Expatriates from around the world are drawn to Italy for its diverse culture, delicious cuisines, fashion, excellent wine, and Mediterranean climate among other things. Some expatriates like the laid-back lifestyle of small towns; others opt for the modern amenities and cultural opportunities of the large cities, while the medium-sized cities offer a bit of both. In other words, the country has something for everyone. Before you move to Italy to study, work, retire, or even vacation, it would be best to know whether you can afford to live in it. This means knowing what your living costs will be and how much you can expect to be paid.
How much does it cost to live in Italy in 2021? This varies greatly depending on where you choose to live. The northern part of Italy is much wealthier than the southern region, which makes prices significantly higher. But, if you steer clear of tourist hot spots, you may be able to enjoy the sweet life without having to spend a fortune. On the other hand, living in southern Italy can be quite affordable.
To live a decent or extravagant life, you also need a good salary. Salaries in Italy are generally low compared to most parts of Europe. Even so, big and expensive cities such as Milan offer high salaries, above the national average, which allows residents to cater to the high living costs. On the other hand, people working in the southern region earn much less. The good news is Italy offers a great quality of life, meaning everything, including transport, healthcare, and security, works relatively well. While it’s difficult to give exact numbers of living expenses in Italy due to the large economic disparity between Italian regions, I’d like to give a broad overview of the most important living costs you’ll likely be facing in Italy. Without further ado, let’s get started:
Monthly Cost of Living in Italy 2021
Housing is by far the largest expense for any household, usually taking up a quarter of an expat’s monthly budget. Prices vary greatly depending on where you choose to live. For instance, renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre of Naples costs about €545/month. The rent is nearly doubled in Milan at around €1,065/month. A small apartment in Rome might cost you three times what you’d pay in a rural area. If you choose to buy, note that real estate prices vary just as much. You can find everything from a multi-million villa in Tuscany to a €20,000 village home in the north. Italian mortgages are available to expatriates with interest rates ranging from 1.60-3%, yearly.
Groceries can be bought at reasonable prices, which are similar to most western European countries. A single household spends about €160-200 on monthly groceries. Be sure to visit local supermarket chains or food markets to get cheaper products. Eating out, on the other hand, can be quite expensive. For instance, a basic meal in an inexpensive restaurant costs about €15 per person. Eating in high-end restaurants in big cities can cost as much as €200 per person. Since Italy produces a lot of wine, it is quite cheap.
Buying a car in Italy is very expensive with a basic Toyota Corolla costing about €22,175. Also, petrol and insurance expenses can add up pretty quickly. Italy has one of the highest fuel prices in the world, which is currently at €1.55 per litre. Luckily, the country has an incredible, extensive, and affordable public transportation service. Although prices vary depending on location, expect to pay €1.50 for a one-way ticket or €35 for a monthly travel pass. Taxis start at €1.46/km.
Italy is known for its stylish designer clothing, which can cost an arm and a leg. Luckily, there are lots of factory outlets that offer discounted prices on designer clothing, together with well-crafted Italian shoes. You can also take advantage of end-of-season sales. Alternatively, you can go for locally made clothing, which is significantly cheaper than designer goods.
Some expenses don’t apply to all households. For starters, parents with kids will have to budget for childcare and education costs. Typical childcare services include daycares/nurseries, preschools, as well as individual childcare providers like nannies. Daycares and nurseries accept children between 3 months and 3 years and cost about €400-700/month. An Au-Pair or nanny should receive about €260-300/month + food and accommodation. Preschool is for kids between 3 and 6 years. There are state-run preschools, which are free; and private ones, which range from €100-500 per month.
When it comes to primary education, expat children are allowed to attend a public school like local children. If you want your child to learn a familiar curriculum in their home language, you’ll have to consider an international school. You should expect sky-high fees, which average to €11,000/year per child.
Other than location and lifestyle, the overall cost of living in Italy will also depend on your specific household size. For instance, a single expatriate will spend about €700 on monthly expenses (excluding rent), while a family of four will spend around €2,500/month (excluding rent).
