My sister Steffanie and I have always been collectively known as “the sisters.” Over the last two years, we have been on a quest to change our lives, throw caution, our current careers and our city lives in Toronto to the winds and move to a farm in southern Italy. I just wish we had a dollar for every time we hear “you’re crazy” – it would make paying for a new roof much easier. However, before I get ahead of myself…let’s start at the very beginning…. in a pub in Ireland.
I know that must seem a round-about way to get to Italy, however over more than a few pints on one of our numerous trips to the Emerald Isle we had a long meandering conversation starting with “So what do you want to do with the rest of your life?”…and never once was it “I want to watch the weather pass my office window for the next twenty five years.” We had both fallen in love with Ireland and for a couple of years we spent much time and energy trying to move there. It was a good testing ground for our resolve to make a move. We flew back and forth from Toronto to Dublin for job interviews, investigated housing possibilities, explored different parts of the country like Galway and Cork and then came the global economic free-fall. We knew a decision had to be made and we knew that creating a new life in Ireland was not to be. It was difficult to put that dream on the back burner because Ireland is such an amazing country. Without Ireland, we never would have made it to southern Italy.
Why southern Italy?
That is easy enough to answer. We are not rich. We wanted to find a place in Europe that was affordable, had great potential, great weather and great food. We also have a family connection to the south of Italy. Our great-grandfather was born in Calabria before he immigrated to Canada as a teenager. Luckily, longevity runs in the family and I remember him before he passed away when I was a child. Italy was always on our list but we kept our options open.
We toyed with other locations and countries like Croatia and Slovenia however, not all banking systems are created equal and there are a limited number of financial institutions that are willing to provide mortgages to non-EU citizens. After researching and contacting international mortgage brokers, we found one in Italy that was willing to do business with us. Between money and family basically our decision was made for us and our search for our dream property was on.