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Art, Travel & Life in Italy & Europe

The Cost of Living in Italy: my Annual Budget

The cost of living in Italy

If you’re planning on moving to Italy or studying here for any length of time, you’re probably preparing a budget and evaluating what your costs will be. I’ve been living in Florence, Italy on and off since 1999, and believe it or not, ever since my husband and I set up a house, we’ve been keeping track of all our expenses on an excel file! This has produced a lot of interesting data about the cost of living in Italy, which I’ve been meaning to share with you for some time – so here it is! Consider that this is my personal, annual budget and not a wider study (and I’m not an expert in economics), but I hope it can be helpful for anyone trying to figure out their expenses.

The cost of living in Italy 2010-2016

We have been keeping track of our expenses since 2004, but I’m going to look at the cost since 2010, when we moved into our current home, which we purchased. So we have 6 years of data to show average costs of food and utilities (phone and internet, gas, water, electricity, condo fees, the obligatory RAI tv tax, garbage tax).

The costs I’m indicating here are for an adult couple living in a 100 square meter apartment in a residential area of Florence. Our calculated expenses include insurance for the house, and for one small car and a Vespa. They do not include gas for the vehicles, vacations, personal expenses such as gym, cell phone and clothing, and extras such as eating out. Also excluded are additional house or car maintenance.

  • Food expenses: we spend €270 per month on groceries (that’s just over €3000 per year). That’s the cost of buying food and household supplies (cleaning materials, personal products) at a supermarket in a residential area, for an adult couple. We don’t eat much meat or packaged foods, which bring costs up – fresh vegetables are really inexpensive and I buy a lot of them! I bring my lunch to work, while my husband has a company-funded cafeteria, so I suppose that we’re saving a bit on his lunches.
  • Utilities: We spend about €7000 per year for utilities, which is a huge part of our family budget. That’s considering a good sized apartment, with condominium-controlled heating (they decide when to turn it on – luckily, the place heats up nicely). Electricity is the one cost I’ve noticed go up a lot in the past 2 years – we used to spend €120 per year and now it’s over €400. I don’t know if that’s because I’ve become more generous with the a/c unit and the washing machine of late… Most electric contracts have the option to activate a lower price on nights (after 8pm) and weekends, which I always take advantage of. Our condo costs have also gone up lately since that includes the (gas) heating; there’s been about a 25% increase in cost over the past 5 years.

The cost of living in Florence: average rent

My personal budget is based on home ownership. Buying a house in Italy’s major cities isn’t cheap, and with salaries being very low, it’s difficult for a young couple to buy a house. It’s quite frequent to hear of couples moving in with grandparents or inheriting an apartment from nonna. While the market has come down somewhat in recent years, the asking price of most urban apartments has remained high, as those not desperate to sell refuse to lower offers.

Rent seems to have remained rather consistent over the years. The average cost to rent an apartment in Florence is €13,22 per month per square meter according to, whose 24 month trend shows a steady but slow increase, and up to €18 per month per square meter downtown. But how does that translate into reality?

Prices vary widely based on condition of the apartment, location, presence or not of furniture (including kitchen, bathrooms and lighting!), and especially on length of contract. The “4+4” contract usually used for Italians moving rather permanently in to a non furnished apartment is much less costly than the annual, furnished or partially furnished contract given to foreigners. Either way, it’s possible to get a small and practical one bedroom for €850 downtown, and a very nice one for €1200. The same €1000-1300 will get you a large unfurnished family home for rent in the Campo di Marte area. Student rooms and small studio apartments can be had for less (a room in a shared apartment goes for 350-500 euros).

The cost of living in Italy: additional expenses

You might wonder what some other things cost that are not included in my list. Here are a few considerations:

