The cost of living in Florence, Italy is fairly comparable to that of New York or Los Angeles…if you forget to convert from euros to dollars. Because prices are numerically similar (7 for a cocktail is believable in either currency), it’s easy for Americans to think in equal terms, making for unexpectedly low account balances when the euro is higher than the dollar.
Either way, it’s expensive to live in Florence. But, life is simpler here. The city is walkable, you don’t need a car, even grocery store food is absolutely delicious, and specialty Italian products that cost a lot in other countries (leather, wine, olive oil, prosciutto) are much cheaper. However, even if you land a job paid in euros, don’t expect to live a life of luxury; a typical salary is only about a third of that in America.
Here’s an average price list of 10 important spending areas to help you budget your time in the cradle of the Renaissance. From what I’ve calculated, you should be able to live a comfortable, well-fed life in Florence starting at less than €600 a month (renting a shared room, excluding school expenses, and factoring in about €50 a week for “fun”), and get by for even less:
City bus ticket: €1.20 per 90-minute, multiple-trip ticket (bought at a newsstand, Tabacchi or other store with ATAF – city bus company – logo displayed) €2 per 90-minute, multiple-trip ticket (bought on the bus from the driver)
Go to the Florence city bus website in English.
City bus passes: €4.70 (for 4 90-minute, multiple-trip tickets) €10 (for a 10 90-minute, multiple-trip tickets) €20 (for 21 90-minute, multiple-trip tickets) €30 (for 35 90-minute, multiple-trip tickets) €5 (daily) €12 (3-day) €18 (weekly) €35 (monthly) €310 (yearly)
City bus student passes: €23 (monthly) €185 (yearly)
- *Tip: To get a student bus pass, bring your passport and an official enrollment letter from your school to the ATAF bus office at Piazza Stazione, rampa dell’orologio (from the main train station entrance, go to the left and follow the outside of the building until you see the ATAF Sala Clienti on your right). VALIDATE (stamp) ALL BUS TICKETS in the machine on board. Or, risk paying €40 in fines.
Taxi: €12 (10-minute ride – the cost of most trips within Florence) €20 (from/to airport) €1.96 (to call a taxi, applied to your final price) €1 (per piece of luggage) €1 (for more than 3 people)
- *Tip: Taxi numbers: 055 4390, 055-4499, 055-4798, 055 4242. Girls traveling alone from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. get a 10% discount. Ask!
Train: €7.10 (Florence-Pisa) €29.5 (Florence-Milan, intercity – middle speed train) €30 (Florence-Rome, intercity – middle speed train) €24 (Florence-Venice, intercity – middle speed train)
Go to the Italian train website in English.
- *Tip: If you’re going to be using the train a lot and are between the ages of 12-26 or over 60, it may be a good option to purchase a Carta Verde (€30) or Carta Argento (€40) at the station, which will get you discounts on practically all the trips you take.VALIDATE (stamp) ALL TRAIN TICKETS at one of the yellow boxes at the station. Otherwise, you risk paying €50 in fines.
Used compact car: €6,500
Bike: €40 (used) €120 (new)
Used scooter: €600
- *Tip: People selling used items in Florence post on them (in English) on some websites. If you can read Italian or know your way around Google translator, you can also search secondhand (or new) purchases on Bakeca and Kijiji (similar to Craigslist).
Gas: €1.80 (a liter, 4.5 liter ? 1 gallon)
In the historic center…
1 bed in a shared room: €280
1 room in a shared apartment: €420
Studio/apartment with lofted bed area: €750
Apartment with 1 bedroom: €850
- *Tip: Use our websites to help you find an apartment or other lodging that’s quality, management and price has been controlled by our staff (and are most likely much cheaper than what you’d spend going through a school program): http://www.apartmentsinflorence.net/ – http://www.studentsville.it/accommodations.htm
For one month…
Utilities: €50 (gas, electricity, water, trash)
Internet: €30 (divided by number of roommates)
Satellite TV: €40 (can be cut in half if you sign a year contract)
Cell phone service: €25
- *Tip: Most cell phone providers like: Tim, Wind, Tre and Vodafone; have AMAZING special promotions each month, along with those for new customers. Make sure to ask!
Personal pizza: €7.50
Slice of pizza: €3
Dinner for 1 in a good restaurant: €30 (water, wine, appetizer, first and second course, dessert)
Bag of mixed groceries: €15
1 month of groceries for 1: €125
- *Tip: Buy your produce at the San Lorenzo or Sant’Ambrogio markets. It’s cheaper and fresher.
Pack of cigarettes: about €5 (Marlboro) €4 (Italian brands)
Leather bag: €40
Pair of jeans: €70
Pair of leather shoes: €60
- *Tip: If you’ve got haggling skills, shop clothes and leather goods at the San Lorenzo or Sant’Amrogio markets, and pay much less than in stores.
Bottle of water: €1
Bottle of coke: €2.50
Good bottle of wine: €5 (at the grocery store) €20 in a restaurant (€10 for a 1-liter carafe of house wine)
Glass of wine: €4
Pint of beer: €5
Mixed drink: €6 (in a bar) €10 (in a club)
1 month of group Italian language lessons: €575 (20 hours a week – minimum requirement for a student visa from the U.S.)
Private Italian language lesson: €30 (1 hour)
Specialized lesson (cooking, drawing, photography): €75 (supplies included, between 1 and 3 hours)
4-week TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) Certification Program: €1,400
Monthly salary: €1,250
1 hour of teaching English: €17 (private) €12 (at a school)
Club entrance: €12 (usually with a drink included, sometimes free if you’re a girl)
- *Tip: Some clubs require an ACSI card to enter. You can buy the card for about €10 at the door, which will give you free entrance to all participating clubs for 1 year.
Cinema ticket: €8
Theater ticket: €36
Museum ticket: €6
Monthly gym membership: €50
Aperitivo: €7.50 (alcoholic or nonalcoholic drink + buffet of food, ranging from snacks to a dinner)
10. Health and Dental Care
Teeth cleaning: €45 (€90 with dentist visit)
Emergency room ticket: €25
After hours care ticket (Guardia Medica): €15
- *Tip: For non-emergency after hours care, the Guardia Medica is open from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m., and 24 hours a day on weekends. The central office is located at Via Dei Malcontenti, 6 (ring the bell to enter and bring your passport).
Appointment with a general practitioner: €50
- *Tip: A good, English speaking doctor with a student discount is Stephen Kerr.
Student health Insurance (INA-ASSITALIA): €49 (6 months) €98 (1 year)
- *Tip: You need international health insurance to obtain a student visa and subsequent permesso di soggiorno di studio. If you want the cheapest option, sign the visa application form that promises you will take out an INA-ASSITALIA health insurance policy upon your arrival. It only covers emergency care. You can buy this type of insurance at any post office in Italy. Ask for a bolletino di pagamento, and fill it out with the following information: Account Number – 71270003, Address – Consorzio Agenzia Generale INA/Assitalia, Roma, conto 20, via del Tritone, 00187 Roma.