With each passing day in Rome, I feel like I learn more and more about how to live successfully in this city. So, for this post, I wanted to keep things more practical and discuss budgeting while in Rome. Studying abroad is such an amazing experience, and I want everyone to have this opportunity; I do know, though, that the thought of studying abroad, specifically affording a semester abroad, can seem daunting. But don’t let it overwhelm you! With careful planning, you can make it work!!
I myself am learning a LOT about what it means to effectively budget while here in Rome. If you read one of my first posts, you know that right before I came to Rome, my passport and visa got lost in the mail, and I had to pay lots of extra fees to get new copies, a new plane ticket, etc. Needless to say, that cut into a chunk of money I had saved up for Rome. But, instead of dwelling on the loss, I’ve just had to learn how to modify my spending habits. So, after over two months of living here (and with a bank account that has not hit zero yet), I feel qualified to share some tips and strategies I have learned. Of course, if you have any follow-up questions, please do not hesitate to ask in the comment box, and I will be sure to get back to you!
So, to begin: food. At my school back home, I normally have a meal plan, so my meals are taken care of for me. This, however, will not be the case in Rome. Unless you are in a homestay, Temple Rome students are responsible for all their meals. Some students choose to eat out for almost every meal, while others cook for each meal. It’s all about finding a balance, and seeing what works for you. I cook the majority of my meals, and then eat out once or twice on the weekends. I start by setting a weekly food budget, with a certain amount dedicated to groceries, and the remaining amount dedicated to eating out. I wrote a blog post on this a few weeks ago, but definitely, definitely buy your groceries at the market! It’s much cheaper, fresher, and the market has everything (literally, almost everything) you could need- from bananas, to trail mix, to saran wrap! Compared to the U.S., in Rome it is much easier to access fresh, healthy produce for cheap, so there’s no excuse not to make tasty meals!! I typically try to choose recipes that will last me throughout the week or that can be mixed up and used in a variety of dishes. That way, you get more bang for your buck.
Second: travel. A great part about being abroad is that if you want to travel on weekends, you certainly can, and fortunately, being in Europe, other countries are close by, which means travel expenses are typically cheaper. If you want to travel but want to minimize travel costs, I recommend traveling within Italy!! Rome, while great, is certainly not the only thing Italy has to offer; this country is beautiful, with tons of places to explore. If you travel within Italy, train tickets are often pretty affordable, and the train companies will have special weekend offers quite often. I have loved getting to see different cities of Italy, and seeing how they differ from Rome. If you want to travel outside of Italy, I recommend booking those plane tickets in advance, that way you can snag the cheaper prices/better deals! Also, final travel tip: if you want to save money over spring break, visit places where the cost of living is cheaper than in Rome. For example, I went to Prague, Kraków, and Budapest, where the cost of food/housing was significantly cheaper than in Rome. It was awesome to save a little money on those things, so I could splurge on the activities I did there.
Essentially, I am learning that it is all about balance. You can indeed live happily in Rome while still staying cognizant about money. Learn to hunt for the deals: at the street markets, dig through the giant piles of clothes to find a cool new sweater for 3 euros; keep a re-usable water bottle and use the free water aqueducts located all around the city; and, you may laugh when reading this, but bring enough pairs of underwear to last at least 2-3 weeks, so you can spend less money on laundry! I’m not kidding, I think this is the number one tip almost every student will give you!! But, all jokes aside, it is completely possible to live in Rome for cheap and still have a great time. It is Rome, after all- just walking around is a good time. But, do remember to treat yo’ self every once in a while, because hey, we’re in Rome, and sometimes…a girl’s gotta have her gelato.
Ciao for now- comment below if you have any questions or tips to add!!