Out of curiosity I Googled the cost of living in Venice. Everything tells us it’s expensive, but I found a particular website that made me think again. You see, I live in the UK. If you live in the UK you will know things can be expensive. But things can also be cheap. And it’s largely dependant on your location and how you live. It’s the same everywhere.
As if by way of some kind of nod towards our economic problems I have slowly since the late 1990s been crawling my way further up the country. I lived and worked in London until 2000, when I relocated to Buckinghamshire. 8 years later and I’d gravitated to Lincoln. I’ve now been in Manchester for over two years. By comparison it’s ‘cheap as chips’ up here. But you have to shop around and make a lot of sacrifices.
Like a lot of Northern towns and cities, Manchester is on the up. The south has realised it exists and therefore plans to connect us via the white elephant of HS2. With that suggestion comes the prospect of rapidly rising living expenses. I don’t want to move any further North. I’m not sure where I could go next. My home county of Kent is already well beyond my reaches.
The thing is, I live on a tight budget for reasons which are fairly clear. I am single and I run my own business. I have no hidden extras in my life. Because of this, most things in the UK are already out of my reach. Whilst living in Manchester has its plus points, it means that the rest of the country, and particularly further south, has become a frightingly expensive prospect that I don’t want to have to consider.
So let’s do a few comparisons. I have based my findings on this website. Please put me right on any inaccuracies. I don’t doubt there will be a few.
A pint in Manchester will still only set you back £2.60. The last time I was in London I paid £6.00 for a half pint and nearly fell off my bar stool. A bottled beer in Venice is just under £4. Lunch and a pint in a cheap faceless chain pub in Manchester city centre might set you back £7.50 (I dread to think what that is in London). For £12 in Venice you get a canal side cicchetti lunch with Prosecco. No, it’s not as cheap, but it’s also not straight out of a microwave.
Now let’s look at rent. I can’t afford to live on my own. I live in a houseshare. For those of you that have yet to experience this delight – it’s basically renting a spare room in the house of someone who can’t afford to pay their mortgage anymore, or living with a bunch of random strangers so that a landlord can have his nest egg retirement fund. Hint – it won’t be you.
Currently I live in a family home. I share it with a single woman and her two relatively grown up nephews. There is also a dog and two cats. I am lucky because I have an ensuite (rare I promise you). It’s like still living at home without the rules. This is as good as it’s ever likely to get for me but I’ve finally after 9 years found one that feels like home. And for £350 per month I get it all inclusive. It’s a bargain compared to the other options.
A year ago I rented a two bed house an hour’s drive from Manchester with one of other person which was costing us £500. With bills it came to about the same each per month as I’m paying now for a houseshare. If you live in London you can easily kiss goodbye to anything upwards of £400 a month for a houseshare without bills. Private rents will probably start at over £1000 and your bills are on top of that.
Now compare that to living in Venice where you can rent a city centre 1 bed apartment for roughly £630 a month. Bills will set you back an additional £180 ish per month. But these are private rents. Houseshares and shared space aren’t included in the options. Now, I don’t think there is a housesharing culture in mainland Europe. But I can’t believe noone (at least not the expats) have ever thought of it. At my AirBNB in Venice next month I’ll be sharing with two friends. So I suppose it exists to some degree which means it is possible to split costs.
Supermarket food and alcohol prices aren’t shockingly dissimilar to the UK. That said, you get what you pay for. We have driven businesses into the ground here in the UK by cheapening the price of our food and drink at the customer end of the deal, and by pricing small and artesan businesses off the high street with cheap faceless poor quality brands.
Venice attempts to defend itself against these things as best it can but they still have a presence in the city. And why shouldn’t it, if it has the backbone to do it. Everything that I see on Facebook and Twitter tells me that though Venice’s residential population is dwindling, it fights and it fights hard. And it is patriotic in a way I haven’t seen in this country in years.
Here in the UK, as in most places, we have succumbed to big brand greed. Enterpreneurs exist in small pockets. And whilst they may never be rich I think they are in many ways happier than their bigger brethren. I know I am. So is Venice more expensive? It’s hard to say. I wouldn’t say it is exceedingly so and it certainly isn’t more expensive than London, a city which curiously keeps attracting more and more new residents at an alarming rate.
I am going to look into some more day to day expenses on my trip to Venice next month. And I will post my findings.