Cost of living..??

10/02/2009 - 16:23

 I know peoples spending habits differ, but does anyone really know how much they spend living in Italy, say over a period of a year? I know some spend more then others but I’m really looking for that ‘middle of the road’ figure.  A decent standard of living with the occasional perks like restaurants, theater, weekend trips and the like. Any feedback would be much appreciated.



I'll make an attempt to reply to your question. As a very rough guide (and this is rough), at an exchange rate of €1.15-€1.20 expect to spend a similar amount as you do in the UK for an equivalent standard of living. At the current €1.09, be prepared to spend more.

i agree with capo boi.having said that and apart from variety of life can say go easy on electricity which is very expensive,careful of insurance ( car insurance for example is roughly +34% higher than most of europe) gas and gas oil for heating are expensive so be prepared for lower winter temperatures in your as your neighbours do, it'll be a lot cheaper than eating in an english way ( ie. eat seasonal food no cherries in january,oranges between october thru feb only,etc) less industrial/processed foods.if you intend working be aware taxes are high and socialsecurity/pension contributions on trains/buses and public transport is a lot cheaper.Eating out is in fact not so much cheaper if you're not going to "cheap and cheerful" places pizza places etc.The cost of living in some of the larger cities is almost comparable to london (milano -roma) the cost of living in central and certainly southern italy is lower than in the north although the quality of social services in the south are considerably at a low/middle level is not too costly at higher levels can be expensive.generally telephone costs are significantly higher both for land lines and mobile phones ( recent news said that the average monthly cost for a cell phone in italy is 3 times the cost of the netherlands ( despite the fact italy has the worlds highest density of cell phones).bank charges are high so you really have to shop around for good deals. local taxes ( house tax/rates etc are insignificant unless you live in a large villa) water costs are stupidly low. Avoid at all costs legal litigation it's expensive and you won't get satisfaction,Health service is generally very good and free providing you are E.U. and you have all your papers in order,and apparently where you live(?) although you may have to pay some small charges for some medicines or medical tests if you are not hopspitalized.if you have children be aware that school books can be quite an expense as they are not provided...the list can get quite long..... 

 Let me try a different angel.. A family of two would be able to sustain a decent standard of living in Northern Italy (no rent or mortgage payments) with an expenditure of: 

  1. 20,000 Euro a year
  2. 30,000 Euro a year
  3. 40,000 Euro a year
  4. 50,000 Euro a year  

Agree with Sebastiano, if you live fairly simply, and are prepared to put on a jumper or 3 in the winter , shop in season for food, and rediscover old clothes (who sees you except the neighbours and the chickens! and they dont care) then economies can be made.Main costs as said are gas and insurance.Having said that would not swap my life now so dont want to paint a bleak picture for anyone considering a move to live here in Italy.A

Having just returned from a short trip to Italy, I tend to agree with what has been said by everyone. Granted that it largely depends on whether you live in a large city or in the middle of the countryside and grow your own vegies...We live most of the time in a city in Spain very close to the border with France. It is an expensive area and I believe that costs will be very similar to what you would pay in London. Costs in the main European cities have increased dramatically over the past few years. Depending on the particular country, some items are more expensive than others and I do agree that the cost of utilities is very high in Italy.Still, it is a very personal choice to decide where you want to live and there are lots of things that you cannot put a price on. Wherever you feel well, there is your home "Ubi bene, ibi patria".

Carl, I would go for your 30,000 option but it's only a guess.I would suggest you try to do a budget by listing out every item you spend on, then putting a figure against it. It doesn't matter how accurate the initial figures are, as you can refine them one by one as you get more information.If you ask on here for specifics rather than an overall figure, I'm sure you will get responses which home in on good average figures.

Without rent/mortgage €30.000 should be ample to live pretty comfortably once you get to know the best places to shop and how to use the utilities. Eurospin for example is a sort of Aldi/Lidl and it is amazing what you can buy for €50.

