Although Southern Europe is known for its affordable cost of living, Italy actually has some of the highest prices in this part of the continent. Nevertheless, living on a small budget in the home of pizza is still possible. This is most achievable in small towns, villages and the countryside. For instance, the cost of living in small towns in the south is about half of what one would pay in Milan, Turin, Genoa, Bologna, Florence, Venice or Rome.
What are the cheapest cities to live in Italy?
- Naples – $1,400
- Pescara – $1,300
- Rieti – $1,100
- Campobasso – $1,040
- Lecce – $1,398
- Avellino – $1,016
- Benevento – $1,000
- Matera – $1,143
- Cosenza – $1,000
- Crotone – $1,292
- Reggio Calabria – $968
- Catanzaro – $1,173
- Syracuse – $1,308
- Alessandria – $1,108
Cities in the southern provinces are the least expensive places expats can find in Italy. In some of them, a comfortable lifestyle is accessible at around $1,000 per month. In the north where you have the capital Rome, things get considerably more expensive. So where can you move to on a tight budget in Italy as an expat, digital nomad or remote worker? Keep reading to find out.
The cheapest places to live in Italy in 2021
Population: approx. 1 million.
Of the largest cities in Italy, Naples is the least expensive. It is situated in the south on the Bay of Naples. It’s also the regional capital of Campania and the third largest city in Italy after Rome and Milan.
Naples is famous for its food, art, culture, ancient buildings and being the original home to pizza. The world-renowned dish is originally from here. Despite it being a touristy city, Naples has a very reasonable cost of living depending on the location where you decide to rent an accommodation. Plus there is a considerable number of expats to connect with.
Cost of living: $1,400.
Population: approx. 120,000
Pescara is a resort city located on the Adriatic Sea in the Abruzzo region. It’s the biggest city in the region and has a beautiful beach. It’s also not far away from the Apennine mountains.
Pescara gets very busy in the summer and quieter in winter. This town is perfect for a relaxed life at an affordable cost.
Cost of living: $1,300.
Population: approx. 47,000
Riete is an ancient Roman town located in the Lazio region in central Italy. The city center stands on a small hilltop, making it quite the picturesque place.
The old historic center is surrounded by well-preserved walls dating from the first half of the 13th century. Riete is just a one and a half hour drive from Rome, but the cost of living is just a fraction of what you will pay in the Italian capital.
Cost of living: $1,100.
Population: approx. 50,000
Campobasso is the capital and largest city of the Molise region in the south of Italy. At just about three hours southeast of Rome and two hours from Naples, you won’t be too far away from the main Italian attractions here.
Campobasso is easily accessible by car or train from those major cities as well. It will give you the impression of a typical southern Italian town.
Tourists and expats often overlook this city, thus it’s commonly described as one of the country’s hidden gems with fewer crowds and lower prices.
Cost of living: $1,040.
Population: approx. 95,000
Lecce is a medium-sized city located in the southern Apulia region, also known as Puglia. The city is well-known for its baroque buildings.
In fact, Lecce is one of the most impressive among the cheapest cities in Italy. The 2,000 years old city has been considered the cultural capital of the region. It’s an extravagant, elegant but also vibrant place.
Lecce has so many beautiful monuments, churches, palaces and museums that it’s often referred to as the Florence of the south. Lovers of history and architecture will enjoy living in this city.
At the same time, the Apulia region is one of the least expensive in Italy. This area is particularly popular for budget Italian vacationers.
Rent gets less expensive the further you move inland from the Adriatic coast. Puglia is a beautiful region, and even in the cheapest locations, you are at most an hour away from the beach.
Living costs during the winter become even lower with tourists gone.
Cost of living: $1,398.
Population: approx. 55,000
Avellino is a darling little town in the southern Campania region. It’s situated just 50 km away from Naples and surrounded by mountains. The cost of living here is unbeatable as one of the lowest on the list.
But one downside is that due to severe earthquakes it experienced in the past, almost no historical buildings have survived in the city. Nonetheless, the surrounding nature is remarkable.
Cost of living: $1,016.
Population: approx. 60,000
Also located just 50 km from Naples, and surrounded by the Apennine hills, Benevento offers a much lower cost of living than its larger neighbor.
