Sardinia, the island of endless beauty has become more and more popular with expats wanting to relocate to Italy.
Moving to another country is a big step. And as with every big step, it comes from a series of smaller steps.
Knowing as much as possible about real estate in Italy will be crucial for a pleasant relocation experience. So let's dig right into it.
Is Real Estate Expensive in Sardinia, Italy?
A usual misconception with Sardinia is that being located in the South of Italy, it will be cheap.
While generally prices are considerably lower than big cities such as Rome or Milan, good housing on the island will unlikely be a “steal”.
The most crucial aspect while searching for your new home is to manage your expectations adequately.
Type of real estate and location play a crucial role in price determination. Like anywhere else in the world. For example, a beachfront villa with swimming pool will be pricey, both in absolute terms, and in comparison with an apartment of similar size. As a matter of fact, Costa Smeralda (in the North East) sells the most expensive homes of all of Italy.
Another aspect that might come as a surprise to some is that most cities and towns are built vertically in 3 to 5 storeys buildings. Common areas and amenities are usually limited to parking space. Anything else will come at a higher price point.
For an average budget, you’ll probably be better off targeting apartments rather than single family homes. You will have more options to choose from, a lower price per square meter and lower expenses, even factoring in condo fees. These range between 50 and 150 euros per month.
Regardless of your budget, keep in mind that everywhere you go on the island you will have plenty of outdoor space, within a short distance. Sardinia offers wonderful landscapes to enjoy all year round, under a warm sun!
Where to Live in Sardinia?
This is probably the question we get asked the most. Truth is, there is no straightforward answer.
The first thing you need to do is to list your needs and desires and then order them in terms of priority. It's also best to keep an open mind, in case you’ll need to compromise on some aspects while finding your dream home.
What is your lifestyle? Do you like being in the midst of everything or prefer to commute while staying in a quiet area? What are your housing needs? Is it more about location or living space? And finally, but most importantly, what is your budget?
Don’t be put off though. Finding your ideal home in Sardinia is definitely possible, but it will require some work.
When it comes to picking a location, follow these rules of thumb:
The real estate market is HEAVILY influenced by the travel industry.
Cities are more expensive than smaller towns.
Cagliari is the priciest, followed by Alghero and Olbia.
Usually the more inland you go, the cheaper it gets.
Properties near popular beaches are more expensive.
Most expats choose to live within or nearby the main cities as they provide the best access to services, year-round leisure activities and a short distance to wonderful beaches. Some foreigners prefer more secluded areas as they relocate to the island specifically to stay away from the crowds.
If you’re asking yourself if Sardinia is a safe place to live, do not worry: it is considered among the safest regions in Italy. Cagliari was named the 9th best city to live in Italy by the prominent financial newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore.
Renting in Italy
As a foreigner renting in Italy, there are a number of things you need to know:
Status. Properties are usually rented as they are. Owners are generally unwilling to make any changes. When you rent, you will be legally liable to return the property in the same conditions you have received (e.g. with freshly painted walls).
Unfurnished properties. When rented unfurnished, properties will be completely empty. With the exception of the bathroom and possibly a heating/cooling system. Even the kitchen will be missing in most cases.
Contracts. The unofficial market takes up quite a quota in Italy as owners avoid paying taxes. Always make sure to rent with a contract to protect yourself from any issue that may arise during your rental. In any case, you’ll need an official address to register for residency.
Misconducts. Be wary of online ads for properties. At times the pricing is misrepresented and the “real” price won’t be disclosed to you until further down the negotiation.
Documentation. The most important document you need to rent a property in Italy is a Codice Fiscale (the Italian Tax ID). As a matter of fact, you are going to need it for all legal purposes, so the sooner you get one, the better!
Guarantees. The process of getting rid of insolvent tenants can be complicated in Italy. Be prepared to show guarantees and advance payments (3 to 6 months). Owners tend to be even more careful with foreigners. An experienced realtor with a good reputation can help you build your references.
Rental Contracts in Italy
Housing rental contracts in Italy are regulated by law, and will fall in any of the following types:
Transitory Contract (Contratto Transitorio), lasting up to 18 months.
4+4 Contract (Contratto 4+4), lasting 4 years renewable for another 4 at the tenant’s will. An early end clause (normally after the first 15 months) can be negotiated with the owner.
3+2 Contract (Contratto 3+2, aka Contratto a Canone Concordato) lasting 3 years renewable for another two. The peculiarity of this contract is that the rent amount is set within a certain threshold established by the local building organization.
Renting in Sardinia, Italy
Being a popular holiday destination worldwide, Sardinia also has its own peculiar market. Or, better said, two parallel markets: the short term and the long term real estate markets.
