Cost of Living in Rome- Life In Italy’s Eternal City on $1400

07/04

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QUICK SUMMARY- COST OF LIVING IN Rome, Italy

  • Monthly budget in Rome, Italy for one person = $1,400 <skip to budget details>.
  • Living in Italy can be cheaper than you think. Even in an expensive Italian city, it is possible to live a comfortable life on an average budget.
  • Save money on rent and restaurants by living a few stops away from Rome's city center.
  • Save hundreds of dollars a month by ditching the car and using Rome's extensive public transportation system.

Rome is the city where I was born, grew up, and lived for almost 30 years. I left Italy's most populous city only once to relocate to southern China, Xiamen City, for six years and to travel extensively in Southeast Asia, the USA, and New Zealand. Currently, I'm preparing to move to a small town in the Roman countryside, where I will work remotely as a copywriter and language teacher.

Italy uses the Euro (EUR) for currency. At the time of this writing, the exchange rate is 1 US Dollar = 0.84 Euros

This post may contain affiliate links. I may get a commission if you purchase something using my link. Please note, there is NO ADDITIONAL COST to you. For more information, please see my disclosure.

woman enjoying the low cost of living in Rome.

Our guest, Lisa, describes her lifestyle and budget living in Rome.

What Is The Cost Of Living In Rome, Italy?


$1400- Cost of Living in ROME ITALY Details [HIDE]

Total Monthly Expense
$1419
COST PER MONTH
Rent- 1-bedroom with Balcony Outside City Center596
Water/Sewer/Trash/Electricity77
High Speed Internet36
Cell Phone- 70 GB Internet Per Month10
Total Housing Expense717
Home Cooked Meals 19 times per week239
Budget Lunch- "Tavole Calde" 1 time per Week39
Mid-Priced Restaurant 1 Time per Week104
Total Food Expense380
Group Hike 1 time per Month18
Aperitifs with Friends- 1 Time per Week62
Night Out Dancing with Friends- 1 Time per Month36
Museum or Movies 2 times per Month20
Total Entertainment136
Monthly Metrebus Card42
Taxi 1 time Per Month24
Total Transportation Expense66
Travel Health Insurance50
Health Care Expense50
Personal Care (Shampoo, etc.) & Household Items (Soap, etc.)20
Miscellaneous Expenses50
Total Personal Care and Misc Expense70
Exchange Rate to $1 USD to Euro (EUR)0.84

While not a "cheap city," the cost of living in Rome for me is still around €1200/month, which is slightly above the average for a local. The medium salary for an Italian is €1,100 per month.

To live in Rome while spending little, you must first understand a significant difference in prices between the historical center, the neighborhoods surrounding the center, and the suburbs. Like most Italian cities, to get an optimal quality of life, away from traffic, noise, and close to places where food is grown, you have to move to areas just outside Rome. Expats will find a better value in neighborhoods, like Frascati or Formello, and you'll be able to trim your expenses even further.

How Does The Cost Of Living In Rome Compare To The US?

On a $1,400 per month budget, the lower cost of living in Rome saves expats over $15,000 a year; Even when comparing an "expensive" city in Italy (Rome) vs. a medium-cost city in the US (Portland).

Look at the comparison below representing the Top 4 major living expenses in the US: housing, food, transportation, and healthcare. These 4 expenses make up 68% of the average cost of living in US cities.

Essential Living Costs

US-

Portland

IT-

Rome

HOUSING

$962

$717

FOOD

$313

$380

TRANSPORTATION

$862

$66

HEALTHCARE

$353

$50

Total Average Per Month

$2,490

$1,213

Save 51% on Major Monthly Expenses

Living like a local in Rome cuts your expenses in half

Expats moving abroad to save money don't usually put Italy at the top of the list. Rome may not have the low-cost reputation of Eastern European cities (Sofia, Bulgaria and Bucharest, Romania as examples). Still, there are ways to live in Italy on an average salary comfortably.

 INSIDER TIP : Visiting vs Moving Abroad- People who have visited Rome as tourists may question their ability to live in the city on a $1,400 monthly budget. It's important to remember that your expenses on vacation will be quite different from living in Rome as expat retirees.

Annalisa shows us the average cost of living in Rome can be substantially reduced by "living like a local." Let's look at the quality of life a $1,400 per month buys you in Rome.

What Kind of Lifestyle Can I Afford On $1400 Per Month?

