Areas and suburbs in Milan
Deciding where to live will play a significant role in the success 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 a number of factors, including budget, proximity to one’s workplace and the availability of public transport connections, family situation, and of course personal preferences.
These are some of the most popular areas for expats in Milan:
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.
San Donato Milanese
San Donato 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.
Brera is a wealthy area in Zone 1 with a 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.
Those looking for a 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 small 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 opportunities is a downside for some.
Also north of the city centre, situated 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 opportunities to meet people and provides ready access to public transport, good hospitals and entertainment options. Unfortunately, traffic in the area can be very congested.
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.
To the southwest of the city, the Navigli District is famous 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 out of reach, Navigli is not the most easily accessible area.
Monza is a small town just outside Milan that is popular among expat families. Residents save a substantial amount on rent, transport links are good and its large, open spaces will appeal to those with children. However, commuting to work can take up a lot of time.