Contrary to some strong misconceptions, the Italian capital is not as expensive as it's often perceived to be. In fact, we find the rating for Rome on nomadlist.com to be completely different from our experience. It’s safe to say that $3,707 a month is a far cry from what it actually costs to live in Rome.
With the cost of living rated as bad and a nomad score of 1.2 out of 5 in July 2018, it’s easy to understand why the digital nomad scene in Rome is pretty much nonexistent. But, this misconception is something we would like to see change.
Whether nomads are looking in the wrong places or eating all their meals in the center, something is not quite adding up and our experience living in Rome as digital nomads has been very different from others.
Read on to learn about the real cost of living in Rome, how to find an apartment, the best areas to live in, what and where to eat, internet and co-working spaces, and whether we think the city is worth living in for digital nomads.
Is It Expensive to Live in Rome?
Let us start off by saying that Rome is really not as expensive as everyone makes it out to be. But you would be forgiven for thinking it is, even we thought living in Rome was out of the question before we tried it.
In fact, we had almost written the Italian capital off completely until we got on Airbnb and tried our luck at Airbnb hacking. After sending off a few messages, everything changed and Rome was becoming more and more of a possibility. Every single Airbnb host we contacted, a total of 5, answered us in less than 24 hours with counter offers.
After going back and forth for a day with one host, who’s apartment we wanted the most, we agreed on a price that was 60% less and booked an apartment in Rome for 3 months. This all happened after only 2 days of first starting our house search in Rome.
We were certain that finding a house to rent in Rome so fast for a fair price would never happen again. But only 6 months later, we were shocked when we repeated the house hunting process a second time with even better results.
Finding Accommodation in Rome
As in most places, rent is what will set you back the most when you live in Rome, but there are ways that you can limit the rental costs.
If you go on Airbnb and search for monthly rentals in Rome, you will most likely be discouraged since all the prices are jacked up and based on daily prices. However, by contacting the owners and negotiating, you can get yourself a better deal.
We’ve rented two different apartments in two different areas of Rome and got great discounts on both. The first apartment we rented in Rome was located in Villa Riccio close to Via Flaminia. It was newly renovated with a brand new kitchen, bathroom, and furniture as well as an awesome view overlooking ancient Rome.
In total, we paid $1,350 including everything which was a bargain for the location and the included amenities. And, as mentioned, we got a 60% discount.
The second apartment we rented in Rome was located in Ponte Milvio. The area is a bit further from the city center although it's more alive with restaurants, coffee shops, and several popular bars. The apartment itself was considerably bigger with two bathrooms, two balconies, and a large kitchen. On top of that, we ended up paying $100 less for it than the first apartment which was great.
We started looking for apartments in Rome quite last minute both times and actually found several other really price-worthy apartments that were unavailable during our time. This has us convinced that you can find even better accommodation if you start looking ahead of time.
Vegan-Friendly Hotel in Rome
Would you prefer to stay at a hotel? Then we have good news. There is a vegetarian hotel in the heart of Rome just a few minutes from Piazza Navona. Hotel Raphael is upscale and affordable, but best of all is their vegan restaurant called Mater Terrae located on the rooftop.
Tips for Long-Term Rentals in Rome
We have three tips for anyone trying to find long-term rentals in Rome.
The first is to bargain and bargain boldly - Italians are not afraid to negotiate.
It helps if you can write the Airbnb host a message in Italian, but it's not a deal breaker. The two hosts we rented from on both occasions spoke perfect English.
Secondly, start looking for apartments as soon as you can to find the best deals - Rome is popular and books out quickly!
Also, a good alternative to Airbnb for finding mid to long-term rentals is the Facebook group Expats Living in Rome. The group is also a good resource for the latest expat events and other useful suggestions.
Most importantly, avoid renting in the city center unless you want to pay very inflated prices and constantly be surrounded by hordes of tourists.
This brings us to our next point. What are the best areas to live in Rome?
