Cost of Living in Italy

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cost of living in italyThe cost of living in Italy can fluctuate greatly depending on whether expats live in the north or south. The northern part of the country tends to be much wealthier than its southern counterpart, and thus prices in the big cities like Milan and Rome are considerably higher than those in the rural areas.

When budgeting, expats should bear in mind that Italy consistently appears toward the top of cost of living indexes in the EU. In 2016, Mercer's Cost of Living Survey found that Milan was the 50th most expensive city in the world, while Rome was 58th. Other global cities with similar rankings included Dublin (Ireland), Vienna (Austria) and Riyadh (Saudi Arabia).

Cost of accommodation in Italy

Around 25 percent of an average Italian’s family budget will be spent on accommodation. Depending on where one lives in Italy, property prices and rentals will vary considerably. To rent an apartment in Milan might cost double what the same apartment would cost in Naples. Even more shockingly, a small apartment in Rome can cost up to three times what one would pay in a rural area for an apartment of the same size.

Increasingly, there has been a demand for retirement and second homes from both Italians and foreigners, as there are still many rural properties offering good value for money. The cost of living in these more remote parts is much lower than it is in the city centres, and one can in fact live quite frugally here compared to other parts of Europe.

Cost of transportation in Italy

The cost of private transport can be incredibly high. Italy has one of the world's highest prices per litre of fuel and buying a car is expensive – as is insurance, which is also notoriously slow in paying out claims.

Public transport, on the other hand, is much more affordable. Buses and subways are reasonably priced. For regional travel, expats who can spare a little extra time should definitely avoid Eurostar trains as they can be double or even triple the price of the slower above-ground trains.

Cost of schooling in Italy

If parents choose to send their children to public school in Italy, their costs will be very limited. Like local children, expat children can attend public school for free up until the end of primary school. Thereafter a small fee must be paid at the start of each year, and extras such as textbooks will need to be purchased.

However, if expats will be sending their children to a private or international school, they should expect sky-high costs – particularly at international schools. If at all possible, expats should try to negotiate an education allowance as part of their relocation package to cover these costs.

Cost of food and clothing in Italy

Buying local and in-season produce is a sure way to save a few euros, while indulging in nostalgia and purchasing imported products from home will up the grocery bill very quickly.

While Italy is famous for its stylish designer clothing, it's not necessary to spend a huge amount of money to be well-dressed. Locally made clothing from chain outlets will be much cheaper than the designer goods that Italy is famous for.

However, factory outlets, which are plentiful in Florence in particular, do sell designer clothing at slightly discounted prices, and the end-of-season sales in January and July are a good time to do a bit of bargain hunting.

Cost of eating out and entertainment in Italy

The cost of eating out largely depends on the kind of restaurant and its location. Restaurants in touristy areas or close to tourist attractions will invariably be pricier than other, less conveniently located restaurants. The cost also depends largely on the number of courses ordered as well as whether the dishes require expensive or imported ingredients.

As for drinks, water or wine will be much cheaper than, for example, ordering a Coca-Cola or beer.

One slightly unusual tip, which does actually work, is to drink coffee like an Italian – standing up at the espresso bar area in cafés. As soon as one sits down, the price of a cup of coffee will double or even triple, so avoid this if at all possible.

Tickets to the theatre are not usually cheap and entry to anything that could be considered a tourist attraction (for example, famous museums and galleries) is sure to be expensive.

Cost of living in Italy chart

Note that prices may vary depending on location and service provider and the table below is based on average prices in Milan for October 2016.


Furnished two-bedroom house EUR 1,400
Unfurnished two-bedroom house EUR 1,100
Furnished two-bedroom apartment EUR 1,000
Unfurnished two-bedroom apartment EUR 800


Dozen eggs EUR 3
Milk (1 litre) EUR1.30
Rice (1 kg) EUR 2.35
Loaf of white bread EUR 1.80
Chicken breasts (1kg) EUR 8.50
Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro) EUR 5.20

Eating out

Big Mac meal EUR 8
Coca Cola (500ml) EUR 2
Cappuccino  EUR 1.50
Bottle of beer (local) EUR 3
Three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant EUR 30


Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile) EUR 0.20
Internet (Uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)  EUR 30
Basic utilities (includes electricity, water, refuse) EUR 130


Taxi rate/km EUR 1.50
Bus fare in the city centre  EUR 1.50
Petrol/Gasoline EUR 1.50

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