Hello all. Hope everyone is well and keeping safe. My wife and I are in our mid-50s. We love Italy, we got married in Tuscany last year. We’ve each been to Italy several times. We’re still a few years from retiring, but with all the time spent at home due to COVID shelter in place, we have been discussing some options for when we retire, and all our time is our own. One thing we’ve been discussing owning a 2nd home in Italy, spending two or three months there at a time and renting it out other times. We will do our research, but also figured this might be a good place to gather information form people who may have gone through this or are having similar thoughts. Any advice, thoughts or referrals would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
This is a place for travelers, not second home owners. It’s more about hotels and vacation rentals. However, FaceBook has closed groups for people setting up overseas. You can get a lot of info there l
Following for replies! :-)
Understood Bets, and thanks for Facebook referral.
There are a few people here who have done what you are considering. I'm sure they'll pipe in. But there are also expat forums all over the internet.
You might want to start here:
Realistically you need to reach at least an intermediate level in Italian language to manage ownership and enjoy living there for months at a time. Yes, you can probably manage with less, but over the long term you will feel isolated and hassled, and that's not the retirement most people want.
I have friends who have done it.
Fabulous one bedroom house near San Casciano Dei Bagni in Tuscany.
I’ve emailed them to see if they’d be willing to share how they were able to do it.
I’ll post whatever they reply.
Thank you Frank, Mike and Claudia. Much appreciated.
Close friends moved from Edinburgh, Scotland to Venice (not Venice Beach). He wrote a book about the business of moving, settling down in Venice, the full catastrophe so to speak.
“To Venice with Love” by Philip Gwynne Jones tells their story.
Since moving to Venice, Phil has written four novels, all set in Venice. They are a good read.
I just finished reading a book called "Italy is My Boyfriend" by Annette Joseph. It's the story of the author's experience buying a couple of houses in Italy, how it differs from the way things are done in the U.S., friendships, and other cultural observations (I'm not sure I agree with all of them....). It's a fun read, a light-hearted book. Just recently published.
I love the BBC shows “ Escape to the Continent”...many are in reruns and we only get them here in Canada, but lots of fun watching people look at homes, picking one (seldom) and little tidbits of the areas included in the show. While I understand, they are for TV viewing, they are still fun to watch and some, including the ones on Italy and Spain, do indeed provide some interesting information. I also love, “Escape to the Country”, set in rural areas of Great Britain. Even more now that we are home bound and dreaming....
Thank you for this thread. I was actually heading to Italy in April to investigate this very notion when the pandemic hit. I have found several online expat forums in the meantime. I especially like the book recommendations.
I visited Carovilli in the Province of Isernia in the Italian region Molise in February where my greatgrandparents migrated from to the US. It's hill country out in the middle of Italy. I really enjoyed the area and there are some US and Canadian Expats who have migrated back to Italy there. I plan to go back, and yes have looked at property advertisements without any knowledge of what is required to buy. A US Expat works in the town hall there.
As promised here is what my friends say about the process of buying property in Italy. They’ve done it 3 times.
“ A buyer must first obtain a “Codice Fiscale”..an Italian social security number…very easy to get.
Next..open an Italian bank account so that your finances are are hand. The bank will also pay utility bills, etc. on your behalf so you don’t have to mess with it.
See a “Notaio”…real estate, title, professional, who will represent both the buyer and seller to insure that everything is in order ownership wise, liens, debts, clear titles, etc. He is the most important character during the buying and selling portion of the adventure. He prepares all of the necessary paperwork.
You can avoid real estate fees by doing the transaction yourself along with the seller. Both parties want to save fees so this can be done quite easily.”
They also suggested the following links to assist you in your research.
Buying property in Italy:
Hope this helps you in following your dream!
Claudia, many thanks, lots of good information. Much appreciated.
See a “Notaio”…real estate, title, professional, who will represent both the buyer and seller to insure that everything is in order ownership wise, liens, debts, clear titles, etc.
Just a small correction: the Notaio is a public servant, so he/she obviously works for both, but he/she should always be chosen by the buyer. Not by the real estate agency, not by the company that built the house, not by the bank. And NEVER by the vendor.
In other words, the notaio is chosen by the part more at risk.
The notaio checks for the buyer how the seller acquired ownership of that real estate (a legacy? a donation?); if that house is under protection by the Ministry for Cultural Heritage or by the Regional Government (all of Venice is protected, you won't learn much by an expat living in Venice); if the property registers are up to date; if that property is encumbered with An unpaid mortgage etc. etc. What does the notaio do for the seller? Calls the bank to verify the check. It's the buyer that needs a good Notaio, not the seller.
I think having a property that you can rent, but visit for a short term makes some sense. It can be an investment property.
Under US tax law, however, if you stay in the property more than two weeks, it can't benefit from favorable business tax treatment.
Italy and Great Britain are our favorite European countries and we would love to have a place to visit, but once you visit there 2-3 times, you would likely have seen the nearby sites worthy of visiting.
We prefer to visit more places, including places that we haven't visited in the past, or haven't been in several years. I have been to 78 countries and still have my bucket list.
