QUICK SUMMARY- COST OF LIVING IN FLORENCE, ITALY
Italian Renaissance Art brought me to Florence. The positive experience I had there influenced why I still live in Italy today. I was a first-year graduate student from Canada studying art history in New York state. I was counting down the days when I could see the artworks I was learning about in the classroom with my own eyes.
Before moving, the first thing people told me was that the cost of living in Florence was high. To give you an idea of the cost, €1 EUR is about $1.12 USD (approximately $1.45 CAD).
For someone who has never lived in Florence or any other Italian city, it was hard to plan ahead and fully grasp the costs of daily life. I mainly learned from talking with locals and, of course, trial and error. I wasn't going to let the high cost of living in Florence compromise the overall enjoyment and experience of being in the beautiful City of Lilies!
Living In Florence As A Canadian Expat
Street art on Via Toscannelli (Filippo Brunelleschi and Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli)
While expenses add up fast in Florence, there are many great things about Italian life that the living cost won't get in the way of. One of them is that there is so much art in the city! When I wasn't in class, I'd spend my time sightseeing. From the Loggia dei Lanzi sculptures to the street art on the city walls, art greets you at every corner.
Florence is also relatively small. You don't need a car or public transit to move around since mostly everything is within walking distance. No matter where you are if you look up and find the Duomo, you'll be able to make your way back to the city center- it's your North Star.
Another great thing is the amazing food. It's easy to find local and seasonal food that's affordable and delicious. Often, I'd meet friends for a bite to eat at the Mercato Centrale after a long day at the library. You'll quickly get hooked on the flavors and aromas of Italian food!
Since I lived with a flatmate, my monthly expense would be about €1,300.00 EUR (about $1,467 USD). This average cost includes rent, utilities, groceries, coffee/eating out, and social activities.
Is Florence, Italy A Good Place To Live?
Yes. Florence is clean, orderly, and, overall, safe. You also feel a delightful sense of multiculturalism. People dress nicely, and you get the vibe that the quality of life is quite good.
From early in the morning, while it's still a bit dewy, you'll see early risers snapping photos by the main attractions in places like the Duomo. Students flutter down the narrow streets on their way to class. As you walk by coffee bars, you hear the clinging of cups and the frothing of milk and overhear mild chatter as people are just waking up.
After a day's work, cars and cyclists take to the streets. Bars prepare for their aperitivi, restaurants get their tables set for the dinner seating, and the roads begin to fill up once more. In the evening, live music plays in Piazza della Signoria and echoes down the streets, slowly fading out as you reach Ponte Vecchio. On the bridge, you see people admiring the lights of the city reflecting in the Arno river.
Expats In Florence
I studied at an American university and met many international students who, like me, were studying abroad. While this was nice, it's also great to make friends with locals. The truth is, it can be hard to meet locals when you're in a circle of people that aren't from the area.
My advice to make friends is to do an activity you enjoy. Maybe that's joining a gym or fitness class, cultivating a hobby like making ceramics or painting. You're bound to find expats you have something in common with!
Another good way to learn about what's happening in the city is to look for public events like festivities or markets from local news sources like La Nazione or English magazines like The Florentine. If social media is more your scene, you can follow news sources on Instagram.
Make More Friends Learning The Italian Language
Monthly Budget In Florence, Italy
There is much to do, eat and see in Florence, but all of this can become pricy fast.
|Total Monthly Expense||$1503|
|COST PER MONTH|
|Rent- Shared 2-bedroom apartment Funished Santo Spirito||546|
|Total Housing Expense||645|
|Home Cooked Meals 18 times per week||148|
|Budget Meal- Italian Fast Food 2 times per Week||70|
|Trattoria Lunch 2 times per Week||279|
|Splurge Meal 1 time per Month||52|
|Total Food Expense||548|
|Coffee with Friends- Monthly Espresso Budget||25|
|Drinks with Friends- 2 Aperitivi once per Week||60|
|Museum once per Week||35|
|10 Ticket Tram and Bus Pass||17|
|Car Share 2 hours per Month||38|
|Total Transportation Expense||54|
|Travel Health Insurance||60|
|Health Care Expense||60|
|Personal Care (Shampoo, etc.) & Household Items (Soap, etc.)||20|
|Total Personal Care and Misc Expense||51|
|Exchange Rate to $1 USD to Euro (EUR)||0.87|
How Does The Cost of Living In Florence, Italy Compare To The US?
