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• Buying a rustico in Liguria

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Gepetto
7/12/2019 15:22 EST

Middle aged Italian lover Canadian who lives & works in Montreal/Canada seeking advice !

Although I have read many forums related to the same topic, I decided create my own and chit-chat with the ones who are following the same dream.

A bit of context:

- Unfortunately I do not speak Italian or know anyone who is Italian (in my bucket list)

- Looking for a vacation property in Liguria coast (my favourite so far) Cinque Terre villages, Volastra, Apricale etc. to be more specific.

- Not planning invest more than 50.000 Euros (includes renovations)

- in love with rusticos but trying to avoid major renovations knowing (esp. after reading about permits, bureaucracy, and pit falls)

Seeking help to find an honest local to give advice.

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HenryGiovanni
7/12/2019 17:33 EST

Hi Gepetto.
Fortunately, I am over in Padova, across the country. However, I was in Riomaggiore in early May, 2019. Also up to Vernazza. I am no expert on Cinque Terre, but have lived in "tourist destinations" before hand, for many, many years.

You asked, so here's what I think.
1) If you want crowds, then go live there.

2) If you want to pay prices that have been "elevated" for the tourists, then go live there. Sample: right downstairs I can get a spritz for EU 2.50. That same spritz in Riomaggiore cost me EU 7.50. I don't even know what such prices do to a "monthly food budget", not to mention other essentials like, for instance, toilet paper..

3) From what limited views I saw, Cinque Terre transportation is mostly limited to either a) train, or b) Vespa (or similar). Want a car? Go somewhere else or hike long-distance to your house from the parking lot.

Those are my observations, and are subject to correction by others.

Disclaimer: I lived in a "tourist town" in Southern CA for 45 yrs (or more), and know "something" about tourist crowds, tourist pricing, and parking. Doesn't make me an expert on anything, though.

Cheers, John..

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Gepetto
7/12/2019 19:40 EST

Hey John, I totally agree with you in regards to touristic places and how much it makes a difference.

One of the main reasons I pick these places is to have some sort of security and to avoid boredom as I have no idea how it would feel to stay in a village with 600 habitants although I can drink cheap Spritz ;) Dont get me wrong, I would like to economize as much however I would like to believe that what I am investing is worthwhile even if its a matchbox.

That being said my concern is really about the procedures and steps to take renovations. Finding the right/honest people to carry on this work.

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codybrandy
7/13/2019 04:50 EST

Hello Gepetto, Well, we bought 20 min. inland to the 5Terre 10 yrs ago and have been living here for 5 and as much as I enjoy browsing realty sites I think you will find it very difficult to find anything under 50K on the coast. Now, if you go inland (I'd say at least 20+min) you might ?? find something. That will of course be in a tiny village (paese) where no one will speak english and you will have long drives for all services. Yes, there are honest workers (plumbing, restructuring etc) but sometimes it takes living in the area for years to find the right ones...they are like the hidden secrets of their area. That being said: https://www.casa.it/rustico-casale/vendita/la-spezia/piazza-deiva-marina-50mq-35532597/ Well, that's my 2cents...I wish you much luck...learn Italian, read the local realty pages, come and rent in an area you love and hang out at the bar to meet people who will tell you about their uncle's neighbor who did a wonderful job on the bath/roof etc.

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Shtinky
7/13/2019 06:36 EST

Hi Gepetto, I have to agree with the advice so far. You’ll not be able to buy a livable house for €50K let alone renovate it. So you’d need to adjust your sights on that. Also, whenever anyone is contemplating a move here I say do not move where you know no one. You will need help every step of the way from buying, getting utilities, bank account, workers. etc and you can’t do that if you don’t speak Italian. You’ll need to know someone who speaks English and Italian who will help you. Absolutely you should rent first. And learn Italian and get to know your chosen town and neighbors before you even try to buy.

