Relocating to Italy: The Cost of Living in A First-Tier City

Damien O'Farrell
3 min readNov 10, 2022

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Given the number of job opportunities, as well as an established international community and the proximity of being near an international airport, first-tier cities, such as Milan and Rome, attract many foreigners each year.

In terms of cost of living, Milan and Rome come in only after Bolzano and Trento with regards to how expensive it is to live in both cities.

Given the draw of Milan and Rome, let’s look at how much it’s really going to cost you to live in both cities. Of course, what one considers to be expensive or cheap is very subjective and depends on where you are coming from, so this is a general guide based on certain standard expenses.

Rents in Milan and Rome have continued to increase despite the pandemic, but keep in mind that many landlords own several properties with no mortgages, so they are not rent-dependent. A one-bedroom apartment in both cities, in a central neighborhood, will average circa €1.200–€1.300 plus utilities and condominium expenses, which are rarely included in the rent.

Utility bills are consumption-based; simply put, the more you consume, the more you pay. Also, due to the energy crisis, there has been a considerable increase in the price of gas and electricity, but this is nationwide. A single person should budget approximately €150,00 a month, and a family with two children would be roughly €250,00–€400,00. This actual cost will depend on which vendor you have, if you have signed up for a special price, and, of course, how much you consume.

Due to high levels of inflation, the cost of groceries has significantly increased in Italy over the past few months. According to reports in the Italian press, both Milan and Rome are two of the most expensive cities when it comes to filling up the grocery cart, though, to be fair, even second- and third-tier cities have also seen a considerable increase in prices.

How much you will spend to eat out in both Milan and Rome will depend greatly on the level of the restaurant and its location. In a mid-range restaurant, you should expect to spend around €80,00 for a three-course meal, which may include some inexpensive wine. A cheaper restaurant should be somewhere around €20,00 per person.

The cost of going out and getting entertainment will depend on where you go and the level of what you are paying for. Given that both cities offer a wide range of things to do that are not free, you should calculate this into your budget, putting aside a minimum of €200,00 per month. For example, the average moving ticket is around €10,00.

Public transport is quite cheap in both cities when compared to other major European cities, and annual transport tickets can range from €250,00 to €330,00. Milan, in comparison to Rome, has a more extensive metro system.

Running a car is expensive in both cities, but this is true nationwide, considering the price of gas, insurance, and the costs of a private garage if parking is an issue where you live.

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Damien O'Farrell

Global Mobility Specialist and Expat Coach with thirty plus years’ experience in providing high-touch immigration, relocation, & coaching services in Italy.