Cost of living in Italy: Your guide

Zorica Lončar
20.12.21
5 minute read

There’s truly something for everyone in Italy. You might want to live in the cultural heart of Rome, the fashion and finance centre of Milan, or off the beaten track entirely. With fantastic cuisine, a mellow climate and reasonable costs of living, there’s plenty to recommend wherever you end up.

If you’re retiring, temporarily relocating or moving to Italy for good, it’s helpful to have a picture of what life there will cost as an expat. Here’s a quick guide.

How expensive is Italy in comparison to the UK, the EU, the USA and Australia?

The official currency in Italy is the Euro - EUR or € on currency exchanges.

You can find out the exact value of your money in EUR, using an online currency converter - but here’s a rough guide to what it is at the moment:¹

  • $1000 = €861
  • £1000 = €1179
  • A$1000 = €642
Comparing basic cost of livingOne bedroom flat in city centre - monthly rentLunch for two - Three courses, mid-range restaurantTransportation - monthly pass
Rome, Italy²€967€60€35
Milan, Italy³€1,121€70€39
London, UK⁴€1,983€71€188
New York City, USA⁵€2,652€86€112
Sydney, Australia⁶€1,717€64€140

One major factor that adds expense for expats in Italy is the cost of converting cash to euros from your home currency. Even if your bank says it offers fee-free money exchange, you can be sure that its cut is rolled up in the exchange rate it uses.

To get the best deal, you should use an exchange service such as Wise, which gives you the real, mid-market exchange rate - the same rate you find on Google. You can also open a Wise multi-currency account. With a quick service, and low transparent fees to transfer your money, this can be a much better deal than relying on your bank.

Join Wise and start saving today

What are the most expensive and cheapest major cities?

If you want to live in a big city, large living expenses come with the package. In Italy, just like anywhere else, your lifestyle is what determines how much you spend. However, it’s good to know which of those big cities are more affordable and which are the most high-end.

The biggest cities in Italy are Rome, Milan, Naples, Turin and Palermo. They are followed by Genoa, Bologna, Florence, Bari and Catania.⁷ Although it’s not the largest Italian city, Milan is the priciest.⁸ Your top expense will be the rent, since this is what people of Milan spend over 40% of their income on.⁹ Right behind it is the Italian capital, Rome, followed by Florence.⁸

When it comes to the cheapest major cities, Palermo, Turin and Naples are the top three.⁸ For comparison, the rent prices in Milan are almost 200% steeper than those in Palermo. There’s also a 30% difference when it comes to grocery costs.¹⁰

What are the general living expenses for Italy? How much can you get by on?

Let’s get down to actual numbers and how much you need to live. That depends on many factors and one of them is your location. The cost of living in Naples won’t be the same as the total living expenses in Rome.

Although it’s Italy’s second city, as the financial centre of the country, Milan is more pricey than the capital, Rome. If you’re on a fixed income though, you can still get by on relatively little. Here’s an overview:

Living expenses in Milan excluding rent³Average cost
Single person, per month€836
Single person, per year€10,032
Four person family, per month€2,981
Four person family, per year€35,772
Living expenses in Rome excluding rent²Average cost
Single person, per month€827
Single person, per year€9,924
Four person family, per month€2,905
Four person family, per year€34,860
Living expenses in Naples excluding rent¹¹Average cost
Single person, per month€727
Single person, per year€8,724
Four person family, per month€2,535
Four person family, per year€30,420
Living expenses in Florence excluding rent¹²Average cost
Single person, per month€798
Single person, per year€9,576
Four person family, per month€2,863
Four person family, per year€34,356

What are the average salaries for Italy?

Average wages in Italy are relatively low compared to some other European countries.¹³ For the best paid jobs you’ll need to head to Rome or Milan, but it’s perfectly possible to live well in Italy for an average wage.

Salary averages for Rome¹⁴Average annual salary
Cashier€13,673
Copywriter€16,529
Financial analyst€37,930
Graphic designer€15,233
Mobile developer€18,757
Product manager€33,543
Receptionist€13,152
Software engineer€25,422
Teacher€16,147
Web developer€21,565
Salary averages for Milan¹⁵Average annual salary
Cashier€16,987
Copywriter€20,221
Financial analyst€31,454
Graphic designer€18,518
Mobile developer€17,621
Product manager€32,097
Receptionist€13,785
Software engineer€25,185
Teacher€16,294
Web developer€23,090
Salary averages for Naples¹⁶Average annual salary
Cashier€10,358
Copywriter€13,188
Financial analyst€26,520
Graphic designer€11,798
Mobile developer€14,210
Product manager€21,678
Receptionist€14,164
Software engineer€20,195
Teacher€11,303
Web developer€16,337
Salary averages for Florence¹⁷Average annual salary
Cashier€13,534
Copywriter€17,936
Financial analyst€33,613
Graphic designer€13,889
Mobile developer€14,210
Product manager€26,603
Receptionist€12,141
Software engineer€26,135
Teacher€17,615
Web developer€22,219

How expensive is housing and accommodation in Italy?