Benevento has some breathtaking views as it’s situated between the rivers Sabato and Calore with mountains in the background. Despite not being a major tourist destination, Benevento has several interesting Ancient Roman monuments that are worth your attention.
Cost of living: $1,000.
Population: approx. 60,000
For those looking for a historical town with a slow-paced intimate community, the magnificent city of Matera is an affordable option.
It is located in a remote corner of southern Italy in the small region of Basilicata. Matera is well known for its cultural heritage. Some parts of the city are protected UNESCO sites, such as its cave dwellings that have been inhabited since the Paleolithic era.
Matera is also remarkable for its spectacular scenery, stylish cave hotels and fascinating history. Not only is it most probably the oldest place in Italy, but also in the world as it dates back 5,000 years.
Moreover, the cave dwellings became a historic tourism destination with hotels, small museums and restaurants. The surrounding landscape is made up mostly of hills and mountains. It has dramatic peaks, billowing wheat fields and panoramas that should be rendered in paintings.
Cost of living: $1,143.
Population: approx. 60,000
Cosenza is an ancient city in the southern Italian region of Calabria, and it has always been known for its rich cultural life. Its historical center is one of the best preserved in Italy with renovated palaces, medieval squares, craft shops and lively areas full of people in the evenings.
To this day, the city remains a cultural hub full of museums, monuments, theaters, libraries and the well-known University of Calabria. The Calabria region is ranked the 17th most liveable section of the country and the 19th most expensive.
Cost of living: $1,000.
Population: approx. 64,000
Crotone is another small city in the Calabria region. Located along the coast of southern Italy, the city attracts international and local tourists due to its panoramic location, beautiful beaches and classic Italian lifestyle.
As a city with a long history and remarkable monuments, it’s a viable option for anyone looking for a quiet and remote home along the beach.
Cost of living: $1,292.
Population: approx. 200,000
Also in the Calabria region is the city of Reggio Calabria, also simply referred to as just Reggio. It is the oldest and largest in the region, as well as a departure point for many ferries and trains going to various destinations in Sicily.
Apart from being a major port, Reggio is also a busy urban center with economical and trade importance for the region. As the second oldest city in the country, it’s also a culturally-significant and strategic location with a low cost of living.
Cost of living: $968.
Population: approx. 91,000
Catanzaro is one of the best cities to live in the Calabria region, and it’s also known as the “City of the two Seas.” It is also a windy city due to its altitude and position between two seas.
In fact, there are only 30 km separating the Ionian Sea from the Tyrrhenian Sea, leaving Catanzaro wide open to constant strong breezes. Unfortunately, a devastating earthquake in 1783 wiped away many of its churches, palaces and a large part of the population. A second earthquake in 1832 completed the destruction of many of the town’s ancient historical buildings.
Today, Catanzaro is an urban and affordable city with access to the beach. It’s truly one of the best cities to live in the Calabria region, along with Reggio Calabria and Lamezia Terme.
Cost of living: $1,173.
Population: approx. 125,000
Syracuse is a historic city on the island of Sicily and one of the most inexpensive places in the region. As a typical Italian city, it’s famous for its rich Greek and Roman history, culture, amphitheaters and architecture.
As a city that has existed for thousands of years, Syracuse features a rich blend of cultures and civilizations. No wonder it’s one of the most visited places in Sicily. Moreover, UNESCO even listed the city as a World Heritage Site.
Cost of living: $1,308.
Now for Northern Italy!
Population: approx. 93,000
Located in the northern region of Piedmont, Alessandria is a small city about 90 kilometers (one hour) away from Turin. It’s also not far away from large cities like Milan and Genoa (44 minutes away). An excellent train connection between them gives you the opportunity to travel around easily.
Alessandria has major railway connections for its region, so you won’t need a high budget to enjoy life there and travel around the north. The city’s monthly living costs come to around $1,108.
Another perk of living there is that it’s quick access to the French and Swiss alps as it’s so close to the border. The cost of living there is usually much higher, but the city Alessandria is an exception. For instance, Turin is the region’s capital and surely not an affordable place to live in Italy.
Cost of living: $1,108.
Cheapest provinces in Italy
Some provinces (regions) in Italy are particularly known for having a low cost of living. Thus, you can pick almost any city to live in these regions when moving to Italy on a small budget.
