Why Move To Sardinia
I love traveling, but I believe that there is no such place as home. I am from Cagliari, the beautiful capital of Sardinia, the second biggest island in the Mediterranean. It is a lovely historic city, where the first human settlements can be dated back to more than 5000 years ago. It enjoys a great position between mountains, sea, and a great plain. I find the weather in Cagliari pleasant: winters are relatively mild, although we do get quite a bit of rain (but I do love rain, much to the horror of most Sardinians!); summers are hot, but the winds freshen up the air and the closeness to the sea makes it simply perfect. Thanks to the wind that sweeps Sardinia, the air in Cagliari is very clean, with very little pollution.
About 170000 people live there, meaning that the city is lively and there are plenty of things to do in Cagliari. It is just a perfect size for me, and for anybody who loves the buzz of city life but can’t put up with traffic and pollution. Cagliari is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination: budget airlines flights and cruise ships often stopping here, either according to their schedule or because they can’t stop in Tunisia due to the safety issue, bring tourists year-round and not just in the summer months when people from all over Europe enjoy the spectacular beaches of Sardinia.
[pullquote]So, what is the average cost of living like a local in Cagliari?[/pullquote]
Things To Do In Sardinia
There are many things to do in Cagliari. The city is packed with museums and archeological sites; it is so pretty that it is pleasant to go for a stroll; there is an easily accessible beach where it is relaxing to walk or job, and go for a drink during wintertime or sunbathing and swimming in the summer. Cagliari also offers easy access (within one hour) to some of the best beaches in Sardinia. There are many cultural events, such as the beautiful parade of Sant’Efisio and concerts (I love jazz and the scene here is very vibrant). There are a number of beautiful parks to go for a walk, a run, a picnic or even to spot some of the most interesting birdlife in the Mediterranean – such as pink flamingos. Good restaurants and gelaterie are plentiful.
Is Sardinia Safe
Recent research shows that Cagliari is the happiest city in Italy – sure, there are many problems, such as high unemployment, but people here still know how to make the most of what they have. Cagliari is a safe place – muggings happen just as in any other place in the world, but it is safe for women to walk around even at night and there are no issues such as gang violence. I regularly go out and walk back home by myself, and I use the same amount of caution I normally use in almost every place I visit.
[pullquote]One of the biggest myths about Sardinia is that it is tremendously expensive … [/pullquote]
Transportation in Sardinia
Cagliari is well served by local transportation – buses are frequent, although night buses are still not common; there are plenty of health care services and good hospitals, pharmacies, markets and lots of interesting shops. The local government does its best to make the city a pleasant place to visit and to live in and has invested in lots of renovation works around town, to freshen up its look.
Is Sardinia Expensive
One of the biggest myths about Sardinia is that it is tremendously expensive, so much so that only really rich people can afford to visit. However, some basic online research for deals, ideas and activities shows that Sardinia can actually be visited even on a tight budget. Living here as a local as I do, however, is a wholly different thing.
Cost Of Rent In Sardinia
Renting a one-bedroom apartment – where a couple can live comfortably if only a bit tight – in Cagliari costs on average $600.00 USD per month. Prices can be higher or lower, depending on the location (whether in the city centre or in the outer areas), on how new the apartment is, and on what is included in the price.
Cost of Groceries in Cagliari
One of the best things to do in Cagliari is buying local food. The price of groceries varies according to the quality and the place where one shops. Food is a huge part of the local culture and it is important for me to eat good quality food. Local markets tend to have better quality fruits and vegetables. Shopping directly at the producers rather than at the market or store is even cheaper, and fruits and vegetables locally grown are of better quality. I buy fresh bread daily.
Like there rest of the locals, I prefer to buy local organically grown products, free-range local beef, pork and lamb, and to eat only seasonal products. For as much as I love tropical fruits such as mango and papaya, I don’t buy it here: they are hard to find, they are imported from far away, they are expensive and they are not worth the price. Instead, I eat local peaches and strawberries in the summer, or local oranges and mandarines in the winter, and they are delicious. Just as a way of example, these are some prices: a litre of milk costs about $1.30 USD; a kg of bananas costs $1.50 USD; half a kg of pasta around $0.80 USD; a kg of beef around $15.00 USD.