Look at the cost of living comparison below representing the Top 4 essential expenses in the US: housing, food, transportation, and healthcare. These 4 expenses make up 68% of the average living costs in a major city.
Even when comparing Florence, an expensive city in Italy, to a medium-cost city in the US (Portland), the lower cost of living in Florence saves you over $14,000 a year.
Essential Living Costs
Total Average Per Month
Save 48% on Major Monthly Expenses
HOW DOES COST OF LIVING IN FLORENCE COMPARE TO OTHER ITALIAN CITIES?
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Apartment Cost In Florence
Shared Housing Costs
Housing is where the cost of living in Florence hits hard. On average, rental prices for a one-bedroom apartment in Florence will run between €800-1200 EUR/month ($900-1,353 USD/month).
I lived in a two-story, fully furnished apartment of approximately 100m² with three bedrooms, two washrooms, and a living room/dining room. The condo itself had four floors and no elevator. It was a 20-minute walk from the Duomo outside the old city walls of Florence in the Campo di Marte neighborhood. The flat was close to all the necessary amenities like a local grocery store, food shops selling pastries, bread, pizza, a pharmacy, and a bank.
Even though it was outside the historic center, rent prices were still relatively high at €1,400 EUR/month (around $1,580 USD/month).
Additional Housing Costs
In Italy, gas, water, electricity, and other bills like the internet, are paid every two months. Since your gas consumption might be higher in the colder months (November-February), be sure to keep a little extra money aside in your budget.
In a year, for an 85m²-100m² flat, you can expect to pay the following prices for your utilities:
- Gas - €500-800 EUR ($564-902 USD)/year, €42-66 EUR ($47-74 USD)/month;
- Water - €300 EUR ($338 USD)/year, €25 EUR ($28 USD)/month;
- Electricity - €540-600 EUR ($609-677 USD)/month, €45-50 EUR ($51-56 USD)/month; and
- Internet - €360 EUR ($406 USD)/year, €30 EUR ($34 USD)/month.
My roommate and I divided the monthly costs between us.
INSIDER TIP : Condominium Fees- ask your landlord about the monthly cost of condo fees. Some landlords may include the price in your monthly rent while others don't. Condo fees can include cleaning common areas, regular maintenance, the waste tax, and heating and water, depending on if they are autonomous or centralized.
Best neighborhoods in Florence For New Expats
If you're new to the city and don't know anyone, the best place to live would be an area like Santo Spirito in the Oltrarno (the other side of the Arno river) that's vibrant and lively at night. It does have an expat community and is known to be chic and have a cool artistic vibe so expect rent to be pricier.
Otherwise, Sant'Ambrogio, one of the oldest areas with its famous fresh produce market, has that classic local flair and relaxed vibe that's bound not to disappoint newcomers.
Best Florentine neighborhood Outside the city center
Florence might be small, but there are quite a few neighborhoods to consider when choosing where to live. I wanted to be near the university's vicinity, so I lived outside of the city center in Campo di Marte. I chose this place for a few reasons: quiet, walking distance to campus (5 minutes), fully furnished, including a dishwasher, and air conditioning units on both floors. It definitely checked all the boxes for comfortable expat living.
INSIDER TIP : Apartment Hunting In Florence
- Two Room Apartments- Americans living in Florence are initially confused, as housing in a European city is listed by the total number of rooms (including a living room) in the flat, NOT the number of bedrooms. If you see a listing for a "two-room flat," that is ONE-BEDROOM. A "one-room" apartment is a studio, while a "three-room apartment" is a two-bedroom.
- Additional Costs - If you use a rental agency to find a flat be aware of additional fees and upfront costs. Generally, the renter and landlord each pay one month's rent to the realtor, and you also need to leave a deposit of either 1-2 months' rent to your landlord.
- Good to know: when dealing with a realtor, you will need to provide them with your Italian codice fiscale (the tax code mentioned earlier).
- Valuable resources to consider when house hunting are: Immobiliare.it, Roomless, and idealista.it or Facebook groups like Rent rooms in Florence, or Erasmus Florence (for student accommodation).
Food Prices In Florence
Italian cheese on sale at a neighborhood delicatessen
Grocery Shopping In Florence
On an average week, you will spend a good €25-30 EUR ($28-34 USD) for one person on food from your typical grocery store. However, I highly suggest going to the Sant'Ambrogio market for the delicious food and friendly faces. Fresh and local produce costs less at the market, and sometimes the vendors even throw in complimentary herbs upon buying! It's also a great place to experience a sense of community in the city.
How Much Does Eating Out In Florence Cost?
