An expat’s guide to cost of living in Italy
When you’re moving to a new country, it’s hard to know what to expect. In this article, we cover useful information for expats about the costs of housing, transportation, and everyday life in Italy.
9 min read
If you’re an expat planning to move to Italy—or if you’ve already arrived—you may be wondering about the cost of living. Once you've gone through all the bureaucratic processes and perhaps even found a job, it's important to understand the cost of living in Italy, i.e., what regular expenses you can expect to have.
It's true that this somewhat depends on your standard of living and the way you’re used to handling money. However, it also largely depends on where you choose to live. So, which are the most expensive cities in Italy, and where is the cost of living the cheapest—or, at least, reasonably affordable? Keep reading to find out.
How much it costs to move to Italy
Let’s go step by step. First, you need to arrive—and how much does that cost? When planning your move, you’ll need to consider the cost of traveling to Italy. Of course, this depends on where you are coming from, namely, whether your trip is intercontinental or a few hundred kilometers away.
The costs of obtaining a visa and permit to stay also depend on the country you come from. It’s a must that you secure these two documents before and after, respectively, your arrival in Italy (we've written a whole article on this topic). However, the laws change depending on whether you’re a citizen of the EU. In any case, the permit to stay costs €30, plus a fee of €30.46 for the now-mandatory electronic permit. The total cost ranges from €80 to €200.
Then, there’s another one-time cost that you'll have to absorb once you've relocated: the cash that it takes to support yourself before finding work in Italy. If you've come to Italy for a job, then there's no problem. But if, for example, you arrive to join your partner or for other reasons, it may take a while to find work (here are the best ways and places to search for a job in Italy).
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How much does it cost to maintain a house in Italy?
Now that you’ve arrived, you’ll have to look for housing. How much it costs to get an apartment or house in Italy depends primarily on its size, but also on its location. We put together extensive information here about how to find rental housing and everything else you need to know. Let’s take a look now at the other cost-of-living expenses.
The cost of electricity and gas
How much, on average, do utility bills cost for an apartment in Italy? Specifically, how much do electricity and gas cost? It’s a good question, and you’ll find that these two are your biggest costs: gas for cooking and heating, and electricity to run all the lighting and appliances in the house. Of course, it depends on how big the apartment is, as well as the number of people living there and their consumption habits. In recent years, the average cost of electricity and gas bills has been €1,200 per year, so €100 per month.
But there’s a caveat here. The current global situation has greatly affected energy costs, which have soared in recent months. The main reason for these increases has been the higher cost of natural gas prices in international markets. In fact, in the last third of 2022, gas and energy prices could triple, reaching up to more than €3,000 a year. Not to mention 2023, when the prices could go sky-high, even exceeding €5,000 per year.
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Another fixed cost you'll want to budget for is condo fees, which are calculated in thousandths and are proportional to the house size in square meters. So, the bigger the apartment, the higher the fees. And that's not the only factor. Shared condo fees are related to the management of common areas, and depending on the type of condo, the costs may vary.
For example, it depends on the amenities in your condo. You might have an elevator, a concierge, or spaces such as a garden and courtyard. Either way, you can count on fees related to cleaning, stair lighting, and maintenance of other common areas, as well as routine maintenance of the roofs, gutters, and septic tanks. Recent stats show an average cost of €100, but there’s a very wide range between €20 up to €200 (and fees for large apartments in luxury condominiums can even go beyond that).
Home internet costs
Nowadays, you can't go without internet at home. Whether you’re online for work or leisure, you'll need a fast and secure connection. So, what are the best WiFi deals? Various sites offer comparisons, because a lot depends on the area you live in and whether it offers fiber, ADSL, or wireless internet. Home internet deals start at about €20 per month, going up to around €25 per month.
The costs of owning a car in Italy
How much does a car cost in Italy? Good that you asked. Quite often, the biggest expense isn’t really the purchase of the car itself. That’s actually a one-time cost (unless you're paying in installments).
On the other hand, fixed and recurring expenses can include insurance, the cost of car property tax, and mandatory inspections. You are obliged to purchase liability insurance (called RCA auto) in case of accidents or damage caused to property or persons in Italy. You can choose the insurance company, and of course each one offers different costs and solutions. The price is determined by a few factors, like how long you've had your license for, how old you are, whether you've had accidents in the past, and most importantly, the region you live in. Some regions are higher-risk than others, and it’s a wide range: in Campania, the average cost is €1,000 per year, while it’s only €200 in Friuli.
