Expat Advice: Retiring in
An expat who retired in Minturno, Italy talks about health insurance, cost of living in Italy, residence permits and much more.
What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
Why did you choose to retire abroad?
Good value on housing; close to many destinations to travel for visits; a good social, mental and physical challenge for retirement.
Are you retired abroad all year or part of the year?
Why did you choose the country you retired to?
I chose to retire to Italy for the climate, culture, history, art, food, close to other interesting destinations, access to mountains and mare, reasonable residency standards
Did you ever live abroad before you retired abroad?
yes, Saudi Arabia
How long have you lived abroad since you retired abroad?
How many countries (other than your home country) have you lived in as a retiree?
What have been the most challenging aspects of being retired abroad?
Passing the driver's license test; learning Italian
What have been the most rewarding aspects of being retired abroad?
Being separate from US politics, art, history, time to read and travel, beautiful vistas.
What would you do differently if you were just starting the retire abroad process?
Set up a bank account prior to buying property. We did a good job researching prior to the move - few regrets.
What is life like for a retiree in your city and its surroundings? (Is there an active expat community? Cultural Attractions? Recreation? Nightlife?)
We are connected to ex-pats in near towns. We live in a quiet hill town which is a beach resort in the summer with music and activies. There are religious and cultural festivals and film and music festivals. We work an olive/fruit grove, go to the beach and hike in the mountains. I also volunteer and participate in local archeology work and we enjoy food preparation and preservation. We are within 2 hours of Rome and 1 hour of Naples by train giving unlimited activities.
What residency documents or visas did you need to obtain to retire in your host country? How difficult was this process? (Please describe)
Prior to moving, obtained a codice fiscal prior to buying a house. We obtained a 1 year visa prior to retiring and applied for residence permit/permesso di soggiorno as soon as we arrived. The process was not difficult, just laborious and confusing at times. You need to learn to cross your t's and dot your eyes. Due to the number of immigrants to Italy, there are many people providing assistance, and other foreign residents are glad to help with the processes.
Did you buy a home or apartment, or rent one? Is this a difficult process? (Please describe)
We paid an attorney in Rome to ensure that the process was easy. He was expensive, but well worth the money. Without good language skills one is at the mercy of the system. Our attorney stood the ground for us when necessary.
Financially, has living abroad in your host country met your expectations? Exceeded them?
Cost of living has increased dramatically in the past 2 years, but petrol prices have dropped. Internet service is cheaper but phones are more expensive. Everything is a trade off. Italy is still a good value for our money.
What are the most important financial considerations for retiring to your host country?
medical insurance. To obtain preliminary visa and permesso, you must have zero deductible insurance. It is then possible to buy into the Italian insurance, but to travel internationally, we have kept our private insurance. Travel to the US is cheaper than travel from the US to Italy, but it is still a large part of our budget. We sometimes travel by cruise ship for better deals.
How much can a retiree live on comfortably in your host country?
That really depends... In Minturno, a couple who want to live simply, using the bus and train for transportation, $20,000/year would suffice.
Do you have access to quality medical care? (Please describe - is it close? Expensive?)
$387/year/couple will buy into the medical program for the EU. That provides ER services, most doctor visits and discounts on medication and supplies. We can walk to our hospital and have found an English speaking GP and excellent dentist in the next town. We can also take the train to Rome for exceptional specialists. I paid (insurance reimbursed) 150 euro for lab work which would have been well over 1000 in the states.
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Is there a lot of crime where you live? (Please describe)
Minor theft. We are aware of organized crime, but it does not affect us.
Describe available transportation where you live. Do you need a car? Is there access to safe public transportation?
Public buses run within and between towns and cities, train service is available between most towns and cities and these have improved in the last year. Also, ferries are available locally. We have a car and like having it, but know other expats who only use public transport. Hired cars and taxis are available as needed.
Is there high-speed internet access where you live?
Yes, high-speed internet is much cheaper than we had in the US and more reliable.
Do you have any other thoughts you would like to share about retiring abroad?
Retiring abroad is not an option that should be taken lightly. It is very easy with internet and phone services to keep in contact with family, but if being an hour away from family and friends is a necessity for you, don't do this. If you have relatives or are eligible for citizenship, the processes can be much easier. Be prepared for some long processes, some confusion and some frustration, but at the end of the day, this is a very very good life.
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