Cost of Living in Italy

by Jose Marc Castro on August 10, 2009

costoflivingITALYItaly has a high cost of living. Taxes are present in almost all forms from small purchases to housing to employment. The government decided to ask for taxes ranging up to 46.25 of a single worker’s income in order to continually provide quality of life and the best in living conditions.

Expatriates will also be asked for more by housing and living taxes. All these consequently created a more stable economic environment for the country. Italy has been inflating steadily over the past five years.

Living in big cities like Rome will definitely be expensive considering that Italy itself is among the top most expensive European Union countries to live in. Taxations are primarily composed of income tax, social security, housing tax and indirect tax.

Overall, Italian taxes rank among the highest in the world. Expatriates may have more opportunities to live comfortably in rural areas. The southern part of the country is not as expensive compared to the luxurious form of the northern area. Immigrants will have to be careful about all aspects to ensure long-term residency.

Food and Drinks Costs in Italy

The average Italian spends around 200 euros on food and drinks every month. Eating out is very expensive wherein medium range restaurants can charge one person 50 to 100 euros while luxurious places charge up to 300 on a three-course meal. These rates vary, as reported in the Italy Expat Forum last February 15, 2009:

“At the risk of sounding overly aggressive, I can only answer “it depends”.

Although there are acres of farmland producing tomatoes, potatoes, bell peppers, ginger, coffee and other raw items every year, taxes will always make them very hard to afford. Italy mainly produces to export since several Italian food products and ingredients can sell as much as three times more. Famous Italian cuisines and recipes have made local herbs expensive even to citizens.

Italy exports cheese, extra virgin olive oil, pasta, pastries, canned tomatoes and Italian vinegar. Meat products are available locally like lamb, pork and beef. Seafood such as fish, oysters, squid and octopus are the most expensive. Breads and pastries are also costly especially when bought from popular shops. As for fruits and vegetables, Italy grows organic ones and distributes widely across Europe, America and Asia. Some of its famous produces are apples, oranges, pears, bananas, carrots and potatoes along with almonds and hazel nuts.

Clothing and Accessories Costs in Italy

Italy offers several of the world’s finest when it comes to clothing and accessories. Fashion designers flock every year to the country to participate in runway shows, reviews and other celebrity events that showcase the latest trends. Dresses, suits, ties, pants and footwear are available in classic, trendy, sporty and several more designs and styles. Italy features the best in private label footwear and ties with big names on the line. The footwear sector provides almost 5% of the GDP. Currently, the clothing and textile industry has been able to produce US$ 29.74 billion in 2008.

The average Italian spends around 200 euros a month on clothing while big spenders have over ten thousand euros as shopping budget monthly. In the heart of Italy people will find all sorts of famous labels that are very expensive. Handbags, jewelry and suitcases are of the finest quality, which explains the hefty price tags. It is possible to get more affordable pieces of clothing and accessories at department stores and flea markets.

Housing Costs in Italy

Cost of housing every month for one person is around 400 euros. This amount includes utilities and water. Gas consumption will be around 200 euros per month. The typical housing unit has one bedroom but there are also larger apartments with three to four bedrooms that will be priced at around 2,500 euros every month.

Luxurious condominiums and apartments are also available charging 10,000 euros at least. These are found in downtown areas and in coastal regions. There are also suburban villages with medium-sized house and lots available for expatriates. The cost will depend on the location and quality with the market sputtering because of the worldwide recession, the Italian property market has stabilized and is projected to recover in 2010 at the earliest.

Living in the city can be very difficult for middle class expatriates. Lower class citizens can successfully live comfortably in rural areas and the countryside. Farmland and cottages or villas are found in these remote places. A room can cost as low as 80 euros every month but immigrants may have problems with road accessibility and additional transportation expenses. Expatriates will also be charged 10% or 20% more if they are staying in urban areas. The additional taxes cover housing and insurance benefits.

Services Costs in Italy

Italy promotes education to all citizens although the government only subsidizes public schools up to the secondary level. Private Catholic institutions are very expensive and only upper class citizens or scholars get to attend. There are several excellent universities in Italy as well and a lot of students come from the United States and other European countries.

Social security services are also provided to those with insurance policies although the taxes are enough to accommodate all citizens with medical needs. Most of the expenses will be subsidized by the government but Italians may pay additional fees for optional services and conditions during rehabilitation. Medications are also provided by the government except for maintenance. Individuals will continue to have deductions in their taxable income until the full amount for treatment or hospitalization is covered.

