So you’re planning to move to Bologna but haven’t got a clue about how much is costs? Before you can daydream about eating tortellini and gelato, it’s important to consider the practical side of living in Italy. In the end you’ll be grateful that you did because you’ll be getting yourself the best for your buck (which means more tortellini and gelato for you, hooray!).
The cost of rent varies depending upon the size, location, quality, etc. of the apartment.
If you’re searching for a monolocale or a one room loft style apartment, you’re looking at a minimum of 500 euro a month. For a single room in a shared apartment, 350-400 euro is the average. To rent an entire two to three bedroom apartment, 1200 euro and up is standard.
Apartments in Italy are typically quite small and old, so don’t be surprised when your kitchen is the size of a closet and there is furniture that looks like it belongs in the middle ages.
In terms of searching for an apartment, you have two options: renting through an agency or renting directly through the owner. Choosing an agency will make your life a lot easier, but you will pay for it (generally the cost of the first month’s rent). Going directly through the owner is usually a lot cheaper, but it means you have to do the legwork. You’ll want to start by searching in Italian. Using English is probably only going to get you tourist search results, so pull out the Italian dictionary and be prepared to do some translation!
You will want to read through any contracts carefully, and make sure you are financially prepared to pay a security depost (again, usually the cost of one month’s rent).
Utilities (Gas, Electric, Internet, “Le spese condominiali”)
The cost of utilities depends on the size of the apartment. For my little two bedroom flat, it costs about 80 euro/month for gas and electric. For a bigger apartment, you might pay around 100 euro/month during warmer months, and 150 euro/month during colder months. Of course, having a roommate can help to cut your share of the expense in half.
For wireless Internet, I pay 30 euro/month with Fastweb. I’m sure there are cheaper and more expensive options out there, but Fastweb seems to be the most common internet provider.
Now, “le spese condominiali” – the condominium expenses – is something that has me truly confounded, but seems to be the norm in Italy. When you live in an apartment building, it’s quite typical to pay a monthly fee for certain shared expenses such as paying someone to clean the stairwell once a week. Sometimes these “spese” are included in your monthly rent – something you should definitely find out before renting. What I don’t like about these monthly fees is that they are quite ambiguous. As a renter, you’re told you have to pay these expenses without knowing exactly what they are and how you’re benefiting from them.
Based on my experience, these spese condominiali are about 20-30 euro/month.
If you are going to be taking the bus in Bologna, a one-way ticket costs 1.40 euro. A monthly pass is 36.00 euro. For more information on tickets and prices, please refer to the TPER website.
At the moment, one liter of gasoline costs about 1.70 euro. You can check updated prices here.
Walking is free and biking is highly economical. :)
In an inexpensive restaurant, you can expect to pay around 15 euro for a one course meal with wine or beer. In a more expensive restaurant, 40 euro is average, typically a multicourse meal with wine. Pizza and a beer can cost as low as 10 euro.
This strongly depends on how much you eat and what you buy. However, you can rely on these basics:
1 liter of milk – 1.30 euro
A dozen eggs – 3.00 euro
1 loaf of fresh bread – 1.00 euro
1 ball of mozarella cheese – 1.50 euro
1 kg of chicken – 8.00 euro
1000 grams of boxed pasta – 1.00 euro
1 bottle of mid-range wine – 4.75 euro
1 half liter of Italian beer – 1.50 euro
4 rolls of toilet paper – 2.00 euro
I usually spend about 35-40 euro/week at the supermarket.
At the bar
A normal espresso coffee is almost always 1.00 euro. A cappuccino is about 1.80 euro. A glass of wine is 4.00-5.00 euro and a tall beer is about 5.00 euro. Cocktails are on average 6.00 euro.
Adding it all up
All in all, how much does it cost to live in Bologna? Let’s say you pay 400 euro/month for an apartment and live a pretty modest lifestyle, eating out once a week, occasionally going to the bar, and taking the bus once or twice a week. You could probably survive off of 700 euro a month, and live comfortably off of 900 euro a month. Considering an average salary in Bologna is 1200 euro/month, this isn’t too bad. A teacher’s salary (like me) is roughly 800 euro/month.
So is Bologna an expensive place to live compared to the rest of Italy? Fortunately, the booming University life keeps the city relatively affordable, although there are some expensive parts of town. I think it’s fair to say that the city is less expensive than Milan, but not quite as a cheap as some other cities in the south of Italy.
*These calculations are based upon my personal experience as well as data taken from Numbeo.com. There are, of course, many other expenses you have to consider: entertainment, personal care items, clothes, travel etc. I haven’t included these only because they vary so much from person to person, and I consider them to be a part of my “disposable income” rather than the money I need to absolutely survive.