Where to Live in Rome: The Best Neighborhoods
We’re partial to Via Flaminia since both Victoria’s aunt and grandma live in the area. But besides that, Flaminio is a great neighborhood to live in and we would recommend it to anyone. Located just north of the center, you're only a few tram stops away from the city center which means it takes less than 10 minutes to arrive at Piazza del Popolo. We love that Flaminio is very well-connected to the rest of the city yet still far enough to avoid the masses of tourists and the prices that come with them.
Being the fact that it’s a residential area means that Flaminio has all the amenities you would expect. Within walking distance from both of our apartments, there were 24 hours grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants, coffee shops, bars, an abundance of transportation, parks, and even a gym with an Olympic sized swimming pool. We had everything we needed and then some.
There are quite a few things to check out in the area like the MAXXI Modern Art Museum, Auditorium Parco della Musica, as well as the Stadio Olympico where many high-profile soccer games are played. Via Flaminia is also a short walk to Ponte Milvio where you can experience la movida and experience some Roman nightlife.
We loved living just a 5 minute walk from Ponte Milvio the second time around in Rome. Ponte Milvio is a trendy neighborhood with several popular bars and restaurants, and it’s usually busy every night of the week. There are two really good pizzerias Fratelli La Bufala and Pallotta as well as a few bars that are perfect for an aperitivo.
Ponte Milvio is located right next to Stadio Olympico where both Lazio and Roma play their home games. Before each game, the square fills up with excited fans. Sometimes it can be quite hectic during game days, and you should expect delays in traffic as well as police roadblocks.
Ponte Milivio is an often overlooked area among tourists which is a shame because it's the perfect place to experience some local Roman life.
This district is connected to the Termini train station and is well-connected to the rest of the city. For a long time, San Lorenzo was known as a working-class neighborhood. But lately, it has developed into a hip area where a lot of younger people live mostly thanks to the proximity to the La Sapienza University.
This is also where the co-working space Impact Hub is located, and San Lorenzo is becoming an increasingly more popular district for expats and digital nomads in Rome.
Trastevere is possibly one of the most famous in Rome and a favorite among locals and visitors alike. Trastevere is located south of the Vatican and across the Tiber from the city center. The area is paved with cobblestone streets and ancient houses, churches, and temples which offer a rustic remembrance of the past.
We met some expats living in Trastevere, but to us, the area is a bit too busy. Many well-known bars and restaurants can be found in Trastevere as well as several international institutions such as the American University of Rome. There are also a few co-working offices located in the area.
We recommend that you spend at least one day aimlessly walking down the streets of Trastevere absorbing the Roman atmosphere.
Prati is the area located just north of the Vatican. It’s known as a more upscale Roman neighborhood with impressive avenues, elegant architecture as well as several government buildings such as the Italian Supreme Court, multiple embassies, and diplomatic residences. In Prati, you’ll find many Airbnbs as well as some more exclusive hotels in Rome. Prati is also home to the best vegan gelato in Rome as well as Flower Burger which happens to make the best vegan burger in Europe.
Many expats in Rome live in Testaccio which is located south of the city center and across the Tiber from Trastevere. It’s a small and ancient neighborhood that’s located far enough away from the center to not be overrun by tourists but close enough that you can easily walk to the Roman forums and the Colosseum.
Another added bonus is that there are a few co-working offices around Testaccio. This picturesque area is also home to some of Rome’s best Italian trattorias and is known for its boutique shopping and excellent nightlife.
Cost of Living in Rome: Our Monthly Expenses
As mentioned, most people, including ourselves, assume that Rome is a very expensive city. However, compared to other major capitals in Europe, being a digital nomad in Rome is actually quite affordable.
The Italian capital is obviously not as cheap as some other areas in the world, but considering the value and quality you get for your money, it’s definitely more price worthy than some other digital nomad hotspots in the world like Lisbon and Barcelona.
A lot of things were cheaper than we had anticipated, and in the end we actually spent less living in Rome for four months than we had done in Bali just a year earlier. Obviously, this will vary widely depending on how often you eat out, if you drink alcohol, etc.