Tap water in Cagliari is safe to drink, but most people prefer to buy bottled water. A 2 litres bottle of water costs around $0.40 USD.
My overall average monthly expense for groceries is around $250.00 USD.
Eating and Drinking Out In Sardinia
Prices of restaurants vary greatly, depending on the kind of meal and even on the location of the restaurant. I am a bit picky when it comes to food, so I tend to go for quality, especially since I don’t go out to eat more than once per month anyways. Eating at a good pizzeria or restaurant costs me anything between $15.00 and $25.00 USD, depending on the kind of pizza and its toppings (Italians always order one pizza per person, it just is the way it is done here and pizza is not nearly as heavy as it is in the rest of the world); on the drinks (water is cheaper than beer, but only a few restaurants provide purified tap water); and on whether I decided to have dessert of not.
A full traditional meal ranges between $25.00 and $50.00 USD, depending on whether it is meat or seafood-based.
A scoop of gelato at a good gelateria costs about $2.00 USD, and one of the best things to do in Cagliari in the summertime is to go for a sunset stroll and sit at a gelateria to have some lovely gelato.
The cost of a drink can vary. A beer costs on average between $3.00 and $7.00 USD; an espresso is $1.00 USD.
Cost Of Cinema, Theatre, and Entertainment in Sardinia
A cinema ticket costs between $5.00 and $10.00 USD, depending on the cinema – smaller ones near the city centre are cheaper although they don’t have assigned seatings and the seats are not as comfortable. I tend to prefer the cinemas in town, as they are easily accessible and independent cinemas.
Cagliari main theatre has a great opera and ballet season, and among the things to do in Cagliari, there is attending a great opera show. Prices for a show vary depending on the seat and even the time of the show. Anything between $15.00 and $100.00 USD. There are also fidelity programmes, by which one can buy a whole pack of tickets. That makes the cost significantly cheaper.
I am a football fan (not a fanatic) and one of the things to do in Cagliari for me is going to the stadium to support my team. Sadly I must admit it hasn’t done well lately and is going to be kicked out of the premiere league. The cost of a ticket is around $15.00 USD, depending on where in the stadium one sits.
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Cost Of Transportation and Petrol
A bus ticket costs $1.50 USD and can be used for up to 90 minutes. Petrol costs over $1.80 USD per litre, and the price is constantly rising. A parking lot in the city centre costs between $0.70 and $1.50 USD per hour.
The costs of flying in and out of Cagliari vary greatly according to season and depending on the destination. Cagliari is well connected with mainland Italy and most of Europe. Thanks to Alitalia, Meridiana, Easyjet, and Ryanair flights, as well as other budget airlines, prices of flights are quite good.
Splurging On Sardinia
I am a girl, and I like to take care of my looks. I don’t often go for manicures or haircuts, but when I do I find the prices more than reasonable. A manicure costs around $20.00 USD while a haircut (including blow-dry) at a good hairstylist around $40.00 USD.
I also love doing sports! I have joined a pool, where I train 3 times per week, by paying $60.00 USD per month.
To the monthly costs of living, I should add the bills – such as cell phone, internet, electricity, water and garbage disposal bills. These vary depending on the provider and on the plan one has subscribed to. I could surely live even more cheaply. I know people who live in Cagliari for $500.00 USD per month by sharing an apartment, buying at discount grocery stores and saving more than I do on social life. But I think I found a good balance for myself.
This post was written by Claudia Tavani of My Adventures Across the World. Claudia is a former human rights lawyer who abandoned her academic career to pursue a life of travels. Claudia grew up in Cagliari, the place she still calls home. She goes back to whenever she’s not busy hiking volcanoes or discovering hidden gems. You should check out her blog or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.