Another compulsory expense you'll face is the car property tax: This is a real tax, which is calculated according to the horsepower of the car. We’re talking about €150-200 per year on average.
Then there’s maintenance, servicing, and overhaul costs. Maintenance costs can vary a lot. It mainly depends on how much you use your car (and thus wear it out), as well as how careful you are with it. Many automakers offer what is called a "tagliando," which is a periodic general servicing of the car. And there's yet another legally required expense: the inspection, which every car must have after the first four years that it’s on the road, and every two years thereafter. The inspection can be done directly at the DMV and costs €45, but the procedure is long and complex. Or, you can use authorized intermediaries—and then the cost can go up to €79 adding mandatory fees, IVA, duties, and commissions.
The price of gas in Italy
The biggest car-related expense you'll face, however, is fuel. The price of gasoline in Italy rose sharply in 2022, as it did around the world due to the war in Ukraine. It even broke the ceiling of €2 per liter. For a long time, it had hovered around €1.60 (with the price of diesel fuel for diesel cars sitting slightly lower at around €1.40). For now, prices are not expected to decrease due to the energy crisis.
Costs of charging electric cars
If you've bought or leased an electric car, the charging cost depends on the type of power. Companies offer rates ranging from €0.40 to €0.45/kW for low-power recharges (up to 11 kW) and from €0.50 to €0.60/kW for 22 kW recharges, up to €0.79/kW for high-power recharges.
Public transportation costs
Buses, subways, and streetcars offer vital ways of getting around cities, although the quality can vary greatly depending on the location. So do the costs of public transportation in Italy, which have undergone various increases in recent years but are still lower than the European average.
A one-way ticket costs an average of €1.30, with peak prices of up to €1.70. The average cost of a multi-transport ticket—which you can use on multiple types of transport within a fixed time-period (usually 60 or 90 minutes)—is similar, around €2.50. A day pass, available in most tourist cities, costs around €4. According to a UIL (Italian Work Union) survey, an average monthly pass comes to less than €35, but in Perugia it costs €55 and in Genoa €50. An annual pass, on the other hand, costs an average of €300, with the most expensive being Catanzaro at €492.
Healthcare in Italy
One thing you'll definitely need in Italy is health insurance, which should cover all cases and eventualities. Note, however, that there is a double track for foreigners in Italy: There is the option to take out private insurance, or to enroll (in certain cases) in the National Health Service. Public insurance offers many services free of charge, and plenty of others with a co-payment so that you pay a more affordable end-price.
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The most expensive cities in Italy
What’s the general cost of living in Italy, though? You also need to consider all the necessary or extraneous goods that you will (inevitably) buy. Keep in mind, however, that even if items are low priced, they can really add up and will affect your budget. And even though Italy is a rather small country, geographic location matters—there’s a big difference between the most expensive cities in Italy and the most affordable ones.
Research by Codacons based on data from the Ministry of Development has put together a data-based ranking of the most expensive Italian cities. It’s no surprise that the most expensive city in Italy for grocery shopping is Milan, where you need an average of €116 per week. It’s followed by Aosta at €109.91, Genoa at €107.91, Trieste €107.29, and Bologna €105. Also crossing that €100 threshold is Florence with €104.70, Trento with €104.68, and Turin and Rome with €103.96 and €101.92, respectively. As you might have realized already, the cost of life in the north is higher on average.
Naples, Palermo, and Catanzaro, on the other hand, are the cheapest cities in Italy, according to the same research: on average, you just need €75.16, €86.97, and €79.33, respectively, to do your weekly grocery shopping. So, the lowest cost of living is in southern Italy—although there are also fewer jobs there and the quality of life is lower on average.
Looking at services, there’s another wide gap. For example, a men's haircut ranges from a minimum of €14 in Catanzaro to a maximum of €26.30 in Trieste.
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You’ve just read an article that was compiled with the highest level of accuracy based on official sources, laws, and institutional sites. Despite this, however, it is not featured on an official government site. Given that regulations can change from one moment to the next, we encourage you to consult the relevant government sites before deciding to take tangible action.
Is it expensive to live in Italy?
The cost of living in Italy depends on the city or region. Large cities like Rome, Milan, and Venice have a higher living cost than smaller towns and rural areas. In city centers, expenses can also be higher than in the outskirts. While Italy can be expensive in certain ways, budgeting and lifestyle choices can make it more affordable.
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