8 things you should know before moving to Sardinia, Italy

Sardinia_MapThis blog My Sardinian Life receives daily hits from people looking to move to Sardinia, Italy. So, I’ve compiled a little list for those out there searching for a life less ordinary in paradise. The search engine terms which brought people to my little blog are always written in English: Sardinia cost of living, move to Sardinia, jobs Sardinia and so on.

Canada, England, Australia and America want ‘in’ on this little island secret but before you pack your bags, take these pointers into consideration. My intention with this post is to put into perspective what day-to-day life is like on the most stunning island in the world – Sardinia, Italy. Disclaimer: these are just my opinions. 

8 things you should know before moving to Sardinia, Italy

  • The grass is NOT always greener on the other side. Life has it ups and downs all over the world, and living in Sardinia is not going to take your downs away. Be sure you are making the move for the right reasons. Question everything! Have no fear!
  • Visit the Italian Embassy or Consulate in your home country before setting foot on the plane.
  • For Australian/American and Canadian citizens looking to work in Sardinia, Italy. As a tourist you are granted a 90 day tourist visa. See this awesome post by my Australian friend who lives in Bagni di Lucca, Italy. She explains it perfectly in her post titled: Getting a visa for a long stay in Italy. This link is directed to Australian citizens, please check with the Italian Embassy or Consulate where you have residency for up-to-date information. Click here for a list of Italian Consulates in Canada. Here for a list of Italian Consulate/Embassy in Australia. If you know the links for the Italian Embassies or Consulates in England or The United States then please leave the link in the comment section below. Thank you!
  • Looking for a job? Good luck, most of the country is out of work and in Sardinia it’s even worse. The unemployment rate for the fourth quarter of 2008 was 8.6%, by 2012 the unemployment rate increased to 14.6%! The rise in unemployment was due to the global financial crisis that hit Sardinian exports, mainly focused on refined oil, chemical products, and also mining and metallurgical products. To make your dream of living in Sardinia come true ask yourself the following: Do you want to live in one of the stunning, small and rugged towns or do you prefer larger cities where everything is easily accessible? There will be more opportunities in the larger towns in Sardinia than the rural areas, however you will need to apply for work while you are still in your home country then have your employer start the paperwork for your work visa. Please check out this super fabulous post by Sara Rosso titled – Help! How Do I Live and Work in Italy? Sara has lived in Italy for like a billion years and she knows what she’s talking about. Be sure to give her a click over at Ms. Adventures in Italy. You won’t be disappointed with what you find over there.
  • What are the best work sectors in Sardinia? Agriculture, fishing, construction, mining and tourism. If you’re experienced and speak Italian and are looking for seasonal work try a basic google search for hotels in Sardinia, find their email and drop them a résumé. Last year, I worked in a 4-star chain of popular hotels as a waitress. The pay was €1500 a month, seven days a week, everyday was a split shift and I worked about 10 hours a day.

Source: Wikipedia

  • 2013 is the year where everyone suffers from the world-wide financial crisis and there is no exception for Sardinia. I’ve lived here for 5.5 years and can honestly say that this year will be a hard one. Over the past few years I’ve watched in angst as the number of tourists dwindled. We are now in our first week of July and when I walk into town it’s empty but for the local shop keepers. My little town used to fill up with eager tourists lining the streets for local pecornio, gelato or pane, not this year.
  • Speaking Italian. As a tourist you will be fine journeying though this lovely island, as an expat you will find it difficult to get by on a day-to-day basis without speaking or understanding Italian. English is not spoken nor used in Sardinia. Sure, there are other expats who speak English in Sardinia but the locals … forget it. You’ll be lucky if they even speak Italian! There are over 200 distinctly different dialects spoken in Sardinia and the further away you are from touristy places, you’ll hear less and less Italian. I am greeted daily in the local dialect, my neighbours speak to me in dialect, when I go into town all I hear is dialect. To understand dialect you will need to first understand Italian, and my advice is to take a course before you come or study hard, like I did, on your own.
  • Cost of living. It’s expensive. Very expensive. In the six months I was in Cayman, the price for a bag of potatoes increased to €o.70! Oh, snap! That’s all sorts of crazy bullshit! Today’s Gas Special is €1,74 a litre. $2.38 CAD a litre. $2.48 AUD a litre, you get the picture, riight? Please check out two posts I wrote last year titled: Cost of Living 2012 | Sardinia, Italy and The Daily Groceries | Sardinia Italy for more detailed day-to-day expenses.

