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VENICE

Moving to Italy: How much does it really cost to live in Venice?

Many dream of moving to Venice and enjoying its magical atmosphere as a resident, but the floating city’s reputation isn’t exactly one of affordability. Here’s how much you’ll need to live there.

Houses in Burano, Venice
Property prices, bills, and other costs are above the Italian national average in Venice. So how much will you need to budget if you plan to move here? Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP

Very few cities in the world can match Venice’s spellbinding beauty, which is why many have at least once in their lives considered relocating to the northern city.

But life between the Veneto capital’s grandiose waterside buildings and narrow ‘calli’ (the local name for ‘streets’) comes with a hefty price tag, with one recent study naming Venice among the most expensive Italian cities for overall living costs. 

READ ALSO: Moving to Italy: How much does it really cost to live in Milan?

After all, eye-watering prices are partly responsible for the city’s recent depopulation and Venetians’ mass exodus to cheaper mainland areas.

But if you hope to move there, exactly how much money will you need to live in Venice and what are the biggest expenses for residents?  

Housing

If Venice is often described as a ‘città per nababbi’ (‘a city for tycoons’), it’s mostly because of its high housing costs, which apply to both renters and buyers. 

The average asking price for a property within Venice’s municipality is 3,323 euros per square metre, which, albeit far from the exorbitant prices seen in Portofino (10,891 euros per square metre) or Capri (8,202), is still some 1,434 euros above national average and double the regional average.

READ ALSO: ‘Fighting for survival’: Has Venice become a city no one can live in?

A view of Venice's Rialto bridge

It’s not surprising that many people dream of moving to Venice. But is it affordable? Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

That said, it’s worth noting that prices can climb as high as 5,365 euros per square metre in the San Marco district, the most central area of the city.

Things aren’t much better for renters: a one-bedroom flat in the city centre will set you back 662 euros a month on average (bills are excluded).

READ ALSO: Reader question: How will Venice’s tourist tax affect second-home owners?

While rent can be as high as 17 euros per square metre on the main island, prices are generally lower in the mainland (Mestre and surroundings) and on the smaller islands (Murano, Lido, Pellestrina, etc.)

That said, it would be nearly impossible to rent a flat for less than 13 euros per square metre.

See which areas of the city are cheaper when it comes to buying or renting a property, you can refer to the following online map

Bills

Utility bills are the second-biggest expense for Venice residents. 

Much like any other Italian region, Veneto has been hit by sharp increases in gas and electricity bills due to the European fuel crisis. According to some estimates, such increases will amount to 10 billion euros by the end of 2022.

Radiator

Utility bills are well above the national average in Venice. Photo by Jean-Christophe VERHAEGEN / AFP

Though bills are naturally dependent upon a household’s individual expenditure, ‘bollette’ (utility bills) are estimated to cost more than average in Venice.

Monthly bills – including gas, electricity and water plus waste collection fees – for an 85-square-metre flat in Venice are estimated to add up to an average of 269 euros.

That’s a whopping 91 euros over Italy’s national average, which currently stands at 178 euros a month.  

Groceries

The price of groceries in Italy has increased dramatically over the past few months, triggered by record levels of inflation.

According to Italian consumer group Codacons, Venice is the eleventh-most expensive Italian city when it comes to grocery shopping as filling a supermarket cart with basic goods is estimated to set residents back 99 euros on average – that’s a 24-euro difference compared to the cheapest city, Naples.

A list of the most cost-efficient supermarkets in Venice can be downloaded here (click on ‘Scarica lo speciale supermercati’).

Eating out 

There is certainly no shortage of bars and restaurants in Venice, though as a resident you might prefer to frequent a ‘bacaro’: a quintessentially Venetian tavern serving local wine and food.

As in most major cities, the size of your bill will largely depend not just on the type of eatery you go for but also on its location, with prices being usually much lower in the less touristy areas of the city.

That said, a three-course meal for two people in a mid-range restaurant will set you back 70 euros on average – around 10 euros above the national average – while a regular meal in an inexpensive restaurant comes at around 15 euros a head.

RANKED: The best (and worst) places to live in Italy in 2022

The table of a cafè in Venice

There is no shortage of bars and restaurants in Venice, though eateries are usually crowded in the most touristy areas. Photo by Andrea PATTARO / AFP

Going out, leisure, entertainment 

While lacking in nightlife, Venice offers residents plenty of things to do during the day, especially on weekends. 

And, though the city might not have as broad an entertainment portfolio as Milan, it still manages to satisfy a good variety of tastes and personalities.

READ ALSO: Nine ways to get into trouble while visiting Venice

On this front, prices are slightly higher than in other major cities across the country but are still accessible for the most part. 

For instance, a regular cinema ticket costs around 12 euros, whereas renting a tennis court for one hour comes at an average price of 21 euros.

Transport

Local transport in Venice is fairly reliable – water buses (‘vaporetti’) run frequently and they’re usually on time. 

That said, services are sometimes disrupted by fog or high tides (‘acqua alta’) during the cold months, whereas vaporetti running on the main lines are often crowded during peak tourist season (late May to early September).

