What Is It Like Living In Sardinia As An Expat?

Explore the ins and outs of living in Sardinia as an expat: the pros and cons, the cost of living, the best locations and the lifestyle this Italian island is so famous for.

Living in Sardinia means a unique blend of lifestyle: island life with a heavy dose of Italian traditions and culture. Home to beautiful beaches, mountains and forests, small villages and larger cities, delicious local food and wine, it has something for everyone! 

As a designated ‘Blue Zone’, Sardinia is home to one of the highest rates of people over the age of 100. In fact, the island itself is the oldest landmass in Europe, so it’s no stranger to preservation and longevity.

Is it something in the water? Maybe, the food? Or, maybe, because Sardinia’s climate is actually pretty close to what is scientifically identified as the ideal climate for humans? All is worth considering when looking at relocating to this stunning Italian island.

Is Sardinia a good place to live?

If stunning forests and mountains, long beaches and Italian food feel in any way appealing to you, then you might want to consider life in Sardinia. Given the size of the island, it offers a little something for everyone. Those seeking a quiet place to settle down in the idyllic countryside will be just as happy as those looking to unwind near a beautiful beach. 

Living in Sardinia
Just 40 minute drive from Cagliary along an impressive coastal road, Torre delle Stelle in the South Sardinia boasts lovely sandy beaches and picturesque hiking routes – perfect for a great day out.

If you need any more convincing, simply ask the locals. There are roughly 25 centenarians for every 100,000 people living in Sardinia. Whilst the exact reason for this is uncertain, many believe it’s due to the local diet, healthy climate and lifestyle – why not see what it can do for you? 

There isn’t an abundance of expats living in Sardinia, so you’ll be able to soak up the local culture.

Property is affordable, even in some of the more popular areas. The cost of living is generally cheaper than in the UK and the weather much nicer year-round – it might not be a tropical paradise, but it’s certainly no British winter. Sardinia is actually one of the 5 European locations that have nice weather all year round.

So if the Italian version of island life sounds good to you, Sardinia is certainly a choice to consider for expats.

Is it expensive to live in Sardinia?

The cost of living in Sardinia for the most part is cheaper than the UK and the average house price is lower than in the UK as well.

In fact, it’s actually one of the cheapest regions in Italy.

Given its proximity to the mainland, getting anything you need is easy – appliances, clothing, food. Much of the food available on the island is freshly grown and produced in Sardinia, making it both cheap and organic.

A bottle of local wine will cost you between €2-4 and you can expect to pay roughly €4.50 – €15 for a pizza at a local restaurant, depending on the toppings and where it’s located. 

Plus everyday items are very affordable: a litre of high-quality fresh milk costs €0.75  between €1.45, half a kg of pasta will cost around €0.70. Cinema tickets cost between €4 and €7, depending on the location. 

Getting to Sardinia is easy, with 3 different airports on the island. Many budget airlines operate flights on a regular basis direct to Sardinia from the UK. 

Whilst Sardinia offers everything you need easily, certain things come at a slightly higher cost due to the reality of island life. Certain items that need to be imported from the mainland come with an extra cost. Commodities, like petrol, tend to cost more in Sardinia than it does on the mainland. 

Is Sardinia a good place to retire?

Sardinia is an excellent place to consider for your retirement. The laid back lifestyle, beautiful setting, food and culture make the island of Sardinia a great place to spend your golden years. 

Living in Sardinia
Bosa in northern Sardinia with its colourful pastel houses, the wrought-iron balconies, the narrow alleys of the old town, is one of the most beautiful villages of Italy.

If walking along pristine beaches, touring the stunning countryside, visiting some of the oldest archaeological sites on earth, eating locally grown produce, and drinking local Sicilian wine sounds in any way appealing to you (it certainly sounds appealing to us) then perhaps retirement in Sardinia might be good for you.

The Sardinian lifestyle lends itself to those in their later years. Even in the tourist areas, outside of peak season streets are often quiet after 8 pm with restaurants and bars closing earlier in the evening.

