Italy vs. France: competing for buyers
Italy and France have equal visa regimes, attractive climates and great shopping but foreign investment interest is highlighting differences between these two neighbouring states. According to Tranio’s findings, buyers with the same budget and property criteria are twice as likely to search for real estate in Italy as in France. Closer inspection reveals that although property is cheaper in Italy, living costs are similar and living standards are better in France.
Summer & winter sports
Shopping, entertainment and nightlife
Positive attitude towards foreigners
Lower maintenance costs
Higher rental yields
Excellent cultural heritage
|Lower transaction costs
Better mortgage terms
Excellent transport links
Cheaper houses vs. better mortgages
Price matters, and Italy outranks France in most areas of property acquisition and taxes, starting with the price per square metre. At an average
|Land registry tax||1 (or €129.11)||0.6|
and registration fee)
(+VAT at 22%)
(+VAT at 22%)
Nevertheless, there are some benefits to buying in the République française. Mortgages in France rank as the most secure in the world and French banks grant home loans on better terms and with lower rates than in Italy. It also costs a bit less to close the real estate transaction in France.
|Fixed rates, %||2.85–5.50||2.60–3.50|
|Maximum loan amount, %||60||60|
|Mortgage term, years||3–15||5–25|
|Minimum loan amount,
|Maximum age, years||75||75|
Comparable maintenance costs
Overall costs for property maintenance including utilities, taxes and insurance are competitive with the exception of outsourced property management services which are expensive in France. Utilities (electricity, water and waste removal)
Living standards and lifestyle
When it comes to lifestyle and cultural heritage, each state has its own unique attractions including
Nonetheless, according the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index 2015 (TTCI) by the World Economic Forum, France occupies the 2nd spot worldwide, while Italy comes in 8th position. This index is a reference in terms of overall quality of tourism and takes into account criteria such transport and tourist infrastructure, the number of cultural heritage sites, environmental sustainability, safety and healthcare.
This is also confirmed by Numbeo’s Quality of Living Index which puts Italy far behind in terms of living standards. According to this data, France outpaces Italy in every area: cost of living and purchasing power, affordability of housing, pollution, safety, healthcare and ease of traffic.
Lower tax bands may be one of the underlying factors in Italy’s inferior ranking. While cheaper taxes are initially attractive, they have a long term effect on the quality of life a buyer can expect from their overseas destination by holding back development
“Data for living standards in Italy is biased by weak development in the South. The northern regions have good infrastructure and benefit from the proximity with Switzerland, Austria and France. For example, even though France ranks 6th globally for health care and hygiene and Italy is only 29th according the World Health Organization, there are still plenty of quality medical services in the North! So prospective buyers really shouldn’t worry as long as they do their research before purchasing their property.”
In any case, there are plenty of opportunities to unwind and reboot in both countries. France is a global thalassotherapy leader with 1,200 mineral springs (20% of the total springs in Europe) and over 100 spas receiving 550,000 people a year. Italy also has many thermal baths, springs and luxury thalassotherapy resorts to choose from along the coast, in the Alps and in Sardinia.
There is an undeniable link between quality of life and real estate prices. Italy’s prices are more attractive both per square metre and in terms of basic maintenance costs while property in France is more expensive and incurs higher taxes.
However, choosing between these two countries is surely a question of both taste and purpose. Italy gives visitors a true Mediterranean experience for reasonable prices. The climate is warmer, it has excellent summer and winter entertainment options, exceptional cultural attractions and landscape, not to mention the great food wine. The quality of living may be slightly inferior but security and healthcare still meet European standards and if anything, its little quirks only contribute to the rustic feel of the country.
However, for those buyers seeking permanent residences or relocating for work, France might be the right option because it has both great living standards and leisure options. Higher taxes are but a small price to pay for better healthcare, shorter commutes, cheaper utilities, better services and less pollution.
Yulia Kozhevnikova, Tranio