Escaping to Italy: London VS. Parma

| June 15, 2015

Parma“Buongiorno” from Parma, the affluent Italian city known for its good quality of living; in fact, the highest in the country! A small, efficient city that could be described as busy (but much better organised than many others on the continent) and an exciting destination for everybody who wants to experience life’s beautiful moments, whether it’s great architecture or good food you’re after. It’s regarded as a commercial hub in the region, but never at a furious pace. There’s time to smell the coffee (great espresso and famous for their cappuccino) and make great memories.

Parma with its population of approximately 190 000 boasts one of the world’s oldest centres of learning, the University of Parma; it is comforting to know that the university and other bodies offer good language courses, esp. for those who want to settle in this lovely town which is rich in culture and history.

Unlike many of the world’s big cities, such as London for example, Parma is in very close proximity to mountains (the Apennines), which offer exciting activities such as hiking, skiing and spa’s with water rich in good minerals. Or simply enjoy the dramatic views and dense woods, fresh air and peaceful lakes as you access the area by mountain bike or on horseback. Or, just walk and become one with nature. Because the city is small, access to the surrounds is easy and cheap. The city itself also boasts many urban green spaces with large parks, perfect for strolling day and night. It’s beautiful and safe.

Parmigiano Reggiano

Parmigiano Reggiano producing by Udo Schröter

Parma literally overflows with the best life has to offer: great art, architecture, museums, theatres, palaces and fine shops. The cathedral dates back to the 11th century, for instance; the Abbey church San Giovanni Evangelista is another famous landmark. The city, situated in Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, is known for its many historical castles (more than 100 of them in and around the city). A famous example is the so-called Clear Tower. It is also home to some famous Italians, most notably Bernardo Bertolucci, Verdi and Toscanini. A small city packed with wonderful cultural and historical references for the lover of ancient knowledge and beauty.

Food, like in many parts of Italy, plays a big role in people’s lives. Parma ham, of course, is known to  everybody; cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano), mushrooms, salami and other gastronomical treats are enough to convince the ones who doubt. A great selection of fine eateries (some smart, upmarket – others as good but cheaper) contribute to the city’s allure. These establishments are found all over the city, all easily accessible from most public transport stops, such as a good, affordable railway as well as trolleybus system. Fresh produce is easy to come by, whether you visit the markets or shops. Many locals find great pleasure in shopping for fresh products, rather than simply grabbing pre-packed items from the shelf.

Accommodation, by London standards, is very reasonable! When it comes to renting, London, on average (whether it’s inner city living or finding something on the outskirts) is between 200 and 300% more expensive than Parma. Some food for thought?? Most certainly. Reasonable accommodation anywhere goes a long way towards providing peace and contributing to one’s quality of living. Also buying in these two cities proves that London’s prices are much, much higher.  In Parma’s city centre you’ll pay on average €2 360 per square metre; in London 13,300! The same is  true for property outside the city centre: €1 800 per square meter; in London 7,300. Similarly utilities  (electricity, heating, water, refuse) are much cheaper in Parma, approximately by 100%!

Teatro dei Farnese

Teatro dei Farnese by Alessandro Bonvini

Further to the issue of affordability: Statistics show that London is more expensive than Parma, by quite some margin. When consumer prices, rent, restaurants and groceries are compared, it is found that London shows figures of 32% (consumer prices), 261% (rent), 12% (restaurants) and 28%  (groceries) higher than Parma.

It is estimated that one would need around £4,200 (or €5,740) in London to enjoy the same
standard of living as that in Parma for approximately €3,100); almost twice as expensive! (The assumption is that you rent property in both cities) This is based on a middle to higher income category.

Parma, it seems, offers a very high quality of living in terms of affordability (accommodation,
utilities, food, transport), as well as in levels of recreational activity with various outdoor activities so  easily accessible. Also, for lovers of culture and history the list is endless. Few cities in Europe can  boast the quality of living to be experienced in Parma.

Ciao, Parma!!

(For statistical comparisons www.numbeo.com was consulted extensively)

[Featured image by WordRidden]

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