People here prefer to spend their time with family and friends in the home. Good local food and good local wine is the heart and soul of life in Sardinia, enjoyed in comfort. The landscape lends itself to those who want to relax as well – plenty to explore. 

On the topic of time spent, Sardinia is rich in historical sites and museums that you can spend your time exploring. Plus a great selection of local and world-class restaurants available for you to sample. 

Furthermore, the mild climate will make for a very comfortable existence. Temperatures average 10 degrees celsius in January and February, and 24-25 degrees celsius in July and August. Meaning for you, grim UK winters and non-existent summers will be a thing of the past! 

There is an excellent public transport system in place that can get you around the island and an efficient public health care system is available. 

Saving the best till last, some overseas pensioners can qualify for a tax rate of just 7% of all overseas income when moving to southern Italy. 

Do they speak English in Sardinia?

English is spoken and understood in Sardinia, however, it is certainly recommended you learn basic Italian. In tourist areas, English is more common, but once you move outside of these areas it is less so. 

Everyday tasks and general life will be made easier with some basic Italian language skills, and a few Sardinian phrases (the local dialect) will go a long way. To immerse yourself in the culture as much as possible, learn as much of the language as you can. 

The pros and cons of living in Sardinia 

Any paradise has its downsides and Sardinia is no exception.

The cons of living in Sardinia

1. Red tape

The Italian legal system is notoriously complicated. Laws are constantly changing, sometimes in such a way that even the locals can’t keep up with.

This can be especially tricky when it comes to tax. You will need an accountant as there isn’t an automated system for things such as returns, like in the UK. Things are done a certain way here and that is ‘how it is’. This can be frustrating for newcomers, so patience really is key. 

2. Jobs are hard to come by

Permanent work is hard to come by, especially for those who cannot speak the language. Seasonal tourist work is available in tourist areas however. It is recommended if you are choosing to settle here, that you have a sustainable income or pension. 

3. Extra costs

Certain items are more expensive than on the mainland – mainly petrol and electricity.

Also, your residence status can sometimes incur extra costs. Living in Sardinia as a non-resident (basically, staying there for less than 3 months at a time every 6 months) can incur extra costs on a bank account and electricity, and it is more difficult to purchase a car.

If you are granted residency, it will help avoid some of these costs. However, staying over 183 days a year makes you a tax resident in Italy and you will be charged capital tax on your worldwide assets and income. 

With this in mind, the positives of living in Sardinia certainly outweigh the negative: 

The pros of living in Sardinia

1. The setting

Sardina is beautiful. There is an abundance of stunning beaches, beautiful mountains and forests, as well as a deep history with many fascinating archaeological sites. There are 2000km of coastline, plus many coves and bays. Many activities such as golf, sailing, cycling, kayaking and hiking – even mushroom foraging – are all prevalent on the island. 

Living in Sardinia
Capo Coda Cavallo with its picture perfect beaches and landscapes is one of the symbols of Sardinia.

The scenery itself is enough to attract visitors from around the globe, every year. Combine this with a comfortable climate and laid back lifestyle, Sardinia is an excellent corner of the world to relax and unwind. 

2. The cost of living

In most instances, the cost of living in Sardinia is cheaper than in the UK. Everyday items tend to not only be cheaper but are often fresher (especially when grown on the island). 

Property is also more affordable.

3. Longevity

Sardinia is renowned for its senior citizens. A combination of the local diet, surroundings and lifestyle all contribute to one of the largest densities of centenarians on earth. Why not see what life here can do for you? Sardinia also has an excellent public healthcare system to support you in your golden years. 

4. Culture 

The festival variety is simply amazing. There is a different festival on offer nearly every weekend somewhere on the island to suit every taste and interest. The Jazz scene in Sardinia is of particularly high quality.

Outside of the regular festivities, you have the everyday traditional Sardinian culture that you will no doubt want to immerse yourself in. Simply put – good wine, good food, good times! 