Our Monthly Living Expenses in Rome:
- Accommodation: $1,350
- Utilities and Internet: Included
- Groceries: $525
- Alcohol: $100
- Eating Out: $250
- Transport: $40
- Phone: $15
- Total Monthly Expenses $2,280 for 2 people
Consider that you also overpay pretty much anywhere when renting off of Airbnb, even if you get a discounted rate. If you're serious about living in Rome for longer than a few months you can rent an apartment for much less. We've seen 1 bedrooms apartments advertised for EUR 650 a month and 2 bedroom apartments advertised for EUR 950.
The Italian Food Culture
The best part about living in Rome or anywhere in Italy is obviously the food and the wine, but you probably already knew that. Food is the cornerstone of the Italian culture. In fact, Italians are so proud of their food that they would rather not serve you at all than serve you something that was subpar.
For two people like us who love to eat good food both out at restaurants and at home, Rome delivered exceptionally well.
The quality of groceries in Rome is a world away compared to pretty much anywhere else we've ever been. Italy also happens to be one of the most vegan-friendly countries in the world, not only in terms of the number of vegan restaurants but the Italian cuisine itself.
In most countries, vegan food is something you have to seek out. But in Italy, you can literally waltz into any Italian restaurant and order vegan food right off the menu with very few to no changes - at most you might have to ask for no cheese.
Groceries and Cooking in Rome
After having cooked food all over the world from Central America to Asia, we can assure you that Rome has the freshest produce in the world. Even the smallest grocery stores sell high quality, locally grown, seasonal vegetables and fruits that make it a joy to cook.
Not to mention that you can buy freshly baked bread, pizzas, and vegan croissants from local bakeries on every block. In addition, grocery stores in Rome offer some great vegan food items such as burgers, plant-based milk, etc. Although you should expect to pay a bit more for vegan staples here than you would elsewhere in the region.
During our first time living in Rome, we rented an apartment that was around the corner from a 24/7 Carrefour grocery store. Carrefour sold everything we needed from vegetables and bread, to amazing wine and chocolate which allowed us to indulge in the country's best delights.
There are also a ton of weekly food markets in Rome where you can buy fresh fruits, vegetables, olive oil and other staples such as kitchenware and clothes.
In general, we found the price of groceries in Rome to be fairly priced and similar to other places we've been in Europe.
And for all of our vegan readers, there is an all vegan grocery store down the street from the Vatican called iVegan. iVegan sells everything you might need in terms of vegan food items including the best vegan parmesan cheese!
Restaurants: Eating Out in Rome
Eating at home and cooking with great products is not the only great part about living in Italy. Eating out in Rome is an experience on its own. It would be impossible to cover all the amazing food we got to enjoy during our four month stay. But we did our best and rounded up our ten favorite vegan restaurants in Rome in a separate post.
For us, the highlight of all the places we tried was an intimate all vegan restaurant called Ma Va which ended up being one of the best restaurants we've ever eaten at. However, we quickly realized that it’s hard to be disappointed when eating out in Rome, as long as you avoid the most touristy restaurants.
And as we said, Italian food is often very easy to veganize and there are options at almost every restaurant.
On top of that, eating out in Rome is quite affordable. At most restaurants, a pizza will set you back at most EUR 6-8 with other dishes being only slightly more. In fact, we found eating out to be considerably less than in other places we've stayed.
Coffee and Alcohol
Coffee and alcohol - or more specifically wine – also plays as an important part in the Italian food culture.
Every morning Romans meet up at their local coffee shop, bar, where they enjoy a cappuccino and a croissant in good company before heading off to work. Today, most bars in Rome serve vegan croissants and offer soy milk so that everyone can partake in this deeply rooted ritual.
The best part of this morning routine is that an Italian breakfast never sets you back more than EUR 2.20. Check out our guide on how to eat breakfast like a Roman and learn everything you need to know about the Italian coffee culture.
Then there is the wine, but we don’t think it needs an introduction since you’re probably already familiar with Italian’s love for their wine. Italian wine is incredible for two reasons. The first being the quality of the products - we challenge anyone to find a bad bottle of wine in Italy. It just doesn’t exist.
