Living in Rome on a student budget: Breakdown and tips

Living in Rome as a student doesn’t have to break the bank if you follow these money-saving tips.


5 minute read
Updated on 22 Apr 2024

When choosing to study in a popular city like Rome, it’s only fair that you’re afraid to burn a hole in your pocket. But don’t worry, living in Rome is as expensive as you make it. So stick around as we’re about to give you an overview of the cost of living in Rome for (international) students and share a few tips on reducing your financial burden!

We’ll break down your monthly expenses into categories including:

  • groceries,
  • transportation
  • leisure
  • accommodation
  • health insurance
  • SIM card subscription.

We’ll also give you a rough estimate of your study costs. Let’s go!

Is Rome an expensive city to live in as a student?

Living in the capital comes at a high price. Rome is one of the most expensive Italian cities to live in. And while its salaries are also on the higher side, this fact is of very little comfort for international students. After all, with a student visa, you can’t work more than 20 hours per week!

But, trust us; it’s possible to make the most out of living in Rome, even on a student budget!

How much money does a student need to live in Rome?

As a student in Rome, you should budget around €955 – €1,120 per month, including rent.

Here is a breakdown of the monthly cost of living in Rome for one student:

Type of expenseAverage monthly cost
Educational materials€40 – €50
Health insurance€40
Local SIM contract€5 – €10
Public transport€20
Groceries€150 – €200
Leisure€200 – €300
Total€955 – €1,120

The above calculation doesn’t include the tuition fees, so let’s have a look at how much studying in Rome costs.

Tuition fees in Rome’s universities

Depending on whether you decided to enrol in a public university or a prestigious private school, the tuition fees will vary greatly.

You can expect to pay a yearly fee of:

  • €300 – €5,000 in public universities
  • €5,000 – €25,000 in private universities

For example, one of the top Italian universities, Sapienza, establishes fees for international students based on the GDP of the country they’re from. You can pay as little as €300 if you’re from Ghana or India or as much as €1,200 per year if you’re from the UK or Spain.

But don’t worry if the fee is above your budget! Pretty much every Italian university offers some sort of scholarship or grant. For example, look into the fully-funded Italian government scholarships or check the scholarship page of the university you’re interested in.

On top of the tuition fees, you’ll have to cover costs for educational materials such as books, printing etc. which can be around €40 – €50 per month.

[Hear what it’s like to study art in Italy in our interview with Mike](

Student accommodation in Rome

Accommodation takes up the largest chunk of your expenses. But your monthly cost will depend on the neighbourhood and the type of accommodation you choose to live in. For example, consider living in an up-and-coming LGBTQ-friendly neighbourhood like Pigneto, instead of rushing to popular areas like San Lorenzo or Testaccio.

Most students prefer to find affordable co-sharing rooms for rent in Rome to save money. If it’s your first time living with flatmates, it might require some getting used to. But once you find a good match for your living habits, you’ll enjoy cheaper rent, shared responsibilities, and new meaningful connections!

And, FYI, most landlords in Rome include utilities in the rental price, so you don’t have to worry about paying gas, electricity, or water bills separately.

Here’re the average prices for rooms and studios in Rome:

Type of accommodationAverage monthly cost

Be persistent and quick when searching for housing and you might be lucky to snatch something cheaper!

Health insurance costs for students

If you’re coming from a non-EU country, you must take out private travel and health insurance before applying for a student visa. Once you’re fully settled in Italy and have your local tax ID, you can choose to register with the Italian National Health Service.

Public transportation in Rome for students

If you plan to use public transportation often, you might want to get a monthly pass of €35 per month. This pass grants you unlimited travel on all public transport in Rome.

Otherwise, we recommend that you get a bike and make the most of the scenic views! And for occasional travel, you can just grab a single ticket of €1.50 or daily ticket of €6.

Saving money on groceries

You’ll be spending roughly €150-200 per month on groceries in Rome. To reduce the financial burden, we recommend buying your groceries at discount supermarkets like Lidl and Eurospin. More pricey supermarkets, like Carrefour, have weekly discounts, so look out for those!

Alternatively, go for a proper local experience and buy your fresh products at local markets. You won’t find the price/quality ratio better than there!

Leisure and nightlife for students in Rome

As a student in Rome, you’re likely to spend around €200 – €300 per month on entertainment and leisure activities. As a student, this budget should be enough to savour the vibrant nightlife, have an occasional drink at a terrace and eat out at inexpensive places every now and then.

First of all, Rome boasts a bunch of amazing activities, available completely for free. If you’re into modern art, go check out MACRO and the National Gallery of Modern Art – they have free admission. Upon presenting your student card, you can also enter plenty of public museums and archaeological sites for free.

And as for the rest, you’re eligible for plenty of student discounts. If you’re younger than 25 years old, you can buy tickets for most of the other museums at a reduced price. If you’re an art or architecture student in Rome, you can even go for free to MAXXI (and you should!).

Here’s an overview of the entertainment prices in Rome:

Type of expenseAverage price
Cappuccino (regular cafe)€2
Filter coffee (specialty coffee bar)€3
Meal at inexpensive restaurant€15.50
Imported Beer (0.33 litre bottle)€5
Nightclub entrance€20
Museum ticket€9

Since eating out in Rome is far from cheap, we recommend you explore the street food options. Try suppli – a quick Italian snack made of rice and tomato sauce, and filled with toasty, gooey mozzarella. Or grab a pizza by the slice (pizza al taglio) at a bakery or specialized pizza place. And there you have it; a tasty meal for under €5.

Students in Italy also often take advantage of aperitivo. Normally that’s what you call a pre-meal drink to stimulate the appetite. But in most places in Rome, you can also enjoy finger food and sometimes a whole buffet of local dishes included in the price of the drink! You can check out your local bars for aperitivo offers. Normally, they’re served between 6.30PM – 9PM.

Money saving tips for international students in Rome

There you have it! You can live in Rome on a student budget of €955 – €1,120 or less if you:

  • live with flatmates in a less popular neighbourhood
  • switch to Italian health insurance once you’ve your Italian tax code (codice fiscale) and residence permit
  • bike instead of using public transportation
  • buy groceries in discount stores and local markets
  • snack on street food and during aperitivo
  • get your coffee to go
  • make use of student discounts at museums

Want to know more about Studying in Italy? Download the free e-book by filling out the form below.

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