€600 a week!!!!!! We function on a 1/3rd of that & eat out occasionally, drive to U.K. a couple of times a year, run two mobile phones, internet & a vehicle. We did not grow our own food this year so had to do all our shopping and use local shops. We don't live the life of Riley, but had two or three long visits away. We do watch what we spend, but still have treats. So....I can only suppose it's what your used to. If you need and want to go to 5 star hotels  & eat out at fancy restaurants, and need to change your car every year & a new wardrobe every year then I suppose you need €30.000 a year. Secondo me.Sprat

It is the how long is a piece of string question.  We live on €5000 or less, growing our own food, dodging various bills the Italian way (no details in case the relevant authorities read this..), running a car on foreign number plates, going out once a month for a meal, seeing plenty free concerts and other cultural activities (some of the region's best musicians live next door to us!).  Gas we keep cheap because we use bottles (bombole).  Two 10 kg bottles at €15 a year do for all our cooking, and during the cold period which can be anything from 2-4 months, we use one every 2 weeks for heating. For transport we tend to use the bicycle unless we have to drive, despite living on top of a hill (300m up).  Keeps us fit no end.  In fact I just thought about how much we've earned over the last year and we live on more like €3000 a year.  It is possible, once you've paid for your property.

For 30k per yr you could have a live in maid, its northern Italy not central London!we are a family of 5(3 teenagers)  living on 2k per month, that includes 3 cars ins/bollo/fuel/services/tyres also bills and food (we grow fruit/veg and have chickens/ducks/rabbits/pigs so food bill is less than 2 yrs ago.Live in Italy- live like an Italian its the only way.

If only Italy had charity shops !!! That would be a great saving.I think it costs lots more for families with children as they seem to have to keep buying expensive books and paying for other school related things but if its just 2 people reasonably fit with land then 200 euros a week should do but of course that means very little to put by in savings or to pay a big vets bill..Maybe animals would be a luxury you couldnt afford on this amount ?

Hmmmm. Income tax is higher in Italy but you can offset so many more things against your tax bill so I'm beginning to think it is swings and roundabouts. Mortgage interest relief, medical bills, contact lenses & glasses, car costs etc etc.For us it is the ridiculously high INPS that is the killer. That and the endless permits & permissions for each individual comune if you want to do business. Especially as the National Park where we have a business comes under four different provinces and two different regions. Gives me a headache just thinking about it. Personally, I would have said €15,000 to €20,000 a year would be sufficient if you don't want to do anything extravagant or have any big car repair bills or try to renovate a house.

I've noticed that it's been almost a year since you posted your request Carl and wondered what your reality was - has it been 20/30/40/40/60k - it's the million dollar question that we keep churning round in our minds and on paper and with nothing but hypothetical figures to base it on it makes it very hard to come up with a meaningful figure.   

In reply to by La Dolcevita

I agree with sebastiano, there is a popular misconception that Italy is a cheap country to live in, this is certainly not the case. Italy is actually very expensive.Things such as electricity, insurance, heating fuel, petrol and many other things even food are far more expensive than Italys neighbors.Prices are also due to go up because of the austerity budget.

The times when both Italy and Spain were quite cheap are ancient history, and I am not talking about Greece or Portugal. Ever since the introduction of the Euro, prices started to escalate and nowadays you do not find big differences between shopping in Italy, France or Spain. Some items are a bit more expensive depending on the particular country, but others cost about the same. I do my shopping in the three countries and I do not notice many differences. What is very expensive in Italy is energy costs and this is why, if you stay in the country during the winter months you have to plan very carefully your heating system and have good insulation. Besides, energy costs will certainly go up very soon due to the new economic measures. The VAT is going up one point to 21%. It is going to be extremely hard on low income earners and pensioners.

I must say, that I live in Liguria and I find everything cheaper in France (except Parmesan and Pasta).Now France isn't a cheap country but compared to Italy...I do all my food shopping in French supermarkets which I find much better than the sparsely stocked supermarkets in Italy, I also find the quality superior as well.I bought my car in France (5,000 euros cheaper) all my furniture and all my electrical goods there as well, and made a considerable saving.I get my petrol in France. I noticed that heating fuel in France is less than HALF the price that it is here.I am currently trying to insure my car in France as the price difference is quite incredible.I have noticed as well that prices have gone up considerably here over the last three months or so. Probably as you say to do with the economic measures.I sympathise with the Italians here who have to survive on very low wages and very high prices.

