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How to live in Rome on a student budget

Marianna Matteucci

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Rome is a fantastic city to live in thanks to its warm and genuine character, but sometimes it can be a little bit hard to afford its lifestyle on a student budget. Here are some easy tips to follow during your stay in the Eternal city!

Use the appropriate means of transport

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Rome is a big city, and getting around can sometimes be difficult. There are many ways to move around the city, especially by public transport. Rome has three subway lines (A, B and C), several tram lines and a lot of buses. Ticket prices are low, and if you get a seasonal pass they’re even lower.

Unfortunately, their efficiency is not proportional to the amount of people that travel across Rome, and opening hours are limited. Therefore, new solutions have emerged to satisfy the mobility of the masses in the city. For instance, lots of people travel around the capital riding their bikes. I know what you’re thinking: “How can buying a bicycle be cheaper than taking the public transport?”. To find out why, carry on reading. You can also use car sharing services (Enjoy, Car2Go or Uber) that allow you to live the nightlife in Rome without worrying about timetables!

Do not buy water

Rome on a student budget: Don't buy Water

Rome’s water has a millennial tradition of being healthy and tasty. There’s no need to buy bottles of water at the supermarket if you have an unlimited water supply since the Roman times! Go and find the famous nasoni (drinking fountains) spread across the city and fill your bottles!

Enjoy street markets

Rome on a student budget: Second-hand markets

There are plenty of street markets all over the city you can go to to chill out and explore after a stressful week. Starting at Porta Portese, maybe the city’s most famous second-hand market, where you can find almost everything: furniture, books, clothes, bikes (as mentioned above), antiques, food and so on. Another lovely market is on Via Sannio, full of clothes boutiques, followed by the Rione Monti market, a beautiful place, in which you can have a walk after your shopping, and, finally, the street market in Piazza Esquilino, divided into food shacks and general shops. All markets have great deals, but obviously, if you to the shopping centres in the city’s suburbs, you’ll also find good opportunities to stock up on everything you need for cheap.

Do not pass up to go out and eat

Rome on a student budget: Apericena

Going out for dinner with friends is often expensive for students, but not when you can have an apericena. This strange Italian term is the combination of the words aperitivo (cocktail hour) and cena (dinner) and is a meal where you can have a drink (alcoholic or not) and quick bite at a very affordable price. The only thing is that you have to pick the right bars and pubs that offer you a good variety of food, as well as an appropriate drink. As in all the cities, Rome has got a food district, where it’s cheaper to get a bite. One of them is the San Lorenzo area. Here, there are many cafés and pubs with drinks and food at good prices. You can also try the Pigneto area, which is worth a visit on a night out.

Keep an eye out for discounts

Rome on a student budget: Discounts

“When in Rome”, you’ll want to visit all of the city’s monuments, museums, and places of interest. Just because you’re on a student budget, doesn’t mean you have to miss out on any of these. Even Rome offers a wide range of discounts, especially for university students. Always remember to bring your international student card or your university pass with you, as you’ll need one of these to get discounts at events or museums (sometimes even free entries). Rome City Council often organises free visits to its museums, even at night, where you have the opportunity to visit the city’s main landmarks for free. My suggestion is to frequently check the City Council’s website in order to get find out about these events. Plus, going to the cinema is cheaper for students, but only if you go on Wednesdays. In fact, you can enjoy a movie for just €3, and you can even watch the films in their original language at certain cinemas.

Study cheap!

Rome on a student budget: Book stores

As a student, you should always buy all the necessary equipment you need to study! For books, it’s best to buy them at the university bookshops, which have more reasonable prices, or to go to the second-hand markets in Viale Oberdan and Colli Albani, where it’s easy to find every kind of book. In the end, Rome has a wide range of libraries that allow you to enter and benefit from their collections for free.


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