COMING TO TERMS - PART 1
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.