I sincerely hope this post puts some things into perspective for the people searching to move to Sardinia. It’s not easy and it’s not all fun and games. If your dream and desire are big enough to make it come true then do it!

Have I missed any important points for someone searching to live in Sardinia? Please tell me in the comment section below.

Is it your dream to live la dolce vita? I’d love to hear about your journey in the comment section below.

About Jennifer Avventura

Canadian Freelance writer living in Sardinia, Italy. A serial expat who lived in Australia, England and Cayman Islands. She eats Nutella with a spoon and hides under the bed during lightning storms. When she's not out running 6k you will find her sitting at the computer - writing her novel and searching for worldwide waitress work.
This entry was posted in Daily Life, Expat Files, How To's, SARDINIA - SARDEGNA, Top 10 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to 8 things you should know before moving to Sardinia, Italy

  1. Sounds like you are trying to discourage people…. You really want it all for yourself right ;) just joking… Living anywhere but home has its challenges…. Visa, banking, daily life like paying bills can be tough. I can’t say for Italy, but we are living in China and it is tricky sometimes. We are lucky since my work deals with most of these hassles… Yes hassles since language and understanding make them WAY more difficult than at home. I agree do your homework and ask a million questions of yourself and others who have done it BEFORE leaving. Living somewhere is not the same as a vacation…..

    • No…that’s the last thing I want to do – discourage people. It really sounds like that? I’m just saying how it really is – it’s not easy finding a job out of country then getting all the documents right, then moving to a strange land.

      I like how you’ve said “Living somewhere is not the same as a vacation.” Brilliantly said, thank you!

      • No you don’t sound discouraging at all! You’re selling Sardinia as the most beautiful island in the World (which is), how could it be discouraging?! By giving the right informations to those who are really interested in moving to Sardinia? ;^) that’s reality.

      • Pietro – thank you for your kind words and continued support! :)

      • Figurati! è un vero piacere
        Grazie a te per mostrare a tutti quanto è bella tua e la mia isola :^)

      • LOL. I thought in English but wrote Italian. That “la tua e la mia isola” was meant to be “nostra”.

      • Grazie, grazie mille. :)

      • No I was just joking that you wanted to keep the beauty all to yourself ;)
        One of the biggest misconceptions I had moving abroad was that the workload and daily grind would somehow be less, so we could travel and explore our new city more. Work is work no matter where you are and it is not like a vacation. Of course it has given lots of opportunities to travel and do things since we are closer to them in China than home, but we still need to wait for holidays and long weekends to try and squeeze them in.

  2. This pretty much sums up everything you need to know about moving to Sardinia! GREAT post! I wish I had read this before I moved here! I completely agree with the limited english (and Italian!) you’ll hear! It’s amazing how you can drive 20-30min to another town and they speak another dialect!! As for the “crisi” we see it get worse and worse every summer we come here…this year tops the charts! The shops, streets of the Costa Smeralda are…EMPTY! Unbelievable! I don’t know how the locals carry on!!!

  3. Very honest and helpful account, especially on the realities of working in Italy, which is something many people don’t consider. It’s a shame, because I’m sure it keeps many younger expats from moving here. And yes, while in other parts of Italy you may be able to “wing it” without speaking Italian, in Sardinia it’s just impossible!

