In addition to your monthly rent, you will usually be asked to pay a deposito (security deposit) of one to three months of rent when you first move into an apartment. When you move out, the landlord will inspect the apartment for damages. If you have a legal contract, much of what could be considered damages is clearly stated. If you have a good relationship with your landlord, by the time you give notice to vacate you will have most likely already come to an agreement about the return of your security deposit. Rather than refund the deposit at the end of your stay, the landlord may simply refrain from collecting the last months of rent. Of course, in situations where the relationship with the landlord is tense, getting your deposit back is a challenge.
The other costs to budget are spese condominiali (condominium fees). As most apartments in Italy are individually owned, apartment buildings and finances are managed either by a chosen resident or an external amministratore (administrator). Regular meetings are held to discuss and vote on policies and expenses. In a rented apartment, the tenant is usually spared the onerous task of attending the meetings. However, he or she is usually responsible for paying the condominium fees. Make it a point to ask if the condominium fees are included in your rent and if not, clarify how much they will cost per month. Agencies frequently advertise the rent without mentioning the fees and in some cases, the condominium fees determine whether or not the apartment fits within your budget. Buildings with elevators, central heating, portineria (reception) and other amenities tend to have higher monthly fees. If you have decided to share an apartment with others, ask your potential housemates about their system for divvying up various expenses. Some houses organize a cassa comune (group fund) for buying staples and it’s good to know the house rules before moving in.
Be sure to ask which kind of system is used to heat the apartment. Riscaldamento autonomo (individually controlled heating) means you decide when to turn the heat on and off. Therefore, you only pay for what you consume individually. With riscaldamento centralizzato (central heating), the cost of heating the building is divided among all the apartments and the condominium owners decide (also on the basis of local laws) the temperature settings and number of hours a day the heat is on.
The type of heating system installed in an apartment also can affect the supply of hot water. Most apartments are equipped with an individual caldaia (gas boiler) and there is no limit to the amount of hot water consumption. In apartments with centralized heating, beware of the electric hot water heater. These hold a limited amount of water, so if two people in the building take consecutive showers, the second person risks a frosty rinse-off. In addition, this can send the electricity bill soaring. The worst possible option is a seasonal setup in which your hot water availability is correlated to the heating system. You pay a premium for hot water during the summer months when the heating system is not running. Sometimes hot water is not part of the deal at all. When looking at prospective apartments, consider which type of system is installed.
MOVING AND STORAGE
Prices for moving vary according to quantity of items, location within a building, distance to be traveled and if you require packing or storage. Have this information on hand when you call to request a preventivo (estimate). The moving company will then send someone out to survey the job. If you would like to pack your own belongings, ask the company if they will drop off boxes, packing tape and bubble wrap as part of the deal. If you live on a floor other than piano terra (ground floor) and have a balcony, your move may happen over the railing by use of a platform lift and a slide. Many moving companies also offer storage facilities; inquire about monthly rates.