It is fair enough to take a break from our usual discussions on Italian property prices and address another equally important topic: the actual cost of living in Italy.
Contrary to some unfounded myths, living in the boot-shaped country is not as expensive as many non-Italian home-buyers have been led to believe.
The false fact about Italy being a too expensive place to live is usually propagated by inaccurate reports. For instance, the cost of living in a particular luxury resort does not necessarily apply to the other parts of the country.
Eurostat 2014 Report
A good example is the Eurostat 2014 report on consumer goods and services price levels across the 28 European Union countries in addition to other places such as Switzerland and Norway. The report gives Italy a total price index of 103 for consumer goods and services such as food and non-alcoholic beverages, clothing, consumer electronics, transport and hotels among others. The Eurostat list of the most expensive EU countries ranks the Switzerland and Scandinavia at the top while Italy is placed in the middle above Eastern European nations. What probably such rankings fail to point out is the fact that there are many places in Italy away from the main tourist cities where the cost of living is very cheap.
Thus the question arises: What would be the cost of living in Italy?
It may be difficult to pinpoint an exact figure since it could varies from one person to another but even in a big city like Rome, which obviously has a higher cost of living in Italy than other less touristy countryside towns, one can easily get by with a net monthly income of around €1000. This will cover basic expenses although naturally you will want to earn more to cater for savings, holidays, and other major expenses such as buying clothes or a car and taxes for instance. Here are a few examples of the general cost of a few important necessities in Italy:
A standard bus ticket in a large and popular city such as Rome that gives you 100 minutes of bus ride costs €1.5 while most taxis have a fixed daytime fare rate of €4 and €6 at night. A train ride from the main railway station (Stazione Termini) to the airports costs now only €4.
Travelling is easier when you have your own car although, like everywhere else in the world except the Middle East Sheikhdoms, fuel is a bit pricey too in Italy, even if these days it is slowly decreasing with around € 1.50 / l. There are also other additional expenses such as the mandatory car insurance, repairs and servicing to think of such as the cost of the motorway (autostrada) if you want to cover long distances in a fastest way.
Food and drinks
Many tourists in Italy will advise you to expect to spend around €120 to €200 every month on grocery items such as food and other household necessities like toiletries. Naturally, eating out will cost you more than preparing your meal at home. A pizza margherita costs around €4 to €6 in a pizzeria while breakfast (croissant + cappuccino) in a regular café goes for around €3 or less. A beer in an average pub costs around €3.5 depending on the type of pub and the city or town.
There is free healthcare in Italy although you may opt to seek for private medical services when you want less waiting time and a higher quality of service. It is however not necessarily true that public healthcare means low quality although the waiting time is a bit longer in public hospitals.
Like everywhere else in the world, the cost of living in Italy is much cheaper in smaller towns than in the big cities. However, often the standard level of necessary amenities and services are more developed in major cities than in small towns. Yet the cost of living in Italy is usually higher in the northern regions than in the south. However, in comparison to many EU countries, such as England or France, with the same or even higher levels of public services and amenities, Italy boasts a quite affordable cost of living.