Florence is an iconic city and on the dream list of many foreigners and Italians alike. There is something magical about wandering the ancient cobblestoned paths that seem to transport you back in time.
The food, the people, the art, the history, the lifestyle are unlike anywhere in the world. It is home to the most famous of renaissance artists like Michelangelo, Brunelleschi, Leonardo Da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli, Giotto, and of course Dante Alighieri. It is only natural that Florence hosts many of the best and most famous art collections and museums in the world.
History surrounds you every single place you go. This is an international city that attracts people from all over the world. Foreigners arrive here for jobs, to study, or to simply retire and soak in the beauty. There is a large college student population which can make some areas “party central” in season, but this only adds to the atmosphere.
Many ex-pats in Florence have decided to make this beautiful city their full-time home. You will find clubs, meet-ups, ex-pat groups, and endless things to do, and people to meet if you are inclined. If you prefer to stay to yourself, then Florence will leave you alone to enjoy the peaceful beauty. There is no pressure here to be, or do anything you don’t want to.
Choosing a great neighborhood to live in can be a little difficult because there are many. You should balance what you foresee your daily life routine being with the services and conveniences you need. If your dream is to be smack in the middle of everything, then you should choose anywhere around Santa Croce with an incredible Piazza and lots of nightlife, Sant’Ambrogio and its famous daily market (this is my part of town), or closer to San Lorenzo and the central market area.
You can head up toward Liberta and San Marco square and live close to the David, or head across the Arno to San Nicolò and Oltarno where you will find fewer tourists, famous parks and gardens, and more residents. If you really want to live among the locals, head up to the Statuto or Le Cure areas, or stretch your budget for Michelangelo for lush, treed boulevards, wide streets, big villas, and parks galore.
The downside of living in Florence is the very real impact of heavy tourism and the city can get very busy. Living anywhere inside the center and around Ponte Vecchio can become quite tiring after a while. It is best to head a little out of the center to get a quiet night’s sleep.
Prices in Florence are high, compared to the towns around Tuscany. A one-bedroom apartment will set you back at least 1000 euro/month but you can also find a lot of apartment shares if you are a student and only in Florence for a few months. The same as any other place: you get what you pay for so you will have to decide on your priorities and try to stick to them. If you are planning to rent, make sure you give yourself at least three months to find a rental that both you like and the owner is willing to rent to you. It is not easy in Florence and many owners require large security deposits or guarantees. Listen to the podcast The New Italian Rental Trend: It’s a Game Changer to learn more about the problems with renting in Florence.
Florence is a walkable city and very easy to get from one side to the other. Although you will have to keep an eye out for Uber eats zooming past, there is no need for a car. The bus system is very efficient, and there are two new Trams that take you North and South to outlying areas. If you prefer to use a little more muscle power to get around, sign up for a Movi bike and scooter sharing account and simply scan and jump on one of the bright orange bikes and start exploring. They even have electric ones now so there are no more excuses to avoid a further journey. Florence has been expanding their bike paths throughout the city and you can ride for miles in a designated red pathway without worrying about being creamed by a car.
You can walk, bike or scooter to every corner of the city in 20 minutes or less, which is something to keep in mind if your budget doesn’t fit the center. Living just a little out of the center is actually quite nice, and you are only a few minutes from the action at all times.
There is also has an International airport which is remarkably close, and although often gets fogged in and flights redirected to Bologna, it is a very convenient option to Rome.
The Weather, Safety and Pests
Florence weather is quite comfortable for most of the year, but it is humid in both the winter and summer. This is thanks to the Arno that is admired and hated at the same time. The summers get extremely uncomfortable, so you may want to consider air conditioning as it can get quite humid at times. If you hate your curly hair, you will be in a constant battle with the frizz!
This leads me to another battle… the mosquitos! Florence is always a buzz…not just from the tourist but the Tiger mosquitoes – who are the true rulers of this city. They are impossible to avoid, and if you are like me, you will need to invest heavily in some OFF to enjoy an aperitive at sunset. The city sprays every year, but it can still be quite difficult to deal with in some months.
Florence is a very safe city, making it perfect for single women and families. There is no problem walking around at night alone or with friends. Of course, you need to always use good judgment, as this is a city with lots of people coming and going, but generally, it is extremely safe. Aside from a pickpocket, there is almost zero personal crime in Florence. Although it is a city, the population is just over 500,000 so it still has a sense of community and small-town feel.
Who is Florence best for?
Who is Florence best for?
Florence is best for you if you have been in love with the idea of living here – period. You will simply have to do it, even if it is only for a few months because the dream of living in Florence attaches itself to you and your heart and won’t let go. Trust me, I speak from experience you may as well just give in and give it a go.
I have lived in many Iconic cities around the world and Florence is my favorite because it has a balance between city and community. Anyone that wants to live in a convenient city, with a million and one things to do any time of the year, does not want or need a car, has a little higher budget to spend on rent, and loves to wander and absorb the beauty of this spectacular Tuscan City, must live in Florence at least once in their life.
What to do:
If you want to rent in Florence, give yourself time and get the help of our rental agents who can quickly cut through the nonsense and find the perfect apartment for you with the hassle.