The best places to live in Milan

Where they live will play a significant role in the joy of an expat’s experience in Milan. The city is divided into nine administrative zones or boroughs that branch out from the historic centre of the city.

The neighbourhood an expat chooses will depend on several factors, including one's budget, proximity to one’s workplace, availability of public transport connections, family setup and, of course, personal preferences.

These are some of the most popular areas for expats in Milan.

Upscale and trendy areas and suburbs in Milan


Centro Storico

Expats with a generous budget will have their pick of luxury homes in the fashionable centre of Milan. The benefits of living in Centro Storico, located in Zone 1, include access to a wealth of entertainment options and the opportunity for immersion in Milan’s rich history and culture. The downsides are that rental prices here are among the highest in the city, the apartments are small, and the streets fill up with tourists.


Brera is a wealthy area in Zone 1 with an artsy and bohemian atmosphere. The area is popular among single professionals and young couples with high disposable incomes. Residents have easy access to a large number of facilities, including grocery stores, boutiques, restaurants and bars, but rent is expensive. 


North of the city centre, in Zone 9, Isola is popular with people working in the Porta Nuova business district, young families and bohemian creative types. It has a strong sense of community, with local events and festivals that are great for meeting people. It provides ready access to public transport, good hospitals and entertainment options. Unfortunately, traffic in the area can get very congested.

Cittá Studi

This part of Zone 3 attracts younger expats and is home to a number of university campuses. It’s a vibrant neighbourhood with affordable but attractive accommodation and a wide range of entertainment options. The students can get a bit rowdy though, so families might prefer to give this area a miss.

milanFamily-friendly and practical areas and suburbs in Milan

Porta Venezia

Those looking for a family-friendly neighbourhood popular with expats should try Porta Venezia in Zone 3. The area is incredibly diverse, and expats will find Milanese pensioners living alongside students and young families. Residents have public transport and cheap shopping opportunities at their fingertips, but the area can get busy.


In the northwest of Milan, in Zone 8, lies the fast-paced Fiera, which is best known for its trade fair and convention centre. This largely commercial area has classic palazzi apartment blocks on tree-lined streets. It’s a good area that isn’t too far from the city, but its limited entertainment is a downside for some.

Navigli District

To the southwest of the city, the Navigli District is renowned for its historic canals and low-rise apartments. Rental costs in the area are relatively low and residents will enjoy the neighbourhood shops and markets. While public transport isn’t unreachable, Navigli is not the most easily accessible area. Still, Navigli District is an area that caters for a range of interests.

San Donato Milanese

San Donato Milanese is an important business centre to the southeast of Centro Storico. It balances its historical character with modern facilities and green spaces. Apartments are the most common form of accommodation here, and residents use the local railway and subway stations to get around. The area has good schools and healthcare facilities, but leisure activities can be limited.


Monza is a small city just outside Milan that is popular among expat families. It is well known for its Grand Prix motor racing circuit. Residents here save a substantial amount on rent, transport links are good, and its large, open spaces will appeal to those with children. Commuting to work can take up a lot of time though.

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