Rome at a Glance
Living in Rome
Even expatriates living in Rome cannot enjoy la dolce vita all day long. To start your life in Rome, you must take care of administrative matters first.
We’ve given you an overview of dealing with bureaucratic issues in our guide on moving to Rome. However, some legal tasks essential for foreign residents – especially getting a residence certificate – require you to already have a permanent address.
Choosing a Place to Live
So, this is an important question which all expats planning a life in Rome will face: Where should they live? Rome encompasses a territory of 1,285 km². This includes some waste land unsuitable as building ground, but you’ll still be spoilt for choice when it comes to your new home.
Due to its size, the metropolis is divided into 19 municipi (boroughs), from I (the centro storico or historical center) to XX (Cassia Flaminia, a green enclave in the northwest). No, this is not a typo in the previous sentence: Municipio XIV became a town of its own a while ago and no longer belongs to Rome.
When you look for the ideal neighborhood in Rome, the area of your choice may depend mostly on local transport and the proximity to work or school. One major reason for the discrepancy between Rome’s cost of living (#42 in the 2012 Mercer expat survey) and the quality of life in Rome (Mercer rank #52) is its overburdened public infrastructure. The most romantic villa will soon lose its attraction if endless traffic jams and commutes become part of your daily life.
There are some neighborhoods favored by well-to-do expatriates living in Rome. Via Cassia (XX) is a residential area with lots of green spaces and several international schools. However, just like in Vigna Clara (II), a quiet and safe district which also features an international school, the transport connections between Via Cassia and the city center are far from ideal.
If you are part of the younger expat crowd living in Rome, you will appreciate Trastevere (I), with its old-fashioned buildings, booming nightlife, and international student population. Older executives may gravitate towards districts such as Appia Antica (XI) – provided their paychecks are generous enough. The beautiful neighborhood along the Via Appia boasts plenty of luxury villas.
The average expat living in Rome prefers more inexpensive housing options. There are a number of residential or mixed neighborhoods with decent infrastructure and shopping opportunities, where local middle-class families congregate. Peaceful Centocelle (VII), comparatively inexpensive Prati (XVII) or suburban Aurelio (XVIII) may not have the same flair as the cobbled alleys of Trastevere, but they are more suited to everyday life in Rome.
The office district EUR (XII), on the other hand, may have a bit too much “character”. Originally built during Mussolini’s dictatorship, it features some looming buildings in the Fascist style. However, once you get used to those reminders of a darker era, EUR – a thriving commercial area – could offer housing conveniently close to your office.
If you do not want to hire a real-estate agent, property for rent (affito / da affitare) is advertised on Secondamano or PortaPortese, as well as in the classifieds of La Repubblica. While you browse through the property ads, it’s highly recommended to have an Italian dictionary handy. Even if your Italian skills are rather basic, it’s important to know if your new flat has riscaldamento centrale or a olio (central or oil-fired heating) and how many vani e bagni (rooms and bathrooms) the house of your dreams contains.
Living in Rome does not come cheap. For a two- or three-bedroom apartment in the centro storico, you have to pay between €1,000 and €2,000 per month. When you calculate your budget, check whether the obligatory service charges (spese) for water, waste disposal, etc. are included in the rent.
Utilities (especially gas and electricity) are not part of the rent. You have to take care of the contract (utenza) yourself. Once you have the number of the flat’s previous utenza, your tax ID, and the last charges on the meter, you can ask the utility company to transfer the contract to you (voltura).
Now you should be ready to settle in and enjoy expatriate living in Rome!