  • A tank of diesel for a small car (we have an 8 year old VW Golf) is about €80 (we go about 1000km on that). Diesel usually goes for about €1.35 per litre. Gas costs slightly more.
  • Other transportation. I have an annual bus pass with the much-despised public transportation company, that runs me €310 per year but then I never have to worry about validating it. The monthly pass costs €35 and there are discounts for students and seniors. Fun tip: if you’ve got a Coop membership card, buy your ATAF passes and tickets at the coop and you get points for it (plus you can use a credit or debit card!).
  • Gym membership at Italy’s largest chain gym, Virgin Active, costs €85 per month. But there are lots of smaller community type gyms where you can be a member for €40 or €50 per month, long term. Usually you can get a discount by paying up front for a year or more. Yoga studios have pay as you go as well as all you can attend type options. Single classes usually range from 10-15 euros. Tennis courts cost around 15-20 euros per hour. There are also community center classes and teams for all sorts of sports at very low prices.
  • Eating out. We usually get take-out pizza once every 2 weeks, spending €5 each for a margherita and eating it at home. Dinner out can add up quite a bit more – the average cost of pizza, beer and coperto in Florence or Rome is about €20-25! Lately we’ve observed that pretty much anywhere GOOD that you eat, primi (pasta dishes for the most part) cost €10-15, secondi 18-35. Eating out at a fancy restaurant with 2 glasses of wine might be €50-60 per person; I’ve rarely encountered the need to spend more than that except on a Michelin-starred tasting menu.
  • Cell phones. We have a land line and internet in the house, but of course we both have smartphones with internet. There are some very good deals to be had for smartphone service in Italy, I think it is one of the most competitive markets in Europe. If you purchase your own phone, you can get almost unlimited calls, messages and internet for about €12 per month. If you need a phone included in a plan, it’s a long term (30 months usually) commitment requiring an Italian credit card, bank account and proof of employment, but then it costs about €45 per month with the latest iphone and tons of traffic.
  • Healthcare is free to working residents of Italy (declared, residents with permit of stay for work, registered at the local health office – the ability to register depends these factors). While the public service is excellent, it is possible to get additional private health insurance which allows you go to go private hospitals and specialists with co-payment. The SSN (national heath service) includes most prescription medicine, with a small co-payment based on your declared salary (we’re looking at €2 per prescription). Allergy meds, antibiotics, etc are included in this plan. As far as I know, the birth control pill is not included, and the cost depends on how new your brand is, but might average around €20 per month. Oddly, ibuprofen is something I’ve found to be much more expensive here – almost a euro per pill, so it’s one of the things I buy in the bottle of 200 when I go to the UK or USA!
  • Home Insurance. Homeowners insurance varies but may cost around €500 per year for an apartment. Renters insurance is not obligatory, but is a good idea to get.

So that sums up my personal budget and what I know about the cost of living in Italy – what’s your experience? Have you found things that cost a lot more or less here than where you’re from?

Italy Roundtable

Other tips on the theme of MOVING have been published this month by my colleagues in the Italy Blogging Roundtable:

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By: arttrav

Alexandra Korey aka ArtTrav is a Florence-based art historian and arts marketing consultant.

  • georgette

    Great post Alex!!!! I pay way more for my cell phone each month, my last bill was something like 100€ a month, how can I get on this 12€ considering I own my own iPhone? You have to help me! Obviously there is an issue considering I’m home most of the time using WiFi here so I would advise people to check your bill as “surprises” crop up quite frequently for me and cara vodafone..

  • Bonnie Marie

    We have kept the same expense report for the past 20 years – my husband’s an accountant and VERY meticulous. The only area we differ in is utilities, we pay about €3,500 a year but we own a townhouse and have no condominium fees. And we EAT waaaay more than you two do! Our food bill is around €450 per month (just the two of us) but we like good wine and we make everything at home: bread, jam, etc. Plus we entertain a lot, so I guess on average we’re feeding more people with that amount.

  • arttrav

    Interesting comparisons, Bonnie. I think we really are pretty frugal on the food shopping, not for lack of buying good things… we don’t entertain much and we are often out for events. Actually I didn’t factor in wine costs in the food shopping, because that’s a separate bill from the supermarkets. Probably a few hundred euros go straight to a few wineries – we like to buy direct from them.

    Our condo fees are actually mostly for heating, so I am amazed that your utilities are so much lower!! What am I doing wrong?

  • arttrav

    Hi Georgette,
    The cheapest traffic-only packages we’ve seen are with Wind, but then again you know the market changes all the time… You probably use more internet on your phone than the average bear, but €100 is way too much here! My phone is included in my plan with 4G and unlimited calls and sms’s (though who uses sms’s?!) for under €50 per month, and the unlimited internet AND international calls was only about 10 euros per month more than that. Phone included! Oh and including that wifi internet dongle thing too. Tommy pays 12 for more than he can use, with Wind – it was a special offer for home landline/internet customers, as an add-on to the phone bill. Methinks it’s time to shop around for better phone service!

  • Bonnie Marie

    For sure centralized heating running on petrol is your culprit. I probably spend much more on gasoline than you because I live out in the Chianti vineyards. We probably pay the same for wine, my suppliers are my neighbors :P

  • arttrav

    I don’t know about that – the heating costs are a few hundred a month in the winter, running on gas (which I don’t think is the same thing as petrol but I don’t know in the UK??) and it’s way cheaper than when we had a similar sized apartment on termosingolo. I find that centralized heat means you don’t have to be stingy about turning the heat on, whereas when I had control over it, I just froze all the time! Yet it’s hotter, and cheaper, using more of it but for the whole building.

  • Katy Thomas

    That is a crazy high cell phone bill in Italy. I have wind for 12 euros a month, but friends lately have been getting even cheaper deals with 3. Check it out.

  • georgette

    Me thinks you are right. I will be heading to Vodafone today. So pissed..

