Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Those are the two questions we get asked all the time. Most people we know who follow our blog are fellow lovers of Italy, and some dream of living in Italy someday. Others know they'll never live here but like to follow our lives as a small way of connecting to Italy. For many of these people the idea of us selling and/or leaving Italy is unimaginable. After following the long road to get here and the various trials and tribulations we faced along the way (as well as all the good times and great food), many people can't imagine why we'd want to give it up.

What most of these people don't realize is that Italy was never OUR dream! Italy simply HAPPENED to us, unexpectedly. (You can read about how it happened HERE). Our dream for retirement was to travel, both in the U.S. and in Europe. There were so many places we wanted, and still want, to see! When Italy caught us in her spell we thought that we'd have the perfect set-up: a base in Europe, meaning no jet lag, no expensive transatlantic airfares, and the ability to take lots of mini-vacations: a long weekend in Sicily, a quick visit to France, taking advantage of an airfare special to London. For us, Italy was just the means to an end, and that end was travel. That was the plan.

Once we moved to Italy the dollar began a long, slow and steady decline, eating away at the money we'd planned to use for travel. Initially we didn't mind (much), and enjoyed spending time in our area. Eventually it became evident that the dollar wasn't going to rebound, and although living in Italy was certainly fun, it wasn't serving it's purpose. Feeling more and more frustrated about not being able to travel, we eventually realized that we could do something about it. Sometimes the most obvious answer is the most illusive!

We decided that we'd sell our house in Italy and move back to the states. Our thinking was that in the states at least we wouldn't be losing a percentage of our money with every bank withdrawal, and that we'd be able to travel. We reasoned that even if the majority of our travel was in the U.S., there was certainly plenty to see, and that when we did travel to Europe, we'd made so many friends that we'd have a few places to stay along the way.

That decision wasn't made quickly, nor was it made lightly. Yes, the thought of leaving our home and our friends is sad, even painful. Luckily we knew from having made the move TO Italy that all we really needed was each other, and that we really did want to fulfill our dream of traveling. We remembered when we moved to Italy, and how some friends and family had been upset, even angry about the idea of us leaving the states and going to Italy. We also remembered telling them "But if it doesn't work out, we can always come back!" Sometimes we all get so stuck in the way things ARE that we forget that we have the power to change things!

And so now we have our house for sale, and even though the U.S. economy has worsened since the time we made our decision, we still think it's the right thing for us to do. Maybe it's just wanderlust, but we both feel that it's time to move on, time to figure out what our next adventure will be.

Initially, way back when we were first talking about selling, we just wrote about it on the blog. Obviously this didn't draw a lot of interest, but we weren't that concerned. We reasoned that when the time was right the house would sell and in the meantime we'd just enjoy our life in Italy. Eventually we realized that if we really did want to sell we'd need to list the house with some agenices, and so we took the next step and officially listed the house for sale.

Maybe we'd been holding back just a little, still not 100% convinced that we wanted to leave Italy, but after living with the idea for a while we realized that yes, this was the right decision for us. Living in Italy is wonderful - the food! - the wine! -the scenery! - the slower way of life! - yes, it will be hard to give all that up. It will be hard to trade our small town life for life in the big city. It will be even harder to leave all the friends we've made. But, just as we've kept up with friends and family in the states since we moved here, we know that we'll keep up with our friends in Italy - maybe even more so.

Now the housing market has gone flat (we know of many real estate agents who didn't sell one house last year!), but everyone assures us that our price is fair and that our house is something special. So yes, our house is for sale. And yes, we'll return to the states. Not because we don't love Italy, but simply because for us, it's time for the next adventure. We encourage you to follow your dreams too. If we can do it, anyone can!



At 6/24/2009 04:53:00 AM , Blogger michelle | bleeding espresso said...

Hey have you buried a statue of St Joseph upside down in your yard? Can't hurt right? Just don't let your neighbors catch you ;)

This a really well-written post, btw. I know how difficult it can be to have people questioning your major life decisions. This sums it up well:

"Sometimes we all get so stuck in the way things ARE that we forget that we have the power to change things!"

At 6/24/2009 05:19:00 AM , Blogger Barbara said...

Thanks Michelle! And yes, I have buried St Joe, back in March, but so far he hasn't been too helpful! (I wrote about it here:

I'm sure we'll be answering these questions for some time to come, even after we go back to the states - maybe i should just make copies of this post and hand them out?! Anyway, we just know it's time, and we're looking forward to the next challenge!

At 6/24/2009 08:19:00 AM , Blogger Ciao Chow Linda said...

I'm sure it's a tough decision, but it doesn't mean you'll never go back to Italy - or find other adventures equally as wonderful. Best of luck with the sale of the house and the move back to the states.

At 6/24/2009 09:49:00 AM , Anonymous Sandra said...


I love reading your posts and would love to live in Italy. We are working on it but we, too are a bit concerned with the dollar. If we could only sell our condo, or even our house, we'd be there. We did not go to Italy in April as we planned because Anthony had major ear problems and the doctor recommended no flying. I wish you all the luck, and you know I love your house even though I've never seen it in person. Hope Art is well recovered from his surgery.

At 6/24/2009 02:44:00 PM , Blogger barb cabot said...

Barbara I have so enjoyed reading about your journey, following all your wonderful stories on slowtrav, in your blog and in conversations with friends about expats in Italy. Our family, like yours has one foot in both countries. I admire you and I do not question any of your motivations moving here or to Italy. You have such great spirit of adventure. You took a great leap at a time in your lives when most would not dare. I applaud you. I hope to meet you someday at some GTG (San Diego?) until then I keep up with you on Facebook,blogs and on the message boards. You are always in my prayers and high on my admiration list. Cheers to you and Art.

At 6/25/2009 01:36:00 AM , Anonymous Jane said...

Barb (and Art), Having followed each moment in your efforts to buy your house and the many, many frustrations in that adventure, it is so hard to grasp that you are now at the other end. But,,,I know your decision is the right one for you. Life is a continuum of milestones and you are moving into the next one. Good luck and have fun and, your house is quite wonderful. Given other circumstances Ken and I would give significant consideration to being its new owners.

At 6/25/2009 03:25:00 PM , Blogger Scott said...

Barb, I really enjoyed your posts these past months! I have read them religiously! I think your decision, as is mine, is a personal one and one that only you and Art can make. I have chosen to live in Europe because I fell in love with in college and have never been able to get it out of my head. I've begun the process, and it will be a long one, but I think, in the end, a rewarding one. I've started learning Italian and saving my money. I've been working a second job for over a year now.

Your post and the very recent death of my father made me realize that we need to fulfill our dreams. Life is too short to be caught up in the expectations that others have for us. My family isn't too happy either, but I told them there are planes that go both ways.

I applaud the two of you for having the courage to do it in the first place. I have so many friends who have NEVER lived outside of their birth state. I can't even imagine.

Good luck to you, and I do love your house! If I had the money now, I'd buy it in a heartbeat!


At 6/25/2009 07:13:00 PM , Blogger Barbara said...

Thanks to everyone who has shown their support! In writing this post I was necessarily trying to justify our decision, just explain it because of course people see us as 'living the dream' and can't imagine why we'd want to sell.

We've loved every minute we've been in Italy and have no regrets! We did it, we took the leap, made it happen and no one can ever take away the friends we've made or the memories we have!

As for those of you who've said you'd love to buy our house BUT.... well, come on, don't you have some friends who might be interested??? LOL!


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