Gelato at Fatamorgana in the Monti neighborhood for $5

 I like to get up early and have breakfast in one of the cute coffee shops Rome is known for, one of those with scattered tables and couches for you to sit and leisurely savor your coffee. Cafes in Rome, locally called "bars," are taken by storm from about 7 am to 9 am and then again after 5 pm.

After coffee, I head for groceries; every neighborhood in Rome has a morning open-air food market where farmers bring their fresh produce. There are also weekly outdoor clothing and second-hand markets where you can get great deals, such as:

  • Villaggio Olimpico Market on Friday morning.
  • Market of Via Sannio, on Saturday morning
  • Porta Portese flea market, on Sunday morning.

Rome is full of green spaces, allowing you to fully enjoy a mild climate most of the year, especially from March to November. The largest public parks are Villa Pamphili and Villa Ada, which were once private mansions of wealthy Roman families. Inside there are miles of trails for running or cycling. If a stroll is more your liking, there are artificial lakes, pine forests, and huge lawns where you can sunbathe and play. The biggest parks in Rome are also some of Italy’s natural landmarks.

When the parks are no longer enough, you can reach several beautiful beaches near Rome; the closest is Ostia Lido, just a 20-minute train ride from the Ostiense station.

Walking through the historic center's streets is always a surprise; it is impossible to visit all of Rome's monuments: piazzas, churches, fountains, museums, and ruins in a single trip. Moving to Rome for some time is the only way to explore the city entirely.

 INSIDER TIP : All the churches have free entry, and most of them hide artistic treasures, such as the three Caravaggio paintings in San Luigi dei Francesi.

What Does An Apartment Cost In Rome?

Apartments in Garbatella are distinctive for being built around a central courtyard.

Housing Costs

$717

Rome is the largest city in Italy and is located in the geographical center of the Italian peninsula. With three state university campuses and many more private ones, thousands of workers and students from all over Italy and the world move here every year. Workers usually rent a room in a shared apartment with other workers or one-bedroom mini-apartments. In the Centocelle neighborhood, I pay €500 / $597 per month for a 1-bedroom apartment consisting of a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and balcony.

Living near some of the most important monuments of Italy has its charms. Still, by staying even just 20 minutes by subway from the historic city center, which is 20 square kilometers wide, you immediately take the pressure off your wallet.

One-bedroom, one-bathroom, with a balcony

The kitchen in my $600 apartment the Centocelle neighborhood

How To Reduce Your Rental Costs In Rome

The biggest factor affecting your cost of living in Rome is your choice of residential neighborhood. Living two steps from the Colosseum means spending an average Italian salary solely on a month's rent. 

Prices in city center supermarkets are also higher. If you have a car, you will be practically forced to rent a parking space in an underground garage since historic center parking lots are considered "property of the municipality"—parking on the street will cost you a €1.50 / $1.79 per hour ticket.

For easy access to the historic center without the sky-high costs, find an apartment near one of these three subway lines crossing the city (LINE A, B, C). Some of the most livable and unique areas to stay in Rome are only a few subway stops away from the center:

  • Prati
  • Appio
  • San Saba
  • Garbatella
  • Balduina
  • Nuovo Salario
  • Eur
  • Pigneto

 INSIDER TIP : Apartment Hunting Like A Local- Stay off Airbnb and look for apartments using the following Facebook Groups: 

Other Housing Costs In Rome

The landlord usually rents an apartment with everything you need to live: a refrigerator, washing machine, pots and cutlery, a bed, and essential furniture.

Some apartments include wifi in the rental price, but not all. It is common practice for the landlord to open an internet contract with a phone company, which the tenant pay; the prices are around €25-30 / $30-36 per month.

The average costs for utilities (gas and electricity) are generally less than €50 / $60 per month. In the winter months, around January and February, the gas bill will get more expensive to heat the house. Every apartment in Rome has independent radiator heating. The landlord tends to keep the utility bills in his name.

Each year, there is also an expense for the waste tax, the TARI, which depends on the house's size. For a 45 sqm apartment, as in my case, it is about €170 / $203 per year. There is also a fixed monthly expense for cleaning and maintenance of common areas included in the rent.

How Much Does Food and Drinks Cost In Rome?

Mercato Trionfale- A traditional neighborhood market catering to local residents

Food Costs

$380

I try to spend under €200 / $240 on groceries every month. You can save tons shopping at discount supermarkets, such as Todis and Simply. I prefer to buy fruits and vegetables in the local outdoor markets. I like organic meats, so I shop for beef and fish at specific stores that guarantee product origin and farming methods.

