Our Italian Adventure. Why move to Italy sooner rather than later?
PART 39: It might be interesting to share how we pulled off living in Italy for part of the year. I will post some steps we took.
We live in Puglia in the Summer and then back again in the winter.
FYI: This blog post is more personal.
Step 1: My experience: Sorrow and even tragedy can often reveal some of life's most important lessons.
During a challenging year, I lost some friendships but deepened others.
It was in 2012 that I lost my close friend Juan to an unexpected death. Suddenly, I was no longer fun to be around. I started living in a daze, somewhere between sorrow and disbelief. I remember telling a friend: "I feel like I am dead on the inside and am just pretending to be alive."
Because I took healthy actions (therapy, friendships, spiritual practices, reaching out, etc.), I was able to overcome that depression, but the whole experience gave rise to questions that boiled down to this one:
What do I want out of life?
That was the first step on a road that led me to Italy.
Step 2: The experiences of others. In California, a dear neighbor has led a fascinating life in Israel, Italy, and the UK. Her career path carried her from doing metal work to dabbling in Astrology.
In a conversation not long ago, she confided, "I have the money to travel, but I don't have the health."
From this conversation, another question surfaced, "Since I don't know how many years of excellent health I will have (even if I live a healthy lifestyle), what decisions should I make about the following chapters of my life?
Step 3: Finance. I just retired from teaching. I was a high school social studies (World and US History) and language (Italian) teacher for over 25 years. In our retirement system, a teacher can max out if they retire after 31 years of teaching.
So the next question became: "How long should I postpone retirement to create a more secure financial future?"
Step 4: Relationship. About ten years ago, I met a wonderful man who would become my partner. Sharing life with someone else has influenced the questions I ask, especially the first one, "What do I want?"
Step 5: In other blog posts, I've described how I realized I wanted a bigger life and how we decided to move to Italy (for half of the year). But the question became: When? When will we feel secure enough that we can minimize the risk?
Step 6: After reflecting, discussing, and, yes, praying, we realized that the best decision would be to move to Italy sooner rather than later.
We had both unexpectedly lost younger friends we were close to. We both have friends who are facing health challenges. And we both know people who never realized their dreams but got stuck in the "longing" phase.
I could make more money if I retired at 31 years rather than 25 in the pension system, but the nagging question remained:
How many years of healthy living would we have?
How many years of living in Italy would we have together if we waited until we could get the most money out of retirement?
Would we be able to hike up those Italian mountains or swim in those seas that we talk so much about?
We found that there is never enough money in the bank to feel completely secure, so why not trust and roll the dice?
So we did the math. Can we make this work with my early retirement (at 25 years in) and our combined income?
All our life experiences came together to make the answer easy: Yes, we can and will do this. Now, not later.
And we did. I retired in June, and we started living in Italy on July 1!
Insights: Rather than using financial considerations alone to guide our decision to live in Italy, we decided to prioritize health, quality of life, and the desire to start living now the type of life we dream about.
We took the leap, and we are here in Puglia. We can't believe how glorious and also smooth this process has been.
Life is short. There are dreamers, and there are doers. We want to be both.
My book is out NOW: "Stories from Puglia: Two Californians in Southern Italy." https://www.amazon.com/Stories-Puglia-Californians-Southern-Italy/dp/1913680649.
Barnes and Noble link: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/stories-from-puglia-mark-tedesco/1143316713?ean=9781913680640.
More next time.