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Cost of living in Italy

From the cost of broadband to the price of a fancy meal, it’s helpful to know what your expenses are likely to be before making the move to a new country.

What you can expect to earn

Italian salaries are considered low compared with other parts of Europe. If you’re starting off at an executive level, you can expect to command a salary of around €77,697. Anyone working in the Financial Services sector will be looking at €71,972, and sales and business development will be able to draw a salary of €45,800. Salaries do vary from region to region, with Rome paying the highest and some locations further south paying considerably less.1 The highest paying employers include Blackrock, Kairos and Rothschild & Co. And according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the top 20% of the population earn six times as much as the bottom 20%. The OECD also reports that average disposable income in Italy €21,170, compared to €24,836, the  combined average for all the organisation’s surveyed countries.2 Most employees work 40 hours per week with four weeks paid annual leave.

What you can expect to spend

The cost of living varies from city to city. Milan is currently at the top of the table, and Catania, in Sicily is one of the cheapest places to relocate. Italian rents and property costs can be high. The average monthly rental on a 900 square foot, three-bedroom city centre apartment will cost around €1,000.  comparable size house in a cheaper area (outside the city centre) will come to around €750. Internet access is reasonable, coming in at €26 per month. You can expect to pay €145 per month for all of your apartment’s utilities. And if you hate housework, a cleaner’s hourly rate is €10 per hour.

Eating and drinking

Food tends to be reasonably priced, though eating out in a smart restaurant can be expensive. A meal in a mid-range local restaurant will set you back around €50. If you really want to push the boat out, be prepared to pay upwards of €150 — 200 for a really upmarket meal in a top-notch restaurant in Rome. Wine is cheap, around €4 per bottle, as you’re in a country that produces some of the most wonderful wine on the planet — splash out and sample some of the rich, succulent Barolos, enjoy a fruity Valpolicella, or just spend your time enjoying the sparkling fizz of an excellent quality Prosecco. As the Italians would say, Cin Cin!3

Keeping to a budget

Expatistan has some really useful price comparisons for each the major Italian cities, so as soon as you know your salary, you’ll be able to draw up a budget.

The clothes on your back

Clothes tend to be cheap, unless you’re shopping at Prada or Gucci. Beware of fakes, every Italian market, and quite a few shops, will display wonderful designer goods at some eye-watering prices — you’ll take the item home, only to discover that the stitching is faulty and the product isn’t genuine.

Italians in the know go to specific stores in outlet malls where you can get the best, and genuine products, at a fraction of their original cost. Some of these malls offer discounts of up to 70%. If your budget is flexible, try to invest in a pair of handmade Italian shoes. They’ll look stunning, fit like a glove, and your feet will be comfortable. Women can even have monogrammed heels, should you want to be really flash.

We have five easy ways you can save money when you’re working abroad — learn more here.

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