    • Thank you kindly for your comment! :) 7 years ago when I was doing research on coming to live in Sardinia, all I found were blog posts about la dolce vita, and at times, it really is la dolce vita. But there is a tough reality about living here that needs addressing and not just swept under the rug. I’ve written over 400 posts on how amazing and stunning Sardinia is, turning it into a fable, and with every fable there is a dark spot – which is reality. It’s important to me to share both sides of My Sardinian Life. :)

  4. Tatiana says:

    Thank you so much for info Jenn! Great help.

  5. Debra Kolkka says:

    Thank you for mentioning my blog. Many people don’t know about the necessity of getting a long stay visa. Many travel agents don’t mention it.

  6. Keren says:

    Hi Jennifer, I have been living in Sardinia since 2009 and, like you, I let anyone who is interested in living here know the facts… because actually, it’s beautiful for vacation but very different when you live here day in and day out (like any place really). So I think you did a lot of people a big favor by spelling it out for them (I shared on FB). The brave ones can arrive with their eyes open and have a better experience. Being as prepared and realistic as possible is always a good way to start an adventure….

  7. Andrew says:

    Hi Jennifer,
    How about living in Sardinia if you’re not having to work there? I work online and so as long as the internet works it’s not a problem as my business will be outside Sardinia. Is work the biggest issue?
    many thanks

    • Ciao Andrew,

      Yes, work is the largest issue by far. If I could find a decent full time job things would be very different. There is available working internet here – so Im sure you will succeed with your business. Best of luck.

      • Andrew says:

        Ciao Jennifer,
        many thanks for your reply and that’s a relief to hear (at least for me!). I really love the island and am trying to decide between the mainland Puglia/Calabria?Sicily regions and Sardinia.
        Sardinia seems to have more of what I want but I’m struggling to find a place that meets my requirements as I need a property that can allow we to run events at certain times of the year, be near to the beach but not be ridiculously expensive – all possible on the mainland and Sicily but Sardinia is just much more beautiful to me!
        Do you know where I could find a selection of property agents as I’ve pretty much exhausted the initial google search ones?
        As you’re so prevalent online you should think about making that into a little business :)
        I really appreciate all your insights into the island and life there as it’s so hard to know if you’re making the right move and how realistic everything is in your mind when you’re only visiting!
        Grazie mille!! :)

      • Ciao Andrew,

        I’ve been thinking about turning my little blog into a business but not sure which steps to take as I’ve never gone head first into the sphere of the internet.
        I’ll ask around for property agents for you. Do you know where on the island you’d like to be? North, South?

      • Andrew says:

        Hi Jennifer,
        I’ve been looking in the North so far and I like the idea of somewhere not to far from Alghero for the airport as I need to have easy access back to London. I have yet to investigate the south!

        There’s a lot that you could do with your blog. Happy to offer some ideas. Just email me directly so that this doesn’t turn into business discussion on your lifestyle blog :)

        Thanks for your help!

      • A friend has suggested this site and used them to buy property in Northern Sardinia. http://www.keytosardinia.com Good luck!

  8. Andre says:

    This might be a stupid question but can you get a job in Sardinia if your there illegally ? Getting any type of visa is expensive and takes time. I ask this question because I read that illegal immigrants from Romania and other countries live in Sardinia and work there.

  9. Giada says:

    Hello there! I found this blog v interesting as I am considering a move to Sardinia because of my bfriend who is from Barbagia…My mum was born there too so I know the places pretty well. I am an Italian girl who moved to London nearly 7 years ago and I’ve been working in childcare for nearly 10 years. My biggest worry is obviously how to find a job there as the situation (especially in the South of Italy and in the Isles) is so very bad! I am thinking of trying to get a job I could do from home (like a virtual assistant or smthg like that). Any tips please?
    Grazie mille!


    • Ciao Giada,

      After 6 years in Sardinia my husband and I have decided to call Canada home as we cannot find work in Sardinia. It’s sad, I do miss the island. Wishing you all the best.

      • Giada says:

        That’s so sad, Jennifer…I do love your blog though…Tbh what you said sounds quite discouraging…still hoping things will get better and we will get a chance to build up our lives back in Sardinia. Thanks for your help- take care!

