Alternative to buying a house in Italy

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Alternative to buying a house in Italy

Post by stevegwmonkseaton on Wed Oct 01, 2014 10:28 am

First topic message reminder :

Having plenty of time to ponder these days allows me to think back over the period both when looking for a house in Italy to 4 years later down the line - my how time flies!
I might be wrong, but I suspect there will not be too much coverage of “what I could have done different” and perhaps it’s a bit of daft thing to do, as really you simply never know what would have happened.  Anyway, I do suspect that a lot of people who could give an insight to this are people who have lived their dream and found it was not quite what they wanted and left Italy. No longer interested in it, its forums or other people on the same journey. A great shame as they likely have a great deal to add to the subject.
An alternative for us would have been to never buy in Italy, but to rent a house long term, long term because we would have wanted land to grow. This would have left us with a lot more cash in the bank, which even with today’s low interest would have went a long way to pay for both the rent in Italy and likely accommodation in the UK for visits. Also renting out any UK home would of course add even more to the above.    
Of course it matters how far you originate from, if you are still working, have kids/family to visit. But I’m sure it was an alternative for us, but it also could be a possibility for anyone stuck working in London, struggling to meet high mortgage payments, no kids and wanting a different life, especially if they can do their work from anywhere. Wonder what others think on the subject and/or those who are looking to buy a house in Italy - any thoughts about it? Smile

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Re: Alternative to buying a house in Italy

Post by Angela Fuller on Sun Oct 05, 2014 1:39 pm

As you have said Steve, although you have bought a property here you are fortunate enough to have a bolt hole back in the Uk to reside for many months of the year....access to DR', Dentist, Optician etc...I think if we all had that luxury we would probably think the way you do but many of us who have bought here without having a 2nd home do feel somewhat stranded at times and life here can be far from easy, especially in the winter.....Alot of property owners from the UK are trying to sell up...even calling their houses by different names, (so others dont know they are choosing to leave) I think it wont be long before few of us are left....if anyone can sell in the 1st place that is.....
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Re: Alternative to buying a house in Italy

Post by Admin on Sun Oct 05, 2014 1:51 pm

Unfortunately to sell, you probably have to drop the price or be very lucky. We sold after 2 years on the market but that's because we dropped 30%. The average house price has dropped 27% since 2008 in Italy. That's a lot.
As to food, I'm afraid Geo it's a particularly Marchigiane thing as the food is very very simple there. We'd have said the same until we moved North.
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Re: Alternative to buying a house in Italy

Post by stevegwmonkseaton on Sun Oct 05, 2014 2:31 pm

Angela Fuller wrote:As you have said Steve, although you have bought a property here you are fortunate enough to have a bolt hole back in the Uk to reside for many months of the year....access to DR', Dentist, Optician etc...I think if we all had that luxury we would probably think the way you do but many of us who have bought here without having a 2nd home do feel somewhat stranded at times and life here can be far from easy, especially in the winter.....Alot of property owners from the UK are trying to sell up...even calling their houses by different names, (so others dont know they are choosing to leave) I think it wont be long before few of us are left....if anyone can sell in the 1st place that is.....

I don't think it's as much fortune Angela as choice on how  much we were prepared to put into Italy, limiting ourselves in terms of property in both places and to some extent lowering our standard of living as some would see it. To us it's a case of a total change of lifestyle and one much for the better in both countries. It's a very important point to make as anyone following this with a view to buy has to be sure of what they are doing (my whole point of the original post). Long before we bought (circa 2008) we knew selling in Italy would be very difficult. Since then we have come across many confirming what we had also read about many being disillusioned with the country. Reading that most look to return within 5 years of buying has proved to be very true from what we have seen. A very good friend of ours who helped us buy and settle here managed just over the 5 years, but returned to the UK last year. A very small private pension, no house in the UK, they still managed to get back as they were desperate to do so. Th ehouse here has been up for sale well over 2 years and only 1 person has even viewed it. A lovely house, but probably not suitable for many people wanting to buy. So desperate to get back they went to the council for accommodation help and bought all sorts of furniture at charity shops. Like I said over a year ago now, but they are absolutely in love with the place again and managing very well. Think it helps that they returned to the area they new, picked a great location within walking distance of the shops, transport and even the beach! It's sad to hear people are not happy here, but it is as I suspected and something people looking to buy need to take notice of. We all think we will cope differently and are blinkered perhaps by our deep desire to live the dream, which could well be their downfall ...

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Re: Alternative to buying a house in Italy

Post by stevegwmonkseaton on Tue Oct 07, 2014 9:47 am

Is it possible the bulk of people who end up happy in Italy would never dream of joining an ex-pats forum? A few ex-pats we have met have never been members of forums and indeed knew nothing about them! Are a lot of people on here because they miss their home country? Of course it course it could just be a case that the internet is one of the main areas of research when buying and that these people don't do the internet... On a selfish note I worry that I see on here and other forums a discontent in posts of people who have been in Italy for a number of years, more than 3-4. Is there something around the corner we should be concerned about... Rolling Eyes

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Re: Alternative to buying a house in Italy

Post by Admin on Tue Oct 07, 2014 10:10 am

I think it depends on what kind of life you lead here to be honest. A lot of people take early retirement and move here lock stock and barrel without any real plan other than maybe being a bit self-sufficient. I think that's a HUGE step. To put it in perspective, would you take early retirement, move to the wilds of Scotland on the West coast where they mostly speak Gaelic, knowing no-one and not planning to work, leaving behind everyone you know? To me, that seems a very, very risky thing to do, not to mention a potentially very lonely thing to do. 

