Finding a home in Italy

Finding a home in Italy

by Elizabeth Jones
Stripes Europe

It’s important to be open-minded as you search for your new home. Italian homes are much different, smaller and older than what you may be used to. Although the outside of an Italian home may seem a bit run down or small, always go in and take a look inside. More often than not, people are surprised with the layout and newer interior of the home. 

Types of housing

Government leased housing 

  • Homes that are private homes within the local Italian communities.
  • The government covers the expenses of rent and utilities.
  • You will not receive any Overseas Housing Allowance. 

Private housing 

  • Private homes assessed by your installation’s Housing Office or found by a realtor.
  • You are responsible for rent and utilities. 
  • You will receive Overseas Housing Allowance. 

Finding private housing

Searching online:

  • Visit
  • Make an account.
  • Look for private rentals that have been approved by your Housing Office. 

Note: Check the site daily as houses will come and go easily – especially during peak PCS season. 

Searching with a realtor:

  • There will be more private rentals to select from than online.
  • Remember realtors come with fees and those will need to be paid at your own expense. Fees fall around one month’s rent and 22% tax.
  • Your Housing Office should help you negotiate your rental contract and finalize it. 

Viewing a home

  • Go in person to your Housing Office to request a day and time to view a home.
  • The home you request to view will be put on hold so no one else can view it.
  • You have 24 hours to contact the Housing Office with your decision on a home. After that time, it is up for grabs again.

Lease signing

  • Make all the necessary preparations before walking into your contract negotiation and lease signing. 

Overseas Housing Allowance

Overseas Housing Allowance covers the following:

  • Rent - If your rent is lower than your allowance, it’s in your best interest to negotiate upgrades into your contract and pay more up to your max allowance. 
  • Utility and Maintenance - If you are responsible for your utilities, you will receive the full amount to cover this bill every month.

Move-In Housing Allowance (MIHA)

  • MIHA Miscellaneous (for you) – used for things you need to live in an Italian home such as electric transformers, utility installation charges, window screens to keep bugs out, etc.
  • MIHA Paint & Repair (for landlord) – this amount is equal to one month’s rent and covers the mandatory painting fee before officially moving in. You are responsible for paying the entire painting fee to the landlord. Remember to give the Housing Office a copy of your payment to the landlord for your file.
  • Check your installation’s Housing Office on an allowance that may be provided in order to improve the security of your new home. 

Paying bills

Note: For Aviano Air Base, the Home Fuels Office takes care of electric, water and gas. The following information for paying bills applies for other installations in Italy only.

Italian bills are sent around every two months. The timeline you have to pay a bill is typically one week. Keep a record of all of your rental and utility payments just in case they get lost or misrouted by the company billing you. 


  •  An interpreter from the Housing Office will take you to sign up for electricity.
  • This appointment will be scheduled on the day you sign your lease agreement.
  • An interpreter assists you in setting up your contract in-person with the electric company.
  • Soon after signing up for electricity, you will get an initial bill and contract in the mail.
  • You must take the contract to the Housing Office and sign it.
  • The Housing Office will submit the contract on your behalf to the electric company.


  • Pay your water bill through your bank.
  • If you’re living in a private rental then your water bill should go directly to your landlord.


  • Oil or natural gas are the two primary ways Italian homes are heated.
  • Utility Tax Exemption Program (UTEP) eliminate taxes on your home heating bill. 

Internet and phone service


  • Plans for international calls are available (landline to landline only).
  • Know that you will likely need to sign service contracts and may have to wait several weeks for installation depending on the provider.
  • More information can be provided by your installation’s Housing Office.

“Voice over Internet Protocol” (VoIP) service

  • Allows calling over the internet.
  • Plans are relatively inexpensive.
  • Includes domestic and international calls.

Television service

AFN (American Forces Network)

  • Provides programming from current networks and prime channels.
  • You will need a decoder and satellite for AFN when living on the Italian economy.


  • Visit
  • You will need a satellite and U.K. decoder

Streaming services

  • Examples - Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, etc.
  • Show variety and availability may be limited because you are outside the U.S.

Household goods arrival

First steps

  • Lock in a delivery date for your household goods and remember that dates book fast during the peak summer PCS season.
  • Schedule temporary furniture pick up by calling the warehouse at least three days before the day of desired pick up.
  • Once your household goods arrive, make sure every box that was shipped has arrived.
  • Mark each item off your inventory list as everything is being unloaded.

Inspect your home

In order to not be held liable for damages done to your home and property that the movers may have caused, it’s best to take note of the damages on your household goods paperwork. Note everything that isn’t right such as missing boxes or damaged goods. Be sure to make copies of all the paperwork and take pictures of any damages.

Filing a claim

  • You have 75 days to submit a notice of loss.
  • From there, you will have nine months to submit your claim in order to be eligible for a full replacement value.
  • Be sure to have photos and receipt purchases of your damaged goods.
  • Keep any paperwork until all claims are processed. 

Quick appliance tips

  • You will need a power converter/transformer to use your American electronics (110-v plugin) in your Italian home.
  • Your installation’s Furnishing Management Office should provide transformers for free along with a washer, dryer, refrigerator, and wardrobes.
  • Check with your landlord for specifications on appliance size. n 


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