Living in Bologna on a Student's Budget


Jan 16 • 4 minute read

When you’re getting ready to plan out your international exchange, there are numerous things to consider. You should begin to think about the universities and which courses they offer in your field of study. You’ll want to check out the housing scene and the types of rooms and apartments that are available in the area.

But sooner or later, you’re going to have to take a look at your finances to see the type of budget you will have available to you during your time abroad. If your budget is quite large, you could consider a handful of Europe’s capitals, such as what Barcelona has to offer, or perhaps even the marvels of Berlin.

But regardless of the size of your budget, there are many cities in Europe that can be very accommodating, especially if you know the best ways to save a euro or two every chance that you get. Bologna is one such locale.

Relocating to Bologna on your Erasmus could be an amazing experience, but as with every destination, there are plenty of tips for having more money at the end of the day to spend on drinks with your new classmates. Let’s check out a few!

Find the Right Housing

The fact is that there is nothing that will eat up more of your budget than your housing. Bologna is a bustling, international “student city,” so space for students is in high demand. Even though you may not be paying some of the higher prices that you’ll find in other cities, it will still be among your largest outgoing monthly expenses.

This is why it is so important to start searching early for a room in Bologna, or in any other city, for that matter. This is how it works: you should always begin looking three to four months before your move. Also, be sure to contact several landlords about different properties, as that students are rarely so lucky as to sign an agreement on their first choice.

Rather than renting a private room, you may also want to think about sharing an apartment with some of your classmates. Check out social media to find pages and groups for students at a particular university. It’s common to find other young people there who are also on the look for a roommate or two.

Finally, location can be key when it comes to sticking to a budget. Try to steer clear of Via Indipendenza and Piazza Maggiore, areas known for their high prices. Fortunately, Bologna can be accessed conveniently via public transportation, so you should be able to easily reach your campus within minutes from just about anywhere.

Shop Like a Local

When you arrive in Bologna, it helps to know where to shop. Avoiding the touristy shops is the first tip to remember, opting for more authentic shopping experiences. Via Farini offers a lot of shops, but visit Via Indipendenza instead for cheaper prices and much more variety.

Bologna also has several open-air flea markets, which offer much better prices than the regular shops. Be sure to 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. Many students buy entire outfits here for less than 10 euros!

Also keep in mind that, if you need a new SIM card, 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 before making your final purchase.

For grocery shopping, try the LIDL in Via Stalingrado, again avoiding the supermarkets in the city center. If you live in an apartment with friends, you can get together and share a meal large enough for everyone. If you take turns, you can save a bundle on food expenses.

Look for Inexpensive Food Options

Speaking of food, Bologna boasts a wide array of tasty eateries, with many to fit within your budget. If you want to order in, try Just Eat, a restaurant platform with many takeaway options. The best part is that they deliver right to your door, often with no additional fee!

There’s also an abundance of street vendors where you can grab a quick bite. The area surrounding Piazza Verdi is full of kebab stalls and cheap restaurants called “trattorias.” But if you’re looking specifically for a great pizzeria, try Spacca Napoli.

Put the “FREE” in Free Time

Now, you aren’t going to be studying at the university 24/7, so you’re going to want to find ways to spend your time that won’t take up what’s left of your budget. Plus, you’re in Bologna, so you need to get out there and explore!

The city’s green spaces are very popular with students, making them a great place to exercise, get together to study or even have a weekend picnic. One of the best is Giardini Margherita, which is just south of the student center, and another is Parco Montagnola, which is a little smaller and less crowded. Also be sure to check out both of their calendars for free events, like concerts.

Bologna is also a well-known cultural city, so you’ll be happy to know that several of their world-class museums are free of charge. You can visit the National Picture Gallery (Pinacoteca Nazionale), the Medieval City Museum (Museo Civico Medievale) and the Archaeological City Museum (Museo Civico Archeologico).

And if you’re really looking forward to completely immersing yourself in Bologna’s student culture, you’ll explore Piazza Verdi, located at the center of the University of Bologna, Europe’s oldest university. This is where most of the students meet up to study or just to socialize in between classes. If you don’t know where to go on a Saturday night, just show up there, and you’ll find a dozen possibilities.

Just remember that you can have a memorable time in Bologna, even if you’re on a tight budget. Also be sure to 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!

Best of luck on your international exchange, and have a great time exploring the less-expensive side of Bologna!

Ready for your adventure?