Water bus in Venice

Local transport in Venice is fairly reliable, though services are sometimes disrupted by fog or high tides during the winter. Photo by Laurent EMMANUEL / AFP

Prices are however fairly affordable. A monthly all-inclusive pass (‘rete unica’) with ACTV, the main public transport operator in the city, costs 37 euros, whereas an annual ticket goes for 370 euros.

Generous discounts are available to students and people over 75.

Private taxi services are available too. While being by far the quickest way to get around, water taxis are very expensive, with the cost of a ride ranging from a minimum of 40 euros for a shorter journey up to as much as 250 euros.

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RENTING

Reader question: How can I find an apartment to rent in Rome?

The Eternal City is a popular destination for foreigners wanting to stay for a few months or even years, but finding a place to rent can be complicated. Here's where to start.

Reader question: How can I find an apartment to rent in Rome?

Question: I’m moving to Rome in the spring with friends and we’re looking to rent an apartment in a central area. Do you have any suggestions for good sources of rentals in Rome?

For those staying in Rome for just a few weeks, it’s often simplest to go with a short-term booking site like Airbnb.

If you’re planning on staying for longer than this, however, it’s probably more cost-effective to go the official route and sign a rental agreement – though be prepared to deal with a certain amount of hassle (more on this below).

Some of the most popular websites in Italy for rentals are idealista.it, immobiliare.it, and casa.it, where you’ll find a wide range of apartments for rent.

All the listings on these sites are in Italian, so it’s helpful to familiarise yourself with some key vocabulary.

READ ALSO: Ten things to expect when renting an apartment in Italy

In affitto is ‘for rent’ (in vendita, ‘for sale’). For a short-term let, you’ll want a place that’s furnished (arredato). A  locale is a room (note: not a bedroom), so a bilocale is a one-bedroom with one other room and a monolocale is a studio. 

It’s worth reviewing all the photos available and if possible the floor plan (planimetria) so you know exactly what kind of set up the house has; for example a trilocale doesn’t necessarily have two bedrooms, but might just be a one-bed with a separate living room and kitchen. 

For people beginning their search without any Italian, the English-language real estate listings aggregator Nestpick is a good option – though bear in mind you’re unlikely to find the same range of options as on the Italian-language sites.

If you’re coming with a university, they should be your first port of call; some will have a roster of trusted landlords, or can at least direct you to online forums where you can seek recommendations from current and former students.

READ ALSO: Do renters in Italy have the right to keep pets?

Facebook is also a good place to look: Rent in Rome and Rome Expats have two of the largest groups dedicated to searching for an apartment in the eternal city. If you know you want somewhere for at least a year, Long Term Rentals Italy is also an option.

As a guidepost, InterNations, an information and networking site for people living overseas, lists the average monthly rent in Rome as €1,220.

Italy’s rental contracts tend to favour tenants: common contracts are the 3+2 or 4+4, which means the rent is locked in for at least three/four years, at the end of which the renter can choose to renew at the same rate for another two/four years.

Facebook groups can be a good place to start when apartment-hunting in Rome.
Facebook groups can be a good place to start when apartment-hunting in Rome. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

The contratto transitorio (temporary or short-term lease), by contrast, is for anywhere between one and eighteen months. Bear in mind it’s the landlord, not the tenant, that’s locked into these minimum time periods – just make sure there’s a clause that allows you to move out after a specified notice period.

Landlords often prefer to rent our their apartments with contratti transitori so they have more freedom to sell or raise the rent, so you may be at an advantage if you’re looking for a place to stay for just a few months.

Even with just a short-term lease, a landlord can request up to three months’ rent (!) in advance as a security deposit, and it’s common to ask for two. To stand the best chance of getting your deposit back, it’s worth taking detailed photos of the property before you move in so you have a record of its state.

READ ALSO: ‘Why I used to hate living in Rome as a foreigner – and why I changed my mind’

If you’re going through an agency, it’s also common for tenants to pay a finder’s fee of one month’s rent – all of which can make initial costs rise very fast. The silver lining is that in Rome you can (and should) negotiate on the rent, deposit, and other contract terms, and not just take what you’re offered.

Some landlords will suggest you bypass an agency and deal directly with them. While avoiding the agency fees is tempting, this can leave you in a very vulnerable situation as you have no legal standing if it turns out you don’t have an official rental contract – so it’s not advised.

It’s also important not to hand over any money until you’ve viewed the apartment in person (or had a trusted representative do so on your behalf) and confirmed the listing is legitimate. Scams are not unheard of in Rome, and foreigners are ideal targets.

READ ALSO: Moving to Italy: How much does it really cost to live in Milan?

When browsing listings, consider what’s important to you in terms of the neighbourhood and type of property – and if there’s anything you’re unsure of, it’s worth seeking out advice in online groups from people already living in the city.

A ground floor apartment on a cobbled side street near the centre, for example, may sound ideal, but if it’s in a touristy neighbourhood you may find you’re quickly driven mad by the sound of rolling luggage bouncing past your window all hours of the day and night.

Finding an apartment to rent in Rome can be a challenge, but if you put in the effort, you’re sure to find your ideal base – and move on to making the most of your time in one of Europe’s most picturesque and historically rich capitals.

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