Ready for part two of our cost of living in Italy series? If you missed it, part one talks about renting in Italy and the various things to consider when setting a budget. Now it is time to talk about your monthly bills and living expenses such as groceries, gas, and all the odds and ends.
Cost of Living in Italy: Housing Bills
When you own a house or rent in Italy, some of the bills come monthly, while others may come every three months. Internet, which can be managed by TIM, Vodafone, FastWeb or another provider will come every month, as well as palazzo fees (this usually covers the doorman, the cleaners or any other admin). While things like Gas and Electricity come every three months.
Rather than choose an internet provider based on cost, in some areas of Italy, you may need to choose based on availability. Different providers own lines in different areas and will be able to offer you faster service. Try to ask around your neighbors to see what they have. Internet generally costs between €25-€35 a month but with lots of sneaky costs.
For example, TIM offered us €25 a month, but then there is the monthly cost of the modem which is €5, then another €5 for a random service we didn’t ask for, then another €6 unless we paid the bill through direct deposit.
There isn’t an easy way around these costs, but shop around and see what may be best for your area. Another thing to keep in mind is that if you want to get out of an internet contract, you’ll end up having to buy out the rest of the contract and modem, meaning cancelling could cost a few hundred.
If you want to avoid the hassle, and just need a little Wi-Fi here and there you can also consider a Wi-Fi hotspot, which runs off 4G and can be bought from any phone provider- Vodafone, TIM, Wind, etc. If you don’t constantly need Wi-Fi these can be a cheaper option.
Gas & Electricity
Your gas and electricity bills often come every three months. Your landlord may already have a contract open or you may need to set one up. To set them up, find out who the best provider may be in your area. Here in Turin, we often use IREN and ENI, but you may see ACEA in Rome, or ENEL. If you’re interested in knowing the whole list of possible companies, you can have a look here.
To sign up you will need your ID cards and rental contract, and usually, I have to show my permesso as well.
The cost of these bills can vary greatly depending on the construction of your house as in what energy class it is, the company, and your own usage.
For a reference point,I work mainly from home so may use the stove and power more often. We usually have a bill around €60 for gas and €60 for lights every three month, so averaging a total of €40/month. (I tried to find our energy class but unfortunately couldn’t find the info!)
I wanted to come in here and update the cost of living, while it is true that our bills used to be only about 60€ every few months, the price of gas and electricity has skyrocketed – in fact with the same consumption level, we paid €200 for our last bill!
Looking around I found it near impossible to figure out and exact amount everything had gone up, so I turned to fellow foreigners in Italy and asked them about what their bills looked like recently. More often than not their bills had doubled or tripled from last year. A few lucky ones had managed to lock down a set contract and saw little to no increase. Just know it’s tough to say exactly but all the bills have gone up by a lot.
WARNING- A big trick in Italy is shady energy companies will send men door to door acting as if they represent your company. They ask to see your bills and come into the house, often trying to trick you into signing up for their company. Do not let them in, you can call the carabinieri because this is illegal.
Heating in Italy is a bit odd. Across the country, heating turns on from October to April, it is regulated by the state. Then depending on your apartment, you may be able to regulate it or not. If you have Autonomo heating, you can decide how much to turn on the heating, and when, meaning your final bill will reflect what you used. But, to make it more difficult to gauge, it will reflect what you used the year before, as an estimate.
If you do not have autonomo heating, your heating will turn on usually in the morning, turn off mid-morning, and then restart in the evening. The bill will depend on your zone, but safe to say an average is about €100-150/month. These will be due monthly, but only for the months the heating is turned on so October- April in the north, November – March in central Italy, and December- February more south. Here is the calendar divided by province to plan for where you live.
Heating, based on gas, is another aspect of life in Italy that has become more expensive. This past year in an attempt to lower the overall use and cost, many towns pushed back when heating would be turned on. They also set the temperatures a degree lower in another attempt to push back the increase.
Even so, bills have increased by nearly 50% in most locations.
Paying for garbage service is usually once a year, and shows up in the mail from your commune. The cost really depends on your location, plus how big your house is, plus how many people live there. They do a whole calculation to estimate your waste and therefore how much you should pay. However, if you are renting, sometimes the landlord may take care of it and just add the cost to your monthly costs.
Other Living Expenses in Italy
In Italy you have plenty of options for a SIM card provider, I talked a little about it in this last post. I personally use Iliad which is one of the cheapest, I pay €8 a month and get 50 GB, plus calls and texts, even to the US! Other providers include Vodafone, TIM, Windtre, and Ho. These providers have different offers every few months and are constantly changing but it is safe to say about €8 to €15 is the general range.
The best way to choose is to find out who has the widest range of services around where you are living. So far with Iliad I have had very few problems with service.
Every city and region has their own transport system, but they do often offer monthly passes. If you are living in the city and plan on taking buses or metros often, I suggest looking into these as they can really be a good deal. If you are under 26 years old you can often also get a “student” deal.
In Torino, the normal monthly bus pass costs €38, in Milan €39 (just for the first zone of the city), and in Rome is €25.
Another cost that is difficult to say is a solid number, it will depend on the grocery stores in your area and how much you eat. I have noticed that the small supermarkets in the city are much more expensive than the larger ones on the outskirts, and I have generally noticed Carrefour tends to be more expensive than other supermarkets. There are often local markets you can check out but these aren’t always necessarily cheaper. In Turin, I do find that Porto Palazzo market offers groceries way cheaper than any store, yet the market closer to my house is twice the price of the supermarket and isn’t even local produce.
Before living with my boyfriend, I averaged about €100 per month on groceries, but I am much more of a snacker, and only make simple one-course meals when hungry. Now, since Fabio enjoys having lunch and dinner with at least two courses, plus fruit, and always Mozzarella, we average about €60-€80 a week.
So how much does it all end up costing?
I know I gave you a lot of generalizations but let’s do a little calculation. Without considering going out, or your rent, and thinking you have internet, pay for your bills and have a SIM card. In a two-person house, where both of you have a bus pass, the average cost per person per month would be about €200 (€250 when you consider heating months). Obviously, this can vary a lot so keep some extra when considering saving to move to Italy.
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