7 Reasons Why Moving to Sicily Is A Brilliant Idea (2023 updated)
There are several benefits to living in Sicily, whether you are a digital nomad, a remote worker, or looking for a place with a beautiful climate all year to spend your best retirement years.
I am a Sicilian native, born and raised on the island, and I have traveled extensively throughout the world. Living and working abroad has made me see Sicily through different lenses and perspectives. In this post, I’ll go over the pros and cons of my island, because no matter where you go, there will always be challenges.
1. Experience an exotic life within Europe
Sicily is in Europe, and it is not. As a part of Italy, Sicily enjoys all the living standards of a typical southern European country. Still, Sicily is a place where kids play football on the streets, and people go to the beach when they get off work in the afternoon. Sicilian people enjoy spending time outdoors. You will be surprised by the hustle and bustle of the major cities and small towns, day and night.
Sicily is also a unique cultural combination of the civilizations that settled across the island over the centuries.Greeks, Arabs, Spaniards, and French left a mark on Sicilian architecture, language, food, and overall lifestyle. In some Sicilian cities with a robust Arabic heritage, you will want to discover that the traditional dish is couscous. You will wonder if you are in Sicily or the Caribbean because of its vast, unspoiled beaches in some other areas.
2. Living on the cheap
The cost of living in Sicily is very affordable. Sicily enjoys one of the lowest costs of living in all of Europe.
How much does it cost per month to live in Sicily?
I would say around 1500–2500 USD, even though I know local people who live well with less.
It goes without saying that there are plenty of expensive options and plenty of cheap options too, and everything will come down to your standard of living.
As a Sicilian born and raised and a remote worker on the island for the past couple of years, this is a rough estimate in terms of prices and essential services on the island.
- The rent is affordable, especially in city centers, but the price might climb during the summer months in some touristy spots by the beach. Short-term rentals can be expensive, especially in popular destinations, making it easier to get a good deal.The countryside or simple, unsophisticated beach towns will still be very cheap. A decent two-room flat in a central area in downtown Catania, Palermo, or Messina should not cost over 700 euros. Small towns like Ragusa, Enna, Caltanissetta, Agrigento, and Milazzo have lower rental fees. To get an idea, browse www.immobiliare.it
- Food and markets: Besides the rent, you can live comfortably on a small monthly budget, especially if you opt for fresh local Sicilian food at local farmers’ markets. Every town has one. And believe me when I say you will get the best value for money in Europe in terms of food quality.Public water is drinkable, and you can get it from one of the many fountains you will find scattered in any city.
- Exercising: staying in shape won’t be expensive either. A monthly membership at a local gym is usually 40 euros. The great thing about Sicily is that in small local gyms, you can pay by the month without committing to a yearly membership, which is ideal for digital nomads.
- Well-being: A full body massage at a local beauty salon costs 40–60 euros. I used to have private Pilates lessons in Siracusa (one of the most beautiful Sicilian towns) for 40 euros an hour.
- A pizza margherita costs around 7 euros.
- Healthcare is free if you are a European. However, as everywhere else in Italy, there’s a parallel private healthcare system to fall back on. So, you always have the option. Public healthcare does not cover dental or mental health care.
- A dental cleaning can cost around 70–80 euros.
- A session with a physiotherapist would cost between 50 and 80 euros.
- A blow dry at a hair salon is usually less than $20.
Using public transport in Sicily
Sicily is certainly not known for its excellent public transportation. However, if you choose a place conveniently located in an urban area, you won’t need to stress about it. Remember, Sicilian cities are very walkable, and shops and facilities tend to be located at a walkable distance from the town centers.
Traveling between the major cities and towns is feasible by train with Trenitalia or regional buses. Traveling to the minor islands (Eolie, Lampedusa, and Favignana) will require a ferry.
Transport in Sicily is not as bad as they think; it just requires a little more planning than in other places.
Trenitalia (for train)
SAIS autolinee (regional buses )
Autoservizi SALEMI (regional buses)
3. Learn Italian in Sicily
The youngest generation does speak English and is happy to practice it. However, older generations won’t speak English at all. Don’t let communication problems put you off. Sicilian people will always find a creative way to make themselves understood. Sicilians have a reputation for being one of the most welcoming people in Italy. So, the language barrier should not keep you from living in or visiting Sicily.
However, if you’re considering moving to Sicily permanently or for an extended period of time, I strongly encourage you to pick up at least the basics of Italian. What would you think if someone moved into your neighborhood and didn’t speak your native language? Knowing a few sentences will help you get around in Sicily or Italy, make friends and acquaintances with the locals, and overall have a better way with people and the system.
