Le Marche Region of Italy: A Less Expensive Tuscany for Expats

Residing in Italy is a dream for many expats, especially when it comes to such picturesque places as Tuscany. Its incomparable art, culture, gastronomy is enticing, although many find it to be incredibly cost prohibitive. A few years back, Umbria was dubbed ‘the next Tuscany’, and you can guess what happened – it did indeed explode with people wanting to get in cheap. So where is the next Umbria? Although it’s definitely not to be considered an ‘off-the-radar’ place, Le Marche, Italy, located one region to the east of Umbria, stretches for 100 miles along the Adriatic coast and offers vineyards and snowcapped mountains at prices considerably (at least for now) less than Tuscany. The undulating hills of its interior are rich farming terrain, and only sparsely peppered with quaint market towns and one-street villages. What more could anyone ask for?

“Nature lovers will get more pristine beauty for their money in Le Marche than anywhere else in central Italy,” writes John Moretti in Living Abroad in Italy.For those who think of Italy as the land of only pasta and pizza, Le Marche boasts some of the best fish dishes in the country. For those who are drawn to Italy for its art, the walled city of Urbino boasts Renaissance architecture that some consider to be among the best in Italy—without the mass amounts of tourists that Rome or other larger cities have to deal with.

John Williams, 62, originally a chiropractor from the US, moved to Le Marche two decades ago and now lives on a three-acre country home in Senigallia, right off the beach, with his wife and two teenage children. There they spend their days tending a grove of centuries-old olive trees, from which they make their own oil. “I came intending to visit for six months and stayed,” Williams says. “I wouldn’t think of living anywhere else.” Not including the cost of housing, a minimum annual income of $20,000 is feasible to live comfortably off of, he reports, though higher incomes are more realistic and offer more opportunities. “What I like best is having beautiful beaches and mountains within 45 minutes of each other,” Williams says. “There’s such a variety of choices, it’s like a permanent vacation.”

So what are some of the main factors that expats should take into consideration?  First is climate. The climate is in general sunny, with warm and dry summers. Winters are cooler with some sporadic rain. For those who want snow, snowcapped mountains are always just a bit away. For now, the expat scene is fairly small, but consistently growing, made up of an entirely international mix. Rentals can start at around $700 or $800 a month in rural villages, and from $1800 on up towards the coast. Coastal houses, to buy, can begin at $350,000, but inland the prices can drop to almost half that. Health care is generally good, with the main hospital being in Ancona, which is within an hour no matter where you are in the Le Marche region. Access to international airports requires a short regional flight from Ancona to Milan or Rome. For leisure, how doesopen-air opera festivals, Renaissance painting and architecture, wine tasting, nature reserves, beachcombing, and skiing in the Sibillini Mountains sound? Just south of Ancona, the Conero peninsula is a dramatic, craggy coast that seems out of place on Le Marche’s gentle Riviera, but there one can hike the cliff top paths or ride them by mountain bike. Some expats bypass the activity and literally just get sucked into Le Marche for the food. Think homemade pasta with aged ewe’s milk cheese, stuffed olives (breaded and deep fried), truffles, washed down by some local red wine, followed up by vino cotto, a potent, and cheaper, sherry-like riff on the Tuscan vin santo.

So if the slow life of rural Italy beckons you, Le Marche is definitely a growing expat destination that offers nearly everything that Tuscany does (plus the Adriatic Sea), all at a lower price.

Find more information on La Marche at: turismo.marche.it; urbinoculturaturismo.it; paradisepossible.com; conero.info.

Have you been to Italy? Could you live there? What are the pros and the cons for you of life in Italy? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts!

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  1. Dwight stanford May 30, 2013 at 5:19 am

    Good luck living off 20K a year with a family with gasoline prices at 9 dollars plus a gallon, high food prices, high VAT, etc. It is important to realize you must learn italian to live here as few marchigiani speak english. To buy a house is also very expensive, at least where I live in the Ascoli Piceno province. It has a lot to offer, this region, but as in all Italy, better to live here for a few months on a trial before buying.