Here’s a side by side comparison of monthly expenses in different households:
|Expense||Single person||A couple||Family of four|
|Internet (60Mbps or more)||28||28||28|
Cost Of Living in Rome
Rome may not be the cheapest city to live in, but it’s still one of the cheapest capitals in Europe. A single person spends about €765 while a family of four will spend about €2,700 on monthly expenses (excluding rent). Expatriates love living in Rome mainly due to its stable economy. This means that living costs tend not to fluctuate drastically from one year to the next. Plus, with some tricks here and there, you can find ways to enjoy dolce vita without going broke. Here’s a breakdown of the cost of living in Rome for expatriates:
Expatriates have several housing options to choose from, including apartments, shared accommodation, detached homes, and villas. Obviously, accommodation prices increase the closer you are to the city centre. For starters, renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre costs €1,016/month and a 3-bedroom apartment will cost you €1,950/month. If you find accommodation in the outskirts of the city, a 1-bedroom apartment will be €678/month, while a 3-bedroom apartment will cost €1,176/month. A single person looking to save more can get a double room for just €500/month (bills included) in a shared apartment.
Utilities are rarely included in the rent, meaning you’ll have to budget for them separately. Basic utilities for a 45 m2 apartment cost from €60-120/month, while that of an 85 m2 apartment is between €100-250/month. Other essentials like the internet cost about €30/month, while mobile rates are €0.18/minute for local prepaid calls.
The best places to buy cheaper and healthier fruits, vegetable, and pretty much anything eatable are the local markets. Luckily, every neighbourhood has its market, with the most famous one being Nuovo Mercato Esquilino. Big chain supermarkets like Carrefour and Auchan are also available for a wide variety of products, although they’re more expensive. The average cost of monthly groceries for one person is €250-300, which includes buying food, personal items, and household supplies.
Unlike food costs, eating out will cost you more in Rome than in most European cities. The food is so good that you’ll find yourself splurging from time to time. The city houses an array of local and international restaurants, with prices ranging from affordable to expensive fine dining. A basic meal in a cheap restaurant will cost €15 for one person. Alternatively, you can have a fast food combo meal for just €8.
There are several ways of getting around the city of Rome. Public transportation is quite affordable, with a one-way ticket costing €1.50. In case you’re a daily commuter, you might want to consider a monthly travel pass, which costs €35; or an annual ticket, which costs €250. These two tickets allow for unlimited travel on all forms of public transportation. You can also use car-sharing services such as Car Sharing, which charges €2/hour during the day; or Car2Go, which offers different packages of 23, 29, or 69 cents per minute. It’s worth mentioning that buying a car in Rome is an unnecessary expense. It’s quite costly and related expenses can quickly add up, not to mention, there are different rules and the roads are often full of traffic.
Public education is free for local and expatriate children. Most expatriates, however, choose to take their kids to international schools. If so, expect to spend €12,420/year for one child.
Cost Of Living in Florence Italy
Florence, also known to as Firenze in Italian, is the largest, as well as the capital of the Tuscany region. Expatriates are attracted to this city for many reasons, including great infrastructure, diverse entertainment options, different cultural offers, pleasant weather, a high quality of life, good geographic location, and the fact that Florence has the highest percentage of English speakers. Living in Florence is expensive compared to other parts of the country, but still moderate for Western European standards. On average, you should expect to spend about €780 on monthly expenses, while a family of four will spend about €2,800/month. This excludes the cost of housing and school, but factors in going out once or twice a week. Here’s a breakdown of the cost of living in Florence Italy to help you budget:
As mentioned earlier, accommodation in Italy is not cheap. Prices can get higher in a city as popular as Florence. For instance, you’d spend about €805/month and €1,440/month to rent a one-bedroom apartment and 3-bedroom apartment respectively. You can save on rent by living in the suburbs. Living in a shared apartment offers more financially manageable accommodation, costing under €500/month. If you choose to buy, expect to spend about €4,960/ m2 for an apartment in the city centre.
With housing come utility bills. Expect to spend €135 on monthly basic utilities for an 85m2 apartment. Internet costs about €27.90/month and making prepaid calls locally will cost you about €0.06/min. Most internet and mobile phone providers offer special promotions from time to time, so make sure you take advantage of them.
Produce in open-air markets is cheaper and fresher. For grocery shopping, I’d suggest budgeting for about €200-300 per month for 1 person.