Housing services are also provided for citizens and expatriates. Home repairs are covered by living insurances. Other utilities, water source, Internet connection and gas consumption are also sponsored by a good number of employers. Company benefits and housing benefits are just some of the ROI provided by the high Italian taxation rates.

One of the tips provided by an expat on Italy Expat Forum last January 9, 2009, says of living in Italy:

“Also, Italians – at least here in the south – take a positive pride in being “furbo” – which translates to “crafty” or “cunning” – so being crafty is sometimes taken as a higher goal than being strictly honest or straightforward about things… Which means you can’t be too careful in every deal – expect an Italian to be trying his or her best to wrangle the most out of you in any situation, if not by being actually black dishonest, not being white honest either – dealing in what Berlusconi calls “shades of grey” – so check the bill before you leave the shop or restaurant, and get a receipt for absolutely everything. Other than all that – it’s really a pleasant place to live – so enjoy!”

Employment Costs in Italy

Generally, Italy needs more skilled workers especially in the construction and health care sector. Health care professionals like nurses, medical transcriptionists, physical therapists and caregivers are in demand due to the rising elderly population. There are also job demands in the fields of mining, tourism, agriculture, art and food production.

Since income tax along with other fees is high, there are also job and insurance benefits provided to all workers. Salaries can significantly increase depending on the employer’s standards. Employees are also protected in the financial sense by the government. At present, tourism, fashion and trade comprise the bulk of Italy’s GDP. Because of the current worldwide economic downturn, the employment rate is estimated to be around 92%, which is a 2% increase but remains among the top worldwide.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

dabrina miguel November 5, 2009 at 12:53 am

man that is alot for just living there

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emily March 11, 2010 at 7:06 pm

sorry? Italy, expensive? 200e by months for food it’s espensive? You must be from ths States because Italy is pretty cheap actually if you think about Uk or a lot worse : Ireland. Here it’s ridiculously expansive… but Italy, I mean, clothes are quite cheap, you can still eat for cheap. In Ireland even in the hard discount stores you spent about 400e by months if you don’t want to eat too awfull (you know vegetables, fruits etc… these things our body need).
But okay, Italy it’s expensive for the tourist, because the Hotels are axpensive because it’s touristic, and the restaurants maybe, but if not it’s ok… Maybe it’s because I’m living in Ireland and so any other country seems to be a paradise (about price), I even get to envy UK…

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Sarah October 28, 2010 at 12:46 am

how much money is i really to buy clothing? like a tourist going shopping?

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Bob April 9, 2011 at 2:00 pm

2000 euro a day 🙂

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Danielle March 25, 2010 at 6:49 pm

I am planning to study abroad next year and I am not sure where to go. I am from Maine and grew up and a French community.I would like to go to France to relearn some french. However, I have been to Italy and loved. I am really torn as to where I should go. I am looking for a warmer area, and somewhere with a lot of culture. I am a student so I would like to be able to eat for cheep. Can anyone help? Maybe relate some Italian and French cities to ones in the US.

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Joseph t.m April 19, 2010 at 1:25 pm

I am from Nigeria,burn in KSA.i am currently in Egypt, studying at Alexandria university.
I decide during the summer in Egypt to spend about a month in Italy.so as a student,i will like
to leave a medium condition,i will like advice from any one.also will love to know some one
from Italy before being there.
phn:+20116996454.

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mathew June 7, 2010 at 7:17 pm

I am from india and would like to know what would be an approx figure that I should ask as salary for staying in milan with my wife and son. What is the cost on education for a kindergarden school? What is the tax portion that will go as my outflow? I am planning for a modest living how much will that cost for 3 people keeping everything in mind?

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Gina August 18, 2010 at 11:11 pm

Hi Mathew. Schools in Italy are public so you don't have to worry about it. But living in Milan would be quite expensive, since it is an urban and touristic area. Probably quite more than the estimated in this page. I live in medium-high class area in Ecuador with my parents and brother. The cost of living is around $3000 monthly for the four of us, and we live comfortably. Milan would be pretty much alike where I live. I'm sorry for comparing it with a totally different country, but with all the research I've made, I suppose a decent living (medium class only) would be around 3000e monthly

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Amit Jain July 23, 2010 at 5:50 pm

Hi All
Myself Amit from India, I am going to Modena for Official Training in September this year for one month. My Company is in corlo di formigine where my Hotel stay and my meals in the hotel have been arranged by the company.
I will have my weekends off and so would like to spend that time roaming in northern part of italy. Would like to see Venice, Florence, Milan during this time. Would like to know what would be the cost of travelling to these places from Modena for a single person and what would be the average hotel, food and travelling costs.

