“Kathleen, my husband and I have been dreaming for three years after visiting Italy twice to live there. We are not wealthy and are not sure if we can survive living there off the sale of our home (well, let’s face it, we could have lived off the proceeds if we sold several years ago…ha!). Living off his early Social Security and our savings is not a comfortable idea for me.
“How do people do it? I hear of average people moving to exotic places all the time. I read about it in your e-letters and on expat blogs, but I just can’t get any straight answers on how they live day-to-day.
“Is it possible for you to give me some insight? Your website seems to have some great information.
“Thank you so very much.”
–Ilene M., United States
How do you make a move like this? You do your sums, and, if the numbers support the idea, you make the move. You just do it. For many, it’s the greatest leap of faith of their lives…and the start of the adventure of their lifetimes.
But it’s not easy, and, yes, it takes courage.
Start with your husband’s Social Security. That’s your baseline monthly income. Then imagine how much money you’d have if you sold your house, your car, and everything else you own. That lump sum then could be invested to generate some annual/monthly cash flow (in theory). If you did that, what additional monthly amount would you have to add to your total monthly income?
That’s your budget. Would it support a move to Italy? The answer will depend largely on where in Italy you’d like to locate. Probably you can’t afford Florence…but perhaps you could afford Abruzzo. To make the determination, start with rent. You could rent a small but comfortable place in the Abruzzo region for as little as US$500 per month. Build your budget out from there, understanding that, if your monthly income is limited (as it is), then, to make this work, you’re going to need to embrace a local lifestyle. If you shop where the locals shop and live like the locals live, your overall cost of living could be half what it’d be if you insisted on importing an American lifestyle with you on your Italian adventure.
Rent small and local and live simply and local and a budget of US$2,000 could work (depending on the dollar-euro exchange rate). If you have less than that, you may want to think carefully about the idea. If you have more, you’re golden.
This how-to-make-a-plan thinking is the cornerstone of my “How To Retire Overseas In 52 Days” course. You can read more about this here.