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Umbertomar
7/13/2019 07:40 EST

Hi Gepetto
Here is a link to a site that will give you an Idea about real estate in the area of your choice.https://www.idealista.it/geo/vendita-case/cinque-terre/?ordine=prezzi-asc
. Bear in mind that long term leases can be an option.
Best advice is to rent first.
Do some on line Italian lessons ASAP. Rocket Italian is OK- but there are many others

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Gepetto
7/13/2019 11:55 EST

@Umbertomar

Thank-you. Yes, this is one of the sites I have been following. Good thing about this is there are private sellers as oppose to real estate agents. I wonder if it's risky to to deal with the property owner as oppose to an agent though (more profitable for sure!)

As for learning Italian, yeah I am thinking Rosetta Stone promo package lol

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Gepetto
7/13/2019 12:14 EST

@codybrandy

Thank-you !

Your feedback proves the fact that these forums actually work.

And I agree everything you said. Guess I don't mind going a little further for the sake of saving some bucks.

With all due respect to everyone who spends more than 80-90K in a foreign country, I find it a little "risky" to invest this much in another country where there is no guarantee to re-sell for the same amount or higher.. But again who am I to judge lol

Only other thing I can add to your comments is I am a little far from retirement (41 years old) that being said sure I can plan my 2 weeks vacations to spend and see however i don't want to wait too long (until retirement) where prices will most likely go up. Does this make sense ?

Also I did take a look at the posting you sent : Rustico, Farmhouse for Sale in Piazza area in Deiva Marina
I am not very familiar with this area. however perfect example. and I like reading this : "convenient sewer connections and utilities at 3.5 km from the beautiful beach"

Let me ask this perhaps you would know. Some properties are considered as non-dwelling though it is possible to bring electricity/water/sewer access. I believe they are considered as storage/cellar/warehouse. Perhaps even the annual taxes are lower for these types (..as oppose to residential properties) Is there any risk or things to be careful to invest in such kind of properties ?

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Gepetto
7/13/2019 12:28 EST

@Shtinky

Oh my sounds like my mom speaking yet everything you say is probably true !

€50K is a lot of money, even in Italy (I explained my reasons of why I wouldn't want to invest more than this in a foreign country where economy is unstable + no guarantee to re-sell it later-on) especially there is an abundance of properties for sale at the moment.

I can definitely build on being more familiar with the area first and having seen Sicily, Amalfi, big cities in Italy something in Liguria tells me that I belong there. Perhaps I had lived there in my former life lol I just need to pick the town : )

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Shtinky
7/13/2019 15:55 EST

Gepetto, yes 50K is a lot of money. But what can you get in Canada for that? You won’t get much here.
What you “invest” is not an investment to gain money. That is not how it works here. You buy a place for your enjoyment, not for a return on your money. It is not like in the US. Real estate is not for investment.
So happy you feel Liguria is your place. That is a big hurtle. But you need to be realistic too,

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codybrandy
7/13/2019 16:32 EST

Hello again....Just to give you an idea...if you're looking at a map...heading south...Rapallo, Chiavari, Sestri Levante are big towns with hospitals and all services...they are quite historic and grand with lots of market-days, dining. touristy and big apartments....the towns south get smaller and quainter and have wonderful swimming coves and beaches. Deiva Marina is one of these...with some rather grand sandy beaches (uncommon...most are rocky)...a non touristy slightly inland area of Deiva is called Piazza...it's a tiny 'frazione' or fraction of a town with one of the best !! Pizza restaurants in our entire area (Fausto's) run by a lovely couple Gianna and her husband Fausto. It is right off the main interstate going north and south. South of Deiva is Framura and Levanto and then the beginning of the 5Terre. All this is connected with very good train service...my cousin has lived in Framura 40+yrs and doesn't own a car. True, do not buy with any inclination of selling...properties sit for years...no matter how nice or how cheap. On the other hand, property taxes are quite low for non residents and free for residents. We love Liguria, it was a great choice for us.

