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Ultimate guide to Milan's neighborhoods

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Your Ultimate Guide to Milan’s Neighborhoods

Bryony Harris

Jul 15 • 6 minute read

Thinking about moving to Milan? Prepare to have even your highest expectations met. Milan is known the world over for its fashion, fine art and irresistible food, making it one of the most visited cities in not only Italy, but across the entire globe. With aspiring creatives and budding entrepreneurs abounding, Milan is a perfect place to spend a semester or two abroad, take on a promising internship or begin a successful career. Plus, it also has some of the best neighborhoods in the country!

As an incoming international, there are several things to carefully consider. Of course, you’ll have to adequately plan your budget, get organized before your move and start looking for housing. But, location is everything. That’s why our Milan Neighborhood Guide contains everything you need to know to find the perfect area to live, study or work. Additionally, you’ll discover transportation options in the city. Sound like fun already? Then let’s get going!

Getting Started

There’s definitely something to be noted about the old saying about the “first step being the hardest.” Starting the moving process can be a bit overwhelming initially, but as long as you have the proper information when selecting a location for your new (albeit temporary) home, you’ll be able to make a well-informed decision.

When you’re preparing to move to Milan, you’ll need to know all about the practical requirements to relocate to Italy. There are a few legalities that must be considered so that you are ready to unpack and start living your new life!

Most importantly, you will be required to register your residence and apply with the following documents to the office of Anagrafe:

  • Your signed application form
  • Your housing lease agreement
  • An ID card or passport
  • Valid health insurance
  • Four passport-sized photographs
  • Proof of your financial support
  • Work contracts or offers
  • Bank account information
  • Documentation regarding financial support

Public Transportation

Additionally, before you begin your search, it’s important to understand the way the public transportation system works in Milan. If you’re looking at neighborhoods that are a bit out of the city center, it helps to be able to get the scope of your daily commute.

Milan is a massive city, but transportation is simple to understand, as well as fairly inexpensive. Your options include the bus, metro and tram. There are four metro lines, which are the preferred mode of transportation, while buses and trams can take you anywhere the metro currently cannot. Conveniently, you can check GiroMilano for any updates, delays or schedule changes with ease.

Of course, you can always rent or buy a secondhand bike, and there are scooter apps like Lime and Bird.

Universities, Startups and Coworking

As you begin to familiarize yourself more and more with Milan, you’ll understand that there is a myriad of attractions and noteworthy museums and monuments that can draw a lot of attention. Plus, there are also neighborhoods that are closer to Milan’s university or business areas.

Universities

A few of Milan’s most well-known universities are definitely a reason to look at a particular neighborhood. Some to take into consideration include:

  • Academy of Fine Arts of Brera
  • University of Milan
  • Milano Bicocca University
  • Bocconi University
  • Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
  • Polytechnic University of Milan

Startups and Employment

Europe is now known as a hotbed for startups and budding entrepreneurships, with Milan firmly on the radar.

Some up-and-coming startups offering plenty of opportunities for internationals include:

  • Yolo
  • Satispay
  • Musement
  • Cortilia
  • Tutored
  • Talent Garden

Coworking Spaces

Okay, so it’s definitely no longer just a trend. It’s a fact that many young professionals and university students are finding their flow in coworking spaces. These are large areas rented in certain neighborhoods that offer workspaces, Wi-Fi and the ability to endlessly network. You may want to check out:

  • Copernico Milano Centrale
  • Regus
  • Donatello Coworking
  • Yoroom
  • Santeria
  • Coffice

Milan’s Neighborhoods

Since so much of the city was destroyed during WWII bombings, there are countless new buildings and spaces, offering a more modern, urban feel. Now that you have a more detailed understanding of this lovely city and the opportunities that it holds, you can begin to explore the culturally diverse neighborhoods that Milan offers, as well as those popular with young internationals.

