What’s it like to Rent an Apartment in Chiavari?

September 26, 2017

Many of my followers have asked about apartments around Italy and, specifically, in Chiavari where I live. What is it like living in an apartment? Can I rent one for a month or three months? Let me share with you what I know.

Here I am in my kitchen leaning on my little Refrigerator.

First, you must know where you want that apartment and what you want it for. There are different agencies and rules for apartment rentals. B&B apartments can usually rent up to 28 days or a month. If you are looking for a place to stay for 3 months, the normal limit of a visit for non-Italians, there are several agencies in each area that have short term and long-term rentals. Please email me for professional assistance in finding an apartment for your visit.

If you want to stay longer and are not an Italian, you will need to obtain permission and get what is called a Permesso di soggiorno, which is basically like a permit for 6 months and it can be renewed. There are many rules regarding obtaining a Permesso di soggiorno.  And it all begins at the local post office where you want to live. If you want more information regarding obtaining the Permesso di soggiorno, email me.

For people traveling and wondering how the choice of an apartment instead of a hotel can enhance your travel experience, think of what living in an apartment means. Hotels cater to your needs. They offer breakfast, promote day trips and restaurants. They even launder your clothing for you for a price. It is a wonderful and very comfortable way to travel.

A street scene in Florence.

When I have traveled and rented apartments I gain an entirely different picture of the town and area I am visiting. For instance, I lived in an apartment in Florence for 6 weeks. There was no elevator. I walked up and down 60 stairs every day at least once. That is how the locals live. And it was good for the muscles too.

Entrance to my apartment in Florence

That apartment had a very small be efficient kitchen, complete with dishes, pots and pans, stove and frig. There was a big dining room but no real living room. It had one bedroom instead of the living room and a decent, if skinny bathroom—no shower. It was a five-minute walk to the Duomo of Florence and a five or ten-minute walk to the train station. Many Italians live in places this size or smaller. Yet they cook 4 course meals, have children, and work. I appreciate them even more after this experience.

A friend was there with me for two weeks. We made our own caffe’ e colazione, coffee and breakfast, every morning. We often had dinners there too. We had to go shopping. And we learned so much about the way people eat and shop that we gained a more real picture of Florence. There are grocery stores, of course. But there are also bread stores, cheese stores, meat stores, wine stores and an open market for shopping. Grocery stores work but specialty shops provide a better quality in most cases, I found. And going to market is the freshest way to buy your seasonal fruit and vegetables. That is what Italians generally eat—seasonal products.

Chiavari’s daily market in Centro Storico, town center.

For me, I needed time alone in my apartment to absorb all the experiences of the day. I often journal at home, in the apartment. I also had new friends over for a meal or a gathering with drinks and aperitivi. I felt like a local in some ways.

I hand washed some clothing and used the Lavanderia, the public laundromat. I hadn’t used one of those in years. You meet people at the laundry too. You learn things. You grow.

As a dual citizen of Italy and the USA, I had a few options for rentals. I wanted to do a one-year lease to see if I could live like an Italian and live in Italy. For that reason, I kept my residence in Lazio with my cousin, Sonseere.

My apartment is considered a second home and, as such, as some tax ramifications I had not known about. Yet it was the only way to rent for just one year. I hope to change residency to Chiavari next year and get one of the other leases. There is a 3 year with automatic renewal for 2 years, and a 4 year with an automatic renewal for 4 years.

I love my apartment. It is close to the water and has a peek-a-boo view.

It also has an ascensore, an elevator the size of a phone booth—but I do not mind. And I have 2 balconies which expand my space.

My kitchen is efficient and very Italian.

Above the sink is a dish drainer for drying your dishes and plates. The top of my washing machine is my main work space as is the cabinet to the left.

You need a lighter to light many rental gas stoves in Italy. But first you need to figure out how to turn on the gas. I asked the neighbors. I knew nothing. I also had to turn on the electric and water meters and the water itself. I was so lost. The neighbors showed me where it was, on my little balcony off the kitchen.

My table is another work space and, oftentimes, where I use my computer.

Both my living room,

And Bedroom with my huge, hard bed, have doors to the big, side balcony. And, my storage isn’t pretty but holds all my clothing inside, luggage on top and shoes below.

My bathroom works very well for me. It is narrow but has a window and a tub plus shower and bidet.

All the rooms surround the center hall. It is efficient, quaint and very Italian. I have owned 3 and 4- bedroom homes, townhomes on lakes and streams and even a condominium in Minnesota. I designed homes for over 1000 buyers while I was a Real estate salesperson for a builder. Yet I think I love this simple home the most.

There isn’t much here. I have learned to use areas wisely. I have not carried a myriad of things here to Italy. I have a few things that make me feel at home, such as an insulated glass with cover and straw and an insulated coffee cup that I can refill and keep warm longer. (At home, I do not slam a caffe’ as I do when I am out.) And I have photos of my girls and drawings by my granddaughter.

I hang my clothing outside as all my neighbors do. I hand wash dishes and think about the use of water and electricity because it is very expensive here. I recycle more than I did in the States. It is really enforced in Italy.

Some days I miss my clothes dryer. I miss my central air conditioning in July and August. You can find apartments with these things and even with a dishwasher. But the cost is prohibitive here in Liguria—it is for me.

My furniture is nothing to brag about. I have bought covers for it and am personalizing my place as I go along. There is no hurry. Piano, piano,

Where would you like to rent an apartment for a few days, a month or a lifetime? I can assist you with your choices when traveling and share information with you for those seeking a long-term rental or purchase in Italy. Feel free to email me anytime at Marilyn@takemehomeitaly.com if you have any questions. Buona giornata.  I am off to the sea.

Ciao for now!

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