I had a dream to live in Italy for at least part of the summer each year. Sleeping in a historic home, zooming around via scooter, and drinking Aperitivo’s in the afternoons as I watch the sun slowly setting over vineyards, olive trees or basilicas. I’m now making this dream come true! And this is my journey.
Come along for the ride either via YouTube or here and subscribe to be notified as each one is released.
I can promise you it’s going to be an emotional adventure, with passionate highs, frustrating lows, lots of lessons, plenty of laughter (over wine) and more than likely tears as well. It is my hope that it will inspire you to follow your dreams, give you relevant information if this is a dream of yours too, and in the very least provide some entertainment in your day.
This whole idea started because part of my ultimate dream is to own properties in all my favourite places around the world so that I can soak up the local culture as a local (all be it an expat in a foreign land, it’s a completely different experience than as a tourist). I’ve always loved old stone walls filled with hundreds of years of history and bringing old ‘things’ back to life so it only seemed fitting that at least one of my properties be a historic building in need of some love.
But why did I choose Italy to purchase a home remotely? Here are just some of my reasons…
1. Friendliness of the Italian people
Italians are currently ranked in the top three of the friendliest countries in Europe and I’ve always found this to be true. Italians are helpful, caring, considerate and friendly, especially once they get to know you.
Having spent my late teens growing up in Melbourne Australia and my early twenties working in a very Italian suburb in Sydney (Australia) I was surrounded by Italians and Greeks. I was always welcomed into their families which I loved because back then I didn’t have any family of my own. Their passion for life and the love they openly gave to me I will cherish forever and formed part of who I am today.
2. I LOVE Italian food
I was also a ‘string bean’ (always very thin) and the Nona’s (grandmothers & mothers) always wanted to feed me. “You hungry” was never a question but more of a statement that you were never allowed to refuse. This gave me a love for pasta and other Italian dishes (hello Eat, Pray, Love) and showed me what it was like to have a family sit down for a meal together.
The Italian style of cooking is all about bringing out the natural flavours of fresh produce. It’s having your salad first and having Pasticciotto’s for breakfast. (Sneak peak…where I have remote purchased a property is the home town of the original Pasticciotto). It’s about breaking bread with the family and so much more than just pizzas, pastas, cheese and wine. Speaking of wine…
3. The incredible Italian wines
Anyone that knows my husband can attest to his mission of finding the best (and cheapest) beers and wines throughout the world (#lifegoals LOL). And Italy is definitely one of the top three (if not at the very top) of the list.
We’ve all watched Under the Tuscan Sun and the Italian Villa that features in the movie looking out onto the vineyards. (Did you know you can actually stay in that villa for real.) So, you’ll know that Italy is renowned for its incredible wines and it never disappoints.
And like France, even the cheapest of those are very much still better than some of the expensive wines found elsewhere in the world. So, when it came to choosing a country to purchase a house remotely, Italy won on this front.
4. Familiar with the culture
Italians do things differently. And if you aren’t aware of the way things are done then it may be a little more difficult for you. Having grown up with Italians a lot of their ways are familiar to me. So much so that when I solo toured Italy in 2010, I felt like I was coming home.
If you don’t know what I mean, then one of the best examples I can give is the pace at which Italians do pretty much anything. (With the exception of the larger cities) They like to savour moments and prioritise family and friends, conversations and connection. While in Italy you’ll learn not to rush things. There’s plenty of time for what’s important.
Except for when it comes to driving. On the roads they all think they are Enzo Ferrari (famous Italian racing car driver). They drive fast and change their minds and lanes quickly.
5. The historic stone houses
Australia is only a couple hundred years old and when we travel in Europe it never ceases to amaze me when we stay in a home that’s over five hundred years old. For example, we stayed in a house that had windows that looked out on a bastide village and were designed for archers to shoot from.
So, when it came to purchasing a property remotely in Europe, I knew that it had to have stone walls, high ceilings, and remnants from a completely different era. Even better if there was a hidden fresco underneath the plaster too. But we’ll have to see if that comes true.
There are many countries in Europe that I could have chosen to meet these criteria but when combined with everything else, all roads let to Italy.
6. Found a proactive agent
When deciding where to purchase a house remotely the obvious place to start would be my home country of Australia right?! And I did. Back in early 2020 I contacted several agents and had my eye on several properties, but they hadn’t woken up to the ‘virtual tour’ and remote purchase concept yet. After spending ages chasing agents it all just became too hard.
