through the owner.
Rent is paid once a month
Like everywhere in italy, in Milan, rent is paid once a month, in advance.
If your lease starts on the 1st of the month, payment will be due that day, and it will cover the entire month.
Rent isn’t all you’re going to pay
This often comes as a surprise to many people, as some of these fees are peculiar to our beloved and incredibly bureaucratic country. Find them below.
2. Additional fees when renting in Italy
Here is what you’ll have to pay when renting in Italy, in chronological order, on top of rent.
Real estate agency fees
If you opt to use a real estate agent to find an apartment, you should know that there will be upfront expenses involved (which may be rather high). Check out the property section for additional info.
Lease registration fees
Be ready to shell out for the registration of your lease with the municipality. This is a one-time fee that you will split 50-50 with the landlord. The amount due is a percentage determined by the duration of the lease and the rent price.
Important note: Please be aware that the landlord must register your lease within 30 days from the signing date. If not, you’ll be residing there illegally. Always make sure you have a registration receipt.
Advance payment of rent + security deposit
As we said before, in Italy, the rent is paid in advance. In addition, at the beginning of the lease, you’ll be required to pay a variable number of months of rent in advance in addition to the current month (usually 1 to 3).
Plus, landlords require a security deposit.
The amount of the security deposit will be stated explicitly in your lease agreement. Generally, it is the equivalent of 1 to 2 months’ rent, but it may be more for apartments with higher rents. It is important to get this amount back when you leave the apartment, so be sure to document everything (e.g., take photos of the apartment before you move in and when you move out).
Most accommodations in Milan are apartments that are part of a building. Each building has a fee (which can include cleaning and lighting of common areas, concierge desk, and often heating – more on that below). The landlord will pay this fee on your behalf, but you will be charged each month and the amount is specified in your lease.
- Water: yes, water isn’t free (after all, it’s perfectly drinkable!). You’ll get a water bill 2 to 6 times per year, according to how much you use.
- Trash collection (TARI): Milan’s waste collection and sorting system are very efficient, but this comes at a cost (but this is true for the whole country). Trash collection taxes are always due every time you rent in Italy, although they have nothing to do with your lease. Within 30 days after the contract registration, you must register on the Comune di Milano website. Failure to do so will result in a fine.
- Heating: it can be independent or centralized (controlled by the building).
In the first case, you’ll get your bill once every two months. In the case of centralized heating, the good news is that it’s usually included in your condo fees.
- WiFi: sometimes it’s included in your rent, but most of the time it isn’t.
3. Rent prices in Milan, by area
Let’s now look at how much it costs to live in Milan, according to the neighborhood where your apartment will be located.
For each neighborhood, we will show you a list of average prices for apartments of different sizes, using the October 2022 data from immobiliare.it, the most popular Italian website for buying and renting real estate in Italy.
Keep in mind that these are averages and can vary according to many factors (e.g., the location within the neighborhood, type of building, etc.). To the average prices, we have added an estimate of condo fees. These numbers are simply an approximation, so think of them as a ballpark figure.
Here is a list of the average price of apartments in Milan by area
|Zone||Small apartment (50sqm)||Medium apartment (70sqm)||Large apartment (100sqm)||Very large apartment (130sqm)|
|City Center||1.606 €||2.196 €||3.102 €||4.008 €|
|Arco della Pace, Arena, Pagano||1.332 €||1.812 €||2.553 €||3.294 €|
|Genova, Ticinese||1.269 €||1.725 €||2.428 €||3.131 €|
|Quadronno, Palestro, Guastalla||1.393 €||1.898 €||2.676 €||3.454 €|
|Garibaldi, Moscova, Porta Nuova||1.530 €||2.089 €||2.949 €||3.809 €|
|Fiera, Sempione, City Life, Portello||1.226 €||1.664 €||2.341 €||3.018 €|
|Navigli||1.242 €||1.686 €||2.373 €||3.060 €|
|Porta Romana, Cadore, Montenero||1.217 €||1.652 €||2.324 €||2.996 €|
|Porta Venezia, Indipendenza||1.287 €||1.749 €||2.463 €||3.177 €|
|Centrale, Repubblica||1.275 €||1.732 €||2.439 €||3.146 €|
|Cenisio, Sarpi, Isola||1.248 €||1.695 €||2.385 €||3.076 €|
|Viale Certosa, Cascina Merlata||1.077 €||1.455 €||2.043 €||2.631 €|
|Bande Nere, Inganni||994 €||1.339 €||1.877 €||2.415 €|
|Famagosta, Barona||1.083 €||1.464 €||2.056 €||2.648 €|
|Abbiategrasso, Chiesa Rossa||1.074 €||1.451 €||2.037 €||2.623 €|
|Porta Vittoria, Lodi||1.122 €||1.519 €||2.134 €||2.749 €|
|Cimiano, Crescenzago, Adriano||1.000 €||1.347 €||1.889 €||2.431 €|
|Bicocca, Niguarda||992 €||1.336 €||1.873 €||2.410 €|
|Solari, Washington||1.275 €||1.732 €||2.439 €||3.146 €|
4. The best way to find an apartment in Milan
There are two ways to find an apartment in Italy: real estate agencies, and the private market.