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HenryGiovanni
7/13/2019 17:29 EST

Hi Gepetto,
I am in agreement with most of the other posters on this thread.

1) Don't buy for investment; buy a "home" for yourself instead. Plan to live there. As for prices, to me EU 90G + another EU 10-12G was far cheaper than staying in Southern California. Apparently, we paid some sort of property tax as a "Prima Casa" when we bought the place, and don't have to pay it again. And yes, houses (or, more likely condos here) sit on the market for years. We looked at a place that had been listed for 11 yrs. Probably needs all new sewer system, so don't let the "good deal" cost you more. Just spend a little extra up front. Treat it like you're going to live in it.

2) For workmen, we asked around. We then asked the workmen for others we needed, and are pleased with the results. The work was done at a cost that one would consider rather too low in the US, and, probably, Canada.

3) As you say, some places are not for living in. The ceiling height (of all things!) seems to be a determinative factor for what a room may be used for, whether bedroom, kitchen, etc.. Keep this in mind when you are buying, because one day the police WILL come into your house to see if you actually live there. Mind you, however you wish to use it after the police visit is probably fine, but expect the workmen to follow the rules. Listen to what they are trying to tell you.

4) Trains in Cinque Terre: to me, rather more unreliable than not. Seemed rare that the train came on time. And parking is scarce, at least in the tourist towns. Should one venture in with a car, there are just too many tourists one must not hit. And I'm not sure driving is allowed, even for the residents. But I do not know and may stand corrected.

5) First time I visited Padova in 2001, I, too felt like I was "home". It was a very strange feeling. Never thought I'd wind up living here, but here I am. If that's your sense, then trust it and ignore everything else I've said.

Cheers, John.

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Gepetto
7/13/2019 19:06 EST

@Shtinky

Perhaps I shouldn't have used the word "investment" and no intention of gaining more $$ by reselling either. Forum helps because it encourages thinking process. Here is my dilemma buying a property less than 50K in a cute Italian village not very far from the sea: https://www.casa.it/appartamento/vendita/imperia/via-san-bartolomeo-apricale-40mq-32932782

Or buying a rustico to renovate : https://www.idealista.it/en/immobile/5889832/

I am not seeking for help to find the place, my concern is obviously your experiences in regards to former or the latter.

There are also bunch of cellars/studios/warehouses https://www.idealista.it/immobile/14280454/ which requires renovation and provides the minimum...

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Gepetto
7/13/2019 19:11 EST

@codybrandy

You are introducing new towns and cities which excites me more however it also makes me think if I should travel further before making a decision lol

There is no end to this :)

One thing I know is that I trust the train and will not need to depend on car ever. That being said remote areas or isolated places where only private cars can take me is not an option (...similar to your cousin)

Thanks again !

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Gepetto
7/13/2019 19:20 EST

@HenryGiovanni / John

1) "don't let the "good deal" cost you more" Right I think this restoration/renovation thing is already turning me off after reading horror stories.

2) This is reassuring so you did use workmen for minor things then, not roof, sewer, or major renovations (?)

3) "one day the police WILL come into your house to see if you actually live there" Is that true ? You mean I cannot live in a place which is non-dwelling even with the right connections ? This is very important to know !!!

4) I liked the frequency of trains running between towns and major cities. The longest I took was from Riomaggiore to Pisa. It was few hrs but pleasant. Car is not for me so anywhere dependent on a car is opted out.

5) I will check more this Padova.

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Umbertomar
7/14/2019 10:19 EST

I sent you a private message

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HenryGiovanni
7/14/2019 14:45 EST

Hi Gepetto,
Folks call me John; it's what I answer to when called. Works for me.

