A common question asked in our forum is "How much do I need to earn to live comfortably in Italy?" We thought it would be a good idea to have an article here on the website to answer it.
A few caveats. The answers come from a number of users and reflect their daily experience, not an accurate research project. Moreover, what one user considers "comfortable" could be seen by another person as luxurious, or conversely, cheap. Prices can also vary quite a bit from northern to southern Italy and from big cities to small towns. Before you start thinking "Cool, I'll live in a quaint little town in southern Italy," be aware that in the south the standard level of many public services, such as public transport, water supply, or medical care, is often lacking. Northern regions are usually better organized and give better services to their inhabitants, but expenses (mainly for housing and food) are also higher.
The public transport authorities of the bigger cities have websites with English sections that can inform you about the cost of bus and metro tickets. Real estate agencies can give you an idea on the cost of renting or buying a house. For the prices of cars and fuel, you can take a look at some car magazines or websites, like Quattroruote. Online supermarkets like Esselunga can give you an idea of the cost of food and groceries. The websites of phone companies and public and private utility companies can give you a better idea of what your bills are going to be like.
As you can see, the variables are many and asking in our forum is always a good idea in order to gather some first-hand experiences and tips, but still you'd better do your own research based on the lifestyle you plan to live and exactly where you plan to live it.
Cost of Living in Italy
1. Accommodation Prices
Like in any other country, the cost of rent or buying your own place depends on where you want to live, its size, and how luxurious it is. For example, an apartment in Milan will be much more expensive than one in a small town, and an expansive farmhouse will likely cost you more than living in a flat with a roommate.
In Rome, a room in a shared apartment runs from 300 to 600 Euros per month. In a small town outside a big city you may rent an entire apartment for that money (in Latina, 50 kms outside Rome, the average rent for a 50sqm apartment is 500 Euros). A decent apartment in Rome's periphery starts from 800 Euros per month. An apartment in Monteverde Vecchio of about 60 sq meters is at least 1200 Euros a month plus expenses.
2. Public Transportation
One standard bus ticket in Rome (one ride on the metro or 100 minutes on buses) = 1.50 euro. You can check the prices for other kinds of tickets and subrscriptions on http://www.atac.roma.it/index.asp?p=14.
3. Owning Your Own Car
Like everywhere, these days the cost of fuel in Italy is high. With my car, which is new and well maintained, I spend an average of 55 euros per 500 km. This will go up. Then there are maintenance expenses, like new tires, oil changes, repairs, etc. Car insurance is mandatory in Italy. The cost will vary according to your age and the value of the car, your expertise as a driver and other factors. You should talk with an insurance agent to obtain a quote.
In Italy you likely will spend around 120 - 200 Euros per month per person at the grocery store. That includes food, household items and toiletries, that is, all your basic supermarket purchases. If you plan on eating out rather than cooking at home, the cost of your monthly food bill will likely expand quite a bit.
5. Health Prices
In Italy you’re looking at 0 to 200 Euros for a specialist visit. Healthcare in Italy is free, but going private means waiting less time to see a doctor. Quality varies a lot, and remember that public equaling low quality isn't necessarily true, although it may take longer.
6. Bills and Utilities
I spend around 1500 – 1800 Euros per year total. It is possible to spend less.
7. Price of a Beer in a Pub
On average 3.5 Euros. It varies a lot depending on the type of pub (cheap pub, posh bar...) and the city.
8. Price of a Dinner for Two in a Decent Restaurant
From 20 to over 200 Euros, and again it depends on the type of restaurant and where it’s located. In a pizzeria you can get a pizza margherita for 4-6 Euros, a 1lt bottle of water for 2, coffee for 1, and dessert for 3 to 5 Euros per person. Restaurants are more expensive. On average think about 35 Euros per person.
9. Price of Pizza al Taglio:
From 1 to 3 Euros for a slice, depending on the kind of pizza.
10. Price of Breakfast in a Bar
From 1.5 to 3 Euros.
To be on the safe side, I'd say you need a net (after tax) income of around 1,000 Euros per month per person to cover your expenses and live a decent life in a city like Rome. Of course, you want to earn more than that, otherwise you won't have any money left for your savings, holidays, clothing purchases, or big purchases such as a car and so on.
Living outside a big city is cheaper, but then you'll have to factor in the travelling around or perhaps a lack of jobs. Commuting in Italy isn't cheap, nor is it comfortable.
I don't want to trash dreams or discourage anyone, but Italy as a quaint, cheap retreat is a thing of the past. Prices are rising and jobs are harder to find.
My advice is to come to Italy for a long vacation, maybe a couple of months, and see for yourself what the situation is, how expensive it is to live in Italy, and what jobs you can find. You can also read the English sections of popular Italian newspapers (such as http://www.corriere.it/english/) to get an overview of the current situation.
Want to add your opinion or experiences? Please email us or comment with more data and we will add it to the article. Here is a rundown of some average costs in Italy:
COST OF ACCOMMODATIONS
1 STUDIO - 500-700 euros (monthly)
1 SMALL FLAT - 900-1600 euros (monthly)
3 ROOM (2 Bedrooms) FLAT - 1800-2500 euros (monthly)
100 MINUTES TICKET (Bus & Metro): 1,5 euro
TAXI: Starts from a fixed rate of 4 euros (daytime) and 6 euros (nightime)
AUTOSTRADA (Expensive): Rome-Florence (south exit) 257 km or 160miles = Euro 17.60
(Rome Napoli is the same distance and has about the same cost)
Autostrada Roma Milano costs 40.10 € for 555 Km
TRAIN TO/FROM THE AIRPORT AND CITY: 14 euros for the no-stop train, 8 euros up for the local train.
GAS (Benzina): Euro 1.600-1.700 per liter
DIESEL: Euro 1.500-1.600 per liter
Espresso 1-1.10 euro
Cornetto 80 cents - 1.2 euro
Cappuccino 1.2 euro
Newspaper 1 euro
Pizza 8 euros
1 bottle of mineral water 70 cents - 2.50 euros (at the restaurant, about 0.50 euro at the supermarket)
1 dinner at Chinese restaurant: 9 - 14 euros
1 dinner at Indian restaurant : 25 - 55 euros
1 dinner at Italian restaurant: 25 - 90 euros
1 dinner at a Japanese restaurant: 40 - 70 euros
Cinema : 7.5 euros
Theatre: 12 - 35 euros
Disco : 15 - 25 euros
Museums: 4 - 15 euros
Exhibitions: 7 - 15 euros
Concerts: 20 - 75 euros
Jeans 70 - 120 euros
Shoes 90 - 240 euros
Ties 15 - 30 euros
Socks 4 - 15 euros
T-shirts 40 - 90 euros
Prices last updated January 2014
Edited by Francesca Bezzone, 01/03/2014