City Center

The heart of the city is where you’ll find attractions, museums and effervescent squares filled with locals and tourists alike. It seems as if the entire area is in the shade of the famous Gothic cathedral. If you move to the right side of the Duomo, you can enjoy a stroll in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, which is a lovely 18th-century arcade that plays home to all that is luxurious in the city, including shops and dining options. You’ll also be close to the 20th Century Museum, the La Scala Theater and the art exhibits at the Royal Palace

The University of Milan is the main attraction for students enrolled there, with the entire campus easily at their disposal. While many students and young professionals enjoy the vibrancy of the area and being right in the center of the action, the prices for housing are some of the most expensive in the city. Yet, it is so convenient to many businesses, that it still makes sense for those working in the area.

Brera

This district boasts cozy, cobblestone streets, teeming with art galleries and trendy boutiques. Young people love the fashionable bars, offering aperitivo in the evenings, which can definitely help when you’re an incoming international on a budget. You can also relax or work in the park, or even spend an entire day at one of the area’s top art museums, the Pinacoteca di Brera. In the southern section of Brera, you can also take in the epitome of fashion in Milan at the Quadrilatero della Moda’s luxury stores and high-end retailers.

Students enjoy Brera as it is home to the Brera Academy of Fine Arts. While the area may be seen to some as historic, it has also become quite hip and modern in recent years, but without all of the hustle and bustle of the nearby City Center. However, Brera also hosts some of the richest of Milan’s residents, so pricing isn’t low. Yet, students and young people can often find shared space in some of the more historic buildings.

Navigli and Porta Genova

These popular districts are filled with busy residents and plenty of exciting nightlife options. Close to two canals and a dock (offering many dining options), things can be quiet during the day, but this is absolutely an area where the young people like to party after the sun sets. Every Saturday, you can also take in the local culture at the Fiera di Senigallia flea market, filled with antiques and other secondhand items, such as bikes.

This area is the closest to the Catholic University and IULM, so it’s easy to see why students flock here to search for housing. Plus, it offers many public transportation options and slightly lower rental prices. Young people can also save a bit of cash by shopping at the vintage clothing shops.

Porta Romana

This safe, mostly residential area is just a few public transportation stops from the City Center and all that it has to offer. It’s also very close to Navigli and its pulsating nightlife. However, it can offer a few clubs and small restaurants that offer their own individual appeal as well.

This area still can’t quite be described as “cheap,” but it will work better for those with a budget in mind than Brera or the City Center. Students still enjoy the area, as it is close to the Catholic University, Bocconi University and the IED, and its proximity to coworking spaces also appeals to young professionals.

The area is also rather split, with upmarket apartments on one side and housing appealing to younger people in a more vibrant setting. Be sure to check out Plastic Nightclub and the art at Fondazione Prada.

Città Studi, Ventura and Lambrate

So, if you are looking for lower prices but are still close to universities, then these areas might just be the way to go. Not far from the Polytechnic University of Milan and other educational institutions, it may be a bit outside of the City Center. Yet, if you are studying nearby, it can not only be convenient, but it may be easier on the budget of a young international.

Additionally, you can find public transportation options that can get you to other areas of Milan in mere minutes. You can also find dining, nightlife and even affordable shopping.

Keep in mind that these areas are in high demand due to their affordability. Therefore, it is more important than ever to start your housing search early and to utilize a trusted platform so that you have an advantage over the thousands of other expats looking for an apartment or room at the same time.

Porta Nuova and Porta Garibaldi

These neighborhoods were once considered to be in a mainly industrial area. Yet, the city, needing more areas for locals and visitors alike, began to redevelop it a few years ago. Today, it is very popular with young people because it is hip and modern. It is loved for its bustling train station, trendy architecture and numerous business headquarters.

In the center, you will find the Gae Aulenti square, which is home to the 231-foot Unicredit Tower, which is the highest building in all of Italy. Nearby is another pair of skyscrapers, the Vertical Forest, which won the International Highrise Award in 2004. They offer residential housing, boasting over 900 real trees. Need we say that this is an excellent area for students interested in architecture?

Now that you’ve reviewed our Milan's Neighborhood Guide, you should be ready to choose the perfect space in this attractive, welcoming city. A fantastic adventure now awaits you, whether you will be continuing your education or beginning to climb the corporate ladder. Some of the best neighborhoods in Milan to book are also popular with other expats, so you’ll never cease to find yourself surrounded by like-minded people.

Enjoy your time in Milan and, as the locals like to say it, in bocca al lupo! (Good luck!)

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