We purchased a condo in a building with communal heating (which I suggest you avoid at all costs, because you will freeze in winter). However, the process to change from communal to individual heating was already in process, and that's why we bought it. Thats what the extra EU 10G was for; we had the choice to buy at 98G or at 90G if we did the change-over ourselves. No brainer: seller wasn't going to upgrade the entire heating system, which is exactly what we did, down to the last radiator (adding some, dropping others off). Our condo, Our choice (so to speak). The plumbers did the whole heating system (but not the sinks and tub and shower). We were well pleased with their work, so when we needed a hole cut in a wall for a large pass-through doorway, we asked them, and they gave us the name of a guy who came over and did it up right for what I would only call "an extremely fair price". There were some extra pipes and electrics involved that nobody knew about, but the previous plumbers had solved that pipe problem (they no longer functioned), so he cut them out and did up the floor (buried the wiring) and etc, etc, etc, for an extra EU 40, which is a sum that wouldn't even fill up my gas tank for one week in CA. I gladly paid, and have no complaints with the work. In fact, I'm going to quit trying to do all this work myself and start buying it out. It's way worth the cost. So these are not the minor things; I do those myself (or did, up to now).

On trains: "hours" to Pisa sounds like torture to me. I love trains, and don't mind spending hours on one (or two, or seven), but Riomaggiore isn't all that far from Pisa, really. I take the train into Venezia sometimes (no longer often, thankfully), and from Padova station to Venezia Santa Lucia is maybe 25 minutes before I'm standing on the Canale Grande. (check your train designation; some trains take this same trip in an hour, stopping at every single station. And I exclude the Eurostar from Padova to Venezia; cost doesn't equal time saved.). Cost to Venezia: EU 4+ but less than 5.

Another thing, and I'm not selling Padova (yes I am!), but we are on the plains up here, which means bicycles. I ride 8.6 km (takes 40 minutes because I'm retired and feel no need to hurry anywhere anymore, so I use the slow-pedal mode) into town to volunteer at a local museum, then the same back out. Max elevation on that trip is probably around 10 meters (?? I'm guessing) over the train tracks. I could probably take the bicycle into Venezia, though it might be an all-day trip. I can certainly take the bicycle lots of other places (and do, by the way). Cost of a good used bicycle: around EU 70, including a new tire and tube plus preventative maintenance (oiling things up right), all done by myself. Cost afterwards: nil, until you get a flat or break a chain or run into a car or something else. Cost of repair: EU 70 to start all over again from scratch, if you've done it up good and there's no alternative.. Benefits: stronger legs and good exercise out in the [blazing; it's summer] sun and fresh air.

Police: they WILL come to your house to see if you live there once you apply for your Residenza permit. Plain and simple. It'happens 100% of the time for us commoners, but I can't speak to any "connections" you may or may not have!

Padova: on a map, find Venezia and then go almost due West about 30 miles (another guess). If you see Vicenza, you've gone too far.

Life could be worse, but it's not.
Cheers, John.

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Shtinky
7/15/2019 03:15 EST

Hi John, question. Do you get a lot of fog in winter in Padova? We may be moving if we can ever sell our house, and are exploring options. I trained through the Po plain last Christmas and couldn’t see a thing from Firenze to the Dolemiti. I’m not fond of months of dreary weather. Thanks

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Gepetto
7/15/2019 07:38 EST

@Umbertomar thank-you and I did reply to you :)

It looks like there are some important steps towards residency to be able to stay more than 120 days as a tourist.

I will post this regardless:

Is it possible to extend my stay in Italy as a Canadian so I can profit 5-6 months of the year at retirement.

I heard Italian government sympathize and give residency to retirees ?

And No, I am not married to an Italian :)

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Gepetto
7/15/2019 07:44 EST

@John

Wow John, I appreciate you taking the time explaining your experience in detail. It definitely adds quite a perspective.

I believe I got answers to most of my questions which brings an important point that I can only spend 3 months in 180 days in Italy a foreigner (I am not even considered as an expat : (

I am afraid I will have to pursue the right steps towards longer stays (4-5 months per year).

