More than a year ago, I posted the first of what I imagined would be a multi-part series about moving to, and living in, Italy. Moving to Milano- Prequel, I called it. But then, I guess you all know me well enough by now, I procrastinated and procrastinated so much- finished my time in Milan, moved back to India and even moved to Singapore six-ish months ago- that all I wanted to say has become irrelevant.
Except that it’s apparently not.
Lately I’ve been getting a lot of emails and coming across a lot of people who are moving to Milan for some reason. So here’s some information that potential Italy-movers can use
Now let me start out by saying… Milan is NOT that awesome place everyone imagines it to be. I knew Rome well, and imagined Milan would be better, you know, being the fashion capital of the world and all that! But let’s clear that misconception once and for all with this picture I’m going to show you.
Soon after I moved to Milan, my friends asked me for pictures of the city I was going to call home for the next year. So I decided to snap a random picture to show the true city. And ain’t it gorgeous? 😉
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk practical information. Barring the weeks I was away vacationing, I spent pretty much the entire year (of 2013) in Milan. So let’s begin (after a quick peek at Milanese Graffiti)!
Formalities to complete once you’re there
- Permesso di Soggiorno: You MUST apply for the Permesso di Soggiorno (Permit to Stay) within 8 days of moving to any Italian city. You submit the kit with all the completed forms, your passport with a valid (obviously) visa and the fee you need to pay (your University will help you with this) and submit it at the Post Office. They will give you a receipt which you need to keep very carefully. This receipt only allows you to travel within Italy and to your home country. Then you will be called by the Police Station to register your fingerprints and they’ll click your mug shots 😛 as well. And then, a few days later, you’re going to be called to the Police Station again to pick up your residence permit. Say what you will, but it feels like quite an accomplishment once its done 🙂 If you’re interested, here is a more detailed description of how to go about this.
- Health Insurance: In the kit I mentioned above, you also need to put in proof of your health insurance. You can apply for one from your home country, or get one from a private company in Italy. But I recommend going with the Italian National Health Service (SSN) because it’s quick and easy and covers the basics, and you probably won’t even need that (touchwood). So you do this at the Post Office again. Its a straightforward process, and quite cheap, about 150 Euros for the calender year (it expires on December 31st of the year you apply).
- Transport: You can buy a monthly transport pass which allows you unlimited journeys on buses, trams and metros for a month. In Milan it costs
1722 Euros if you’re under 26, and 30 (I think)35 if you’re older (I’ve updated the prices because a friend who is still in Milan just told me the prices have gone up! Thanks, Thatiana!!). After the 3rd or 4th month, though, I stopped buying this because I walked literally everywhere. The diameter of the city is about 7kms. My University was about 1.5kms from my place, and the city centre another 2kms from there. To me, everything is walking distance if there is enough time. An individual ticket is 1.5 Euros, and a 10 journey pass is 13.80 Euros. This is what I bought, and it usually lasted me 3 months. The only times I used public transport was when I was making a trip out of the city and needed to travel to and from the railway station (I’d ideally walk the 7kms from my apartment, but I rarely finished packing on time) to catch my shuttle bus to the airport. If you’re caught without a valid ticket, you’ll be fined 26 Euros. If you can be smart and avoid getting caught, you can save a good amount of money. I know people who spent 20-30 Euros the entire year. And in the entire year, I only came face to face with the ticket checker-people twice (and, oddly enough, both these times were on the same bus route, on the same day, within the same hour. Weird).
- Food: This varies SO greatly depending on who you ask, that a few times I had to recheck my calculations. I’m a non-vegetarian and I eat very well. If I was even vaguely careful with my spending (and did not spend obscene amounts on junk food), I did not need to spend over 80-100 Euros a month at the supermarket. And I know many people spent well over 300.
- Shopping: I think I included this category just to tell you I don’t have much of a clue 😉 I’m not much of a shopper anyway and so I hardly did any, except for some nonsense I rather regret from a Chinese shop (very cheap), and some t-shirts and shorts from some nicer places before I left for my summer vacation. But being in the world’s fashion capital notwithstanding, I did no ‘real’ designer shopping. It’s kind of sad actually… Or is it?
- Partying: Again drawing up pretty much a blank here. I just went out ‘dancing’ twice (I could have sworn it was thrice, but I can’t for the life of me remember the third time), thought it was a colossal waste of money (I don’t drink, and spending 12+ Euros on a glass of coke is ridiculous), found myself hiding under the staircase (it was the only place that had some breathing room) with my shoes in my hands and decided the 20ish Euros for each such outing could be saved and put to much better use.
- Eating Out: I did eat out occasionally. You can expect to spend 10-20 Euros per meal if you’re at a sit down restaurant. If you’re looking for a quick Panzerotti at the iconic Luini’s, that’s about 2.5 Euros, similar to what you would pay for similar places. But be prepared to wait for it. Gelato is 2.5 Euros for 2 giant scoops, and well worth it.
Safety: I can’t say I ever felt unsafe, but then I never do (no, not even when I’m walking home in Delhi at 10pm alone). I was never mugged or pickpocketed. I do know people who were, and one of my classmates had their phone stolen twice. I don’t even know how they can manage that. But then, if you’re stupid enough to have your stuff stolen on the metro inspite of knowing the risks, then, I’m sorry, but you deserve it. Oh, and beware, on Via Torino there are some Scientologists who will try to drag you kicking and screaming into their office. I fled, in the truest sense of the word, as soon as I figured out what the hell was happening!
Let’s make this a 2 part series, shall we? No point overloading you with information. In Part 2 I’m going to talk about Staying Fit, the Weather and What to Pack, how to Travel with Milan as your base, and whatever else strikes me. If you want to know about anything else in particular, comment below or send me an email!
To be completely fair though, much as I ranted about how ugly the city is, I loved walking around in the city centre. The Duomo is, I’m not even kidding, the most magnificient piece of architecture I have ever laid my eyes on.