Moving to Naples
Italians say that if Rome is Italy’s heart then Naples is its soul. The southern city’s washing-strung streets and stylish teenagers cruising around on Vespas create perhaps the most enduring image of Italy as a whole. Naples also has a darker side and has earned itself a global reputation for bloody Mafia wars, corruption and prolific crime. But beneath its tarnished image lies a buzzing city with stunning architecture and characterful, generous residents.
With its population of 4 million people, Naples (Napoli in Italian) is Italy’s third largest city and is seen as the capital of not only the Campania region but of all southern Italy. Although it has suffered greatly during the recession, the city’s economy remains the fourth largest in the country. The Port of Naples is also one of the most important shipping hubs worldwide and the city is host to a NATO military command base.
The vast urban sprawl of the city hugs the crescent of the Bay of Naples and is loomed over by the brooding Mount Vesuvius, which last erupted in 1944. The city is within striking distance of Pompeii and Herculaneum, two of the most important Roman archaeological sites in the world. A high speed ferry from the port will take you to the jewel-like islands of Capri and Ischia and the beguiling Amalfi Coast is an hour away by train. With its hot Mediterranean climate, coastal location and singular culture, Naples has a lot to offer expats wishing to live somewhere other than Rome. And then there’s the pizza. Invented in Naples and covered by its own legislation, the sublime Neapolitan margherita is reason enough to move to there.
The Job Market
Naples has a huge unemployment rate of around 31% (other sources believe it closer to 40%) and the city is one of the poorest in the EU. Unless you are moving to Naples through a military career, you will find that competition for jobs is intense. Since the economic downturn only 1 in 4 working-aged people are employed in the city and this has led to an exodus of young people to northern Italy.
Tourism, education, finance and international business are the main job sectors open to foreigners (unless you are serving with NATO). Expats wishing to work in the tourist industry will have more luck in nearby coastal Sorrento, a major tourist destination. With unemployment running so high it is advised to have a good grasp of Italian when competing for jobs in Naples.
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Not unlike other southern Italian cities, the cost of living in Naples is much lower than in Rome, Milan and Florence. However, the average monthly salary is very low, resulting in less purchasing power. Renting in Naples is up to 50% cheaper than Rome and you will pay an average €770-€960/month for a one to three bedroom apartment in the city centre. Outside the centre a one-bedroom property is an average €390/month and around €650/month for a three-bedroom, with basic utilities around €150/month on top.
Groceries, eating out and transport are also much less than other major cities worldwide. A meal in a simple pizzeria will cost an average €15 and a mid-range bottle of wine around €5.
House prices have fallen steadily in Italy (4.1% on 2014) since the recession hit the country in 2008. The property market in Naples has been the worst hit in Italy by the Eurozone crisis and prices remain very low. This may be good news for potential foreigner buyers and renters but expats need to consider that at €1000 month the average salary is similarly low.
Most Neapolitans live in apartments and the city is surrounded by vast configurations of tower blocks. Property is more expensive the closer you get to the seafront and further afield to the exclusive Amalfi Coast. An apartment in the city centre costs around €3800 per square metre and you can expect to pay around €2000 per square metre in the suburbs.
Rental prices vary according to where you live but are much cheaper than in Rome and Milan. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre costs an average €770/month and a three-bedroom around €960/month. Outside the centre you will pay between €390 and €620/month for a 1-3 bedroom apartment.
Finding a property in Naples can be complicated. Neapolitans dislike paying estate agency fees and prefer to advertise in the local newspaper or simply by hanging a sign in the window. It is advisable to spend some time in the city to secure accommodation. Having some knowledge of Italian will help when negotiating through the tangle of Neapolitan bureaucracy.
Naples is a huge city that is divided into 30 quarters (quartieri) each contained within 10 administrative boroughs. Covering 4200 acres, the city centre of Naples is the largest in Europe. The city is served by a two-line metro system and Treno Alta Velocità (high speed train) from the enormous Napoli Centrale station will take you to Rome in 1 hour and 10 minutes.
- Family Friendly: Pozzuoli, 24km to the West of the city centre is near the Parco Regionale dei Campi Flegrei and connected with the city centre by Metro.
- Upmarket: Positano on the Amalfi coast is where you will find celebrities, fashionistas and wealthy jet-setters. Also, Chiaia a hillside enclave overlooking the bay is where the wealthy northern Italians have their summer homes.
- Hip and Trendy: You will find a buzzing night scene around the Piazza Bellini or head to the area of Vomero for more laid back bars and vintage music shops.
- Up and Coming: Santa Lucia - formerly the fishermen's quarter has been regenerated with quiet residential areas. Also Marano di Napoli is a small commune north east of the city that has seen massive investment in recent years.
Cost of Moving
The shipping costs of moving to Naples vary from inside and outside mainland Europe. A 20ft container will cost around €1500 from the major European cities such as London, Paris or Madrid. From further afield such as New York, Dubai, Sydney and Melbourne you will pay between €6000 and €7000.
Schools and Education
Education in Italy is free from age 3 up to and including university. The school system is divided into pre-school (kindergarten), primary, junior and secondary or high school. Children are not legally required to start school until age 6.
Expat parents moving to Naples can choose to send their children to one of the 850 public schools, which are free to non-Italians, or to a private international school. The International School of Naples is centrally located and offers tuition in English and Italian. Students work towards the American High School Diploma and fees range from €4000 to €8700 per year. There is also a range of schools catering for the children of military personnel, including the Anglo-Italian School.
Naples has a number of higher education institutions, the most prominent being the University of Naples Federico II. Founded in 1224, it is thought to be the oldest state university in the world. It is also one of the largest in the EU. The university has 13 faculties and is ranked 345th on the QS Top University Rankings.
Ranking Against the World
Naples has the fourth largest economy in Italy, although the closure of a number of factories, soaring unemployment and corruption has dented the city's productivity in recent years. Throughout history Naples has been a significant shipping and military hub. The vast Port of Naples remains an important global sea gateway with the second highest level of passenger flow in the world (after Hong Kong). The city is also host to the NATO Allied Joint Force Command and is home to a large number of military personnel from around the world.
Naples is also a UNESCO World Heritage Listed site and City of Literature. However, despite its rich history and cultural legacy, Naples has suffered during the recession and was named the city with the worst quality of life in Italy by the newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore. Compared to cities such as London, Rome, Dubai and Sydney, Neapolitans report higher crime and pollution levels and poor standards of health.
A Day in the Life
Nothing about Naples exudes calm and daily life here can be frenetic. In a city where traffic is lawless, crime is rife, where rubbish piles in the streets alongside magnificent architecture and a shrine to footballer Diego Maradona (including a hair from his head) is tended daily by residents, Naples is nothing but unique. Yet despite its reputation, expats become fiercely loyal to the city and the warm-hearted Neapolitans, stating that chaos is part of its charm.
A normal working day in Naples would probably start by catching the Metro or bus to work, grabbing an eye-wateringly strong shot of Neapolitan espresso as you go. The traditional two-hour lunch break in much of southern Italy means that you may join the hundreds of workers who return home for spaghetti alla napoletana and a siesta. After work you could head to the ancient pizza district located around the San Domenico Maggiorechurch for a traditional margherita and a bottle of Greco di Tufo wine or simply people watch with a cold beer in the Piazza Bellini. You could then catch some live music and watch the sun set over the bay at the famous Arenile beach club.