The expense of eating out in Rome is less than you would expect if you stick outside the historical center. In the center, quality restaurants and trattorias are lost in a sea of tourist traps famous only by name.

To avoid disappointment, head to the Testaccio Market for an informal lunch. Here you can taste quality local Italian cuisine: homemade pasta, pizza, porchetta, sautéed vegetables for under €15 / $18.

Rome's foodies love the Testaccio neighborhood. Here you will find the pizzerias "Da Remo" and "Nuovo Mondo" (€20 / $24 per head for a dinner of pizza, beer, and typical fried delicacies for starters). 

As soon as you arrive in Rome, another neighborhood worth exploring from top to bottom is Monti. Via Urbana St. as well as Piazza Della Madonna dei Monti are very popular with both expats and locals, and feature excellent, affordable Italian restaurants, cafes, and street food such as:

  • Urbana 47
  • Aromaticus
  • Grezzo Raw Chocolate and Gelato
  • Zia Rosetta
  • La Vacca ‘Mbriaca
  • Fatamorgana Gelato

 INSIDER TIP : At so-called "tavole calde," which are coffee shops that also serve lunch, you can have a quick meal, whether it's a sandwich, pizza, or a main course with a side dish and a drink, for as little as €5-10 / $6-12. 

If you need to keep an eye on your food budget, avoid the Trastevere district: imagine paying €20 / $24 for a plate of pasta at a mid-range restaurant when outside the historic center; you would only pay €10-12 / $12-15.

But if you are looking to splurge on a romantic dinner, head to "Le Mani in Pasta" in Trastevere. Famous for its fish dishes or Enoteca Ferrara, you'll delight in delicious traditional Italian food served with a wide selection of wines. Dinner for two will average around €70 / $84. Add a little more if you enjoy a glass of wine.

The supply of restaurants is endless in Rome; it just takes a little time to figure out which are the right places for your needs. With a bit of organization, I can stay on budget even by dining out twice a week.

Supplì $7 - A Roman specialty antipasti made with fried arborio rice and cheese at Urbana 47 restaurant in Monti

Italian Pasta $14 - Delicious authentic pasta is served everywhere cheaper when dining outside historical center

 Gelato $4- Grezzo Raw makes vegan desserts, including almond milk gelato with Ecuadorian cacao

How Much Money Do You Spend For Entertainment?

The trendy hipster area of Monti was once the heart of ancient Rome's red-light district.

Entertainment and Sports

$136

  • Gym Membership $60 per month-  The "Amateur Sports Associations," also called ASD or simply "gyms," are among the most widespread small businesses in Rome and places where people make friends in this great metropolis.You will first need a medical certificate of good health (€30 / $35), the staff of the gym can arrange the visit with the doctor. Gyms typically charge an upfront membership fee, between €40-50, and a monthly subscription, around €50-80 / $60-$95, depending on whether you train only in the equipment room or follow lessons with a teacher.
  • Aperitifs with Friends $7- Generally, the best time to meet friends during the workweek is between 6 pm and 8 pm. This time is for Aperitif and sitting at a cafe with a drink and some snacks (€6 / $7). Some places like the MomArt, located in the Nomentana area, prepare the so-called "apericena," where €10 / $12 you can have a drink and a buffet dinner.
  • Beers at Pub $2- On weekends the pubs fill up too. Among expats, the wine bars and pubs in Campo dei Fiori, Parione, and Monti neighborhood are among the historic center's most popular districts.
  • Night Out Dancing $12- The discos are found mainly in the Eur area. Typically a €10 to €30 / $12 to $36 cover fee to enter a nightclub includes one drink.
  • Attraction Tickets $ varies- For recreation, I like to go to the movies (€8.50 / $10, but €6.50 / $7.50 on Wednesdays), visit a museum (€8-10 / $10-$12), or go out for a day-hike with a hiking group at least once a month (€15 / $18).

How Much Does Transportation Cost?

In Rome, all the public transportation options, bus, metro, trams, and light rail, all you the same $1.50 ticket.

Transportation

$66

 INSIDER TIP : Reduced Transportation Costs- Living in Rome, you can avoid the expense of a car. The best way to get around the city is on foot and by subway. Cultural attractions in the city are in pedestrian-only zones, and most of your daily life will be clustered together within walking distance. 

The city's road network has long been insufficient to contain traffic.

