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  • Writer's pictureMark Tedesco

Our Italian Adventure: Housing: From Renting to Buying

PART 78: It might be interesting to share how we pulled off living in Italy for part of the year. I will post some steps we are taking and what we are learning along the way.


We are loving every minute of it, and what was once a dream is now our life!


We live in Tuscany in the Fall and then back again in the Spring, and in California for the rest of the time (in a previous blog I explained why we live in Italy only part of the year).



Step 1: When we decided to live in Italy, we didn't have a grand plan or every detail worked out. We decided to step into the experience of living here and see what it would reveal.


We had looked at houses for sale online, but since we didn't know the area well (Puglia), we decided to rent. When we visited during the Christmas holidays before our move, a local friend had just finished renovating his house near Nardo'. We knew we found our initial home when we stepped inside and saw the two bathrooms, modern kitchen, and sleek design.


Step 2: Advantages of renting.


We choose to move into our Italian life gradually rather than plunging in. So renting has the advantage of making a temporary commitment to a place. This is a positive because each town and area has a different flavor or vibe; some are more touristy, some are dead during the off-season, others have street life, and others don't. Some areas have many expats, others have none. These factors, and many others, are best revealed through experiencing life on the ground.


After a year of renting, we found towns that we would like to live in and others that we would not; some looked great on paper (on the internet) but had a whole different look or feeling when we went to them. We slowly developed our criteria for what type of area or town we would like to live in.


We made a one-year commitment to live in a town in Puglia, and the experience there has been incredible. But this first year and a half renting helped us clarify what we are looking for.


Renting has also enabled us to reflect more on what we want out of our experience in Italy. Being from California and having experienced beach life there, we were looking for something different. We realized we wanted an active lifestyle and access to Italy's rich historical and cultural heritage.


We were drawn to Tuscany and decided to explore housing there, both renting and buying. Ultimately, we decided to buy a place.


Step 3: Why buy?


We planned a trip to visit the Mount Amiata region of Tuscany (more on that in another blog); our local friends promised us that we would love it. We decided to explore the area to get a feel for it and look at housing for sale and rent.


What we found in this area was what we were looking for in Italy: our desire for an active lifestyle could be fulfilled through the hiking/skiing/cycling on Amiata and the gyms and sports facilities in the area. Our cultural yearnings could find their answer in the proximity of Florence, Siena, Assisi, and Pienza.


It didn't take us long to realize that this was the area we were destined for.


We had contacts in the real estate world; with them, we visited some towns, saw some houses for sale, and discussed renting possibilities.


Then we went to Arcidosso. Our friendly and professional realtor offered to show us a unique house for sale in the historical center.


As we walked up the curving medieval streets, decked with flowers outside the front doors of the homes, it felt like we were walking into a fairytale. Stepping inside the 16th-century house, we were bowled over by its charm.


But we didn't want to make any rash decisions. We would look at other towns and homes and explore the renting market.


Step 4: The decision.


It isn't easy to describe the difference between "forcing a solution" and being open to what is unfolding, but our decision to make an offer to purchase this house was more about acceptance of an opportunity instead of trying to manipulate a situation to make it go our way.


We knew the limits of what we could afford and discussed this openly with the realtor. We also discussed practical challenges, such as wanting a second bathroom and if this would be possible, etc. So we put it all on the table and asked: could this work?


We had both decided that if we got this house, it would be great, but if we didn't get it, it wasn't the one for us, and we would continue renting.


We were at peace when we made our offer, whatever the outcome. When it was accepted, we were almost surprised. And grateful.


The realtors and owners made our experience of buying a house in Italy smooth, beautiful, and positive.


Moving from renting to buying a place in Italy was a natural step for us.


Step 5: Advantages of owning.


The advantages of owning a home in Italy include stability and belonging in an area we love. The ability to change the house to fit our needs, such as adding a second bathroom or swapping out the shower, is also a big plus. Becoming a more stable part of the community and committing to the area also figured into our decision to own.


There are other advantages of owning rather than renting. Can you think of any? Add your ideas in the comments.


Step 6: Connections.


Relationships are essential to us; in fact, we started in Puglia primarily influenced by our friendships in the area. When we came to the Mount Amiata area, we felt welcomed and connected with our realtors and their families and friends. We realized that our time in Tuscany would be spent enjoying beautiful panoramas and historical monuments and cultivating friendships with those around us.


Insights.


Beginning life in Italy, even if for part of the year, can feel intimidating, especially if one feels like they have to buy a place before moving here. But it doesn't have to be like that.


In the classroom, my students sometimes felt intimidated by a project they had to complete; it seemed so big that they couldn't even get started. I gradually learned how to "chunk" it, breaking the project into small components that we could focus on that day. After completing six or seven components, my students could cut them out, paste them on a poster board, and have a presentation on World War II, which they never thought they could do.


Our experience in Italy is like this. We like "chunking" our journey here. It makes what once seemed impossible a reality.


More next time.


My book is "Stories from Puglia: Two Californians in Southern Italy." On sale for $2.99. Amazon US: https://a.co/d/iXetAju


And also, on Amazon Italy:


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