Italians tend not to dine out too often because it can be pretty expensive. A basic meal in a cheap Florence restaurant will cost about €15 per person, while a 3-course meal for two in a mid-range restaurant will cost €50-70. The city is also full of fine dining restaurants at a much higher price.
The city of Florence isn’t massive, the weather is usually great, and the architecture is stunning. All these features allow residents to do most of the travelling on foot, especially those who live near the city centre. Public transport is also extensive, effective, and affordable. A one-way ticket to even the longest journeys around the city will only cost €1.50. Alternatively, you can purchase a monthly travel pass for just €35 or a yearly ticket for €310. Both taxis and car-sharing services are available in Florence at reasonable prices. For those planning to drive, a litre of gasoline costs €1.54.
Average Monthly Costs of Living in Italy
Monthly rent for an apartment
Renting an apartment is a large expense and usually takes up to a quarter of an expatriate’s monthly budget.
Here’s the average cost of renting an apartment in Italy per month:
|No. of bedrooms||Major cities||Smaller cities|
These are simply the average prices of renting in Italy; as such, housing prices will vary considerably depending on the city you live in and what you want included like furnishings. If you’re looking for a luxurious lifestyle, major cities like Milan and Rome are worth considering for extravagant accommodation. Renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre of such major cities will cost you more than €1,500/month. For something more affordable, smaller towns in the southern region have apartments that cost as low as €500/month.
Expect your monthly utilities to cost between €85 and €245 per month, depending on the size of your house and household. Utilities are more expensive in the winter due to the heater being on. Ultimately, those who are looking to live frugally should consider living in more remote parts of the country.
The monthly cost for internet provider
Internet access has developed in Italy in the last years with access depending on one’s location. Broadband connections are mainly available in big cities and urban areas, while smaller villages have dial-up or ISDN connections. It’s also possible to connect to the free Wi-Fi in historical centres, at cafes, and bars.
Major internet service providers in Italy include:
|Provider||Speed||Type of connection||Cost/month|
|Fastweb||up to 1 GB/s||Fibre||€24.95|
|Telecom||Up to 1 gig internet||Fibre||€30|
|Tiscali||up to 1 GB/s||Fibre||€26/95|
Some internet providers also offer internet connections via mobile phones, meaning the connection is only possible if a signal is obtained. This type of connection is designed for those who want to surf on the go. You can also connect the mobile phone that has an internet connection to your laptop and access the internet from the laptop. Be sure to read your mobile contract beforehand to avoid surprise charges. Some of the best offers include:
- Fastweb mobile: Up to 30 GB worth of data for €9.95/month
- Tiscali mobile smart: 30GB data for €7.99/month
The monthly cost for mobile phone provider
There are many mobile phone providers for expatriates to choose from. You’ll need an Italian tax number to get an Italian mobile connection. Like in most countries, residents can choose between prepaid SIM cards and mobile contracts. The latter comes with a minimum contract length and requires users to pay fixed monthly rates. Those with a prepaid plan can switch providers anytime without worrying about heavy fines, and take advantage of the latest offers. Italian mobile phone providers compete to offer the lowest charges for calls and SMS, which benefits the customers. Here are the most popular mobile phone providers in Italy with some of their best offers:
- Vodafone: Unlimited minutes and SMS +unlimited minutes to EU+40 GB at €18.99/month.
- TIM (Telecom Italia Mobile): Unlimited local calls+300 minutes abroad+40GB at €11.99/month
- Wind: Unlimited local minutes + 500 minutes abroad+100GB at €18.99/month
Monthly cost for health insurance
Healthcare in Italy is provided through a public and private structure. The country has a national health plan known as Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN). Although public healthcare is free to people living in Italy, you’ll have to register for the SSN at a small fee of about €145. This fee has to be paid at the post office. Expatriates from EU countries can access SSN services instantly using an EHIC. Non-EU citizens, on the other hand, will have access to free public healthcare once they are legal residents of Italy.
Italy has a great public healthcare system, but waiting times can sometimes be very long; plus, some services are limited. You have the option of paying for private healthcare, which is where private health insurance comes in. This can cost you from €1,000 a year with the exact cost depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions (if any), and the level of cover you want.
