Italy Country Profile - Cost of Living

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Geographical variation

Compared with much of Europe, Italy appears to be quite a cheap place to live, but all things are relative. Like any country, Italy has a degree of variation in the cost of living, with cities more expensive than the countryside as a rule. The north/south divide is evident again, with southern Italy generally cheaper than central and northern areas, although wages and employment opportunities are usually better in these areas so the standard of living overall may be similar. 


Although there are no restrictions on foreign nationals purchasing property in Italy, the property market has been unstable in recent years and many expats have been cautious about committing to a mortgage in the country. If you do decide to buy an apartment or house, be aware that the various transaction and notary fees can add up to between 10% and 20% of the property’s value. The majority of people who relocate to Italy rent their accommodation, at least in the short term. In the past, local authorities were allowed to cap the maximum rent that landlords could charge, but this practice has now ceased with the aim of encouraging people to rent out vacant properties – so expect to negotiate on price.

Rental deposit

When you first take on a rental agreement in Italy, be prepared for a hefty initial outlay. Deposits can be anything up to three months’ worth of rent, and if you find your property through an estate agent you may have to pay another month’s worth as a fee.

Municipal tax

Property owners in Italy are responsible for paying the municipal property taxes. These taxes are calculated based on the value of the property and the rates for that location. If you are renting a property, check whether or not the landlord intends to pass this cost on to you. 


To set up utility services in Italy, you must have a tax identification number. Electricity and gas suppliers have been deregulated, so it is possible to change your provider to get the best tariff. Some regions may also have a choice of water company, but this is less common. If you are renting a property, remember to check with your landlord if any utilities are included in the rent. For internet and phone connections there are many companies competing, so it’s not difficult to get a good deal, but it is worth checking the coverage before committing as service quality varies significantly. 

TV licence

Italy operates a television licensing subscription to subsidise the state-owned Radiotelevisione Italiana, commonly known as RAI. Many expats are surprised by this as the RAI channels also broadcast adverts. As well as the Italian broadcaster, a range of national and international satellite channels are available.

Healthcare and medical costs

Italy has a comprehensive state healthcare system, the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN), and the good news for foreign nationals moving to the country is that it is often possible to access the same level of care as Italian citizens at the same subsidised rates. This will depend on your nationality, residency status and the duration of your stay in Italy, but if you are eligible then register for an SSN card through your local healthcare authority. Consult the InformaSalute guide for further details. If you are not eligible for SSN care, it is recommended that you take out private medical insurance to prevent costs spiralling in the event of ill health.


From the fashion houses of Milan and Florence to local, family-run businesses in rural hill towns, Italy has no shortage of amazing places to shop. Although the top level outlets can be expensive, there are bargains to be found if you venture away from the main shopping areas. It often pays to compare prices between shops – be prepared to haggle too. For food and groceries, markets can be a good alternative to superstores.


In Italy, value-added tax is charged at three levels in line with European tax agreements. As of 2014, the standard rate is 22%, but a reduced rate of 10% applies on hotel and restaurant bills, pharmaceuticals, some public transport prices and admission to cultural events. Foodstuffs, medical bills and books carry a tax of just 4%.

Price guide

  • Rent on 1-bedroom apartment in city centre – €564.34 (≈£419.28) per month
  • Rent on 1-bedroom apartment outside city centre – €435.95 (≈£323.89) per month
  • Price of apartment in city centre – €4,217.94 (≈£3,133.72) per square metre
  • Price of apartment outside city centre – €2,533.11 (≈£1,881.97) per square metre
  • Loaf of bread – €1.58 (≈£1.17)
  • Milk (1 litre) – €1.23 (≈£0.91)
  • Bottled water (1.5 litre) – €0.42 (≈£0.31)
  • Draught beer (0.5 litre) – €4.00 (≈£2.97)
  • Packet of cigarettes – €5.00 (≈£3.71)
  • Petrol (1 litre) – €1.65 (≈£1.22)
  • Cinema ticket – €8.00 (≈£5.94)

Source: (accessed February 2015)


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