Now I understand why police does random checks lol on people and No I do not have any connections whatsoever :)

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Shtinky
7/15/2019 08:28 EST

Hi Gepetto,
I’ll chime in on the visit thing. It doesn’t matter your nationality. The visa rules apply to Canadians, Americans, Australians etc the same. If you go to the Embassy or Consulate website that handles where you live they list the types of Visas and the requirements. As a tourist you can come for 90 days and return for 90 then do it again. This means you can stay just under 6 months a year (but in 2 separate trips). Good so you won’t be a tax resident. But this means you cannot come for 5 or 6 months in a row.
The only other ways to come are to get an Elective Residence Visa for a year (retirees mostly). And then once here, apply for the Permit to Stay. Or you could possibly enroll in school here for a student visa. You could learn Italian. The ER Visa is meant for a person to move here permanently or long term at least. It is not for just visiting. If you get the ER Visa, apply for the permit to Stay, then return home and let the PdS expire. You’ll be unlikely to get another ER Visa. This use is not the intention. Hope this helps.

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Shtinky
7/15/2019 08:33 EST

Please don’t try to go through a private person. Too many pitfalls for anyone, but someone who speaks no Italian will be an easy mark. Italian inheritance laws are very different and being absolutely sure you have clear title is key. You’ll need an agent to help you. Or you’ll need to hire a good Notaio or lawyer. Best advice is not to do that.

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HenryGiovanni
7/15/2019 13:30 EST

Hi Gepetto,
Fog in the late night/early mornings. I saw it a few times, not often, over the last two winters.

However, coming from Southern CA, the winters here are long for me. I'm used to sun and heat, even in winter.

That said, I suspect that if you are in Canada (I think I read that). If so, then Padova is on a latitude more-or-less similar to Portland OR, which would still be south of almost everywhere in Canada.

Cheers, John.

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Umbertomar
7/17/2019 04:58 EST

I sent you another PM

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Gepetto
7/17/2019 07:52 EST

Just got it and responded. Thank-you !

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Gepetto
7/17/2019 07:55 EST

I have heard about the elective visa however did not bother looking just yet since I am far from retirement lol

Also I am far from assuring the Italian government that I can afford 3,500 Euros (individually) other than my salary That would be the "Dolce Vita"!

Hah But I suppose when the time is right I should investigate this further.

Canada is very far and I cannot make that trip few times a year for the sake of extending my stay.

All is to say straight 6 months would be swell .

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Shellyclark2002
7/17/2019 08:22 EST

I am just curious. Do most retired Italians have an income of 3600 euro. I could not hit that myself with income alone. How do people do it?

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Gepetto
7/17/2019 08:28 EST

Hah !

3600 euro, retired income (!)

I am guessing this is just an assurance for government to qualify has nothing to do with an average Italian retiree.

Its like some countries give residency only if you can afford to buy a house over 500.000 Euros (speculating here) but you got the idea. Its not that we, foreigners cannot live in a house which cost way too less, it is a strategy to move the economy and attract rich americans/canadians/Europeans.

Only if I had an income of 3,500 Euros per month, I would travel the world as oppose to buying aa residency in Italy. But again god knows how i will think in few years (I am 40 years old now)

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Shtinky
7/17/2019 09:19 EST

No, Italians make nowhere near €3600 a month. Not even for an entire family. I don’t know why they set the amount so high. To keep people out maybe? We’re told they want to be sure immigrants are not a drag on the Italian system. Go figure

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Shtinky
7/17/2019 09:22 EST

Ah but 6 months in a row are not possible, sad to say. So many people wish this. All countries have these rules and we just have to abide by them.

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HenryGiovanni
7/17/2019 12:39 EST

Hi Gepetto,
OK, I'll go where angels fear to tread.