The second reason has to do with the cost. You see, not only is Italian wine high quality, but it’s also very affordable. A bottle of wine that would cost $20 in the United States or Sweden will cost you EUR 5 in Italy, even at an over-priced grocery store.
In our opinion, Italy also produces some of the best beer in the world. You can buy a 6 pack of Peroni beer for EUR 5 which is literally half the price that it is sold for in the United States. Birra Moretti is also widely available for even less than Peroni.
The only other places in the world where we’ve found such cheap beer is in Eastern Europe. Even beer in Asia costs more than it does in Italy. There is also a growing craft beer scene in Rome with new places opening up around the city.
If there is one thing Italians know how to do it is enjoying life and having an aperitivo (aperitif) is no exception. Aperitivo is another exciting Italian tradition that quickly became a favorite of ours. An aperitivo is a pre-dinner snack consisting of several small dishes and a drink.
It’s often enjoyed before dinner and most have their aperitivo with a spritz which is made with Aperol or Campari, prosecco, and soda water. Some bars serve the food as a buffet where you can pick and choose as you want, but it’s also common to find places that serve you a set of dishes. And don't worry, there are always vegan options available.
The idea behind aperitivo is to have a drink and a snack in the early evening to keep you full until dinner around 9-10pm. However, you can also fill up on food during aperitivo especially if it's buffet style and skip dinner.
A spritz with food will set you back between EUR 5 to 9 depending on where you are and how much food they're serving.
Transport in Rome, Italy
It’s fairly easy to get around Rome using public transportation. Buses are plentiful and frequent, we even had one that stopped outside our apartment and took us directly to the city center. There are also a few tram lines that operate in different parts of the city, and this was one of our main modes of transport in Rome.
In addition, there are two subway lines with a third one under construction. The existing lines connect most of the iconic must-see sights in the city. The metro is perhaps the easiest option to use, especially in and around the central parts of Rome.
To use any of the public transport in Rome you first need to buy a ticket for EUR 1.50 from a ticket machine or one of the news stands that you find on most streets. Note that you must buy the ticket before you get on the ride otherwise you risk being fined. You can't buy tickets on any public transportation in Rome.
A single ticket is valid for 100 minutes after it’s stamped and it can be used on connecting rides. However, the ticket is not valid for a return trip.
We never had any problem with delays and we used public transportation in Rome a lot, but there are often strikes and sometimes the whole system is shut down for a day so try to stay updated on the latest strikes. This also applies to other parts of the society since strikes are frequent.
The best way to keep track of all the transport strikes is the app MOOVIT which provides delay information, strike warnings, and more.
Internet Speeds and WiFi in Rome
The biggest annoyance with living as an expat in Rome is the internet or lack thereof.
Wifi in Rome is far from the fastest, and at times we struggled with the slower speeds. In Rome, you can typically find between 15 and 20 Mbps down and around 5 to 8 Mbps up.
Even though the wifi wasn’t super fast, it wasn’t a deal breaker for us. We are used to spending a lot of time living and working in Bali in both Ubud and Canggu and the wifi was similar if not faster in Rome.
Also, on the days when the internet decided to be extra slow, we used our phone as a wifi-hotspot and relied on the 4G network instead.
Co-Working Spaces in Rome
We never really use co-working spaces since we prefer working from home. However, we do know it’s important to many digital nomads, and we did our research before we showed up in case we would end up needing to use one for a day or two.
The main benefit of using a co-working space is that they offer you certain internet speeds. As mentioned, we had some issues with the wifi in both of our apartments, and at times the easiest solution would have been to use a coffice.
That being said, Italy is known to have bad internet. The problem usually has to do with the carriers which means not even the best co-working space can guarantee any speeds.
Coaster is perhaps the most popular co-working space for digital nomads in Rome. The focus is on co-working, coffice, and bizmatching. If we wanted to use a co-working office in Rome, we would most likely end up here since they seem to have the most extensive selection of tools and perks. Coaster is located around the corner from the Vatican.