If you decide to go the private route, an international health cover is more suitable for the expatriate life than a local health cover. It gives you access to a wider network of private hospitals in Italy and beyond. These policies can cover virtually everything, including the cost of repatriation, up to relatively high levels. They do, however, cost more starting from €3000 a year.
If you are a student, I recommend getting the INA-Assitalia health policy to cater for urgent medical assistance. This cover costs about €98 a year.
Italy supermarket prices
Grocery items are super affordable in Italy and have excellent quality. This includes food and household supplies such as personal products and cleaning materials. It’s even cheaper to buy locally produced items as opposed to the imported ones. Plus, it’s a great way to support locals. The amount of money spent in the supermarket largely depends on an individual’s lifestyle and household size. But on average, expect to spend about €300/month for a single expat. With that being said, here are the average Italy supermarket prices (€) for common household groceries:
|1 litre of regular milk||1.11|
|A dozen of eggs||2.58|
|1kg of local cheese||11.99|
|A loaf of bread (500g)||1.53|
|1kg of boneless chicken breasts||8.13|
|1kg of beef round||14.80|
|Tube of toothpast||1.85|
|4 rolls of toilet paper||2.06|
|A box of 32 tampons||4.39|
|Hair shampoo (400ml)||2.76|
Note that Italian supermarkets require customers to not touch unpackaged foods with their bare hands. You’ll have to wear disposable plastic gloves for health and safety purposes.
Monthly cost for eating out
One of the best parts of living in Italy is getting to enjoy Italian food. Their local cheeses, wine, and pasta are second to none. The cost of dining out will depend on the restaurant you choose and its location. Visiting restaurants in or close to the touristy areas will obviously cost you more. Dining out in big cities will also cost more than in smaller cities. On average, a basic meal in a cheap restaurant will cost €15 per person, while a meal in a fast-food restaurant will cost €8. If you’re looking for a much nicer restaurant, expect a three-course dinner for 2 to cost €60. The country is also full of fine dining avenues, but they do come with a higher price tag.
A trip to the theatres, museums, or galleries is a great way to unwind and socialize with others. A basic ticket to the movies costs €8, whereas 2 premium tickets to the theatre cost €103. Note that a ticket to anything that could be considered a tourist attraction (famous museums and galleries) is bound to be expensive.
Monthly cost of public transport
There are lots of tolls to pay when driving a private vehicle in Italy. This combined with high fuel prices, parking fees, maintenance costs, possible car repayments, and huge traffic, makes travelling by car rather expensive and time-consuming. Luckily, the public transportation system in Italy is good and includes buses, trains, metros, as well as ferry and boat services around the coast.
One-way tickets within a particular city usually cost between €1.20-1.70. Daily commuters can save more by purchasing the monthly travel pass for about €35. Inter-regional trips cost between €9 and €50 Euros, depending on the distance travelled. Students, children, and the elderly often get discounts on public transportation fares, so ask.
Italy also has taxi and car-sharing services. Fares vary from region to region, but expect short journeys to cost between €10 and €15. Taxis charge €1.44 per km, and no more than four people are allowed when sharing a ride.
Italy has good weather and the streets are full of beautiful art, which allows residents to get around by walking. For those planning to stay in a small town, I’d suggest investing in a bike. You can find a used one for €80.
Cost Of Living in Italy Compared To UK
Generally, the cost of living in Italy compared to UK is cheaper. Housing costs 31% less in Italy than in the UK. For instance, a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre costs €608 in Italy versus the €800 in UK. Since this is the largest expense in any household, less rental costs in Italy will definitely bring down the overall living expenses.
Food prices are a bit comparable between the two countries. Some products cost more in Italy, while others cost more in the UK. Generally, fresh produce cost much less in Italy and are often of better quality, while imported items for foreigners like baked beans will be more expensive in Italy than in the UK.
Public transportation is also cheaper in Italy than in the UK. For instance, a one-way ticket costs €1.50 in Italy as opposed to the €2.78 in UK. A monthly travel pass costs about €35 in Italy versus €66.84 in the UK. On the other hand, those who choose to drive will find that buying a car, as well as gasoline costs less in the UK than in Italy.