I see nothing in your posts about a wife. Maybe I am mistaken. But if you are not married, then the simple thing to do is marry an Italian woman (I'm presuming a gender from your name, a veritable sin nowadays, but who cares anyway?), which preculdes all that visa nonsense, and the income nonsense to boot! And the "required" foreign health care policy, and many other little things that don't come to mind at this moment.

We live here on whatever we saved (not much, really) plus our monthly SS income. No jobs (yet, at least) and no other income except for a negligible amount of interest from the savings acct. That's it. And it ain't any EU 3600, nor even EU 2600, and probably far less than that.

Funny story: we were down at the local grocers, run by a young couple (she, Italian, he, Tunisian, I think). She asked my wife how long we'd been married. (My wife later explained that she (the grocer) thought I, a rich American, had married a younger Italian woman so I could come live over here and my wife could enjoy all that money I supposedly had!.) My wife responded that we'd been married for 26 yrs (at that time), but declined to mention that I am the younger of us (I don't use hair color). An interesting preconception, indeed. Something I would not personally have expected, but there it is. Stereotypes and all that. Rich American? That's rich!

On another note for the forum, we just got done with our taxes yesterday (except for that "paying" bit). This was our first time filing here in Italy. What a problem. HR Block is so named because they are on every block in the US, I think. Here, things are different. I intend to put together another "I Was There. . .The Rest of the Story" post for the taxes, all details included, but probably not tonight. Coming soon to a forum near you!

Cheers, John.

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Gepetto
7/18/2019 07:09 EST

Funny Story : )

In my case girlfriend is in the picture that's why getting married to an Italian woman, who looks like Monica Belluci, is not an option lol

Here are the two clauses in regards to financial requirements to meet with elective residence visa.

Financial Resources: For a single person the minimum financial requirement is EUR 31,000 (or equivalent home currency amount). For a married couple it is EUR 38,000. An additional 20% is necessary for each dependent child.

Passive Income: the Italian Consulate wants to verify your documented ability to generate sufficient financial resources, other than employment, which can be reasonably expected to continue over time. Some examples of passive income are: property rental income, pensions, social security benefits, corporate dividends, royalties, etc. If your Existing Financial Resources (see item 6 above) are multiples of the minimum required amount, evidence of it can satisfy the Passive Income requirement.

That being said I don't see 3500 Euros anywhere

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Shtinky
7/18/2019 09:43 EST

Hi Gepetto,
Works out to €2500 for an individual. Not sure where this figure comes from as they do not publish an amount that I’ve seen, and even if they do, it is, like everything else in italy subject to interpretation by the individual consulates. Firstly, the amount required is not consistent across all consulates in the US where he must apply. Every consulate sets its own amounts and has ultimate authority to deny a Visa. Most do not even PUBLISH an amount. It is a crap shoot. If you have less than the €3500 a person you are risking denial. I know from friends that San Francisco Consulate requires €3600. You can always try with less of course.

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Gepetto
7/18/2019 11:08 EST

A-ha !

Let's hope it's not so high in Montreal, Quebec. I will check with the consulate

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Shtinky
7/18/2019 13:28 EST

Right. Best to look into it at your personal Consulate or Embassy.

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rsetzer99
7/19/2019 02:30 EST

I suspect, but have no proof, that they deliberately leave the income requirements vague because they want to be able to turn people down simply based on the impression they make at the consulate. I'm sure they take region into account, but if the popular house hunting shows are any indication, they likely sigh and roll their eyes at yet another couple who wants to buy a country estate and renovate it into a B&B in a trendy area. Yes, yes, of course I'm being sarcastic, but even absent the B&B, the trendy region syndrome is pretty valid.

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Shtinky
7/19/2019 03:45 EST

I have always thought this too. It is why I tell people that the first impression they make during that Consulate appointment is most important. You should dress nice, be polite, be organized. If they don’t like your looks or attitude they can arbitrarily say no.

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Gepetto
7/19/2019 09:34 EST

@rsetzer99

This is good to know.

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