Living in Bologna on a Student's Budget


Updated on May 12 • 4 minute read

Decided to study abroad in Bologna? Amazing! It's not only one of the best cities in Italy but also one where the cost of living isn't high. More importantly, living in Bologna is considerably cheap for students — compared to other European cities — as you only need to budget approximately €750 - €1,000 per month.

But as you prepare to study in Bologna as an international student, you'll have to plan numerous things, such as university courses, best neighbourhood to live in, how to use the public transport, and more. So how do you plan your student budget and ensure you stick to it? Here're some tips on how to live on a student budget in Bologna.

Find the right housing option

As Bologna is a bustling, international “student city,” space for students is in high demand. And even though you may not be paying some of the higher prices that you’ll find in other cities like Milan or Florence, it'll still be your biggest monthly expenses.

The first tip is be wise about the type of room you rent as that can impact the rental price:

  • Studio- €900
  • Room in an apartment- €400 - €600
  • Shared room in an apartment- €350
  • Student dorms- €300- €400

The second tip is to consider the neighbourhood's location. This is key when you want to stick to a budget. Try to steer clear of Via Indipendenza and Piazza Maggiore, areas known for their high prices.

Our third and final tip is to start searching early for a room in Bologna. Begin looking 3 to 4 months before your move. Also, contact several landlords about different properties as students are rarely so lucky to get their first choice.

Save on food costs

Students in Bologna can expect to budget €150 - €200 for groceries per month. Here're some ways to save money:

  1. Try discount grocery stores like the LIDL or Esselunga and avoid the convenient supermarkets in the city center.
  2. If you live in an apartment with friends, buy groceries together from a shared budget, it's often cheaper.
  3. Shop from local weekly farmer's markets, such as Campagna Amica. You'll get fresher produce for cheaper than the supermarket.

Be smart about eating out

Bologna is known for its food and it's almost impossible to resist eating out! While it's tempting to skip cooking and relish the local cuisine, know that it can all add up! On average, here's what you can expect eating out will cost in Bologna:

  • Meal at an inexpensive restaurant- €14 €16
  • Meal on campus- €5 - €8
  • Cappucino- €1.50
  • Wine bottle- €8 - €10
  • Beer- €4 - €5.50
  • Fast food meal - €8
  • 3 course meal- 30

Here're some tips on saving money on eating out: 1. Most restaurants will offer you bread and also charge you €1 - €2 for it. Skip this as the meal will likely be enough to fill you up! 2. Opt for the meal of the day, especially at lunch time, as these can be as cheap as €5. 3. Most restaurants will serve antipasti before your meal. This is often enough to fill you up a bit. 4. Use your student card! Some restaurants offer discount. 5. Eat from the street vendors. The area surrounding Piazza Verdi is full of kebab stalls and cheap restaurants called “trattorias.”

Shop like a local in Bologna

  1. Avoid the touristy shops and opt for more authentic shopping experiences. Via Farini offers a lot of shops, but visit Via Indipendenza instead for cheaper prices and much more variety.

  2. Visit the several open-air flea markets, which offer much better prices than the regular shops.

  3. Check out the outdoor vintage market on Piazza Puntoni, located just a few blocks down from Piazza Verdi. You’ll be able to find vendors selling vintage clothes, accessories, books or vinyl records, all priced for the budget-conscious shopper.

  4. If you need a new local SIM card (which we highly recommend due to the cheaper costs), there are a lot of mobile phone stores around the city center. Prices may vary from location to location, so be sure to shop around a bit.

Public transport costs

If you plan on using the public transport in Bologna frequently, don't just buy individual tickets. Instead, get a seasonal or annual ticket. Here're some budget saving travel options for students in Bologna:

  1. If you're enrolled at the University of Bologna, log in to Studenti Online to purchase the annual ticket for €180. Some students can also get it for €99 in certain circumstances.
  2. If you're an exchange student, you can get a city transport ticket for only €10 if you log in via Studenti Online.
  3. If you're under 27 years old, you can also get a monthly impersonal ticket for €27 instead of €36 or a annual personal card for €220 instead of €300.

Leisure on a budget

Besides food, rent, and the occassional shopping, you should also budget for how much you want to spend on leisure in Bologna. With so many things to do in Bologna, here're some things to consider if you want to budget conscious:

  1. Get yourself an ESN card, which gets you discounts for several things, such as Ryanair when you want to travel, Skill Share when you want to upskill, Just Eat when you want to order in!

  2. Instead of getting a membership at an expensive gym, look for university gyms. They're much cheaper and usually on campus.

  3. Take your student card to the cinemas as students pay €4.50 on weekdays and Sunday instead of €7.

  4. The Bologna Musei Institution will let you visit several museums for free as long as you carry your university card and proof of registration for the current academic year.

  5. Interested in theatre? Get discounted entry tickets at the Arena del Sole theatre for selected shows by showing your student card.

  6. Check out your university’s events, especially those put on by the student organizations. You’ll find no shortage of fun-filled activities, many of which won’t cost you a thing after you join!

  7. Head to the many green spaces popular with students, such as Giardini Margherita and Parco Montagnola. Check the calendards of these parks for free events, like concerts. Besides this, the parks are great places to exercise, get together to study or even have a weekend picnic.

  8. Meet at Piazza Verdi, the buzzing square located at the center of the University of Bologna, Europe’s oldest university. This is a great place to meet other students when you don't want to spend much or at all.

With so many tips, we're sure you can have a memorable time in Bologna, even if you’re on a tight budget. Best of luck on your international study abroad experience and have a great time exploring the less-expensive side of Bologna!

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