You're right of course gala, but with the current crisis property taxes will no doubt rise dramatically.On balance though, the property tax difference is trivial compared to the higher prices across the board in Italy.The prices in Italy are amongst the highest in Europe and when you consider that Italy has amongst the lowest wages in Europe it makes Italy a very expensive country indeed.It is interesting though how a lot of foreigners think that Italy is cheap. I have a couple of theories as to why this is.

"On the other hand, property taxes in France are much higher!!!!" Not for long it seems. And its the French method that they are looking at.....from  yesterdays Repubblica:  E ancora: si ipotizza una patrimoniale e/o la reintroduzione di una imposta sulla prima casa. Ma si parla anche di una imposizione "modello francese" che oltre all'Ici prevede pure una "tassa sull'abitazione" comprensiva di canone tv e balzello per la spazzatura. Calcoli del precedente governo, appena trasmessi alla Ue, stimano in 3,5 miliardi il gettito di un eventuale ritorno dell'Ici.

"It is interesting though how a lot of foreigners think that Italy is cheap. I have a couple of theories as to why this is." Booze is cheap in Italy - always by spirits for return to UK - when  driving often get the wine in France though.

If you just live on booze Alan, then thats ok. All food is getting expensive and restaurants are still OTT with their prices. When most of Europe dropped prices in restaurants Italy did not after the credit crunch.

"All food is getting expensive and restaurants are still OTT with their prices. When most of Europe dropped prices in restaurants Italy did not after the credit crunch." I have found some prices going up in restaurants - but if, as I do, you eat where the locals do, then you still get good value for money.  If I pop down into the more touristy areas, [lakeside], then prices can be 50% to 150% higher than at the eateries I use

You can eat out very cheaply as Alan says if you pick your venue...when we go to Firenze we always eat in the Mercato Centrale covered market where a great plate of Lampredotto for about €5

Flip. Do not think many people like the thought of a plate of cooked tripe!!! Dogs love it though. I prefer the northern UK way, raw with vinegar, salt and pepper. Alan. I do eat in a lot of restaurants where workers go, as I travel around often. What you normaly find is the locals get better size portions. I also believe someone quoted in the earlier forum that they had an increased bill in a restaurant as they were not Italian. I also object to paying 2-4 euros per person cover charge for lunch, which seems to be the new trick around here in certain establishments.

Yes, it sounds exactly like the French taxes and I do think that the ICI will be back in force - we don't mind as we pay this tax - and I think that this will be good for the municipalities as they are not getting much money from the central government. I thought that it was crazy when they abolished it, as the building industry crisis was already looming and that was another source of revenue for the local comune which was going to dry up.

This is certainly not a new charge - "il coperto" has ALWAYS been added to restaurant bills in Italy, I remember it from way back in the 60s . A few years ago it was abolished in Lazio and but seems to have come back. We were in Rome last week and there it was: "2 euros a head coperto". In Umbria it was never abolished; we have been living there on and off since 2005 and it has always appeared on our meal bills.

The best thing with Lampredotto is that it doesn't look like tripe (being the 4th stomach) as it looks brown and meaty, it's tender flavoursome and apparently good for you. Or you could just get a plate of Pasta & Ragu for €4 if you want to play safe.

Raggio. It was not the norm here in Marche and we have lived here permanently since 2004. I object to going to a restaurant that charges E3.50 pp cover charge for a c**p meal with the same standard of service and poor quality food (20 mins to overcook a fillet steak, Blue as asked .. forget it at that place, obviously defrosted first rather too much ). Lasagne must have been cooked a few days ahead, as was blackened and like eating rubber.

I was trying to find a list of those regions that charged for "il coperto" and I found this most interesting entry: It goes back to what you rightly say, Badger, that it relates to the quality of service you receive in exchange for it and I would venture that most of us would not mind paying that extra charge if we get the right kind of service. The story behind this charge is most interesting and we can also find a very useful glossary covering table service.