We didn’t realize it at the time, but our next big adventure started with this bottle of wine on a rooftop bar in Florence, Italy…
Jim and I had always taken very nice vacations, but had never traveled to Europe together. So in 2014 we set off for a two week trip to Germany and Italy. We had a good time in Germany but were really struck by so many aspects of the Italian culture. Such beauty all around. Amazing art and history. Delicious food and delightful wine. And the people seemed friendly, authentic, and not in a rush. We were hooked.
So our 2014 trip to Europe was followed by a yearly trip to Italy, with some extended to 3 weeks We explored different regions and cities – from the Alps to Rome. But always spending time in Tuscany.
One evening after dinner in 2017 we walked through the town and stopped to browse at the available real estate. We did this occasionally – having fun imagining buying and living in a wonderful castle or spectacular country villa with a vineyard of course! But this evening, Jim spotted a nice house that we could actually afford. We could buy a house like this and retire in Italy. What a grand idea!
So Jim and I starting our preparations for this adventure. I studied the Italian language, learned about visas, and tried to understand the real estate market. Jim studied Italian wine. Seriously… he studied Italian wine and now has several professional-level certificates. And he bought Italian wine. A lot of it. Which he claimed was required for class…
Fast forward to early 2018 when we experienced darker times. Lots of medical tests, an operation, more procedures, and more tests. Fortunately the doctors were able to fix the problems. During this time, Jim and I discussed our dream of retiring to Italy and our priorities began to shift.
In Fall 2018 we returned to Florence to look at some apartments and for two weeks of language school. We decided that we would rent an apartment before buying anything. This would give us a chance to confirm where we wanted to live and be in a better position to purchase the right kind of place. We knew we wanted to live in a small Tuscan town, but weren’t sure of which one. So our first year would be in Florence…
We then headed to Lucca for two weeks of language school – and fell in love with the city. Yep, we found our small (really, medium-sized) Tuscan town. It is as beautiful as the many small but touristy medieval towns that we had visited, but seemed a lot more livable. Stores that sell wine, cheese, and leather purses are really nice, but you also need clothes, dry cleaners, paper products, doctors, and pharmacies.
After this visit our excitement continued to grow. Then Jim asked that all important question “What are we waiting for?”
In December 2018 we met with our financial planner who confirmed that we could afford to accelerate our plans. So here’s the high-level plan:
- April 4, 2019: JoAn retires and starts preparing the house for sale and doing some serious downsizing!
- Spring 2020: Put our house on the market
- After home sells: Head to Florida with sentimental belongings and wine that will age well. Establish our Florida home base, living with Derek, my son.
- Early 2021: Apply for Italy’s Elective Residence visa, rent an apartment in Lucca, and start dealing with the Italian bureaucracy.
- 2021: Move to Lucca, Italy. Plan to stay for 5 to 7 years then return to Florida. Or maybe just stay?
In this blog, I plan to write about the fun, excitement, frustration, and disappointments that I experience on my next adventure ahead… If you want to follow along, subscribe so that you’ll be notified whenever I post an update – just click on “Follow” at the bottom of this page and provide an email address. No account needed.