8 Reasons Why Moving to Italy Made Sense, Financially

There are a lot of reasons to move to Rome.

Weather, food, art and culture all come to mind.

However, one of the reasons I moved to Rome was because it made sense for my budget.


Think you can’t afford to move to Italy? Here are 8 ways I saved and/or made money by taking the plunge and moving to Rome.

1. The cost of graduate school: In the US, I would have paid $20,000 – $40,000 a year for my masters degree. In Italy I paid €5,000. I used up every penny of my savings to cover living expenses but I managed to graduate with zero student debt.

2. The career bump that came after graduate school: I drained my bank account to cover my return to school, but in the end it was worth it. My last career had limited growth opportunities and grad school was a chance to hit reset. Taking the time and energy to complete my Masters was an investment in my career that paid off.

3. Downsizing: In the US, I felt a fairly acute need to try to keep up with my neighbors/friends/peers. Moving to Italy, let me escape that.  Sometimes I briefly worry that we are somehow falling behind all our friends who are ‘real’ adults and own homes and cars, but overall I am really happy with our lifestyle and our financial priorities.  Less keeping up means more money in the bank. I also have less stuff overall which means less up keep and equals more flexible spending.

4. Selling my car and using public transportation: Ditching four wheels has probably made one of the biggest differences in my budget. No more car payments, insurance bills, mechanic trips, or gas.  Now I spend just €35/month for unlimited bus, metro and local train rides. Now that I don’t have a car, I also feel that the occasional Uber splurge is worth it.

train to Castel Gandolfo

5. Health care: I don’t have great health insurance, but I still pay way way way less on health care than I ever did in America.  Getting a filling replaced with no dental insurance cost about €100 out of pocket. Can you IMAGINE what that would be in the US? My yearly check up costs about the same as a co-pay. And the great New Year’s Eve fiasco of 2015 that warranted a trip to the ER? 0. 0 euros/dollars/pesos. 0.

6. Travel: If you haven’t already guessed, a big chunk of my budget goes to travel. It is something I prioritize spending on, and I am willing to cut out other things from my budget to make it happen. Living in Rome means that travel has, in many ways, become a lot cheaper for me. I have fewer transatlantic flights to factor in, which keeps costs down. I can also take day trips from Rome to beautiful towns without spending more than €10 on getting there.

Ponte Vecchio

7. Food: When it comes to eating in Italy verses eating back home, the ratio of quality to price is insanely better.  I really had to change my consumption patterns when I moved to Rome, and make the time to prepare less pre-processed foods.  In the end, I pay less for fresh foods and tend to waste less because I buy small quantities rather than letting half a package of mystery nibbles languish in some dark corner of the cupboard.

broccoli e vongole

8. Wine: Seriously. Why is wine so crazy expensive in America? The much more reasonable Italian price point means a small indulgence comes at a small price. Ultimately, I feel like I am living large on a much tighter budget.

wine in Florence

Having lived in Los Angeles immediately before moving to Rome, I would say that the rent is comparable. (Potentially rent in Rome is lower than LA now).  However, my bills for electricity, gas, etc have all increased. That seems to balance out many of the budget gains in other areas.

Overall, because Italy is a good fit for my lifestyle, I save money.  The things I enjoy doing for fun are all accessible here, and the cost of living is close or less to what I was paying in California.

View from the Colosseum Terrace

Of course, budgets and career prospects will differ from person-to-person, but moving to Italy does not have to be unaffordable as long as you are ready for the life changes that come with it: no big cars, or massive houses, or even simple things like clothes dryers (too much energy!).


33 thoughts on “8 Reasons Why Moving to Italy Made Sense, Financially

      • NataliaMae says:

        Hi Natalie! I’m Natalia! In the last two years I’ve toured some of Italy twice. I often feel like I’ve left part of my soul there. I would like to move there for good! I’d love to talk to you offline to help me develop a strategy for doing so!

