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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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MOVING TO ITALY

How can you find an apartment to rent in Milan?

With its thriving job market and international allure, Milan is one of the most popular Italian cities for foreigners to move to, but finding a place to rent can be complicated.

How can you find an apartment to rent in Milan?

With its wealth of job opportunities and international appeal, Milan is one of the most popular Italian cities among foreigners.

The northern economic powerhouse is home to over 475,000 foreign nationals (around 14.7 percent of the city’s total population), including ​​a sizeable group of native English speakers.

But high demand for accommodation, high prices (monthly rent in the city comes at an average of around €25 per square metre – that’s over €12 above national average) and housing shortages all make finding a place to rent a challenging task.  

Italian rental contracts

Before actually starting to look for an apartment, it’s generally advisable to get familiar with Italy’s most popular rental agreements, or contratti di affitto in Italian. 

Excluding tourist lets (contratti turistici), which range from a minimum of one day to a maximum of 30 days, the shortest available rental agreement is the transitory contract, or contratto di locazione ad uso transitorio

This lasts a minimum of one month up to a maximum of 18 months, and comes with an important caveat: you’ll need to specify and prove that you have a specific, non-tourism-related reason for your temporary stay, like an apprenticeship, a short-term work contract, or degree program. 

If you’re a student attending a university, you may also be able to sign a student contract (contratto di locazione per studenti universitari), which can last between six months and three years.

Two tenants pictured inside their flat in January 2021

Two tenants pictured inside their flat in January 2021. Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP

Finally, if you’re looking for longer-term agreements, you have two main options: 

  • Unrestricted contract (contratto a canone libero). This lasts for four years, with an automatic option to renew for four more. The rental price is freely set by the landlord.
  • Determined contract (contratto a canone concordato). This lasts for three years with an automatic option to renew for two more. Rent in this case is set by the relevant municipality (or comune) and cannot be negotiated.

For further info on both of the above contracts, see our article on the topic.

Regardless of which type of contract you sign, you should always make sure there’s a clause that allows you to move out after a specified notice period (this is usually a full six months).

Using an agency

Once you’re familiar with the types of contracts available, you can start your search. 

Milan has plenty of agenzie immobiliari that can help you find your future home, with some specialised in assisting international customers (for instance, Renting Milan).

These agencies will do the work of finding and connecting you with potential properties, and negotiate the terms of the contract on your behalf. They may also know about some properties before they hit the open market, giving you a leg up on the competition.

But there are some downsides too. Properties let through rental agencies can be more expensive, as the owners must cover the costs of their own fees to the agency.

READ ALSO: How much does it cost to live in Milan in 2024?

Further, rental agencies will generally take a commission equivalent to one or two months’ rent from the tenant, which can make initial expenses rise very fast when added to the apartment’s security deposit (usually two months’ rent).

Searching online

If agency fees look a little too steep – or if you just want to explore every option – there’s an increasing number of online rental portals that you can check out.

These sites often offer a mix of properties proposed by rental agencies and apartments rented directly by owners. Some of the most popular ones for renting are Idealista, Immobiliare, Casa and Bakeca

All work more or less the same way: select your area, filter by cost, number of rooms, and other details, and see what’s available.

Quite conveniently, some of these websites feature maps showing statistics on rental price per square metre by neighbourhood. This can be useful to ‘zone in’ on certain areas of the city or simply to judge whether the rent being requested by a landlord is reasonable. 

Rental prices by neighbourhood in Milan.

Rental prices by neighbourhood in Milan. Screengrab from Immobiliare.it

You’ll also find listings posted on classifieds sites like Subito, and even on Facebook groups like Milano Easy Renting and Affitti Milano, though most posts will be in Italian (some key Italian renting vocabulary can be found here). 

If you do use social media for your search and find yourself dealing directly with landlords, it’s generally advisable that you keep an eye out for scams at all times. As a rule of thumb, you should never hand out money without visiting the apartment and signing a contract first.

Finally, if you’re ever unsure about the legitimacy of a listing or have any other doubts about a specific apartment or neighbourhood, seeking out advice from people already living in the city is generally well worth the effort.

How much can I expect to pay?

Renting in Milan doesn’t come cheap. 

According to data from property market portal Wikicasa, monthly rent in the city comes at an average of around €25 per square metre – that’s nearly €7 over Lombardy’s average, and more than €12 higher than national average. 

But rent can be as high as €60 per square metres in the more central areas (Duomo, Cadorna, Cordusio, Castello Sforzesco, etc.).

READ ALSO: What are the best Milan neighbourhoods for international residents?

According to Numbeo estimates, renting a one-bedroom flat in the city centre will set you back over €1,400 a month on average, while renting the same type of flat in the outskirts will come at an average monthly price of around €950.

If you have any suggestions on how to find a place to rent in Milan, please share them in the comments section below. 

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