You’ll also spend less on utilities and childcare, but more on clothing, entertainment, and personal care if you lived in Italy instead of the UK. The good news is UK offers higher salaries, which allows residents a decent life.
Cost Of Living in Italy for Students
Students in Italy will have an opportunity to pursue their degrees in some of the most renowned universities in the world, as well as visit the most famous attractions soaked in history and culture.
As if that’s not enough, the tuition fees are very affordable. Fees differ depending on the level of degree, study program, and the university. That being said, the average tuition fees are between €800 and €1,000 per academic year in a public university. Tuition fees in private universities will obviously be higher from around €6,000-20,000 per academic year. International students can apply for government scholarships to help cover their tuition fees.
Accommodation: Italian universities often have a housing department to help students find cheaper accommodation as opposed to them finding accommodation in the private market. Most students rent a room instead of an entire apartment. Rental prices range from €300-600/month, depending on location and size.
Other monthly expenses you’ll need to budget for as a student include:
- Food – €200
- Transportation – €25-35, depending on the city
- Utilities, phone, and internet bills – €140
- Entertainment – €120
- Learning materials – €45
While the exact cost of living in Italy for students will depend on an individual’s lifestyle and location, expect the overall living expenses to range between €700 and €1,500/month.
Cheapest Place to Retire In Italy
If your retirement dream is life at a slower pace surrounded by arts, cultural events, and vineyards, then Italy is worth considering. Cities like Rome, Florence, Milan, and Venice spring to mind when thinking about relocating to Italy. But they come with a huge price tag to match their status and prestige. Plus, as cities full of tourists, integrating into local life can be harder. If you are looking for the cheapest place to retire in Italy, then consider the following places:
This southern region offers a wide variety of living options, which makes it appealing to different people with different budgets. Buying a house in this region cost 80% and 50% less expensive than buying in Tuscany and Umbria regions respectively. A family of four will spend about €1,435/month to cover monthly expenses, including accommodation, utilities, food, and entertainment.
This region is an agricultural stronghold, which means food is way cheaper and fresher. You can also make some money renting out your property during the busy months of July and August.
This region has something for everyone. From coastal towns like Senigallia, a couple of larger cities like Ascoli Piceno and Ancona, smaller hill towns, decent public transport network, several factory outlets for affordable designer clothing, and much more. All this comes with lower prices and less number of tourists.
How Much Does It Cost To Live In Venice Italy?
Venice is an international city with a small-town vibe. On one hand, it’s a tourist hub, which can make it expensive, congested, and full of kitschy souvenirs at every turn. But under the surface, you can find the affordable world that locals live in. With that being said, how much does it cost to live in Venice Italy?
Well, a single expatriate in Venice will spend about €760/month, while a couple with two kids will spend €2,055/month on monthly expenses. These costs don’t include rent though.
Rent is pretty steep in Venice. The average cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre is €930/month, while renting a 3-bedroom apartment in the same area will cost you €1,895/month. If you choose to buy an apartment in the city centre, expect to pay €5,210/square metre. Of course, you can save by moving to the suburbs. Mortgages are available at 1.96% interest rate per annum.
Everything doesn’t have to be expensive in this city though. Food costs are relatively affordable and you can save more by buying produce from open-air markets and cooking at home. When it comes to eating out, a simple meal in a cheap restaurant costs €13.50 per person, while a combo meal in a fast-food restaurant costs just €8. Public transportation is also efficient and affordable, costing €1.50 for a one-way ticket and €37 for a monthly ticket.
Minimum Salary Italy
Now that you know what to expect in terms of living expenses, it’s time to find out how much Italians earn so you can negotiate for better pay that will allow you a decent life. Italy has no statutory minimum wage; rather it’s left to collective bargaining between the social partners. Several sectors of the economy have set minimum wages that are determined by unions as shown below:
|Sector||Minimum hourly wage (€)||Minimum monthly salary (€)|
Around half of the employees in Italy have their wages set by a collective bargaining agreement. The agreement signing parties are required to comply with the set wages, failure to which the trade union can take the necessary legal action.
It’s important to note that salaries in major cities like Rome and Florence are way above the national average. Even the lowest-paid positions in these cities, tend to have higher salaries than most jobs in small cities. This will allow residents to afford the high cost of living in big cities.