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 living||One bedroom flat in city centre - monthly rent||Lunch for two - Three courses, mid-range restaurant||Transportation - monthly pass|
|New York City, USA⁵||€2,652||€86||€112|
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 rent³||Average 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 rent²||Average 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 rent¹¹||Average 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 rent¹²||Average 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 Rome¹⁴||Average annual salary|
|Salary averages for Milan¹⁵||Average annual salary|
|Salary averages for Naples¹⁶||Average annual salary|
|Salary averages for Florence¹⁷||Average annual salary|
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 Rome²||Average 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|
|Utilities - gas, electric and water for a 85m2 apartment||€195|
|Renting in Milan³||Average 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|
|Utilities - gas, electric and water for a 85m2 apartment||€166|
|Renting in Naples¹⁶||Average 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|
|Utilities - gas, electric and water for a 85m2 apartment||€177|
|Renting in Florence¹⁷||Average 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|
|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 service⁸||Average cost to you|
|Short visit to private doctor (15 minutes)||€76|
|Cold medicine for 6 days||€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 Italy²¹||Average 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.
|Preschool / kindergarten, monthly fee²²||Fees 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 Bologna²³||Fees 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!
*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.