The Housing Hurdle: A Student’s Guide to Finding a Place To Live In Rome

student housing rome

A step-by-step guide to finding accommodation in Rome

All roads lead to Rome they say, but what happens when you get here and there’s no place to live? This is the dilemma facing countless international students who come to the Eternal City, pursuing the dream of living La Dolce Vita.

It is no secret that most major cities across Europe are in the throes of an unprecedented housing crisis, and students are among the most affected. Italy is one of the most popular student destinations in the world, with an estimated 110.000 of the million students in this country coming from abroad. While the pandemic years put a damper on the steadily growing stream of international students coming here, the moment restrictions were lifted in 2022, the country, and Rome in particular, was flooded like never before. The highly privatized housing market responded predictably, with rents (that were never cheap to begin with) skyrocketing.

I was one of the students who came to Rome during the pandemic, and I have since come to realize how lucky I was to precede the wave of students that followed. During my second year, I watched in a mix of relief and guilt as friends of mine who arrived late or had been forced to give up their rentals from the first year due to contract limitations, as they scrambled to get a roof over their heads. One of them, Andreas, became the “child of divorce” of the friend group, as we called him, passing him around from one couch to the next for months, as he kept on spamming landlords and going on countless viewings.

“If it wasn’t for you guys, I might have given up and gone home,” he told me once. “A guy can only stay in shady hostels for so long, you know?”

Another friend, Simon, had to move out of his first room, but at the mercy of his landlord was permitted to stay in a basement storage space where a mattress had been placed and with a padlock on the door, until he was able to find somewhere else. A third, Alibek, currently shares a bedroom with two other guys in a two-room apartment. Now, I don’t write this to scare anyone off from coming to Rome. But you will have to put in the work, and I’m here to help you on the way.

Having been asked regularly by acquaintances and friends of friends looking to try their luck at life here but who are desperate to find a place to stay, I’d like to share my experience, and that of my friends, and set down a guide for how to navigate a situation that is by no means easy.

Guide to Finding a Place to Live in Rome

Where to Look

The first step to finding a place to stay in Rome is to familiarize yourself with the plethora of websites where rental agencies and private landlords advertise their residences. There are too many of these to go into in detail, but I’ve set down the most important ones to start with.

Idealista, and Immobiliare

The unholy trinity of rentals in Rome is made up of Idealista, and Immobiliare. Though they are a jungle to navigate, together they offer upwards 30 000 rooms, apartments and houses in metropolitan Rome, and are by far the most affordable. Since I have personal headache-inducing experience of these services, here’s a survival guide that applies for all three.

Start out by creating a profile, and put some effort into it. Add a clear picture of your face, and write a bio showing potential landlords a bit of your personality and making clear your needs. This might seem silly, but trust me when I say I noticed a marked upswing in the amount of responses I got from landlords once I bothered to spruce up my profile. Just as you want to rent from someone who treats you like more than a source of income, they of course want to feel safe in their choice of tenant. It’s worth it, especially since they are the ones holding all the cards.

Set specific filters, but be open to bending your standards. Rentals on these sites vary from whole multi-story houses full of students, to single apartments and studios. The services also offer all kinds of specific filters, like accessibility features for whether you’ll need an elevator or if you have a preferred floor. Figure out what you’re looking for, while at the same time knowing that you probably won’t be finding your Dream Home™ if you want to live anywhere near the center or your university and also have money left over for pasta and gelato and all that good stuff you’re coming to Rome for in the first place.

Visit the agency offices. All over Rome you’ll see the offices of agencies with ties to these three services, and if you feel a bit lost trying to find a place yourself, they’ll be able to help you out. They’re generally pretty busy though, so consider booking an appointment, and be clear about what you’re looking for. You should also know that renting via agency comes with some added fees.

Read the descriptions closely. The devil is in the details, and all is not gold that glitters. A room or apartment that seems cheap might come with additional costs that aren’t included in the rent, such as electricity, water or gas. You’ll also want to double check the Wifi-situation, because advertisements purporting to include it might sometimes exaggerate its functionality. Not all rentals on these services come furnished either, or the landlord may have remodeled after the pictures in the ad were taken, and you don’t want to move in only to find there’s no mattress on the bed frame. Yes, that happened to a friend of mine. So even though some of these things might seem obvious, trust me when I say nothing is obvious when it comes to these websites.

Be wary of scammers. The sad reality is that students looking for somewhere to stay are in a vulnerable position, and there is no shortage of criminals looking to take advantage of that fact. Look out for rentals that seem too good to be true, or advertisements where the pictures don’t seem to match the description. For example, a friend of mine once found an advertisement purporting to be for an apartment in Esquilino, but featured pictures that showed landmarks from his hometown in England through the window. The scammers may be plenty, but they’re seldom particularly competent, so as long as you pay attention you’ll be able to spot them from a mile away.

Stick with it. Landlords are bombarded with emails and private messages by students all day every day, so it might be tricky to stick out from the crowd, and it’s disheartening to be left on read But it pays off to be persistent, even a little bit annoying. Call, text, email and private message. Repeatedly. Even if you’re told no, ask if they have anything else on offer. Oftentimes the same landlord owns multiple rentals, and might be able to help you out even if the original place you contacted them about is taken.

