Navigating the Challenges of Finding an Apartment in Milan’s Navigli Area: A Personal Journey

Finding an apartment in Milan, specifically in the Navigli area, was a constant battle of pulling information from people. From asking questions about the apartment to taking the next step in signing a contract, it was tough to get clear and concise answers. The language barrier made it even more difficult, as communicating with landlords and real estate agents was a challenge. However, I made sure to give myself plenty of time, about a month, to find something feasible. The added problem was that I needed to find an apartment in close proximity to my university, which made the search even more specific. Despite the obstacles, I was determined to find the perfect place to call home during my stay in Milan.

Tip: read this first


Read first –

I. Start searching for an apartment here:

Other options: check on Facebook for groups that lists accommodations. Usually these are students or professionals who are subletting their space.

  • Milan International Group Expats
  • Student Accommodation in Milan
  • Milano Easy Renting

Search on Twitter:

  • milanapartments
  • apartmentsinmilan
  • milan
  • or tweet Searching for #accommodationinmilan. Get creative 🙂
 Tip #1: Agency.

Apartment listings (such as Spotahome) are all handled by agencies. They are the middle man between the landlord and the tenants (you) and will take care of finding apartment options for you (i.e. calling the landlord, answering your questions, etc.). Yes, you will have to pay their service of around $100+. Below, are some common standard requirements from the landlord that the agency will inform you.

  • 3-months rent as a deposit (required – usually it will be returned when you move out)
  • First month’s rent
  • An agency fee a.k.a. booking fee
  • Contract: They won’t tell you this ahead of time and I don’t know why; but, please ask for one. You’ll need a contract to show that you will receive your deposit back at the end of your lease.

Tip #2: Common standard rental listing descriptions: 

  • Address: usually it looks something like
  • VIA CARLO BO (street name) + (area) Pagan/Simplon/Monumental/Fair
  • Rent price + utilities included (heating, water, waste fee)
  • Electricity, gas & internet (separate)
  • Single (private room) or Double (w/ a roommate)
  • Contacts: +39 (Milan area code) 1234567891 (phone number)
  • Furnished
  • Services: washer, oven, etc.

Tip #3: Using Google Map to your advantage.

Open another browser window. Type in google map. Take the target address, copy and paste i.e. VIA CARLO BO in the search field box and hit search. Now select directions to open up the starting address. Type in the target address, in this case it would be the school’s address. Select the pedestrian icon (see below) and hit search. This should give you an idea of the walking distance from your home to the school.


Also, you can street view the neighborhood area of the apartment you’re looking into within google map. I found it helpful to get a feel of what the area was like. 


II. Inquiring to an ad: Depending on which company you use to find a place, try to get all of your information up front when you inquire about a place. If necessary, respond in English and an Italian version. FYI. Get used to using a google translator. It will be your best friend for the next infinity.

III. Making a decision: At the time when I was searching for my apartment, my biggest priority was to find one closest to the school because I wanted to be able to walk there. For me, I didn’t want to risk missing my classes in case, there was a metro strike or a train breaking down. Therefore, convenience was first on my list followed by budget. Of course, this would be a different case for each individual.

Start here (apartment checklists):

Example of questions to ask yourself:

  • Location (convenience): How far is the school? Can I walk there or do I need to get a bike? How many transfers do I need to take?
  • Cost: Is it within my budget?
  • Cleaning services: Is house cleaning service provided?
  • Is the landlord onsite or offsite?

Example of questions to ask the agency (round 2):

  • What are the deposit requirements?
  • Do you have a contract?
  • Is cleaning included?
  • Do you take credit card as a form of payment?

IV. Closing the deal: At this point, you should be ready to “block” a room. Here are last minute questions to think about or ask.

  • Ask how you will get a hold of the keys?
  • If furnished: What do I need to buy or bring? What’s missing in the apartment?
  • Can you inquire about your roommates?

Finding a roommate wasn’t even a question. I focused a lot on getting an apartment because it was a job in itself. Although, if your lease is short and you plan to change your place a couple of months after you arrive, then, read on.

Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy yourself. After all, you didn’t go through all of this hassle for nothing 🙂


3 responses to “Navigating the Challenges of Finding an Apartment in Milan’s Navigli Area: A Personal Journey”

  1. Great tips! Apartment hunting is no fun! I just landed a place in LA so I know the struggle! My best tip is to make a big spreadsheet of all the possible places so you can familiarize yourself with the prices of various neighborhoods and amenities so you know a great deal if you see one!



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