The amount you pay in rent is a big driver of your overall cost of living. Renting in Milan or Rome is fairly costly, but by choosing a place that’s outside of the city centre you can get a lot more for your money. Alternatively, if you choose to buy a house in Italy this could bring down your day to day costs.

Renting in Rome²Average monthly cost
One bedroom apartment, city centre€967
One bedroom apartment, outside of city centre€680
Three bedroom apartment, city centre€2,045
Three bedroom apartment, outside of city centre)€1,225
Internet€30
Utilities - gas, electric and water for a 85m2 apartment€195
Renting in Milan³Average monthly cost
One bedroom apartment, city centre€1,121
One bedroom apartment, outside of city centre€775
Three bedroom apartment, city centre€2,486
Three bedroom apartment, outside of city centre)€1,545
Internet€28
Utilities - gas, electric and water for a 85m2 apartment€166
Renting in Naples¹⁶Average monthly cost
One bedroom apartment, city centre€626
One bedroom apartment, outside of city centre€411
Three bedroom apartment, city centre€1,080
Three bedroom apartment, outside of city centre)€719
Internet€30
Utilities - gas, electric and water for a 85m2 apartment€177
Renting in Florence¹⁷Average monthly cost
One bedroom apartment, city centre€753
One bedroom apartment, outside of city centre€599
Three bedroom apartment, city centre€1,485
Three bedroom apartment, outside of city centre)€1,019
Internet€31
Utilities - gas, electric and water for a 85m2 apartment€137

What about healthcare and dental costs in Italy?

Italy has a health system which is often rated as one of the best in the world.¹⁸ Care is usually free at the point of need, and residents can either use the public system or turn to private facilities if they prefer. The public system also completely covers legal foreign residents.¹⁹

Primary care, screenings and inpatient care are in most cases free. What you need to partially pay for are visits to specialists and certain drugs. Those from low income households, along with pregnant women and some other categories, receive these things for free.¹⁹

Having private health insurance can mean you get access to services quicker than through the public system. There are two types of private insurance, one that’s individual and other that’s corporate. Corporate insurance sometimes covers the employee’s family as well.¹⁹

Here are some average healthcare costs:

Healthcare service⁸Average cost to you
Short visit to private doctor (15 minutes)€76
Cold medicine for 6 days€7
Antibiotic prescription€7

How much is travel and transportation in Italy?

Travelling by car in the cities in Italy is often fairly slow, making public transportation a smart choice. If you choose to commute by bus or train, it’s good to know that costs are low and the network is generally pretty strong.²⁰

Transportation and vehicle prices for Italy²¹Average cost
Gasoline, 1 litre / 0.25 gallon€1.53
Monthly bus/transport pass€35
Bus ticket, single use€1.50
Taxi 1km (normal tariff)€1.20
Toyota Corolla, new€24,078
VW Golf, new€23,000

How much does education cost?

Italy has world-class universities and good schools. There are both public and private universities, with the University of Bologna being the most popular university in Italy. However, studying at university level is usually more expensive if you’re from outside the EU.

Something you should also consider are living expenses in Italy for international students. Those entirely depend on your spending habits, so make sure you add them to the cost.

SchoolAverage cost
Preschool / kindergarten, monthly fee²²Fees are based on the family’s income, and are between €170 and €440
International school, annual²²€4,000-€12,000 (plus admission fees €300-€500)
University tuition, University of Bologna²³Fees are based on the financial status of the student, and can reach €5,916 a year
University tuition, University of Pisa²⁴€2,400, with a possibility of reduction based on economic condition

Italy has so much to offer, it’s hard to really get a sense of it all in just a vacation or two. It’s no surprise that plenty of expats have made the leap, and moved to Italy for the long term in search of a great life. Whatever you’re looking for, Italy is a fantastic destination for a permanent move or just to spend a year or two exploring somewhere new.

Good luck with your new life in Italy!

Sources:

  1. Wise - currency converter
  2. Numbeo - cost of living in Rome
  3. Numbeo - cost of living in Milan
  4. Numbeo - cost of living in London
  5. Numbeo - cost of living in New York City
  6. Numbeo - cost of living in Sydney
  7. Statista - leading 20 largest cities in Italy
  8. Expatistan - cost of living in Italy
  9. Idealista.it - The big cities in Southern Europe that require the most effort to rent. Milan at the top
  10. Numbeo - cost of living comparison between Palermo and Milan
  11. Numbeo - cost of living in Naples
  12. Numbeo - cost of living in Florence
  13. OECD - average wages
  14. Teleport - salaries in Rome
  15. Teleport - salaries in Milan
  16. Teleport - salaries in Naples
  17. Teleport - salaries in Florence
  18. William Russel - Which Countries Have the Best Healthcare in the World?
  19. Commonwealth Fund - Italy
  20. Lonely Planet - Getting around in Italy
  21. Numbeo - cost of living in Italy
  22. Internations - Education in Italy
  23. University of Bologna - fees
  24. University of Pisa - fees and grants

*All sources checked on November 4, 2021


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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