Arrange a viewing and make sure you’re on the same page as the landlord or agency before agreeing to anything. Most apartments on these websites are available outside agencies, with contracts that are tied directly to the landlords themselves. You’ll want to be sure on the exact terms, and if your Italian is a bit rusty, put the contract through GoogleTranslate or (if you’re able) ask an Italian friend to come with you for support. This applies even if you’re renting via an agency. Sometimes landlords and agencies might feel iffy about renting to students, and will want the guarantee of a parent, even if you’re legally an adult. Some might go so far as to require both your parents to be physically present for the signing of the contract, which for international students might not be an option. As with any contract, just be clear on the minutia before you agree to sign.

Housing Rental Contracts in Rome

Finding student apartment in Italy

Spotahome and Studentsville

Spotahome and Studentsville are pretty similar, and among the easiest to navigate out of the countless options out there. With verified hosts and regular inspections of all rentals, they are a great resource for students who need to find somewhere to stay before arriving, and don’t have the option to attend viewings themselves.

Spotahome is where I myself found my first residence before even coming to Rome. They stay involved in the move-in process until you have your keys in hand, and are ready to assist you should any issues arise. However, a caveat is that they charge a fee from advertising landlords, which in turn will push the rent up, which will be an issue for most students.

If you’re lucky, apartments advertised on here might also be available on other websites, so you could use them to see if a rental has been approved by their inspectors, and then try and find it somewhere else, hopefully at a lower price.

Facebook and Whatsapp groups

Facebook groups like Romeing’s very own Rent in Rome or Affittasi Roma will put you in direct contact with agencies and landlords.

Furthermore, each university, sometimes even specific degrees, will have Facebook and Whatsapp groups for students to network, like La Sapienza International Students Group, Tor Vergata International Students Group and Area Studenti Roma Tre. Often students who are moving out of a rental will advertise it there, and you’ll not only be able to find a place, but get word from a previous tenant on the quality of it.

All the major Erasmus groups, like ESN and ERA, also have tons of other students that can help you out or are looking for roommates. Consider joining them, even if you aren’t actually an Erasmus student yourself. I won’t tell if you do.

If you’ve exhausted your options, here you’ll find an overview of more websites that offer housing opportunities:

How To Find An Apartment Or Rooms In Rome

finding a place in Rome
San Lorenzo

Where to live in Rome as a Student

Visiting a city as a tourist and living there are two very different things, and though the idea of living on Piazza Navona may be attractive, it is far from ideal for most students coming to stay in Rome. But before you’ve acquainted yourself with the city, it can be tricky to have an idea of where best to live as a student. Here are some of the best neighborhoods to live as a student, where you’ll be able to get work done, live affordably, and meet new people.

San Lorenzo

I mean, there’s everything in San Lorenzo. If all roads lead to Rome, all roads in Rome lead here. I have weeks where I don’t leave San Lo. And like nine times out of ten, when we go out, my friends and I go out here, even the ones who live in other areas.

Iman, 29

The affectionately dubbed San Lollo is Rome’s student neighborhood par excellence, located right next to the largest university in Europe, Sapienza. It may be rough around the edges, as the only neighborhood to have been bombed during World War II, but there simply is nowhere else that can compete if you want to experience Roman student culture to the fullest.

With countless libraries open to anyone, not just Sapienza students, and cheap cafés with wifi, San Lorenzo is the best place to study after a day of lectures. And when your eyes are turning square from staring at a screen all day, put the homework away and have a spritz for 3.50€ at Piazza Immacolata. 

Blue BarCelestino and the iconic Bar dei Brutti are hallmarks of Roman student life, and even if you don’t end up living in San Lorenzo, it’s inevitable you’ll find yourself in one of them sooner or later. All the major Erasmus groups also organize regular meet-ups and events here, like karaoke night at Container or the unmissable toga party at Club Materia. And as a plus for the politically involved, San Lorenzo serves as headquarters for multiple organizations involved in student activism and volunteering.

A Guide to San Lorenzo


I love Pigneto. I honestly don’t know why more people don’t live there, it’s just so cozy.

Ada, 21

As San Lorenzo’s quieter, less rough-and-tumble cousin, Pigneto is a lovely neighborhood with a lot of green and an equally verdant social scene. Having been central to anti-fascist movements in the 40’s, its inclusive and progressive mentality is reflective in every aspect of this community, even the colorful, eclectic architecture.

Creatives, freethinkers and LGBTQ+ students in particular will feel at home among the anarchist bookshops, murals to great progressive artists like filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini, and self-professed “lesbian cafés” that litter the neighborhood. And while calmer than San Lollo, Pigneto is hardly lacking in the nightlife department; once spritz o’clock comes around, all the little cafés and bookshops along Via dei Pigneto and its tributary streets magically morph into bars. It is also home to Rome’s most popular gay club, La Muccassassina. Though not located directly next to any of the major universities, the area is well-connected with its own metro station and multiple tram stops, so there’s nothing stopping you from checking out this gem of a neighborhood.

