Milan is a fashion capital of the world. It’s a home of art, design, technology and the financial centre of Italy and a major player in the European economic community. Unsurprisingly, the cost of living here is very high. Depending on your habits and lifestyle, you can make things cheaper, but there’s a reality that studying here will be more expensive than, say, Valencia, where the cost of living is just a lot lower.
The biggest player in your budget will be rent, without question. To share a studio apartment (i.e. one big room, two beds, no personal space) will set you back €400-500 euros per month, and this is the standard for any shared rooms in or near the city centre. A standard room in a 2/3/4 bedroom flat will be €700, and this doesn’t even include utilities, building expenses or internet - those could add as much as €100+ every month.
If you want to rent a studio apartment to yourself in a good location, you’ll be up over the €1000 mark.
For budgeting you need to remember that most landlords will require a deposit (anywhere from 1-3 month’s rent) and sometimes 1-2 month’s rent up front. At €700 per month rent, you’re looking at an initial, upfront investment of up to €3-3,500 - that’s big. You’ll need to budget accordingly and have plenty of money saved up before accepting your place at the university and booking your flights.
Food is a different story, and it’s nowhere near as severe as your rent. As is common in Italy, the best and cheapest way to get your groceries is through street markets, not supermarkets. There will be markets near wherever you’re living, probably a few days a week, where you can do a large percentage of your weekly shop. Of course, some thing are best bought from supermarkets, and Esselunga and Coop are your best options there. Expect €150-200 per month to eat well.
In terms of eating and drinking out in town, that’s pretty pricey. In the city centre it’s hard to get dinner for under €25, though we have made a few recommendations for cheap, tasty places to eat and drink in Milan. Fortunately lunch is a lot cheaper, as little as €10 for a good meal! Wine is probably your most reliably "cheap" drink, while bottled beer usually won’t set you back more than €3-4.
Milan is a massive, sprawling city, so it’s fortunate that the public transport system is efficient, comprehensive and cheap! That’s right, I just told you something in Milan was cheap! You can travel by bus, metro, tram, train or bicycle around the city, as well as driving if you choose to take your own car.
A single ticket lasts 90 minutes (once validated), can be used interchangeably between different modes of transport and only costs €1.50. If you buy a pack of ten, it’s €1.38 each. If you’re doing a lot of travelling then you can buy a day ticket for €4.50 (unlimited travel) or buy weekly or monthly passes for €11.30 or €35 respectively.
All in all, that’s damn cheap for public transport around a massive, expensive city like Milan. Taxis are expensive, so unless you desperately need one, I wouldn’t bother. Similarly, driving in Milan is very congested and parking is steep, so you’re best to leave your car securely outside the city centre and make your way using public transport.