For Italians, the car is a status symbol. We buy cars, even if there is no real-world need. Private transport inevitably takes away space from public transportation: public buses and personal vehicles share the same roads. Taking the bus at rush hour means spending at least 40 minutes stuck in traffic. The best way to get around the city is on foot and by subway.

The monthly public transport pass, the Metrebus Card, costs €35 / $42, while a single ticket valid for 100 minutes costs €1.50 / $1,80.

Giving up owning a car saves on gasoline, insurance, and parking. Especially In Rome's city center, there is also the problem of parking scarcity. Private pay parking lots, such as the one underground in Piazza Cavour, run €2.50 / $3 per hour.

Instead of driving a car, many citizens prefer a scooter. Less safe, but agile in traffic and easy to park.

 EDITOR'S NOTE : Medical Insurance and Motorbikes- Unless you are 100% legal riding a motorbike in Bali (motorcycle license from your home country, an International driving permit, and wearing a helmet), your health insurance will not cover you for any accidents while riding a scooter or motorbike.

International Flights

Two international airports serve Rome: the main airport, Fiumicino (FCO), sometimes referred to Leonardo da Vinci Airport, and the smaller, but closer to the city center, Ciampino (CIA).

You can reach 10-20 other countries from Rome for a $20 airline ticket.

Other Considerations When Moving To Rome

Parione is the heart of Rome’s historic center. The Piazza Navona is always bustling with sidewalk cafes and street artists.

  • Mobile Internet Plan $9.50-  A cell phone sim with 70 gigs of traffic and unlimited calls to mobiles in Italy is €8 / $9.50 per month, such as the mobile phone company Iliad.
  • Maid Service $8.50 per hour- In shared apartments, there is a tendency to invest in a small weekly cleaning fee. A cleaning lady charges around €7/ $8.50 per hour and can clean a 3-room apartment for less than €30 / $36.  

Expat External Resources

Facebook groups are an essential social aggregator for the expat community in Rome. The most popular groups are:

  • Expats living in Rome
  • Expats living in Italy
  • Rome - Girl Gone International
  • Ultimate Italy

How Much Are Health Care costs In Italy?

Healthcare

$50

 EDITOR'S NOTE Health Care Benefits-  the cost shown above is a placeholder for Travel Health Insurance. For residents and citizens, Italy provides free medical care through their national health insurance. Expats will need their own private medical insurance. My travel medical insurance costs $50 per month and covers me anywhere in the world outside of the US.

Expat retirees under the Elective Resident Visa must first have expat health insurance meeting the following minimum requirements:

Coverage of medical expenses including (prescription drugs, in-patient care, emergency services, and doctor visits)

Limits: 30,000 Euro per person per year

Territory: eligible in all European Union countries

Duration: one year

Will My Home Country Health Insurance Cover Me?

Most likely no. Most health insurance will not cover you for any injuries sustained outside your home country. To get protection while living abroad, there are two options:

  • Travel Health Insurance- This will cover you for unexpected medical issues while living in the Philippines. This insurance requires you still maintain insurance in the United States or your respective home country. I pay roughly $50 per month for complete coverage with no deductible.
  • Expat Medical Insurance- If you retire abroad, expat health insurance is a more complete option. Expat Medical Insurance is the "normal" insurance you are familiar with to from home. Coverage is built for people who live in a country versus traveling. While more expensive than Travel Medical Insurance, premiums are still cheaper than the US. 

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 Is Not Included In The Monthly Budget?

Expat Taxes

If you stay longer than 183 days, many countries will consider you a tax resident. Being an expat may help you save money on your taxes. Talk to a tax professional to see how tax residency applies to you. I partnered with a firm specializing in expat taxes to secure a special deal for Nomadic FIRE readers.


Use the promotion code "Nomadic25Consultation" for $25 off a tax consultation to get you started. 


Even better, use their experts prepare your tax return, the entire consultation is FREE.

Moving Costs

Between customs, freight, packing costs, and ground transportation, figuring out how to move your stuff overseas can become complicated.  Partner with a certified international moving expert to ensure competitive rates and no hidden fees. 

What Are The Visa Requirements For Italy?

Italy is one of the few EU countries with a reasonably priced "Retirement Visa" Option

Italy does not require a Visa for US citizens visiting for up to 90 out of 180 days. Italy is in the Schengen agreement. 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 Tuscany, Pisa, Rome, Florence, or any other Italian cities.

To determine the type of visa you will need, check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation website. 

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. Interest in learning more? 

Sign up below and get notified when we release our latest post.

