How to Find a Place to Live in Rome
So you’re thinking of moving to Italy - wise decision, my friend! 🙌 You already know about the heavenly pizza (pass the wine, please 🍷) and sunset-colored buildings, but how do you make sure you don’t end up homeless?
Finding a place to live in Italy is easier than it was a few years ago (thanks, Internet!), but still not as simple as in other major cities. If you plan on moving to Rome for a few weeks or more, renting an apartment is your best financial option. I’ve been living in Italy on and off for years, and wrote this list to share how I've found apartments in Rome and other places in Italy.
If you have the funds, taking a language course can make your life super easy. Sign up for a week, month, whatever and they can sort housing for you and also transportation from the airport. This is also a fantastic way to make international friends. However, it’s not the best way to learn Italian or to find an apartment in your preferred neighborhood. Years ago, I did a month-long course at Scuola Leonarda da Vinci, and they found housing for me. However, I didn’t live with Italians (they were Ukrainian and Spanish) and I also lived farther out in the city than I’d wanted. Finding housing through your language school is also a lot more expensive than finding a place on your own.
I've found my favorite apartments in Rome (and New York) on Craigslist. The site allows you to avoid agency fees and work directly with the landlord or person subletting a room. Italians don’t use Craigslist to find apartments, so the ads tend to be geared toward foreigners and are written in English. This is an especially good option for students and solo travelers. Craigslist is pretty much a free-for-all community board, and there are scams, so I’d never wire money or visit a place without seeing photos first.
I found my current apartment on EasyStanza. Rather than the hodgepodge that is Craigslist, EasyStanza is solely dedicated to helping people find apartment shares. According to the site, which has listings for all of Italy, the average rent someone will pay to share a flat in Rome is €431 a month. Short-term rentals (three months and under) tend to cost more for the liberty and convenience of a briefer stay. The site isn’t the most dynamic when it comes to search, and it’s in Italian, as are most of the posts. If you need help understanding something, just email me and I can help you. Subito.it is a similar site.
I love using AirBnB when I travel. The hosts are usually nice, locations are great, and renting rooms/apartments brings costs down for short-term visits (though sometimes hotels are cheaper). AirBnB also feels safer than other sites because of its verification and review system, and online payment is simple. This comes at a cost, of course. A cursory search for a month-long stay in Rome found rents ranging from €1,500-€2,600 a month, including the monthly discount that many hosts offer. This price is for entire apartments, though, rather than flatshares.
Word of Mouth
Finding an apartment in a smaller Italian city is not as easy. Seven years ago, I was searching for a room outside of Bologna. I couldn’t find anything on housing sites, or posted at the local university (another place to look). Finally, a new friend asked the barman of a local cafe if he knew of anything. One of the customers was a landlord, and I became his new tenant.
If you plan on staying longterm and want a proper contract, an agency might be the way to go. I have never done this, but some Italian friends have used the site Immobilizer.it If you search for an agency in Rome, 2,790 results turn up. Yikes!
If babysitting while abroad interests you (why?!), you can try your hand at being an Au Pair. This involves room/board and some cash in exchange for childcare. Depending on the luck of the draw, you could end up with a family that treats you like one of their own, or someone looking for a servant (I have friends who have experienced both. More info here.
Find a Facebook group relevant to your interests. Want to improve your Italian? Check out the Tandem: Language and Social Exchange Group. It’s mostly about conversation exchanges, but you can find some job and housing stuff, as well.
Since 1985, Wanted in Rome has been sharing useful information with foreigners. Originally in newspaper form, today their website (in English) has a classified section that includes housing, events, and an expat forum (though this looks fairly inactive). You can also check out Expats Living in Rome, but you won’t find many apartment options there.
This does not make sense longterm. At New Generation Hostel Santa Maria Maggiore, a nice-looking hostel near me, a 30-night stay will cost €1,107 with no refunds possible, and €1,647 for a more flexible booking in a six-bed room (granted it does look lovely). One night costs €36.90 (non-refundable), so this could be a good base for a week until you find your apartment. Ladies interested in staying at a female-only hostel can book at Orsa Maggiore, which is located in the heart of Trastevere, a mega-popular area with tourists and very central.
Hello, Money Bags. 😊 Actually, a hotel can serve as a decent base for a few days while you apartment hunt. I’ve found deals on Hotels.com that ended up being cheaper than AirBnB. Plus, you can join their membership club to earn credit for free stays. Also, if you’re a member of any Avios or other travel points system, you can use points to book a room.
Hopefully these ideas are helpful in your slow travel housing search. What other ideas do you have? How have you found a place to live in a new country or city?