Real estate agencies are the easiest way to go, but they’re expensive.
They’re convenient because they have a big catalog of apartments of any size and for any budget, which is very detailed and with pictures.
But they’re expensive: their fee is hefty, consisting of 12 to 17% of a year’s worth of rent (paid by you).
The private market is the ideal option because you can avoid the real estate agencies’ fees. However, it’s much more difficult to find an apartment this way, and since they’re in higher demand, they receive offers very quickly.
In both cases, you’ll find listings by owners or real estate agencies online.
Apartment listings in Milan
There are several websites that list apartments for rent in Milan.
Where to find apartment listings by real estate agencies in Milan
These are the three most popular apartment and house listings websites in Italy:
Sometimes, you can find listings by owners by filtering the search results. However, these websites are mainly used by agencies.
Where to find apartment listings by owners in Milan
Most apartment owners list their apartments on classified websites. The most popular classified websites in Italy are:
Lately however more and more landlords have been posting their listings on social media, especially Facebook groups. The most active rental facebook groups for Milan are:
- Rent Milano
- Milan Apartment Rentals, Houses, Sublets and Rooms
- MILANO EASY RENTING – Affittare a Milano
- Affitto Stanze Milano / Room for rent Milan
- Affitti Milano – Rent in Milan, Case, Appartamenti, Stanze e Negozi
- Affitto Studenti Milano – Rent Students Rooms in Milan, Cerco Offro Stanza (shared apartments for students)
4. Types of residential leases in Italy
There are several types of lease available when you want to rent an apartment or house in Italy, but to simplify, let’s talk about the two most used ones: long-term lease, called 4+4, and temporary lease.
The temporary lease has a minimum duration of one month and a maximum of up to 18 months.
The duration is agreed upon between the tenant and landlord, and the tenant can leave at any time giving 3 to 6 months’ notice.
The requirement for this lease is that the landlord and/or tenant must specify in the signed contract the reasons why the stay is temporary.
Long term lease
The most common type of lease is the long-term lease, which is called “4+4″.
For the whole duration:
- The tenant has the right to terminate the lease at any time by giving six months’ notice. The term can be negotiated to be shorter, usually 3 months.
- Rent will be fixed unless a clause is specified in the contract (in rare cases). In this case, the rent is adjusted every year based on an index published by the government (ISTAT index).
The term “4+4” refers to the fact that this particular agreement lasts for a total of 4 years, plus 4 more.
But once signed, there are two distinct cutoff dates: the first is four years from the date of signing, and the second is eight years afterward.
First cutoff date – 4 years from the date of signing:
- Only under exceptional circumstances, the landlord can terminate the lease at this point (for example, if they need to sell the property).
- If the tenant doesn’t give notice at the end of the first 4 years, the lease is automatically renewed for another 4 years.
Second cutoff date – after 8 years:
- The landlord has the right to terminate the lease at the conclusion of the first 8 years, for any reason;
- Or, upon agreement by both parties, the contract can be renewed, but the terms will be rediscussed.
Now that you know the basics, bring on the apartment hunt.
It really is possible to find a nice one in a good location.
The best thing to do is to start searching as early as possible to increase your chances.
Featured photo by Marius Teodorescu