A Guide to Pigneto

student housing


Ostiense is just a good vibe, you know? No tourists or fancy shopping mall stuff, just real people, real Rome. You’ve got all these cool secret places that you can’t find if you don’t know they’re there, and you get to feel really part of like a hidden community.

Carlos, 24

Like many of Rome’s former industrial centers, Ostiense has been converted into a hub for popular cultureand the underground hipster scene. Roma Tre University, with its extensive exchange program has brought a vast and diverse international crowd to Ostiense.

Furthermore, its reasonably priced housing options and vicinity to Testaccio and Garbatella, the neighborhoods that host the most popular night clubs in all of Rome, such as Circolo degli Illuminati and Rashomon,make Ostiense particularly attractive to students. The neighborhood is well-connected via public transport, and also not too far from UNINT University, known for its economics and political sciences departments.

A Guide to Ostiense


I’m from a small town so living in the middle of Rome or even in, like, San Lorenzo feels a bit much to me, you know? I like to have my parks where I can go read, I like to be able to bike places without being scared of being hit. I like to go to flea markets and stuff. Tuscolano is that for me.

Jeroen, 21

For students at Tor Vergata, the second biggest university in Rome, Tuscolano is the easiest option. Located slightly to the east of central Rome, it may seem a bit out of the way, but with its suburban connections and metro line, you’ll quickly be able to reach the center or anywhere else you may need to go. 

The many parks and boulevards make Tuscolano one of the greener Roman neighborhoods, and as such has students flocking to it the moment spring comes around for picnics in Parco Caffarella, or bike rides along the beautiful and historically fascinating Via Appia Antica. A big plus for people who like to cook but feel limited by a student budget is the Via del Quadraro food market, full of high quality produce at incredible prices.



Trastevere is like a separate little community, like its own ecosystem with all these really cool places, and so full of so many different people from so many different places. You will never be bored here.

Paloma, 25

Cradled by the Tiber, largely car-free and endlessly instagrammable Trastevere is one of Rome’s most vibrant neighborhoods. An old working-class area – and home to nearly all the city’s barber shops back in ancient times! – Trastevere has maintained its traditional charm of vine-wrapped cobblestone alleys, while also combining it with modern, international elements like restaurants featuring cuisine from all over the world.

Most notably for students, it is home to John Cabot University and The American University of Rome, and as such serves as a home-away-from-home for countless students from across the Atlantic. Both these schools offer housing options for their students, but it should be said that the exclusivity of Trastevere makes it a bit steep for students from other universities.

A Guide to Trastevere

For more information on the various neighborhoods of Rome, check out this article:

Where To Live And Stay In Rome

Guide to Finding a Place to Live in Rome

Moving in

So you found somewhere to live. Congratulations! What you’ve accomplished is no mean feat. Now that it’s time to move in, I’d like to leave you to pursue your Dolce Vita on a more personable note, with some final tips on how to make the most of your new residence.

Get to Know Your Roommates

One of my greatest regrets since coming to Rome is not making the effort to get closer with my three roommates from my first semester here. They were lovely, and tried including me as best they could, but they were older, already knew each other, and spoke Spanish at a pace my three years of “¿dónde está la biblioteca?” from high school just couldn’t keep up with, so the prospect of hanging out with them was a bit intimidating.

I amended this mistake in my second semester, making sure to get to know my new roommates. We would cook together, taking turns introducing each other to traditional foods from our respective countries, play Super Smash Bros on my Nintendo Switch, or just chill in silence together. I am by no means the world’s greatest extrovert, and I need my alone time as much as the next guy, but there is just a very special bond that you form with people when you live together.

Even if you’re only here for a semester, you might remember them for the rest of your life.

Take Care of Your Space and Personalize It

At first I took a very pragmatic approach to my living space. “This is just temporary,” I thought, “all I’m gonna do here is eatand sleep anyway, so what’s the point of decorating?” I know a lot of people who thought the same thing. Well, you might find yourself spending more time at home than you’d expect, even in a city like Rome, especially once exam season comes around and you just won’t have time to be out and about as much. I certainly did. In times like that, a shelf of your favorite books, a houseplant and some posters make all the difference when it comes to keeping from feeling imprisoned by work. So does keeping things neat and clean – tidy space, tidy mind and all that.

Guide to Finding a Place to Live in Rome

Learn to Cook Italian Food and Invite People to Dinner

Italy is the home of some of the greatest foods in the world (admit it, that’s why you came), and though you might not be able to afford to eat out much as a student, the way around that is to learn to make some of the signature Roman dishes yourself. Staple products like guanciale and pecorino that are ludicrously expensive elsewhere are cheap to come by here, especially at local markets, and traditional Roman dishes like Carbonara and Amatriciana are super easy to make.

But it’s not really Italian-style cooking unless you’re sharing it with other people. Be it your roommates, friends from university, or whoever you might like to spend time with, invite them over for a casual, weekday dinner party and cook all together. Some of my fondest early memories from my time here come from chopping onions with my friends laughing at the stream of tears running down my face. There just is no better way to spend time together and to make your new home feel like home.

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