Try www.expatforum.com. I use it for France but they have groups for many countries. I've looked at the Italy group and it doesn't seem to be as active as the France group.
Hi David, just saw this thread, and more power to you on your ideas and dreams. I don't think anyone mentioned this, but wondering how you feel about just renting for the first time (once you have found the area you want to buy in) for a long stay, to really get the feel of the place, and then, moving on to the purchase decision. Seems like a safer step than just taking the plunge and buying right away.
David, I understand and say ......... Go for it!
What makes for a good vacation is get a hotel room and a Real Estate agent and go house hunting. You will get inside homes, you can see how people really live and meet some folks. All will color your decisions. Exactly what we did over 20 years ago.
First rule, don't listen to anyone who hasn't done it. There are a 1000 reasons why you shouldn't or cant do it, but only one why you should ... it makes you happy.
I cant help you a bit with Italy. I can relate a few observations from having done the same thing in another European country. So this isnt so much technical as it is impression.
First, I purchased in a city center. A city where at the time the most common second language was either German or Russian; neither of which I know a thing about. Wait, that's not true: Kindergarten!! It was no obstacle at all.
I bought when I was 40 so it truly was a vacation home. Now I am 20 years older and the thought of more time there is looming and looking pretty attractive.
So what to do when you aren't there? My place costs about $200 a month to sit empty. That is the cost of property tax, utilities to kept and 50F winter and 85F summer, condo fees and the management company that does absolutely all the work involved in the ownership. Then I figure I am loosing about $2,000 a year to lost interest earnings (after deducting appreciation of the property) if I had put the money in the market vs the home. So in reality it is costing me $4,400 a year to own it.
I can rationalize part of it by saying my usage of the place for vacations and my reduced utilities at home, less gasoline from driving around, cheaper food, etc while on vacation is roughly the equivalent to the $200 a month cost ($2400 annual). So I a down to the $2000 investment earnings loss.
What to do? Short Term Rentals is the obvious and easiest answer. So to recoup $2000 i suspect that in most cases you can do that with maybe 100 nights of rental (all depends on your location and your particular home) In a good year I do 220 nights. But that was before COVID. So, first tip; make sure you have a large closet or small room that you can lock up and keep your private stuff in.
But to do that you have to be in the right area, have the right property, find a good honest management company, be in a location where you can legally do short term rentals and be willing to be compared to the devil for doing so.
Okay, so that the financial, now the personal
I love my neighbors and they enjoy me and they take good care of my renters. I have a dozen friends in my adopted home town, I am a regular in restaurants, wine bars, grocery stores.... etc. I arrive in town and get out of the cab and most often don't get 20 feet before I run into an acquaintance or friend. My dentist, audiologist and cardiologist are all located there. I can live 30% to 50% better there than in the states. I enjoy the culture, the music, the theater, the festivals. Best choice I ever made.
AND, as you are asking about this as a way to facilitate more travel; it is a perfect topic for the forum.
We have had extended rentals in Europe and will continue to do that instead of buying our own place. Seems less of a hassle.
Thanks for the new responses. We will definitely consider renting before committing to a purchase. James, great info, appreciate you sharing and appreciate the encouragement. We have since learned that buying in Italy may be a little risky in that it seems it might be difficult to sell if needed as homes are usually passed down within families, somewhat reducing amount of potential buyers. Would not be a big issue if we had kids to pass a home to, but not the case. So we've also been considering simply renting a place full time as rents are very reasonable and would allow for some flexibility. Still have a few years to consider all options. Thanks again.
David, I would take a trip to the place you want to buy in. Rent an AirBnb in the area so you can get a little more familiar, spend two weeks and while there get a real estate agent. I suspect with some care in what you purchase, it will sell when the time comes ... with appreciation. Just like in the US you have to do the research ... what if for sale, how long has it been on the market, valuations etc. It can mostly be done through email and websites.... Google real estate companies in the location you are interested in for a good start.
One final comment.
After a few trips to Budapest I was curious how people "really" lived. I thought a good insight would be to get a real estate agent and use the agent to get inside of peoples houses. I was amazed how much different the life style was as compared to where I come from. We spent a day and looked at a half dozen places. At the time I didnt have a lot of free cash, and mortgaging something in Eastern Europe wasn't something I could even image how to do. Then we came to the last place. Saved for last because it was a total and utter wreck .... in a great 100 year old building near the opera house and the main drag through town. It didnt cost more than the last car I bought. I left Budapest and checked with the real estate agent from time to time to see if it had sold. After all me buying an apartment in Eastern Europe was an insane idea. After 2 months of this, I made an offer on the place. Offer accepted and a wonderful chapter of my life began.
I can think of few things in my life that were more enjoyable than the renovation and furnishing of the apartment. I met all sorts of local people making it happen and began to feel a little bit like I belonged there. That experience was priceless.
A few years later I purchased a second apartment in the same building. Larger and with its own street door. I have since retired and Its time to consolidate some cash so unfortunately I have to sell that first apartment. Makes me very sad.....
Thanks for sharing James. And thanks for the tips. All greatly appreciated. We'll see where things stand when it's time to act, but previewing an area by renting is part of the plan. We loved Budapest as well. Stayed not too far from the opera house.