  10. Gianni says:

    Hi Jennifer…I’m Italian. I was born in Sardinia about 40 years ago, but I’ve lived in Grosseto(Tuscany) for 25 years. In September 2013, after a really difficult year(cancer, problem with my job and with my familiy) I decided to return to Sardinia with my wife and my children, to start a new life here. The problem is that for better or for worse(I hope that is the right way to explain the concept) we are in a different world…Is really impossible to find a job,
    but if you have the opportunity to open a new business, there are so many possibility, just because so many stores have closed or because there have never been. Just this week, my wife and I are trying to open an online store with Sardinian products to sell abroad. I hope to finally have luck. I would also like to create a couple of blogs about Sardinia (one who speaks of excursions, culture, places to visit etc., and another who speaks about natural, organic, eco friendly life and products).
    It is really difficult to succeed I know…And is also really difficult to live here if you are used to lived in another place.
    But at this moment I have no other choices, I have to do it!
    I hope to have news about you and your life, and if you come back to Sardinia, let me know!
    Good luck.

    P.S.: I also hope that my English is good enough….

    • Renee says:

      Hi Jen and Gianni
      Thank you for your blog and Gianni your English is amazing :)
      We may have an opportunity to move to Sardinia, very exciting but I have a 9 month old and I do not speak Italian or any other languages except English. Are there many mums on the island or groups to join as my husband will be off working.
      Thanks in advance

  11. Valentina says:

    This has been great reading. I visited Sardinia in 2010 and stayed in a little b & b in a little village on the west coast, near to Oristano with a widowed Sardenian mumma and her sister – both dressed in the traditional black mourning attire. I found the communication very challenging. I have basic italian travelling words which didnt help much at all. Her son who lived with her was deaf so it was very loud Sardinian language/Sardinian mouthing and sign language all the way. I enjoyed the experience, but I am looking to live for every (Australian) winter, more than the 90 days permitted as a tourist in the Tuscany region which I am currently located for 6 weeks.

    • Your experience in Sardinia sounds magical. I would have loved to be part of those intimate exchanges between a mother and her deaf son, I can just imagine how animated they were with their hands and such. Wishing you all the best in Tuscany.

  12. bill franca says:

    hi jennifer i have done alot of research about italy ive just started to look into sardinia the prices of homes seem very reasonable i live in sarasota fl usa, i have been in sales and marketing all my life mostle real estate, what goes on in this country is something i dont like anymore, i feel change is wonderfull, but the right change, my grandmother was born in palermo sicily, i was born and raised in brooklyn ny, proud of being from there, my mother being italian cooked awesome food, now my wife cooks great, im not looking for much, maybe any sort of job if i move to sardinia, my research was only in the main land and sicily as far as homes jobs and a good place to live, i was born with alot of common sense and street smarts, i am also looking to visit sardinia, my wife has been to calabria with her father who was born there, you seem to know alot about sardinia its great to talk with someone like you, if you have the time maybe you could give me some common sense tips, i would appreciate anything you write, thanks hoping to hear from you bill franca

  13. najeeb sadiq says:

    I am a Pakistani and I was thinking of settling down in Sardinia.I came to know the real information through your blog which is not only amazing but also an eye-opener for foreigners like me.Thank you for your help and best wishes.

  14. Fernando Ferrero says:

    Sardegna like the rest of Western Europa is a wonderful place. Why should anybody speak any other language than Italian? USA I dont hope that people will speak my language either. But in Sardegna is Italiano and dialeto. OK part of Sardegna they still speak Spanish and Catalan since long back was part of the kingdom of Spain. Italia very safe and great food. When compare to the USA which food is mostly hot doggies and sugar plus sugar. Bad diet and too many fatt people. Also crime low in Europa while USA since citizens walk around killing anybody and the polize are animals wanting to kill you also. I traveled to USA for 3 months and me + friends was always afraid of ors life. I prefer Europa any day. Next time I visit America will be to Argentina, Chile, Santo Domingo or Cuba but NEVER back to the USA.

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