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hasti September 1, 2010 at 8:27 pm

hi i am from iran.i want to know how i can go to italy and study in university? which city is cheaper than another city?and which university is best?

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lida-greece September 10, 2010 at 9:58 am

hello everyone!!! i'm from greece. i'm thinking of going to study fashion design in italy next year but i don't know where i can find local schools so i won't have to pay,or pay not so many.if anyone knows i'd be gratefull to inform me..

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Antonis October 13, 2010 at 8:46 pm

Hello Lida. It depends on what you want to do in fashion design. If you want to be a designer, you can study in Athens and perhaps work with Aslanis, Lakis Gavalas or some other designer as an intern. Paris and London have really good schools and so does NYC. I would put together a collection if you can and try to sell it to a Greek department store or throw a small fashion show during Athens fashion week. Free fashion schools is not a good idea, because it wont be the best. The best is what you want and they are expensive. If you design, put something together and create a portfolio. You can get an internship and perhaps a scholorship. FIT and Parsons in NYC give great scholorships. Anyway, goodluck. Gia sou.

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linda October 21, 2010 at 5:39 am

Hi, I am from Kenya (in Africa) and just got a scholarship to study at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan. However, the scholarship will only cover my fees and accomodation and thus i have to cover my own food and travel expenses. Please advice me on where i can get a part time job or night job so that i can save up.

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John Lepera November 17, 2010 at 1:24 am

I am from the U.S. would like to live in Calabria region not far from the coast. I am retired now. How much differant is Northen Italy from Southern Italy buy cost. I have about 5000 month income. It would be my wife and I. We would like to go next year for three to four monthsand look around it will be are first time there.

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cara imondi November 11, 2012 at 4:42 pm

my husband and I are planning to live in Calbria .The date today is nov10,2012.. Have you already relocated to calabria?I would appreciate your input about living in Calabria. Thank you Sincerely cara Imondi
..

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D.S. January 1, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Where is the cheapest place to live in Rome, Italy, if you are on Social Security? Do they have any government subsidized apartments for those with a very low income?

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D.S. January 1, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Where can I find a very low-income apartment in Rome, Italy? I am on Social Security and have an extremely low income, but very much want to move to Rome. Do they have government subsidized housing there, like Section 8 in this country? Do they have low-cost senior housing for those 55 years and up? I'd appreciate any help anyone can give me. Thanks.

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nafees ahmad January 30, 2011 at 5:16 am

how can i get scholarship in italy for higher education

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Lena May 5, 2011 at 11:13 pm

Woah!!
That is alot of money!
But this site is a very good site to use if you are doing a project on Italy!!
Thanks 🙂

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Amarto Seno July 21, 2011 at 2:45 am

Hi,
My name is Seno from Jakarta – Indonesia I was planning study for master web design in Milan – Italy, please let me know how much living cost including accommodation monthly basis there. And please advice for getting cheaper living there…. or maybe do I can work while study . thx

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anup October 13, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Hi,
I am planning to move to Florence. Can anybody tell me whats the cost of living in florence including 1BHK appt, Grocery and utility bills

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chandra November 10, 2011 at 4:09 am

i want to know the full details of milan my father is going to milan on deputation for 6 months. pl give all details in brief

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Daniè November 10, 2011 at 8:01 pm

I live in Milan, and yes it's really expensive but i suggest you to live in some towns around the city where the cost of living is cheaper.

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Yessiel November 19, 2011 at 8:18 pm

Hi I'm Yessie, and I live in Miami. My husband and I are planning on moving to Italy from the United States at least 30 years from now (I'm 21 now) so that we can be ready by the time to get there. I just started doing some research on visa, way of living, cost, location, etc. Does any one know on a decent location that is good to live? i guess living in a medium condition won't be bad. Is there anything I should know or be aware of? I'd appreciate any help or advise anyone can give me. Thanks

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Cole=) December 1, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Ehi, I am Italian-American,my family is from Piemonte, I want to move back to the "Mother Land" lol I plan on leaving for Italy by the time I am 25 (im 17 now) I was wonduring how I might go about becoming a citizen of italia, also where is a cheap-er place of living? Grazie amici!

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cate June 6, 2012 at 8:22 pm

How much would a small apartment cost in italy? i am canadian looking at starting a new chapter

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Nish July 15, 2013 at 4:34 pm

Hello All,

I am interested in pursuing a design course from Milan. I would like to know what is the avg monthly cost of living over there if I stay by myself in a one bedroom apartment. I would really appreciate any help in this matter. I have never been there and any information would really me figure my life out. Thanks in advance.

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