  1. Cynthia/Cinzia says:

    Natalie, I’m an American living in France but my first love is and always has been Italy. I lived there for 2 years 15 years ago working at IFAD/UN and teaching English freelance. I ended up falling in love and out of love with a Frenchman, but in the process, before our divorce, I obtained my French / EU residency. I did research and learned I could probably transfer it to an Italian residency. The issue is I am a freelancer consultant, writer, etc. and the more I researched Italy the more I realized that I was looking at probably 45% in income taxes and social benefit taxes. If I’m only making $26,000/ year, I cannot afford to live on half of that so I’m staying in France for now. In France, they have a new business status which costs me 2.7% in income taxes and 25% in cotisations (SS). Could you speak to that, write a post about it or even just email me? This is the only thing that is keeping me from moving to Italy. Grazie mille. Cynthia
    PS. I’m writing an ebook about becoming an expat and talking about how to do that in Italy. Do you mind if I put a link to your blog in it?

    • Natalie says:

      Hi Cynthia! I know the allure of Italy all too well…

      I will send you an email now with forewarning that I will likely shed very little light on the tax situation. I pay taxes in my home country based on my visa.

      And of course- I would love for the blog to be included in the ebook!

  2. Pingback: 6 things I’ve Learned from 6 years in Italy – An American in Rome

  3. Dario Fabian says:

    Hi, how hard would it be for a fine carpenter to find work with not speaking the language?
    I think you should do a small blog on the type of employment someone can get there without speaki g the language and also how hard is it to get a visa to get there. Thanks.

    • Natalie says:

      Hi Dario! That’s a good suggestion so I will try to put that blog together. I’m afraid I don’t know much about the market for carpenters. However, it can be difficult to get a work visa without sponsorship. There are some schools that sponsor work visas for English language teachers. There are also some self-employment options for visas. The easiest way is to come as a student and that allows you to work 20 hours/week.

  4. nithi says:

    I m from Bangalore ( India ). I love to come and settle there I m not completed graduation and I m female 27 years . Lost my business here so I need a change . Ready do any work and settle there . So could u help me in tat i m completely blank so u can guide me on this

  5. Uapa says:

    Love your blog and happy you like life in my hometown, Rome 🙂
    I hope to go back there from England, where I’m living now, even if I feel at home here too!

  6. Elaine Smyth says:

    Hi, Like Dario I too would be interested in the work opportunities available to those who have not yet mastered the beautiful Italian language. I have been learning on and off for years but it still alludes me! As I am from the EU (Ireland) a visa may not be an issue but myself and my partner I will still need to work and support ourselves. Neither of us are graduates but have middle management type jobs at present but our dream is early (50ish) semi retirement in Italy ?

    • Natalie says:

      Hi Elaine! As far as Rome goes, the major jobs for English speakers are teaching, tour guiding or working for the UN. For most business situations, at least some Italian is required.

  7. Lisa Barr says:

    Great to read this post. We are presently in Lucca, which we are seriously considering as a retirement destination, and visiting to immerse ourselves in what it would be like to live here. Not quite there yet, as we have two sons in college in the U.S., & about 7 years before we can make the big move. Loving it so far, though. Lucca seems to hit all the buttons for us.

  8. John says:

    I bought a house in Calabria about 6 years ago that right now is a vacation house and I work about 4 weeks a year there.
    But I am hoping to retire there in a few years. Property tax is low, cost of living is fairly inexpensive. The unknowns right now are tax rates once retired and exchange rates.

    • Natalie says:

      Exactly! For me it is the cost of living that makes the most sense, but exchange rates can vary so much when you live abroad and have savings in another currency.

  9. Toni Hilton says:

    Natalie, I would add into your discussion some attention to pensions. Young people might not be factoring in that not only can they expect lower earnings and higher taxes here, they will not have the pension potential of other economies. I came to Italy 25 years ago, after paying in to the American Social Security and investing in IRA/TSA through paycheck withholdings. I became eligible for my early US pension at 62.
    My Italian husband, who paid 52% of his executive paycheck annually in taxes (obviously no deducted IRAs and a mere 500e/yr of dependents) , will get his pension (maybe) at 67 and it will be a much smaller percentage of his lifetime income than mine is. It is true that a percent of an Italian tax rate is going toward health coverage and university for your kids.