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  • Jenna Francisco

    Hmm! I found this very interesting, first because it’s fun to be nosy and know how much people spend on stuff (hee hee) but also because I would have expected the cost of living to be higher. It seems like we pay quite a bit more for most of these things you’ve listed here in California. For example, we have to pay almost $150/month just for garbage, water and sewer service, and I have to pay $600 a year for flood insurance. Ugh.
    This post makes me think that I need to find some ways to lower our expenses. That cell service you mention is quite a deal!

  • arttrav

    Hi Jenna,
    Yeah, we pay about 150 euros per year for garbage service, but consider it’s not door to door put pickup at those big bins you see around. And in Italy we don’t have very high property tax (like 400 euros a year, in the years they decide to charge it). Food costs less. But we earn €1000 per month, so otherwise… :DD!!

  • Jenna Francisco

    Wow, we pay about $4300 per year in property taxes. We are fortunate that in the U.S. we have excellent healthcare and dental care for the whole family paid for by our work. And yes, we earn quite a bit more to pay for the high cost of living here in Calif. xo

  • arttrav

    There’s no question, every country has its advantages and disadvantages. I am a big fan of state healthcare. Here in Italy the costs are crippling and the country will probably go bankrupt next week but all healthcare is paid for and drugs too, including expensive ones for pre-existing conditions (a concept that doesn’t exist, because you’re simply covered, no matter what).

  • Jenna Francisco

    I just edited my comment above because I realized my sentence about healthcare read incorrectly and sounded like I meant that we Americans are fortunate to have excellent healthcare paid for by work. Of course that’s unfortunately not the case at all. I meant that we (my family) are fortunate to have good health/dental care paid for by our work, and I say fortunate because so many have to pay a ton for it, or don’t have decent coverage, or have no coverage at all. I completely agree about state healthcare since every country has the responsibility to protect and care for its citizens.

  • رجائى محمود


    Could you help to know how the live costing in Italy? and what should the minimum salary there?
    what much does the rend cost for a flat 50 M Sq in Gallarate?

  • arttrav

    I do not know the legal minimum wage, and do not know where gallarate is. There are housing estimates provided on the website
    I have provided what my personal knowledge is on this matter. Alexandra

  • Lions Fan

    Hi there,

    Thanks so much for your article.

    We are going to immigrate to Italy in about 2½ years (kid needs to finish school first). We are in South Africa so it will be a big adjustment and always good to hear from people sharing their experiences.

    Thank again

  • arttrav

    Thank you! I’m glad it could be helpful, best of luck with your plans.

  • Louise olives

    I just read your art blog on the Siena duomo and then came across your article on budget expenses. I have lived in Italy(Sansepolcro near Arezzo) for 27years ..(originally from London)
    re eating out in Florence why dont you try groupon deals. I have used it many times in the city and you get some fabulous meals so cheaply.
    Check it out you won’t regret it ! You can also use it for beauty deals and other stuff.

  • arttrav

    Hi Louise, thanks for commenting! Did Groupon pay you to post this? Personally, I’m signed up but have rarely found anything of value on there. It’s restaurants I’d never go to, and the one time I tried a “spa” it was really low-end and unsatisfactory :(
    I also have read really bad things about the way they force businesses into offering deals they cannot afford, and in many cases they hence fail. This is old old news: For this reason, I’m ethically against using it because I believe the flash-sales model is not good for businesses and ultimately leads to failure not only of them but of a value-based economy, in the same way as H&M and other fast fashion are evil, bad for the economy and for the environment. These things create expectations from people who will always say “I can get it cheaper” and so not value the little guy, the small artisans and people who really do quality and believe in it.
    Just my 2 cents’ worth.

  • Facebook User

    Ok , so we(wife and 2 kids under 10) were /are considering moving to tuscuny/emilia romagna. If we were to buy a house (3 bedrooms) and we love to eat (but enjoy the market) (love to drink, but where we are now cost way more for booze (canada), between property tax, bills, insurance (home and car), and feeding everyone daily. What do you think we would need to safely budget monthly.

  • arttrav

    Hi There
    Honestly, I don’t know what your specific budget would be. We don’t eat much meat or fish, so with just vegetables and wine bought from producers, this article details what we spend. Property taxes vary based on home value, location, and your residency status. Utilities vary based on the size of your home, its weatherproofing, location, exposure, as well as residency status. Car costs depend on the car, obviously. Insurance I can say isn’t particularly high compared to what I know of Canadian rates. All I can offer is my budget, which I’ve published here. It’s for a city-living semi vegetarian couple, so triple it and you’ll probably be fine?
    Best regards

  • Facebook User

    Oh your from T.O….youève been there for 15 years or so? let me know if you and your other come back here at all and we”ll have you over for dinner and pick your brain.

  • arttrav

    hi! yes I am from Toronto! I have been in Italy since 1999. Last time I returned to Toronto was over 7 years ago – my parents are retired so they tend to come visit me, and the few friends I kept from the earlier schooling days have also all left town… Let me know if and what you decide when you move here! Alexandra