Despite the fact that Italy is one of the highly developed Western European countries, living there is not comparable in terms of prices to the UK or Switzerland.

At the same time, the cost of living in Italy varies quite a lot according to territorial principle: the expensive north, bordering Switzerland, Austria and France, where the cost of living is much higher.

The slightly cheaper northeast, which shares a border with Slovenia; the central part of the country is quite acceptable for permanent residence of the middle class; and the south, including the island of Sicily, where both incomes and prices are much lower than at the opposite end. It is no coincidence that recently there has been more and more talk about the division of Italy along geographical and economic lines.

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Cost of living in Italy: housing and utilities

If a foreigner does not own a residential property, does not live in it permanently with a residence permit, and does not rent it out, then the lion’s share of his expenses will go to renting an apartment or house.

This amount directly depends on the city and type of housing. At the same time, one should not take into account such resort cities as Forte dei Marmi, Portofino and others, where the cost of living in Italy in 2019 – already unaffordable for the vast majority of citizens and visitors – goes beyond reasonable limits, and is not going to stop at the achieved level.

If you don’t have your own housing and don’t expect it in the near future, you can only look for rented housing, which, based on the price/quality ratio, is a difficult but completely solvable task. It is believed that an adequate price for a studio or one-bedroom apartment varies between 400-650 euros, if we are talking about the city center and fairly modest decoration. If you drive about half an hour from the center (with the developed transport system in many cities, the journey will not be difficult), then you will need to pay 300-400 euros per month for similar apartments.

The following utility bills (per month) should be added to the above amounts:

  • maintenance of the house and surrounding area 70-100
  • electricity fee (based on 3 people/month) 70
  • gas (winter/summer) 800-1200/25

By the way, a family of three pays on average from 750 to 1,400 euros per month for a two-bedroom apartment, and at a distance from the center, prices fall by almost one and a half times: from 550 to 900 euros per month. As for such high utility costs, they are largely explained by the Italians’ habit of not saving on this item of the family budget.

  • You can learn more about utilities in Italy and the costs of maintaining real estate here.

Cost of living in Italy: food


As in all areas of the country, the cost of food per month in Italy depends entirely on location. The country is able to fully provide itself with its own products, but growing grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits costs different amounts in different regions. Of course, buying food in rural areas costs mere pennies, but a trip to urban supermarkets can seriously empty the pockets of buyers.

The cost of living in Italy in 2019 regarding food remained almost the same and averages 200-300 euros per month per person, depending on the city, region and supermarket. The presence of a food market in the immediate vicinity, which is often combined with clothing markets, significantly affects this amount downward. And, of course, in the small towns of the Apennine Peninsula – such as Aquila, Aina, Parma, Tricase, Crotone, Pordenone and Candela, the cost of living in Italy is much lower than in popular tourist centers.

All these cities win in at least five positions: the cost of rental housing, utility bills (electricity, water, gas), market prices (food and clothing), travel on public transport (the national average monthly pass costs 37 euros). Also, do not forget about medical services and medications, the cost of other consumer goods, as well as free time.

Cost of living in Italy: best cities


According to a study conducted since 1990 by the Italian consulting company Il Sole 24 Ore (24 Hour Sun), in terms of cost of living in Italy, taking into account all the main factors, the top ten best cities in 2019 were:

  1. Milan (a city with an emphasis not only on fashion, but also on industry, which makes it easier for even a foreigner to find work here; a well-developed transport network that allows you to quickly get to almost all points of the city).
  2. Bolzano (one of the richest cities in the country due to its proximity to the border with Austria and Switzerland, to which it is not inferior in cleanliness, infrastructure and organization).
  3. Aosta (a calm and quiet city with a population of only 35 thousand inhabitants, but at the same time very developed and at the same time cheap in almost all respects).
  4. Belluno (located 100 kilometers from Venice, Belluno was recognized as the most comfortable city for living in Italy – not least due to the friendly attitude of local residents towards visitors).
  5. Trento (this city is in many ways reminiscent of Bolzano, since at one time it was under Austrian rule; now most of its almost 120 thousand inhabitants are employed in industry and agriculture).
  6. Bologna (considered a university city – 25% of its permanent residents are students; therefore, the cost of living in Bologna is significantly lower than in other large cities, which, among other things, is facilitated by an extensive public transport network and numerous discounts for students).
  7. Naples (the largest city in southern Italy with a population of more than 1 million people lives mainly due to tourism, since the historical center is under the patronage of UNESCO; if it were not for the rather high crime rate, Naples/Napoli would be much more in demand among foreign real estate buyers ).
  8. Rome (the capital of Italy is not only the Colosseum, museums and football, but also, as almost always happens in such cases, a high chance of employment, as well as studying at universities, working in financial centers and international companies).

Read our article about the cost of real estate in Rome.

  1. Florence (the capital of Tuscany attracts primarily with its mild climate, as well as a large number of attractions; the standard of living here is undoubtedly high, but the presence of a highly developed infrastructure fully justifies the inflated prices).
  2. Turin (the country’s first capital is among those that have the widest choice of jobs at its disposal, with vacancies offered by both state television RAI and the international company General Motors. The Polytechnic University of Turin – PoliTO is considered one of the best in the country, and many of its graduates remain to work in the city).

Additionally, Verona, Genoa, Treviso and Bari are often mentioned as the best cities to live in Italy.

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