There are several language schools in Sicily, or you can begin learning Italian in your home country. I recommend using Preply or Italki to find affordable Italian tutors, or RocketLanguage Italian (read my review here) as a self-paced learning platform. A good podcast to grasp the basics (even for complete beginners) is ItalianPodcast101.
4. Travel within Italy and the rest of the world
Sicily has four international airports. The major one is Catania International Airport, from which you can fly virtually anywhere in Europe on the cheap side, including Russia and Northern Africa. Catania is also a hub for Turkish Airlines and KLM, meaning that you can easily connect to overseas flights.
The Sicilian train network is cheap and not so bad, and you can use it to travel all across the island on a budget.
Buses leave every day for the major Italian cities and take you to Naples or Rome without reserving a ticket in advance and for 30 euros.
Ferry boats depart every day to Naples, Sardinia, Genoa, and Malta.
Cons: Sicily is an island where most travel (outside of Sicily) is done by plane. Although there are daily connections between trains and coaches and you can travel anywhere (including the north of Italy), the journey is still fairly uncomfortable. To reside on this island, you must be comfortable with flying.
5. Experience a unique diversity of landscapes
When you think of Sicily, you might think of unspoiled beaches and quaint seaside villages. You’d be correct… and incorrect.Undoubtedly, many of them and their beauty will blow your mind, but Sicily is not the typical beach tourist destination.
Sicily is, instead, a vast and mountainous island. Its three ranges of mountains include several natural reserves and plenty of hiking trails that you can virtually enjoy most of the year because of the mild Sicilian temperatures throughout the year. Sicily also has a couple of ski resorts that you can visit during the winter months and ski while looking out at the sea!
Sicily has beautiful cities and towns for all tastes. Remember, Sicily has been conquered by an array of civilizations over history, and so it results in a unique combination of Greek, Arab, Spanish, Norman, and French heritage. All the major Sicilian towns are different from one another because of their histories. That is why strolling around Siracusa will transport you to Spain, visiting the Temples Valley in Agrigento will transport you to Greece, and strolling around Mazara del Vallo will transport you to Tunisia.
Ah, don’t forget that there are three active volcanoes in Sicily.
Cons: cities like Palermo, Catania or Messina can be pretty coathic. If you don’t like the hectic, typical Mediterranean pace of life, you should avoid them. Some cities, particularly Palermo and Catania, have a trash issue. Many towns, especially the smallest, are immaculate, but Sicily is an enormous island with a variety of different ecosystems.
6. Life in a safe place
Is it safe to live in Sicily? The answer is YES! As a globetrotter and well-traveled woman, I have no doubts that Sicily is one of the safest places on earth these days.
I know Sicily has a reputation for its Mafia, but it would be wrong to connect the mob with the region’s safety level. The Mafia is a sophisticated criminal organization with absolutely no interest in getting involved with ordinary people. For the same reason, petty crimes are virtually absent.
Besides, the helping attitude of Sicilian people is a guarantee that, if anything ever happens to you, you can be sure that your neighbor will show up and give you a hand.
All things considered, Sicily is an optimal destination for those who can work remotely and want to experience life on a beautiful and unspoiled Mediterranean island on the cheap side.
7. Sicily’s cheap real-estate market
Sicily represents a dreamy destination for many. The relatively low cost of estates, warm climate, and delicious food make it sound like a win-win situation. However, just like in a foreign country, buying a property in Sicily has its share of difficulties.
I generally discourage buyers from investing in 1 euro homes. It seems like a great deal, but it comes with a ton of constraints and red tape. Not to mention that the majority of the one-euro properties are in remote and underserved areas, which may be picturesque but lack infrastructure and entertainment.
If you want to buy a house in Sicily, I encourage you to spend at least a few months in a rental home that you can use as a base to drive around and explore different cities and places (Sicily is big!). If you really like it, hire someone who can help you throughout the process.
These are my top suggestions if you’re unsure of where to begin your search.
Historical cities: Siracusa and Messina.
Historical towns: Ragusa, Trapani, Mazara del Vallo (TP), Marsala, Modica (TP), Scicli, (RG) Noto (RG),
Beach towns: Letojanni (Me), Sciacca (AG), Castellammare del Golfo (TP), Capo d’Orlando (ME), Villafranca Tirrena (ME), Avola (SR)
Borghi (hilltop villages, usually in the countryside)Montalbano Elicona (ME), Gangi (PA), Erice (TR).
Is it easy to find a job in Sicily?
I’d love to discuss Sicily with you.
Every day, I get emails asking how life in Sicily is and where the best places to visit are. Of course, I’m overjoyed about the interest in my home region.