Living Cheaply In Italy – Great Things To Know

Cattle Grazing Tuscany

Italy is an extremely diverse country with landscapes that range from the rural idylls of Tuscany to the fashionable metropolitan cities of Venice and Rome. Expats are drawn to live in Italy for a wide range of reasons and depending on whether they are looking for a quiet, slow paced life or to be a part of the cultural hotspots of the cities; there really is something for everyone.

Aside from the differences in lifestyle between the countryside and cities, prices also vary considerably and can end up being one of the major factors that determine where an Expat will end up living.

Generally speaking though, the cost of living in Italy is extremely low compared to many other parts of America, Europe and the Western world. This is a major benefit for Expats moving to Italy where, for the same amount of money or less, they can live a much higher standard of living than they did at home; enjoying top quality food, excellent cultural sites and a lovely apartment for a very reasonable price.

Tourists Often Get the Wrong Impression of Prices in Italy.

Tourists often come away from a holiday to Italy with the impression that it’s a very expensive country! This is because restaurants, bars and other services that primarily deal with tourists often inflate their prices quite considerably!

When you live in Italy as an Expat you’ll develop a good local knowledge and as you do so you’ll be able to shop in supermarkets, farmers markets and eat out in restaurants whose main customer base is made up of native Italians.

This will save you a huge amount of money over time as you avoid the touristy businesses and live more off the beaten track. In essence, the Dolce Vita, or the sweet life, doesn’t need to cost you a fortune and with a bit of ingenuity, adaptability and common sense you can live a wonderful life on a budget.

Real Estate Prices

One of the most significant costs of living, no matter where you are living, is the cost of buying or renting a property. In some parts of the rural Southern of Italy you can purchase a property for as little as $25,000 whereas in larger towns you can easily find a very comfortable apartment with all the mod cons for between $50,000 and $150,000.

If you’re looking for a larger farm house you’ll be looking at prices starting from around $200,000 which will include some land and a spacious house. When buying a rural farmhouse you may have to include the costs of renovations into the price but you can still walk away with a real bargain.

When it comes to renting a property you can also find some extremely competitive prices that might range from anywhere between $350 and $700 per month in a large town or city. Of course, you can also find much more luxurious apartments that cost a great deal more however, as with most things in Italy, there is something for any budget.

Cost Of Food In Italy.

Italian food is famously good and is a major draw for Expats who move to start a life in the country. There’s no doubt that the incredible food is one of the best things about life in Italy so how much should you expect to be paying for it?

Different regions in Italy have their own specialities but no matter where you go you can actually get fantastic food for an amazing price! Of course, it’s going to help your budget to go further if you avoid the touristy restaurants and hotels which will always charge higher prices than local restaurants but even then, the food is quite cheap compared to America and the rest of the West.

In the larger towns and cities a big lunch will end up costing you between $15 to $30 per person which will include wine, bread and salad as well as a main course. Of course, in smaller towns and the countryside you can often get a great lunch for as little as $10 per head, including a local wine! Naturally, Italy also has extremely good 5 Star restaurants as well where you should expect to pay more per person, usually in the region of $50-100 for a several course evening meal including wine.

Entertainment and Nightlife Costs.

When you’re in Italy you can also take advantage of the low prices for drinks, entertainment and cultural events. For example, if you go to the cinema you’ll usually have to pay around $10 per person. During the night, if you go to a bar or club you’ll usually be paying around $5-7 for a pint of beer and a similar price for a nice glass of wine or a cocktail.

Many museums and galleries have days during the month when entry is free, often on a Sunday, however usually you’ll have to pay an entrance fee which helps with its upkeep and pays for the staff who work there. Prices vary considerably depending on where you are and what the gallery is exhibiting. In Rome, you may have to pay $10 and upwards to enter some of the most famous sites but in rural areas costs will usually be much lower.

Cost Of Clothing.

As you no doubt already know, Italy is a cultural hub of fashion and high quality clothes and so if you want to you can really splash out and spend a huge amount of money on some fantastic clothes. Generally clothes are more expensive in Italy than in America however if you shop at markets or take advantage of the biannual sales (usually in Spring and the Autumn) you can make some great savings and walk away with a bargain. You can also hunt down the Outlet stores where you can find amazing prices but much less choice in terms of the items available.

Utilities and Bills.

Utilities in Italy are fairly cheap however there are some differences to the way it’s done in America. For instance, water is usually metered and run by a private/public partnership that bills you ever 2 or 3 months. Some rural properties have their own wells from where you can pump water from but usually you’ll have to go through a company to supply water to your home.

Electricity used to be relatively cheap in Italy compared to most of the United States. But rates are increasing now. You will be charged every 2 months. Italian homes tend to have far fewer electrical items in them than a house in the rest of the Western world and this helps to keep your bills right down.

Many properties in Italy use gas for both heating and cooking which is usually more efficient and cost effective than using electricity. In some apartments you actually share the cost of the gas with your neighbors in the block but usually you will be billed for it individually.

The Cost of Living in Italy – Broken Down into Categories.

It’s not only real estate that you need to include in your calculations though, so how does the cost of living break down into the main different categories of daily living expenses?

In fact, the cost of property is far more variable around the country than most other aspects of life which are much more consistent across the board.

Below, the table lists a compiled breakdown of the average cost of living in Italy for two people living together. Of course, you can bring some of these costs down by living a very frugal life however, for the averages below it has been assumed that you will be living a relatively high standard of life in Italy. The prices below are national averages and may vary in some cities and regions.

CategoryCost USD
Utility Bills200 – 300
Insurance, Gas, Car Maintenance300
Property Taxes25 – 35
Shopping100 – 200
Dining Out & Entertainment100 – 200
Groceries200 – 300
Healthcare30 – 50
Public Transportation40 – 50
Total (Approximate)2000

A Comfortable Life in Italy is Very Affordable.

Life in Italy is extremely good value for money and if you really want to stretch your budget you can get your costs right down. That said, when you want to splash out and treat yourself there are many world class restaurants and entertainment options that you can enjoy as well as superb handmade clothing and shoes.

Italy offers a superb lifestyle for a very low price – at least compared to other parts of the Western world, including most of Europe and certainly America. This gives Expats an exciting opportunity to create a new life overseas while enjoying the excellent food, wine, culture and Dolce Vita in Italy, even on a modest income.

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