Basic Meal $7- Looking for a quick bite? Try a schiacciata (flatbread) sandwich from All'Antico Vinaio. A sandwich only costs €6 EUR ($6.79 USD). The queue leading to Florence's Most Famous Sandwich Shop rivals the line to the Uffizi, but like both, it's worth the wait and price!
Mid-Range Restaurant $28- Your average meal at an Osteria or Trattoria will range from €25-30 EUR ($28-34 USD). These are restaurants that are known for simple yet delicious local dishes. You can find several in areas like Santo Spirito. It's a vibrant square with many restaurants and bars.
Expensive Restaurants $45- If you opt for more of a fine dining experience, a meal can cost €40+ EUR ($45+ USD), especially if you order meat, fish, and wine. I recommend trying the Bistecca alla Fiorentina (beefsteak) at least once with a friend. For this local dish, you pay by kilo (e.g., €40-50 EUR/kilo ($45-56 USD/kilo).
Entertainment Budget In Florence
Florence has a year round calendar full of cultural events including the historical Calcio Storico match Photo Credit
Entertainment and Sports
There are different kinds of activities you can do in Florence. I would go to one or two museums or churches a week for the art and check out any local festivities, especially around high holidays.
INSIDER TIP : Weekend Getaway- if you can, take a weekend trip to Ivrea Turin and see The Battle of the Oranges festival in February – you won't be disappointed!
INSIDER TIP : Florence Museum All-Access Pass- the "Firenze card" for €85 EUR ($96 USD) gives you access to all museums in the city for 72 hours. You can purchase the card online by downloading the Firenze card App.
INSIDER TIP : Gym Health Certificate- to join a gym in Italy, you'll need a medical certificate from a physician stating you are in good health. I've had to pay around €10 EUR ($12 USD) for such a certificate plus an additional €70 EUR ($79 USD) to do an electrocardiogram (EKG) test privately. Some physicians may not provide the certificate if you do not do this test.
Transportation Cost In Florence
Florence's main train station can whisk expats to different Italian cities quickly and cheaply
It's easy to get around Florence on foot, it's pedestrian-friendly, and traffic is pretty reasonable. If you need transportation, here is what you need to know:
- Public Transportation - a single tram or bus ticket for a 90-minute, multiple-trip ticket costs €1.50 EUR ($1.70 USD). You can buy tickets online using the TABNET App.
- Bike-sharing - with RideMovi, bike-sharing will cost €1 EUR ($1.12 USD) for the first 20 minutes and then an additional euro every 20 minutes. You can get a day pass for €4.99 EUR ($6 USD) or pay €12.99 EUR ($15 USD)/month.
- Car sharing - using Enjoy will run you €0.25 EUR ($0.28 USD)/minute, the maximum price for the day is €50 EUR ($56.39 USD).
- Train - the cost of your train ticket depends on your destination, length of stay, etc., but I think it's helpful to compare the prices between the two carriers, Italo Treno and TrenItalia, when planning your trip. Italo tends to have less expensive options while still providing an equally comfortable ride.
- Taxi - the cost of a taxi depends on where you're going, traffic and so on. One super helpful App is Taxi.it. If you don't speak Italian, it's great because you insert all your trip information in the App, and they all accept credit card payments.
INSIDER TIP : Tuscany Weekend Trip- If you're looking for a short train trip in Tuscany, consider taking the train to the Saturnia Hot Springs for a relaxing and beautiful weekend!
Florence's Aeroporto di Firenze-Peretola (FLR) is a medium sized international airport serving the Tuscany and Firenze areas.
Florence Airport has direct passenger flights to 29 cities in 14 countries.
Other Costs When Moving To Florence
My living costs in Florence includes regular cups of coffee at the Biblioteca delle Oblate
INSIDER TIP : Cell Phone Requirements- when getting a SIM card, bring a photo piece of ID like a passport and your codice fiscale (tax code). You do not need to have Italian citizenship or residence to obtain this, and it's free. You can pick one up at the closest Italian Consulate in your city before leaving for Italy or contact the Agenzia delle entrate (Italian Revenue Agency).
INSIDER TIP : Tipping Culture In Italy- In general, tipping is not common, but some may round up the total cost for services at the salon.
How Much Does Health Care cost In Italy?
Should you obtain an elective residency visa in Italy, you will also be part of the national healthcare system and have a tessera sanitaria (health care card). Otherwise, you can opt for travel insurance from your home country. It's better to be on the safe side, and should anything happen, and you need surgery abroad, they will cover up to a certain percentage of the costs and reimburse you. Keep proof and receipts of everything!
