Italy ranks as one of Europe’s most popular destinations for anyone looking to live in a new country. It boasts so much charm and history as well as one of the world’s very best cuisines. In this post, we’ll look at the cheapest cities to live in Italy and consider which are the best options for combining a high quality of life with affordable living.
5 of the Best & Cheapest Cities to Live in Italy
One place that finds a nice balance between affordability and good standing of living is Padova (AKA Padua). Located around 40 km from Venice and with rail connections taking less than 30 minutes, you can get the Venetian experience without having to deal with the high cost of living in one of the world’s most touristic cities.
Padova has plenty to offer in its own right though. It is a historic town of piazzas, bridges and narrow old streets and is a good option for anyone who prefers smaller, less chaotic cities. At the time of writing, it is ranked by NomadList as the number one Italian city for digital nomads, scoring well for fun, affordability, internet access and safety.
Estimated Living Costs* – 1100 Euros/month
* The cost of living for the five cities featured in this post clearly will vary a lot from person to person and should be taken only as a means of comparison rather than an exact figure. Students and those happy to share a flat with several people and maybe live a bit away from the centre will spend less than somebody living alone in a good area. Therefore some people may be able to get by on less than the figures quoted while others will need slightly or a lot more. Our figures are not intended to be a budget for a luxury lifestyle. It is a relatively tight budget but one that still allows enough freedoms to fully experience and enjoy the Italian way of life like a local. Use the table at the bottom of this page to compare living costs in these cities to others in Italy.
If you’re looking to live in a big city but can’t afford the extra few hundred Euros it would cost to live in Rome or Milan, then Turin (AKA Torino) may be your best bet. It is Italy’s 4th largest city with a population just shy of one million but despite that and its location in the wealthy northern region of Italy, Turin is surprisingly cheap to live in.
As well as all the usual facilities and advantages that come with living in a large city, Turin’s location at the foot of the Italian Alps, brings with it all kinds of options for getting out and enjoying nature. The city hosted the 2006 Winter Olympics and has many great nearby options for skiing during the winter months or hiking in the summer.
While it may lack the charms of Rome or Florence, Turin is still mostly an attractive city to live, famous for its Baroque architecture and as the home of Juventus, Italy’s most successful football club. For those looking for a long-term stay, Turin’s status as a major hub for technology and industry is also significant and suggests that it could go from strength to strength in the coming years.
Estimated Living Costs – 1150 Euros/month
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As far as the cheapest cities in Italy go, your best bet is to head to Sicily. It is the largest Mediterranean island, located just off Italy’s ‘boot’ and offers a much warmer climate than you will get in the north in a city like Turin.
Catania and Messina are also viable cheap options for living on the island but the largest Sicilian city is Palermo and it actually ranks as the 5th largest in all of Italy. Like many Italian towns, your first impression may not always be positive with busy streets and noisy traffic. It may not be the most beautiful city either, but as the main transport hub on the island, it’s the best base for getting around and exploring all that Sicily has to offer whilst still enjoying the benefits of city life.
According to our rankings, at just 900 Euros/month, the cost of living in Palermo is just 57% of the equivalent figure in Milan. While depending on your circumstances, you may need to factor in the reduced options for jobs and lower salaries in Italy’s poorest region, anyone able to work remotely will make great savings by choosing Sicily as their base.
Estimated Living Costs – 900 Euros/month
Find Work Placements in Italy
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Another of Italy’s cheapest cities is Bari, located in the southeast of the country on the Adriatic coast. The capital of the Apulia region is growing into a popular destination for foreigners looking for much cheaper rental prices and living costs than you find in cities such as Rome and Milan.
Efforts have been made in recent years to restore and spruce up its medieval old town with a range of excellent late night options for eating and drinking. Bari has always been a major port city for travellers heading between Italy and the Balkans and with increasing numbers of cruise ships docking in Bari, it has made a considerable effort to increase the safety of a city centre which once felt a bit dodgy.
Overall, a bit like Palermo, it’s a good option for anyone whose priorities include a coastal location, warm climate and cheap living costs.
Estimated Living Costs – 975 Euros/month
Read more – The cost of travel in Italy
If your budget is a bit higher, then Verona may be a better option. This northern Italian city, famed as the home of Romeo & Juliet, is almost certainly the most aesthetically pleasing of the five featured in our rundown of affordable Italian cities.
Verona is complete with an array of ancient castles, piazzas and medieval churches. It is a wonderful place to visit as well as live but unlike some other popular Italian cities, it retains a more relaxed feel and its prices have not been skyrocketed by a tourist boom.
Its location in a central part of northern Italy and convenient transport links also make it the ideal base for doing weekend or day-trips to cities such as Venice, Florence and Milan, all of which are less than two hours away by public transport.
Estimated Living Costs – 1175 Euros/month
Cost of Living in Italy – Cities Compared
For the table below, we’ve taken 1350 Euros as a base monthly figure for living in Rome. This should be a very comfortable amount for anyone living in a flatshare, aiming to have a lively social life and do things in your spare time (you may be able to get by on less). It should also just about cover costs for anyone looking to rent their own place, although if you are renting alone, you may need to live away from the city centre.
We have then used numbeo’s cost calculator as a guide to calculate the estimated cost of living in 19 other cities in Italy. As you might expect, there is quite a big divide which loosely runs along north-south lines with the north being the wealthier part of the country whereas the south as well as the islands of Sardinia and Sicily are much poorer and home to many of the cheapest cities to live in Italy. There are exceptions to this rule with the capital Rome a bit more expensive while Turin is relatively affordable for a large northern Italian city.
|City||Estimated Cost of Living (Monthly in Euros)|
This list consists of the 12 largest cities (estimated population of 250,000 or more) in addition to eight others, most of which have been selected because they tend to be rank highly in quality of life rankings or are generally quite popular with foreigners moving to Italy to live. The eight smaller cities are Padova, Trieste, Pisa, Bolzano, Treviso, Rimini, Modena and Parma.
It’s important to note that the cost of health insurance is not worked into these figures. This is because older people will pay a lot more for example while EU citizens may already have an EHIC card which entitles you to treatment, meaning you won’t have to worry about this extra expense.
If you are a remote worker, digital nomad or even a retiree (under 69) and you do need cover for your move to Italy, then we can recommend SafetyWing – a popular company which offers affordable global health insurance for anyone living or working abroad, even during a pandemic!
This post on the cheapest cities to live in Italy was published in July 2020.
Comments and questions are welcome. However please note we are not experts on Italian and EU immigration laws nor on local job markets/study options. You may have more luck on expat forums or other groups specific to moving to Italy from abroad.