Coworking passes available:
- 1 hour EUR 5
- 1 day EUR 25
- 1 month EUR 180
- Monday-Friday 8:30 am – 8:30 pm
- Saturday 9:30 am- 1:30 pm
- Closed on Sundays
Via Caio Mario 14/B, Rome, Italy
2. CoWo 360
CoWo 360 is a modern co-working space located a bit outside of the city center but with two metro stations close by. This co-working office is one of the most popular in Rome, and it features private offices, open spaces, a lounge area, and all the amenities you could think of.
Coworking passes available:
- 1 day EUR 20
- 1 month EUR 230
- Monday-Friday 10:00 am – 7:00 pm
- Closed on Saturday and Sunday
Via Vacuna, 96, Rome, Italy
3. Impact Hub
Impact Hub Rome is another popular co-working space in Rome attracting a good mix of locals and digital nomads from around the world. The office is located a few minutes from Termini with good connections to the rest of the city via metro, tram, and buses.
Coworking passes available:
- 1 day EUR 20
- 1 week EUR 75
- 1 month EUR 225
- Monday-Friday 9am – 7 pm
Viale dello Scalo S. Lorenzo, 67, Rome, Italy
4. Talent Garden Rome
This co-working office offers 24-hour access if you buy a monthly pass. On top of that, Talent Garden Rome is a part of a larger global coworking network Talent Garden with 23 locations throughout Europe and two locations in Rome. With a ton of great reviews and access to workshops, classes, and networking opportunities, Talent Garden Rome is a great option for those looking for a coworking office in Rome.
Coworking passes available:
- 1 day EUR 25
- 1 month EUR 300
- Monday-Sunday 9am – 6pm (with a 1 month pass you get 24 hour access)
Address for Talent Garden Rome Poste Italian:
9 Via Giuseppe Andreoli, Rome, Italy
Address for Talent Garden Rome Cinecitta:
90 Via Quinto Publicio, Rome, Italy
Other co-working spaces in Rome that we recommend you check out:
- Digital Factory Roma
- Urban Factory
- CoworkYard (several locations)
Mobile Phones and Data Plans
As always when traveling in Europe, we use a prepaid SIM-card that we bought awhile back in Sweden. Last year the European Union agreed to terminate roaming fees completely. Now, you can use any SIM card bought within the EU in any of the other member nations without additional costs. In total, we pay about $15 a month for unlimited calls and text plus 10GB of data.
If you don’t already have a European phone number, we suggest you buy a SIM card from either TIM or Vodafone since they are the two largest carriers in Rome.
Things to Do
The obvious things to do in Rome are visiting the Vatican, taking a tour of the Colosseum and the Roman ruins, wandering the old parts of the Eternal City, and enjoying a gelato on the Spanish steps. Besides that, there is one thing we think you should consider doing when living in Rome.
Watching some of the world’s biggest soccer teams play at the Stadio Olimpico is an incredible feeling. Both Lazio and Roma use the stadium as their home stadium and they have some of the most dedicated fans in the world.
As mentioned, the stadium is located a short walk from Ponte Milvio and we suggest that you combine a soccer game with an afternoon aperitivo.
Weather and When to Visit Rome
Weather is something that is extremely important to us, which is why we recommend a digital nomad spot like Warsaw in the summer months. Outside of the summer, it gets chilly and the skies quickly become gray and gloomy.
On the other hand, weather in Rome, is pleasant year round especially in the spring and the fall. Because of this, we recommend that you visit Rome in the spring between April and June or in the fall between September and November.
While the winters in Rome might not be as warm as we’d like it to be, temperatures are decently mild. In fact, we lived in Rome over Christmas and New Years and never really felt cold with a sweater and a thin jacket.
Meanwhile, the summers get incredibly hot and humid, and for the month of August, most locals leave the city for the beach.
Our Final Thoughts: So is it worth living in Rome as a digital nomad?
For those living a location independent lifestyle, Rome offers a great quality of life without breaking the bank. It's true that wifi isn't the fastest, but more and more co-working spaces are opening up and the demand for reliable internet is increasing.
With plenty to see and do, some of the best food in the world, and pleasant weather throughout the year, we think Rome is a great destination for digital nomads. If you consider giving Rome a chance, you might just be surprised at what you find.
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