Now, I know Marche very well and know it is perfectly possible nowadays to lead an exclusively English-speaking life but then I have to wonder what is the point of that? I wonder why people chose Italy in the first place if they don't intend to engage with the country and its native population and culture?

I am not thinking of anyone in particular (so don't please start taking offence) - merely pondering out loud. The most successful retirees I have met here are the ones that either have some previous connection with Italy and so can speak the language to some extent (or go on to learn it pretty well) or have the financial resources to keep a place in their home country or to travel often.

I think it is easier for those who intend to work and maybe also have kids and so make friends with the local parents or work colleagues. Even then without speaking Italian life will still be difficult and you will always be seperate. Without some connection or a reasonable grasp of Italian it can be a lonely, expensive life in Italy. Maybe in the days before the Euro it would have been a lot easier to live a cheap life on the strong £ and so the other things didn't matter so much.

I would suspect people's discontent at the moment, Steve, is mostly financial. Costs have gone up here and the exchange rate has not, hence anyone on a fixed income is struggling. In my opinion Italy as a country has not really changed since I came for the first time. There is a recession but then Italy hasn't really experienced growth for decades so that is not anything odd.
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Re: Alternative to buying a house in Italy

Post by stevegwmonkseaton on Tue Oct 07, 2014 10:45 am

Thanks Admin for the great insight from someone living and working here with a really good experience of day to day life in Italy. Also your comment on the financial situation is likely very true. Perhaps anyone looking to buy here needs to have something of a crystal ball, at least think about "what if..". Being early retired I see it slightly from a different perspective i.e. it's also a case of getting used to being retired as much as anything else. Some would perhaps say doing both (moving country) is not a good idea, but we knew we would want some kind of "project" to keep us occupied. Not too sure how easy it is to judge how a country has changed whilst living there... One thing we have noticed travelling between the two, but mostly living and considering our home in Italy, is that the UK has changed. Either that or our perception of the country has changed, whatever it is I'm sure it is very difficult to look outside and see the changes.

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Re: Alternative to buying a house in Italy

Post by Gala Placidia on Thu Oct 09, 2014 7:21 am

I have been reading with interest this thread, waiting to give you my own opinion, as it may be different from other because of personal circumstances. I agree with many opinions, particularly with Admin's last post. But I should give you my own thoughts.
Renting vs buying. While I would strongly recommend prospective migrants to do some holiday renting in the chosen area (particularly off season and not during the holidays). I would recommend buying in the long term, as inflation, fall in interest rates and other variables may diminish the original capital and they may found themselves in a difficult situation.
On the other hand, this is a buyers' market and some excellent purchases may be made right now at prices well below those of some 10 years ago.
Basically, it is very difficult to give realistic advice as there are too many variables, all of them beyond our control.
As for the cost of living, I am not going to talk about the UK as you have more direct experience; however, I am in a good position to compare prices between Italy, Spain, France and the USA, and I can confidently tell you that prices EVERYWHERE have increased dramatically over the past 10 years. Yes, certain things, such as the cost of energy in Italy are very expensive, but then you pay more on certain taxes somewhere else... Food...it all depends on what you eat... clothes... I find some excellent bargains in Italy, but then, I know where to find them and possibly, it all depends on the area where you live.
Certainly, we do not live here permanently...
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Re: Alternative to buying a house in Italy

Post by Gala Placidia on Thu Oct 09, 2014 7:44 am

And we do not have a mortgage. We have a permanent residence i Spain, also free of mortgages, we are both retired and we do not go out to dinner every night, mainly for health reasons and because we reckon that the best restaurant is our own home, but we do travel a lot, which may counterbalance what I have just said...
I fully agree in that learning and practicing Italian is vital and we do not choose friends and acquaintances on the basis of language alone. On the contrary. Perhaps, having lived in quite a few places around the world makes us very flexible and we do enjoy cultural experiences.
And this brings me to the main issue. Many mention the "Italian dream", which can easily become the "Italian nightmare" unless people plan that retirement - in many cases an early one- in a very objective and careful manner. The first thing is to be VERY conservative as far as money is concerned. Everything costs more than you actually budgeted for and available money diminishes very quicly unless, unless you are vigilant.
But perhaps, the most important question is WHY do you wish to move to Italy. There are lots of reasons and many of them are very personal, but if you move to a new country because you are currently unhappy in your native country, quite possibly you are going to bring those problems with you to your new country. This is something that requires careful analysis, in order to ascertain whether you are moving for all the WRONG reasons. And I am not mentioning other aspects of the move, such as changed circumstances, missing family and friends, not adapting to the new environment and a long list of etceteras...
Well, my last piece of advice is, if you are unhappy somewhere, cut your losses and go back wherever you may be happier. Life is short! Try to enjoy it Very Happy
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Re: Alternative to buying a house in Italy

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