Digital Nomad Visa- Expats looking to work remotely can look into a "Freelancer Visa" or self-employment (Lavoro Autonomo) visa. Fair warning, though, I have been told by several immigration experts this is a problematic visa with a high rate of rejection by Consulates. There is even a quota system to restrict options further. If you have passive income, the Elective Residency Visa or retirement visa is a better option.

Working Holiday Visa- (available for Australians, New Zealanders, and Canadians), the cost was €100EUR/$120.25 plus €14.62/$17.58USD payment for a duty stamp on your application. You will also need your bank finances together to prove you have 12 months of living expenses saved (€3500EUR/$4208.66USD).

You can find a list of visa fees here. 

Compare Cost Of Living In Rome

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: Living In Rome

Since Rome is a vast city with many different districts, it is crucial to take some time to choose the place that best suits your needs. Traffic noise will make apartments facing busy streets unbearably noisy. The traffic is Rome's main problem. Local life in the city is a trade-off between the stressful congestion and traffic, balanced by relaxing public parks and Rome's unique ability to satisfy any foreigner's culinary cravings. The food wins almost every time. 

Resources for Working and Living Abroad

Start Speaking A New Language In 30 days

Pimsleur is the best method I have found to get to "Survival-Level" quickly when learning a new language. With Pimsleur, I can ease the stress of arriving in a new country and start speaking with people in my neighborhood. Ordering food, getting directions, haggling prices, and making friends is 10X easier when you can communicate in the local language.

Achieve better results using Pimsleur's short classes and organic learning methodology vs. the mindless repetition, endless verb conjugations, and tedious memorization of other language courses. 

Transfer Money Internationally

For expats and nomads, Wise offers an International Bank account for your money transfers. It's an easier and cheaper alternative for paying your bills while overseas.

Looking to buy property abroad, Wise has a Large Transfer Rate for even bigger savings. 

Get A Free International Household Moving Quote

Figuring out how to move your stuff overseas is both exciting and nerve-racking. Partnering with a one-stop shop international moving company simplifies the hardest part.

Suddath provides you the peace of mind in knowing a relocation specialist is personally managing your international move every step of the way.

Get Your US Expat Tax Questions Answered

US Expat taxes are the most complex in the world. However, living abroad comes with potential tax advantages, but mistakes are very easy to make. It is no wonder many expats are frustrated. 

Avoid complications, penalties, and fines, Taxes For Expats is here to help.

Protect Your Health While Abroad

Your home health insurance is unlikely to provide coverage for you while overseas. Get premium health insurance designed for expats and digital nomads that protects you anywhere you are in the world, even during a pandemic.

Use A Virtual Mailbox To Keep A Permanent US Address And Receive Important Documents and Packages

Get a US street address you can use while you are overseas. Use a digital mailbox with a REAL physical location to receive mail from USPS, FedEx, and UPS.

A virtual mailbox can receive and forward all your important documents and packages, replace credit cards, maintain state residency, get checks deposited, or file business and tax applications. Prices start at $6. 

Travel Tools and Resources

Skyscanner- My favorite airline search tool to find all the cheapest flights in one place.
Airport Pick-Up Service- Arrive at your destination stress-free with a private car cheaper than most taxis. 

Loctote- My favorite day pack. Secure your belongings while walking around town.

First Time Moving Abroad? Check Out My Advice For New Expats

EXPAT INSIGHTS

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.

You want insider information from people with feet in the street? I only work with expats with real-life experience living in countries you want to know about. Together you get updated info on the best neighborhoods, detailed Cost of Living examples, money-saving advice, and recommendations on the local places to eat, drink, and see.

Are you a travel blogger with information you can share on living in another country? Contact me and let's talk about collaborating on a guest post. 

EXPAT CONTRIBUTION BY: Annalisa

Annalisa is an Italian with a passion for off-the-beaten-path places, nature, and foreign languages. She writes about traveling Rome and Italy in her blog Travel Connect Experience.



About the author

Hi, That's me. I'm Marco Sison. I am a survivor of the corporate rat race. I started Nomad FIRE to show you an alternative to the stress and grind of 70-hour weeks to pay off a mortgage, student loans, and countless bills. After getting laid off in 2015, I said screw it all and retired early at 41 years old. I have traveled the last five years to over 40 countries to show you the best ways to save, invest, and live in amazing countries for 70% less cost than the US. I have been featured in: US News & World Reports, Huffington Post, MSN Money, USA Today, ABC Network, Yahoo Finance, Best Life, CW Network, Dr. Wealth, and others. [view press...]

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