    • Natalie says:

      I think that is a good point. As a younger person, I don’t put as much value on Social Security because it is so overdrawn that even though I have paid into it, I don’t think that it will exist by the time I am 62. Italian pensions have been pushed back later and later, that is true. I personally have opted to go private. The very high Italian tax rate has a lot of tradeoffs but for me it is the ability to have a comfortable lifestyle with less take home pay that makes it most attractive.

  10. Cristina says:

    Well, in Italy you can still have a huge house or a big car if you can afford one, as well as dozens of different cloth dryers, which you can find in any big appliances stores in Italy. It’s all a matter of “affordability”. 🙂

  11. Moncille Vaglienti Thomas says:

    I am a 63 year old retired teacher who would love to move there…visited 3 years ago. My family is from Notcia. Living in a smaller area would probably suit my budget better….is it difficult finding work teaching English? How fluent must one be in Italian to live there? Thinking of selling it all and going….suggestions?

    • Natalie says:

      The most important thing is to have your visa/permission to live in order. You can learn Italian once you arrive, but it will be harder to settle in smaller towns without knowing the language at least a bit.

  12. Melissa says:

    Hi Natalie thank you for your blog!
    I’m currently in NY looking to move to Florence in April. Do you have any advice on the process? Most likely I will keep my job here but be able to work remotely. Is this possible? And advice you have would be greatly appreciated.

    • Natalie says:

      Hi Melissa! If you plan to stay for more than 90 days, you need to have a visa (or be an EU citizen). I’m not really sure what kind of visa would suit you if you are working remotely

  13. Jan Marie says:

    Ciao Natalie! I have just found your blog and I’m fascinated. If it’s easier to email, do let me know. I was just wondering where you went to graduate school for $5K, and was it for Writing?

    I’ve been working as a jazz singer for a number of years, but my heart really lies in education, early childhood, and Emilia-Romagna is where the “Reggio Emilia style” of teaching comes from; I’ve always dreamed of learning it in the homeland. I have a Bachelor’s in Italian, and studied abroad in Padova, but in order to teach I’d love to get my Master’s in Education, especially if it’s ~$5K and I can work 20 hours/week too – seems like the best way to earn a longer term visa.

    But did you take all your classes in Italian? Are you a madrelingua? Or do they offer classes in English at certain università, and if so, how are they denoted?

    • Natalie says:

      Hi Jan! My masters is actually in Development Economics. You can google around to find programs in English but they vary by university so it is best to go to the school’s website directly to see what they are offering. The course descriptions should be in English if that is the language they will be taught in. Good luck!

  14. Marty says:

    Hi Natalie,
    I enjoyed the article and it confirmed my intuitions about Italy.

    My GF and I are both teachers in Texas, and we are looking to relocate. Italy intrigues us. I have a masters in education and in IT, and I’m about 6 months from a doctorate in IT. I’m realistic enough to know that doesn’t mean a lot depending on where you end up – but, I do think her and I might benefit from English-as-a-second-language (ESL) certificates. Everywhere we look it seems like they are looking for English teachers! I have some income from other sources so we don’t have to make a ton of money, but some income would be nice. Any thoughts you have on this would be welcome!

    We are interested in a quieter life, maybe the Ascoli Piceno province or somewhere similar. The rents in that region of Italy seem very, very reasonable compared to almost anywhere in the States.


  15. Vimi says:

    Natalie hi, I just came across your blog which I have really enjoyed reading. Do you have any thoughts on a 70 year old moving to Italy? I am comfortable speaking workable daily use Italian and want to be in a walkable town and not pay a huge rent. Thank you so much.

    • Natalie says:

      Do you have private health care? I think that would be my main concern in a small town. Registering for the SSN is tricky if you are coming on elective residency after retirement, as far as I understand.

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