Italy's national health care system is excellent. Emergency healthcare for foreigners is treated regardless of nationality or whether you're part of the public health care system or not.
Will I Have To Pay Taxes Living In Italy?
Personal taxation in Italy is based on ‘tax residency’. Italy will consider you a tax resident if for more than 183 days in a fiscal year you:
- are registered in an Italian resident (Anagrafe)
- have a residence (habitual abode) in Italy
- your "center of life," your principle location of business, economic, or family life is in Italy
If one of the above is true, Italy may qualify you as a tax resident.
Italy has three levels of personal income tax: national, regional, and municipal taxes. Expats migrating to Italy may also have a flat tax on their investments abroad. To avoid any complications, penalties, and fines, speak with a tax advisor for details.
What Are The Visa Requirements For Italy?
US citizens do not require an Italian visa for visits for up to 90 out of 180 days. Italy is in the Schengen agreement along with 26 other European countries. Foreigners looking to visit strictly for vacation or tourism can enter Italy as part of the Schengen Visa. Schengen is expressly for tourism and is not ideal for retirees or digital nomads looking for long-term options. With 90-days, you would barely have enough time for a trip through the beautiful countryside or Italy's most popular cities.
To determine the type of visa you will need, check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation website.
What About An Italian Retirement Visa?
Expats and retirees looking for long-term residency can apply for an Italy Elective Residency Visa. This visa allows foreigners who have the financial means to support themselves (Minimum of €31,160 for individuals and €38,000 for married couples) without employment (i.e., retiree) an opportunity for permanent residency and a path to Italian citizenship.
Still researching the best cities for retirement? Check out our extensive Cost of Living collection for the best expat destinations. Get insider information and real examples of expat life from people who have spent years living abroad. I've compiled all the information you need: cost breakdowns, insider tips to save money, and detailed examples of the quality of lifestyle you can enjoy.
Final Thoughts: Is Florence An expensive City to live in?
Florence can be an expensive city even by Western European standards, but living costs can vary dramatically depending on lifestyle and personal interests. Thankfully this culturally rich city offers a range of low-cost activities, a variety of affordable food options, and alternative options for housing, giving you some control over your monthly costs.
In the end, I'd say Florence is a special place to live in. From my experience, a city in and of itself is just a place. What made living in Florence so great for me were the people I met and the friends I made along the way.
There is much to enjoy in this city. While the cost of living in Florence can be high, the memories and people you'll meet will make your experience priceless.
FAQs: Average Cost Of Living In Florence Italy
If you want to live comfortably in Florence, plan on needing at least $1,500 USD per month. This budget includes food, transportation, entertainment, health care, and other costs. An expat with a $1,500 budget can still enjoy deliciously prepared local Italian food, aperitivi with friends, and a daily espresso.
Yes, living in Florence is great because of its beautiful architecture, museums, and art galleries. The entire city has an artistic vibe, whether it's the simple street art or the masterpiece in the Palazzo Vecchio. The city is also compact and very walkable for strolls to admire the breathtaking views.
Best depends on your lifestyle. Each neighborhood has something unique to offer expats, such as nightlife, restaurants, shopping, art galleries, museums, parks, and historic sites. The best neighborhoods near the historic center are Oltrarno, San Marco, and Santa Croce. Outside the city center, check out Via Bolengese, Campo di Marte, and Novoli.
The average salary in Florence is $1,600 USD/month (net after taxes). An example of annual salary averages for professional jobs requiring a degree:
- IT MANAGER $41,000
- SOFTWARE ENGINEER $30,878
- FINANCIAL ANALYST $39,713
I wouldn't call Florence cheap. Rent and housing costs are high, especially near the historical center, where an average one-bedroom apartment is $800-$900. However, you can save money living in Florence by avoiding restaurants and cooking at home. You can easily find local and seasonal foods that are affordable and delicious at local markets.
I have traveled to over 40 countries to give you the best ways to save, invest, and live overseas for less cost than in the US. After five years of traveling, my list of places to live keeps getting longer. To give you more information on the best places to live abroad, I partner with experts from the expat community.
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EXPAT CONTRIBUTION BY: Simona Vani
Simona is a Montrealer living in Italy who traded in her double-double for espresso – and hasn’t looked back since. A Communications Specialist and blogger at Backpackers in the World – a global community of backpackers – she loves writing travel guides to help you make the most out of your next trip.