Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Coming to terms with life-altering decisions is never easy. Well, almost never. When we made the decision to sell everything, retire and move to Italy, the decision was easy. We tell people that it wasn’t so much a decision as an acceptance of the path our lives were supposed to take. Since we’re not especially spiritual people or impulsive people, I’m sure many of our friends thought we’d lost our minds, but the one good thing was that if we had gone crazy, at least we’d both done so simultaneously, and what we were doing seemed perfectly normal to the two of us.

And just because we so easily accepted the new path our lives were about to take doesn’t mean that we just ran blindly down that path. We did try to do some research, because of course my first reaction was “no, people like us, average, middle class people like us can’t afford to retire and live in Italy! that’s only for movie stars and CEO’s and people with generations of money who have second, third and fourth homes all over the world.”

I posted messaged on the Slow Travel message board and emailed everyone we’d ever met who lived in, or at least had a house in Italy. I was completely honest about how much money we had and what our retirement income would be, because there wasn’t any sense in pretending we had more than we did. We had what we had, and if that wasn’t enough, then we’d simply have to face those facts.

Amazingly, people were very supportive and helpful. Most people seemed to think that yes, we could afford to move to Italy, and that yes, we could find a house within our price range, but that it would require a bit of searching and maybe some good luck. Armed with the hints we received, we made a trip to Italy to scout out possible locations and ended up finding our house, somewhat unexpectedly. And so everything seemed to fall into place and even I, the skeptic, the pessimist, accepted the fact that we not only should move to Italy, but that we really COULD move to Italy.

Now, 4 ½ years later, accepting the fact that it’s time to move on, it’s a bit harder to accept. Yes, I always knew that we were at the low end, financially speaking, of those who retire to Italy. And yes, we both knew that the exchange rate could be our friend or our foe, but there was no way to know what the future would hold. We had read about the (then) new euro, and altho the dollar was quite strong against the euro, predictions were that the two currencies would settle down to a one to one ration. We knew we could handle that, and maybe even a little more, so we hoped for the best and made the move.

Looking back, do we have regrets? Do we wish we’d followed the advice of those who said we should rent? Do we wish we’d moved more slowly, or perhaps not at all? No, No, No, and No. Viewing this move as an adventure, there’s no way we could ever regret it! As for renting instead of buying, there’s just no way we could have felt a part of our community by renting, and no way we could have experienced the highs and lows of home renovation in a foreign county when we spoke practically no Italian!

I’m going to explore more thoughts on our move to Italy and our decision to move back to the states in future blogs. I’m filled with mixed emotions about leaving Italy AND about returning to a life in the United States. Since this blog has followed our ups and downs, there’s no reason to stop now! Stay tuned.

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At 1/22/2008 09:47:00 AM , Blogger bleeding espresso said...

With the exchange rate where it is I can't say as though I'm surprised by this news but I am sorry we haven't been able to meet in person. But there's still time right? Guess we'll find out how long soon....

Looking forward to reading more.

At 1/22/2008 11:16:00 AM , Anonymous janie said...

Wow-that is a huge decision, but Italy will always be part of your life no matter where you are!

At 1/22/2008 01:39:00 PM , Blogger Annika said...

Does this mean that the house is sold? I'm sorry it had to come to this, I know that you contemplated a few different ways such as renting a smaller place etc. Perhaps it's wisest to move back to the US where the dollar is actually worth something, and then save up so that you can come back here to visit time and time again! It can't be an easy decision to make though.

At 1/22/2008 02:03:00 PM , Blogger Barbara said...

No Annika, the house isn't sold yet, but fo course we expect to sell it this year. I'm just trying to mentally prepare, and for me the best way to do that is to write it down! Writing down my thoughts and emotions help me make sense of them and believe me, I'll need a lot of help when the actual move takes place!

Yes, sognatrice, we still have time to meet...who knows when or where tho. For now let's remain optimisitc that our paths will cross.

And janie, of course you're right on both counts, and knowing that we did it, that we followed our hearts and had this amazing adventure makes us both very happy, even proud of ourselves. At least we won't look back in regret!

At 1/22/2008 02:17:00 PM , Anonymous Jane said...

Barb, I'm sad!

At 1/23/2008 02:58:00 AM , Blogger Gil said...

This is a sad post. I am real sorry that you have reached the decision to move back here as it always sounded like you two were having so much fun in Italy. Too bad you couldn't come up with something to do in Italy to supplement your pension income.

At 1/23/2008 03:17:00 PM , Blogger Tina said...

Hey Barb, I know how much you love your house and your town, so I send you a big hig.

Of course I hope that you are around when I go back, so we can have another meet-up in Italy... this also means, however, that we'll meet up in the United States at some point!

It's a sad decision to make, especially knowing your part of Umbria and how Umbria just takes you into its arms all warmly. I hated leaving, and I was only there for half a year.

I hope that this leads to even more fantastic adventures for you and Art. I have no doubt that the two of you will be able to find the next path that will enrich your lives. Hey, there's always Argentina... ;-)


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