Escaping to Italy: London VS. Milan

| April 14, 2015

Cathedral's roofMilan and London are very similar cities. Perhaps this is due in part to their long history and common ancestry. Milan lies within the Lombardy region and was founded several centuries before the Common Era, and London only a few decades into the Common Era, but a combination of geography and educational and financial opportunities made both cities the cultural, industrial and financial hubs of their respective countries.

London with its massive urban sprawl is the second city in the EU, while Milan ranks fifth. While the cities are not far apart in actual land area, London’s population density is twice that of Milan and it is the EU’s largest population centre, while Milan comes in at fourteenth.

Like London, Milan’s history as a financial and commercial centre dates back to the middle ages. After the Risorgimento (Italian unification) in the late 1800’s, Milan was the industrial lender of the new nation. As the city’s industrial and commercial influence grew, so did the city’s reputation as a cultural, social, and political spot. This influence has remained strong since that time. The only time Milan’s standing was lessened was during World War II, when the city was subject to a brutal Nazi occupation. During this time Milan, perhaps in part due to its long-standing political and social customs and attitudes became the centre of Italian Resistance. After the war, the city not only returned to its previous power, but also experienced a significant financial boom, which to a degree has continued to present day.

La Scala opera house

La Scala opera house in Milan by paularps

The two cities are home to the countries’ main stock exchanges and headquarters for the largest banks. Large national and multinational companies have chosen to locate their headquarters in both Milan and London.

While both cities are highly regarded in the world of fashion and design, Milan is clearly the leader in both categories. The who’s who of international fashion, including Valentino, Gucci, Versace, Prada, Armani and Dolce & Gabbana, are all headquartered in Milan. Milan’s semi-annual Fashion Week is one of the most important events in international fashion. Naturally, high-end shopping streets are found throughout the city. The main fashion district, known as the quadrilatero della moda, is world renowned and home to many of the world’s most prestigious shops as well as hosting the world’s oldest shopping mall, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

Milan’s contributions to the world of arts and culture rival its contributions to fashion, finance and commerce.

Panorama of Milan Cathedral

Milan Cathedral by paularps

The city’s importance as a design and architectural capital dates back to the 14th century when construction of the Milan Cathedral, the fifth largest in the world, began. Due to Milan’s long history and a culture that encouraged new ideas in design, a wide range of styles are evident in the city. This includes some of the earliest and best examples of Art Nouveau alongside the world famous Teatro alla Scala opera house and the Santa Maria delle Grazie, decorated with Leonardo da Vinci paintings.

Milan’s post-war boom saw the arrival of many new residents from throughout Italy who were drawn by the prospects of a better quality of life. That tendency continues to a degree today, as many from throughout the EU have chosen to call Milan home, both as workers and retirees. This is aided in part by the ease by which EU residents can settle in Milan. Additionally, Italy makes it easier for newcomers to overcome any language barriers by offering free language lessons at centres throughout the city.

Sforza Castle

Sforza Castle in Milan by Macbeales

Milan is particularly attractive to Londoners for a variety of reasons. The employment opportunities are similar due to the business and commerce infrastructure that is common to both cities. Another reason is the cost of living comparison between the two cities. London recently received the dubious honour of being named the world’s most expensive city. The overall cost of living in Milan averages about a third less than in London, with the most dramatic difference being in the cost of housing. Rental rates for apartments in Milan are comparable in terms of size and location and are approximately half that found in London. When you add in the utilities and transportation, which typically average 50% to 70% less, standard living expenses are substantially lower in Milan than they are in London.

Similar savings can be found in grocers and markets. Milan’s cuisine is famous throughout the
world and the city is justifiably proud of this distinction. Restaurants and cafés flourish throughout the city, which lays claim to 157 Michelin rated establishments, three of which have received three stars.

If you are considering a move to Milan then we are here to help, and you can get started right away by using our website to find the house in Milan you are looking for.

[Featured image by David Davies]

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