Through our research online (mostly via YouTube) we found someone who was super passionate about not only Italy but also the area we have chosen (see below) and an expert in remote purchasing. AND his passion for restoring and preserving the history in a house equals (and possibly exceeds) mine plus his team can handle everything from finding your dream home all the way through to managing it. Everything I wanted!
As it turns out, now I’m glad it didn’t work out with those other agents in Australia (although it would have been extremely lucrative to sell it now a year later) because it would have meant a mortgage and I don’t like debt. Even good debt like real estate debt. I love the freedom of being financially free and owning outright. Speaking of money…
7. It made financial sense
Besides the tax benefits (hello, no capital gains tax after 5 years) another reason I chose Italy was the price of houses. How much you can get for your dollar (or in this case Euro) in Italy and other parts of Europe is amazing in comparison to the hugely overpriced current market in Australia and USA. This is one of the main reasons I’m so excited to be purchasing a house remotely in Italy.
You can even purchase a house in Italy for as little as 1 Euro. Yes, for real. This is an incentive that was started several years ago to bring people back into the little towns throughout Italy that are turning into ghost towns. The younger generation are moving to the bigger cities in droves because there are more opportunities for them there.
As the older generation pass away, the population in the smaller towns is dwindling and properties are left with no one in them. Mayors of the towns are offering houses for 1 Euro to incentivise people to come back and bring life into their beloved towns. It’s a wonderful concept that is working really well and it’s open to foreigners as well. In my next video I’ll go into more detail about it, why we didn’t choose a 1 Euro home, and share examples of the houses too.
8. The language is easier
Traveling the globe permanently I have the opportunity to experience so many different cultures and languages and I’ve got to say that Italian for some reason is the easiest for me to pick up. Even with no lessons I can generally get the gist of conversations.
In comparison to my favourite language, which is French, where I struggle daily with correct pronunciation even after spending so many summers there. So, as I begin my Italian lessons here in anticipation, I’m hoping this old brain of mine will pick it up reasonably quickly. I’ve also always expressed myself using my hands (a red-headed Italian from way back maybe LOL) so I’m hoping it comes more naturally to me. Fingers crossed!
9. The environmental factors
Over the last ten years between my husband and I have experienced way too many natural disasters. So, when it came to choosing a place to purchase a home there were some environmental factors that came into heavy consideration.
It had to have no history of earthquakes. My husband survived the destructive earthquake in Christchurch New Zealand in 2011 (his office…not so much) and I’ve experienced the earth moving beneath me in Los Angeles previously. So, when it came to choosing a location, it was important that we minimised the risk of this happening again.
It had to have no erupting volcanoes. Our first wedding (yes, we had two) was in Bali, Indonesia and it was right at the time that Mount Agung decided she was going to erupt. Thankfully no one was harmed but she caused havoc for our guests arriving and departing (no flights when there’s volcanic ash) and the weather (hello torrential rain for my wedding day). So, although there are active and non-active volcanoes in Italy, the region we chose doesn’t have any. Phew!
It had to have no hurricanes. Here in Mexico where we’ve been blessed to spend the pandemic, we’ve had the benefits of year-round tropical weather. But that also has brought 3 hurricanes with it. So, it’s safe to say that we’ve had our fair share of hurricanes thanks!
As I write this though, Southern Italy is experiencing what’s called a Medicane – a rare Mediterranean hurricane. So, the reality is that although I can choose a location based on these criteria, mother nature may throw a rare event from time to time but I’m happy to at least minimise the chances of these natural disasters happening. That’s all we can do really.
So, why did I choose Italy to purchase a house remotely
Taking all of the above into consideration the area I’ve chosen to remote purchase a house in is Salento. Salento is at the southern end of the Apulia region which is more commonly known by its Italian name Puglia. As Italy is shaped like a boot it’s the heel of the Italian boot. Surrounded by ocean it’s got the Adriatic Sea on one side and the Ionian Sea on the other and it’s only a ferry ride across to Montenegro and Greece. Two of my other favourite countries to visit.
And the agent I’m using for the entire process is Davide Mengoli of Salento With Love. His team can handle everything from finding a property, negotiating and purchasing, renovating, and even managing the property for you if it’s an investment property. Having grown up in Salento his passion and local knowledge is second to none. He’s also lived a large portion of his life in London and travelled the world extensively.
In my next blog (and video) in this series I’ll be sharing everything I’ve learned about the 1 Euro homes, why I didn’t choose one of those, and the research I did to decide on the exact town, type of house, and budget. If you have any questions about any of the points above or my journey please leave them in the comments.
Ciao for now.