While Rome is not necessarily a cheap city to live in, it is less expensive than many of Europe’s other capital cities, such as Paris or London. Expats moving to Rome will encounter a generally stable economy. This means prices tend not to fluctuate dramatically from year to year.
In 2023, Rome was ranked 59th out of 227 cities in the Mercer Cost of Living Survey. This indicates that while Rome is pricier than cities such as Edinburgh and Melbourne, it’s much, much cheaper than major business hubs such as Hong Kong and New York City. It's even cheaper than Milan, which sits in 49th place.
Cost of accommodation in Rome
Like in any city, accommodation in Rome can take up a large part of an expat’s monthly budget. Housing prices vary a lot depending on which area or suburb of Rome one chooses to stay. Naturally, the closer one lives to the city centre, the more expensive accommodation will get.
Expats should be aware that rent does not always include utilities like electricity. It would be wise to ask about this before signing a contract. Property owners will often insist on being paid monthly and in cash, although bank payments are the best and safest option.
Cost of transport in Rome
The price of fuel is relatively high in Rome. Fortunately, European and Italian cars tend to be smaller, which makes them more fuel-efficient. Parking in Rome can be quite expensive, too. Public transport in Rome is cheap, extensive and user-friendly, making it the preferred method of getting around in the city.
Rome's public transport system, consisting of buses, trams, metro and urban trains, is a cost-effective way to navigate the city. A standard one-way ticket lasts 100 minutes and allows for multiple transfers between the metro, buses and trams. Monthly and annual passes offer even greater value for regular commuters. Additionally, many of Rome's iconic sites are within walking distance of each other, which can further reduce transport costs.
Cost of groceries and clothing in Rome
One of the best things about living as an expat in Italy is getting to enjoy all the incredible Italian food. Expats will find buying local produce much cheaper than buying imported foods. Prices in Rome are slightly more affordable than what one would pay in North American cities such as New York City or Toronto. Coffee, wine and fresh bread are top of the list of products that are cheaper in Rome.
Shopping for groceries in Rome can be a delightful experience, especially in local markets like Campo de' Fiori or Testaccio Market. These markets offer a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and cheeses at reasonable prices. Supermarkets in Rome also provide a wide range of options, although prices can be slightly higher compared to the local markets.
Italy is famous for its designer clothing and shoes. There are many outlets and flagship stores that sell designer items for cheaper than one would find in other countries. Electronics tend to be pricier in Rome; expats can circumvent this by buying them elsewhere in Italy or bringing them from their home countries. For clothing, Rome offers a mix of high-end designer stores and more affordable local brands, providing options for different budgets.
Cost of entertainment and eating out in Rome
The lifestyle in Rome is diverse and lively. Eating out is a central part of entertainment in Rome, while shopping will also feature highly on the list, but both these activities can be costly when done regularly. Expats who enjoy a night out will also not lack options, but the bars, cafés and clubs in the popular tourist areas will be slightly pricier than in areas frequented by tourists.
Similar to nightlife, the restaurants in tourist areas will be costlier than those located in other areas. Expats will be spoilt for choice, with many restaurants offering authentic Italian cuisine. The best part about eating out in Rome is the portion sizes, which often compensate for the seemingly high prices.
For entertainment, Rome offers a variety of options ranging from historical tours, opera, live music and theatre. The costs for these activities can vary, but there are frequently free or reduced-price options for students and seniors. For those interested in art and history, many of Rome's museums and archaeological sites offer free entry on certain days of the month.
Cost of education in Rome
Public education in Italy is free from primary school to university, though there is an enrolment tax that becomes mandatory from the age of 16. This enrolment tax is merely a once-off fee that is paid at the start of the school year when children are enrolled in one of Rome's many schools.
The cost of going to a private school varies. Some private schools are supported by the state, which makes them affordable. International schools, the option many expats choose, are known to be costly. Some are all-inclusive, but the vast majority don’t include additional costs for uniforms, bus services, school lunches or excursions, so these are extras expat parents must budget for.
Cost of healthcare in Rome
The national health service in Italy provides universal coverage to citizens and residents, with public healthcare largely free of charge. Most expats employed in Italy will qualify for the local government healthcare network by being a resident. Though costs in the public health sector will vary based on several factors, expats report costs as reasonable.
While public healthcare in Rome is comprehensive, some expats opt for private health insurance to cover additional services and ensure quicker access to specialists. Private healthcare in Rome is renowned for its high standards but comes at a significantly higher cost than public healthcare. Dental and optical care, which are not always covered by the public healthcare system, can also be expensive, and expats should consider this when choosing their healthcare options.
Cost of living in Rome chart
Prices may vary depending on location and service provider. The table below is based on average prices in Rome for November 2023.
|Accommodation (monthly rent)
|Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre
|Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre
|One-bedroom apartment in the city centre
|One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre
|Food and drink
|Milk (1 litre)
|Loaf of white bread
|Chicken breasts (1kg)
|Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)
|Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant
|Big Mac Meal
|Bottle of beer (local)
|Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)
|Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)
|Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)
|City-centre public transport fare
|Gasoline (per litre)
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