    • Prometey Bezkrilov August 9, 2013 at 5:55 pm

      I thought the guy lives on a 3-acres property in Italy, right off the beach. Did I miss anything? He lives right on a resort. People live off of 4000sf comfortably in this clip. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCmTJkZy0rM&list=PLNMb92HUJFXXgsBaEEpkAYCfsAailHvfl
      If not selling the products, at least one can enjoy one’s own food and wine, long sunny days, solar energy, etc.
      BTW, from my own experience (and have visited Italy 3 times) food in Italy is not expensive, and it is really food, with ingredients not containing unpronounceable garbage. Cannot compare it to the North American crap that one shouldn’t even feed to their animals.

  2. Valerie June 7, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    I don’t know that $20,000 is feasible even in an inland village, from my experience of living in Le Marche for 3 years. But why must everything be compared to Tuscany? Le Marche isn’t Tuscany – it’s history, culture and cuisine is different and should be appreciated for being different than the other regions. Tuscany is Tuscany; Le Marche is Le Marche and a lovely place in its own right.

  3. Ian July 10, 2013 at 8:03 am

    We almost bought our retirement villa in Italy. But a friend mentioned some drawbacks. 1. Land titles are not reliable, so other(s) may legally claim your property. 2. Major expensive infrastructure repairs are needed throughout the country, which property owners may have to pay for. 3. Bureaucratic demands, but incredible inefficient bureaucracy. 4. In some areas you also have to deal with the local mob / gangs to get things done.

    After more than 15 trips to Italy, in different seasons and different regions, we know the pros. But we felt in the end that visiting was a safer bet than living. I’d be happy to be proven wrong, though.

  4. john July 19, 2013 at 8:46 am

    I have lived in le marche 5 years.it is a paradise compared to any place in that police state USA.As far as the marchagiani speaking english,they do not have to.you americans are moving here where the language is italian.the people are friendly and I never felt unwanted.I have scores of friends and NEVER had such a social base as I have here(lived in NY state/city).I never had anty problem with my house deed and there is no mob here.the police forces are respectable,they will chat with you(most know someone in america,relatives etc) .forget tuscany,that is the place to visit,not live.it is full of obnoxios americans alway demanding ice.le marche is about have the price of living in tuscany.We live very comfortable in a large stone house with about 22,000euros a year.a pizza wine and salad costs about 10-13 euros.full diners about 20.wine(headache free) from ,50cents to 2.50 a glass at the local bar,a bottle from 2-6 euros.I would never go back there to live,the ^dolche vita^ is still here a little part of it anyway

    • ALBERTO August 11, 2013 at 3:41 pm

      HI MR JOHN !





  5. Damien May 11, 2014 at 10:35 am

    We moved to Marche 10 years ago and can reaffirm much of the above. Its worth doing your homework in advance and maybe renting here for a while. But we holidayed in other parts of Italy for many years before deciding that Marche offered rugged, beautiful and often dramatic scenery, great food and wine, national parks, many historic hill towns, rich history and culture, a lovely coast and is well served for airports.

    We brought our kids up here and have immersed ourselves in the local community, its a safe and friendly environment with wonderfully warm and welcoming people and its cheap to live if you do it sustainably. We grow crops and make our own wine which we also offer to guests at our place that we rebuilt (it was derelict with no roof). For an insight into moving here and a few tips try reading this blog article http://www.villasanraffaello.com/the-decision-to-buy-and-restore-the-italian-villa/

    The credit crunch has increased local taxes, especially on utilities but its still very affordable and you can rent for about €400 a month. We are still hosting guests from all over the globe but are currently selling so if anyone out there fancies living off the land, hosting 20 guests and living very comfortably just drop us a line http://www.italy-property-sale.net/-bed-and-breakfast-bandb-rental-business-for-sale-italy.html

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