Last Updated on May 3, 2021 by Helga Dosa
A common question asked in our forum was “How much do I need to earn to live comfortably in Italy?”. We thought it would be a good idea to share our knowledge and experience about the cost of living in Italy!
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 of 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. The cost of living in Rome can vary a lot depending on your job, the neighborhood, and your lifestyle.
2. Public Transportation
One standard bus ticket in Rome (one ride on the metro or 75 minutes on buses) = 1.50 euro. You can check the prices for other kinds of tickets and subscriptions here. The prices vary from one city to another. Usually speaking, it’s between 1-2 euro. It’s always worth getting a pass or try to use as many alternatives as bikes or electric scooters as you can.
3. Owning Your Own Car
Like everywhere, these days the cost of fuel in Italy is high. As of May 2021, the average price for petrol is €1.36 euros per liter. Diesel is at €1.27 euro per liter. 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 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.
This really depends on what you’re eating? I have personally did months spending €80 and had all my necessary food. To give you some examples, the price of toast bread at the supermarket is €1.11, the pre-sliced cold cuts vary from €1.40 to €8.00/ 6 slices. Depending on what type of coldcuts you get. The cost off coffee starts usually at €2.50, but a quality one is around €5.00/s50g. Usually speaking, you should find out which are the cheapest supermarkets if you want to spare some money, and go rather there. In the North this usually is the Pam (Italian brand), but also Lidl and Aldi. In Emilia Romagna region especially, the Sigma is the cheapest. If you’re going down south, Carrfour is usually the budget place that you can find in every 2nd corner.
5. Healthcare 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, and obviously, paying more. 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’ll give you an example with a 1 bedroom, one kitchen-living room, built in wardrobe, balcony and bathroom type of house. This is usually called in italy the bilocale. If you’re moving in a bilocale house, you can spend around €60-€80/month electricity, gas during the winter can be anywhere from €80 to €200, depending how much gas you use, and how much is your boiler working. Water is usually included in the shared costs, and it’s around €150/6 months. Though this may vary a lot. Internet costs/month are around €30, and the costs of recycling garbage, that you pay to the town is around €50-€80/year.
7. Aperitivo, drinks in bars
On avarage, a beer is around €4.00, while an aperitivo drink’s cost, such as the cost of an Aperol Spritz can be anywhere from €3.50 to €8.00, depending where you are. In a big city, like Rome, it’s not much likely to find an Aperol Spritz for €3.50. A glass of wine is usually around €5.00. If you’re buying a bottle of wine, it can be anywhere from €25.00 to €3.000 depending on what you’re looking for. A cocktail is usually between €7.00 and €10.00, again varies from one place to another, and from one town to another.
8. Price of a Dinner for Two in a Decent Restaurant
From €15.00 to over €200.00, and again it depends on the type of restaurant and where it’s located. In a pizzeria you can get a pizza Margherita for €4.00-€6.00, a 1L bottle of water anywhere from €2.00 to €4.00, coffee starts at €1.20, and dessert for €4.00 to €5.00 Euros per person. Restaurants are more expensive. You can spend anywhere from €15 to the skies. In small towns, villages, hiking spots you can find many cheaper places. In Rome or Milan, the prices/person may start at €20.00-€25.00.
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.
Prices last updated June 2021