5. Good connections and transport

Getting to and around Sardinia is easy. There are 3 separate airports located on the island – Olbia, Alghero and Cagliari. There is also a good public transport system to get you around the island. Plus, there are fast ferries to mainland Italy, France and Spain. 

6. Rich history 

As one of the oldest land masses in Europe, Sardinia has a deep and rich history for you to explore. There are countless medieval villages, thousands of archaeological and megalithic sites, Phoenician and Roman cities, more than a hundred coastal towers and more museums than there are time. 

You’re spoiled for choice in Sardinia and exploring its history is just the start.

Living in Sardinia
Paved cozy streets of Olbia in northeast Sardinia and beautiful mountain views.

Expats in Sardinia

There are plenty of expats living throughout Sardinia.

There public groups on Facebook that you are welcome to join and meet fellow expats. They do not tend to live in large areas or gated communities, but rather are interspersed throughout the island and mingle in with the local residents and culture. 

Popular locations include Olbia, Cagliari and Gallura. 

Where is the best place to live in Sardinia? 

The best to live in Sardinia is entirely dependent on the lifestyle you hope to lead whilst living there. Outside of the two major cities, Olbia and Cagliari which will be covered below, here are some other locations to consider: 

Santa Margherita di Pula

Located in southern Sardinia near the capital city Cagliari, this is an excellent spot for those who want to live by the sea. It is popular with tourists, so expect an influx of people in high season. 

Cabras

For those looking for a quieter seaside escape, the commune of Cabras is an excellent choice. Not too far away from civilisation, you can get everything you need along with some peace and quiet. This village is located in the province of Oristano. It’s advised to have a car whilst living here for easy access to nearby locations. 

Oresei

This village is an excellent all-rounder. Here you’ll find a historic town centre with many vineyards and orchards nearby. It’s all home many to many festivals and historic sites but most importantly, it’s home to white-sand beaches with crystal clear water. Simply beautiful. 

Living in Olbia, Sardinia

Olbia is a beautiful city, ranked the sixth-best place to live in Italy. A network of brightly coloured buildings filled with small shops, piazzas, restaurants, bars and clubs all leading to the seaside. 

Olbia is a large city, so life here is very relaxed but given its size, it doesn’t feel like a village. Here you’ll experience the feeling of a city without the massive hustle and bustle. Living here is very affordable with houses and regular items all available at a reasonable price. Plus the airport is very near to the city, giving easy access to mainland Italy and wider Europe. 

Living in Cagliari, Sardinia

Cagliari is Sardinia’s capital and also the largest city on the island. The history of the city is very deep, with the earliest settlements of the city dating back to almost 5000 years ago. It’s also home to a Roman amphitheatre, ancient burial chambers, and many other historical and archaeological sites as well as museums and galleries.

Living in Sardinia
Cagliari, a charming city with endless appeal, where you can find fine restaurants and quaint cafes on every corner. 

Outside of this history which you can lose yourself in, the city offers anything you might want from a big city without the terrible traffic and pollution. 

Cagliari is also home to a variety of bars, quality restaurants and a vibrant cultural scene including jazz clubs and multiple festivals. One of the largest and most popular is the parade of Sant’efisio, celebrating the warrior martyr patron of Sardinia. The city is located on the sea and is up to an hour away from some of the best beaches on the island. 

Frequent buses and excellent health care is also available here. Housing here is slightly more expensive than in other parts of the island, however, that is to be expected in a bigger city. There are also cinemas, a theatre, and the local football team always draws a crowd of passionate supporters. You can live comfortably here on a budget. 

The city is also very well connected with excellent ferry services from the harbour and great connections from the airport. It is popular with tourists and is visited by cruise ships so there can be an influx of people in high season. 

Living in Sardinia – summary

Sardinia offers expats a wide variety of lifestyle choices. Whether its smaller villages, big or small cities, or perhaps even the more luxurious tourist spots, Sardinia has something for everyone. 

So, if you’ve dreamed of immersing yourself in the local culture, escaping the winter and the rat race for sunny beaches and idyllic countrysides, perhaps Sardinia is the place for you. 

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