Here are some of them:
Located to the east of Rome, Abruzzo is arguably the cheapest and the best region to live in Italy. It has great mountains, fantastic scenery, good food, lovely Italian people and plenty of expats.
This region is often compared to Tuscany. Like Tuscany, Abruzzo has medieval villages and towns dotted atop rolling hills. However, the price tags are a million miles away from Tuscany. You can live a comparable life at a fraction of the cost. As one of the cheapest places in Italy, Abruzzo is an attractive option for settling down.
Another bonus is Abruzzo’s eastern border, which is a long stretch of Adriatic coastline. Its clean waters are a popular summer destination too. When living here, you won’t need a car. The region has a robust public transport network with regular trains and buses to Rome. Furthermore, Abruzzo has its own airport in Pescara, offering cheap flights across Europe.
Located in the south, the Basilicata region is an under-the-radar destination for most travelers and expats. This region is primarily mountainous, with some areas covered by woodland and vineyards.
The landscape is ideal for the outdoors, with natural parks offering hiking, climbing and cycling. Basilicata can be a perfect place for relocation and living on a budget.
More adventurous expats can enjoy zip-lining, windsurfing and sailing. Furthermore, Basilicata is a major wine-producing area. You can take wine tours and buy the local vintages in most towns and villages.
The southern Calabria region has hundreds of miles of coast, including plenty of excellent beaches. Yet, it’s free from tourists, and even Italian visitors aren’t common here. This fact allows you to enjoy a traditional Italian way of living, which also means lower prices.
Furthermore, summers are incredibly hot here, while winters are on the other end of the scale and can be freezing for weeks on end. If you live in the mountains, you’ll get plenty of snow each winter, which is ideal for skiers and snowboarders.
But just be prepared for the lack of English fluency among locals and short working hours for most shops and businesses. Down in the south, the pace of life is slow, and many small towns and villages retain a strong sense of community.
How much does it cost to live in Italy in 2021?
In Italy, the average cost of living for a single person is $1,715 per month, and a couple will need at least $1,920. In the smaller cities, singles can live comfortably on $1,300 per month, and couples on $1,500. Therefore, living in the large Italian cities costs around $400 more than in the smaller ones.
Compared to other Southern European countries, Italy is one of the more expensive ones for expats. Nevertheless, you can also make it affordable by living in a small, non-touristy city.
For instance, Italy is the fourth cheapest country in Western Europe. Renting a room in Milan will be almost twice as expensive as renting a room in Naples.
Consequently, the cost of living in Italy’s major cities, such as Milan, Rome, Bologna or Florence, is high and is comparable to the Western European prices. Moreover, the living expenses in touristy cities in Italy are higher. The cheapest places to live in Italy are the smaller towns in the south.
Therefore, the most expensive cities in Italy are:
Below are examples of typical monthly expenses for a single person in Italy:
|Rent & Utilities||$661|
Below are some typical expenses for eating and drinking.
Renting a one-bedroom apartment outside of the city center costs $506 on average. A three-bedroom apartment would be $838.
You will pay around $80 for water, gas and electricity in Italy. This amount will rise in the wintertime due to the heating.
Internet and Mobile
An internet connection costs around $40 per month. A mobile plan with 3 GB of data comes to about $28 per month.
$500 is more than enough for going out to eat and buy groceries. Moreover, food prices in Italy are quite affordable, and the quality is excellent.
The monthly ticket for public transport can range between $40-$55. If you plan to live in a small town in Italy, buying a bike will be the best solution. You can get a second-hand bicycle for $90.
Is it cheaper to live in Italy or the USA?
Italy is more affordable than the US. The average cost of living is around 6% lower than in the US. In contrast, the average rent in Italy is 51% lower than in the States.
How to become an expat and move to Italy?
If you want to move as an expat to Italy on a budget, you will need to have a suitable job to sustain the lifestyle. We will recommend getting a remote position to live and work from Italy.
Here at Support Adventure, we hire talented people from around the world, allowing them the opportunity to become expats or work from anywhere as a digital nomad.
We are always hiring for entry level help desk technicians, senior techs, service desk coordinators and occasionally admin assistants. If you have experience in this industry, or even an interest in it, don’t wait! Apply for a remote job with us! You can see our current available positions here.