Short term rental properties tend to have the following characteristics:
They are in the best locations (by the beach or in the city center).
They are probably unfit for long term rentals (limited storage, no heating system, no services nearby in Winter time...).
Owners are resistant to renting out for longer periods, as they already make most of their money in the Summer, at an optimal tax rate.
When it comes to long term rentals you should know that:
Availability is a big issue. Italians don’t move around often and in Sardinia even less so.
Most people prefer to lock-in a long term contract, hence the 4+4 contract type is the widely adopted model.
With few good properties on the market, at any given time, there’s likely to be high competition. Be prepared to move quickly and offer advanced payments.
Furnishing in long term rentals, if available, might not match your own specific taste.
Buying a Property in Italy
Buying a property in Italy is a 3 to 6 months process on average. As temperatures rise in Summer months, everything slows down, with an almost total closure in August - hey time to go to the beach!
Despite Covid, prices are holding or, in some cases, even increasing in value. On the other hand, mortgage fees are currently at an historic low in Italy. It is definitely a good time to borrow money.
If you are planning to move to Sardinia to benefit from the 10% Income Tax, you should know that purchasing a property will extend your tax benefit for an additional 5 years.
Buying as an Extra-EU Citizen
As a foreign investor you can buy a property if your country has a reciprocity agreement with Italy. The good news is that most countries do.
While planning your visit for ground work, keep in mind that your tourist visa will last a maximum of 90 days.
Be aware that unlike some are led to believe, owning a property in Italy does not improve your visa status in any way. In other words the answer to the question “how long can you stay in Italy if you own property?” is: “just as long as when you don’t!
It’s also important to know that if you are not a resident of Italy you cannot purchase the property as your primary home (Prima Casa). In this case be prepared to pay up to 10% property tax each year.
Here 3 things to watch out for while going through the process of buying a home in Italy:
Illegal building work (Abusi edilizi). All extensions and renovations must obtain a legal permit in Italy. Sometimes illegal constructions are present in the property, especially in villas and single family homes. Obviously you wouldn’t want to purchase a property that hasn’t all the right documentation in place. Still, you might find out very late in the process unless you have received adequate assistance.
Multiple owners. The property might have been inherited or be on market as the result of a divorce. In this case you would have to deal with having all the owners agreeing to the terms of sale which might slow down the process.
Pre-emption. It concerns properties where the current tenant holds the right to be preferred over others, in other words, to buy or refuse to buy. It is crucial to verify the property’s pre-emption status at the earliest in the process to avoid wasting time and hopes on a property you can’t actually purchase.
Although it might seem daunting at first, you just need understand how the system works, ideally with the help of a reliable realtor. Then, you will be sure of joining thousands of happy foreign investors and homeowners in Italy!
Common Pitfalls When Searching for a Home
The real estate market in Italy can be an insidious one. No matter whether you are looking for a villa for sale or an apartment to rent, we have you covered!
Once you start, you will soon find out that online search can be more complicated than in your home country. Properties are listed on a number of websites, with often incomplete, contrasting or misleading information.
Common malpractices include:
Multiple listings for the same property with different or conflicting information.
Weekly rental price indicated as monthly. If it looks too good to be true, then it probably... isn’t.
Posting of a lower price which hides an owner unwilling to sign a legal binding contract.
Outdoor space square meters, for example a balcony, indicated as part of the indoor space.
Location indicated in the title not corresponding to the real one.
When searching for your dream house in Italy, a certified and licensed realtor can help you. Quickly identify potential pitfalls and direct your energy towards opportunities that are actually worth your consideration.
Benefits of Using a Real Estate Broker in Italy
In addition to protecting you from the scams above, hiring a realtor will provide the following advantages:
Speed up your search by screening only the options most suitable for your needs.
Have all technical and legal details scoped out and verified.
Negotiate effectively, knowing the local trade culture and customs.
Nevertheless, not all realtors are created equal. Unfortunately many unlicensed and shady players operate in this market. Always make sure to rely on a trusted and experienced realtor.
Moving to Sardinia?
We at Sardiamo have 40 years experience with real estate in Sardinia.
As part of FIAP, Italy’s number one realtor association, we follow the highest standards in code of conduct and ongoing technical training.
Sardiamo operates through a vast partner network covering all of your real estate needs throughout the island. Services are provided in English, a pretty hard skill to find at other local players!
Sardiamo is the only relocation services company in Sardinia. We specialise in helping expats like you relocate to the island. We provide real estate assistance, tax assistance, relocation and settling in services. Scroll down to book a call with us!