Emigrating, children, schools and holiday lets

Jimmy the Fish Image
01/15/2010 - 12:45

Hello everyoneanother newbie here. I bought a house in Villa Santa Lucia d’Abruzzi in the Gran Sasso national park two years ago as a holiday house. I haven't got planning consent yet for the refurb works but the earthquake explains that. Anyway, I was never expecting it to happen quickly and that’s not the point of his post. Since then a couple of things have changed that have made my wife and I think about emigrating. The first is that I have sold my business in London and the second is that my wife has breast cancer and is in the middle of chemotherapy. The cancer experience certainly makes one think about life and making the most of it. On top of that, the London residential market seems have lost sight of the recession and prices are as high now as they were in May 2007 when the global economic bubble first burst. My plan is to sell up in London and emigrate to Abruzzo although we’re not sure about living in Villa Santa Lucia. It’s a beautiful house with fabulous potential but it’s a village with a permanent population of 175 at an altitude of 900m. So we would probably try and find a house in a larger village with a few more services and schools (we have two boys aged 5 and 7). I have two questions. Firstly, my plan for income would be buy a small portfolio of properties for holiday lets. The house in VSLd’A would be great (once refurbished and pool installed) and I can afford to buy two more like that one and maybe three or four two bedroom town houses. I have spoken to a few English expat owners from Owners Direct in Abruzzo all of whom own just one or two properties and tend to have other sources of income. I haven’t found anyone who has bought more than one or two properties and is totally reliant on the letting income. I would love to hear the advice of others based on their experience and whether or not forum members think this is a sensible way of providing the income to feed and clothe a family. I am aware that we will have to work pretty hard from May to October.My second question relates to my children. My greatest fear about this adventure is that the children will suffer. My wife and I have talked to them about the idea and it’s not getting a great reception. I would have thought that the first year or so could be quite traumatic for them trying to make friends when they can’t speak the language. My wife and I would love to talk to some parents who have emigrated with school age children to hear about their and their children’s experience.All responses will be gratefully received.


 Hello Jimmy and co, Sorry, cant answer your questions but can say given the choice between there and here I'd always go for the here....Children will be welcomed with open arms and make new friends in no time....so no worries there, they are not 'too old' and what a cool place for friends to visit....Sure you will get alot of good advice from others........

 Hi Jimmy and welcome. Sorry to hear about your wife's health problem and my very best wishes go to you hoping for a speedy recovery. It is true that when you have to face illness everyone starts questioning your current lifestyle and how could you improve it; however, you need to sort out many things before you will be able to make a decision. I would not worry much about the children. Because of their age it will not be too difficult for them to adapt to a new school and language. Nevertheless, try to send them to some Italian lessons before leaving as this will build up their confidence. Your wife is the one who needs more attention and you are going to have to find out about medical facilities in Italy near your home which will be able to assist. The Italian Health System is excellent, but you have to compare it with the level of services she is currently getting in the UK and also check about the length of the treatment she will have to go through. Another problem related to health is you Health Insurance Cover. Particularly because your wife will have what it is considered a "pre-existing condition". Health Insurance agreements between EU countries only fully cover people over retirement age (65) and I think that you must be younger than that. It is almost certain that you will be requested to take up private insurance and here you may have some problems. If you start a business in Italy and start making contributions to the Italian Social Security, then it would be a different case. But check all this before. If you do a search through this site using the words "Health - Tessera Sanitaria" you will find plenty of useful information. Regarding rentals, it is difficult to advice not knowing your region. You will have to make a thorough search to see what happens in your area and be able to calculate what type of income you could expect. You could also look at the possibility of starting your own small business, which could diversify your investment. This is a difficult area and you will have to deal with the Italian bureaucracy which is a bit of a nightmare. On the other hand, you may find local professionals who could guide you through the maze. Another think that you must ask yourselves before taking the plunge is why do you wish to leave the UK in the present circumstances. Do you have family members or friends who would be very valuable in helping you through this stressful time? Do you have friends or family in Italy who could do the same? Help is generally needed in similar situations and perhaps it would be wiser to wait a little until you have a clear picture. We all have dreams and we want to fulfill them, but it is important to ascertain their feasability. You have a lot of work to do and I do wish you all the best with your plans and that your wife will fully recover as soon as possible. Keep on thinking positively and you will be right. Very best wishes

JImmy,  I hope your wife gets better soon.  Like Gala I would say that you should not worry about your children... Schools in Italy are very good and if you will move into a small village they will experience a level of freedom that they would only dream of in London. I grew up in Torino but my Granparents lived in a small village called Lu and I spent there most weeknds and summer holidays... it was great. Now that I have a daughter I go there all the time and she loves it too. My experience is that kid get tired of a small village when they become teenagers but you still have a few more years before you have to worry. As per your business idea... I don't know abbruzzo well, I was there only once many years ago. It is a beautiful place, and usually the success is all aboout marketing and connections.. good luck. If you are looking for a new place, I would suggest you keep airport location and connections (bus and train) in mind as one of your first choice criterias... and good luck! [admin comment: signatures are not allowed within the community. The community space should only be used to share ideas and experiences. It should NOT be used for promotional purposes. This is not the first alert. Please, leave us the from the obligation to continually edit your messages.]  

...forgive me for jumping in here, as I've only skimmed the above posts, but could you perhaps rent out your London house for a year and see how you get on before making the big step to relocate?  Your children will certainly benefit from the experience even if they don't go to school (but they could I'm sure) and then you could all relax, enjoy, recuperate and not worry about launching a new business until you are all absolutely sure? Who says you have to be 18 to have a gap year? Buona fortuna and I wish you all the best.

  Hi I wish your wife a speedy recovery. Just a thought, rather than buy to let in Italy, which seems especially if you may not have the language skills a difficult operation , that you buy and let in the UK?, where from friends experiences there does seem to be a demand for properties. I do like Tartuffas idea of giving it a trail run before you and your family commit yourselves, best wishes and good luck with all the research. A

There are some good suggestions above and I think it would be very wise to actually live in a bigger town with more amenities. I have seen many families return to the UK after having chosen to live in remote farmhouses and then either them or the kids feeling isolated. I would say why not consider having a couple of holiday properties and have some other properties to rent to the domestic market. That way you are not wholly reliant on the foreign (possbly fickle) holiday market. The actual rental per month will be lower but then Italians round our way (Marche) prefer to rent small, new apartments and if you bought 2 or 3 you should be able to strike a good deal with the developer plus you will have more secure income as locals will be signed up to a fixed, long-term rental period. Also there'd be less maintenance with new properties. As far as the health cover goes, if you are under retirement age and an UK citizen you will need to request an E106 from the DWP in the UK and will be entitled to cover for 2 1/2 years. After that you must either make contributions to the Italian health system or pay for private health cover for the next 2 1/2 years. After 5 years you are entitled to be treated like an Italian and will be covered regardless of contributions (unless you live in Ascoli Piceno - but that's anther story!). I would also suggest getting good tax advice as tax mistakes here can be very costly. Rental contracts are usually registered and so would be difficult to keep "under the radar". Italian tax men have also been known to search the internet for properties that have been rented out to see if tax is due, so it would be unwise to base your calculations on doing everything in the black. Good luck with whatever you decide and I wish your wife good health.  

 Hi Jimmy, sorry to hear about your wifes health problems, i really do wish you both all the luck in the world! We moved to Italy 2 years ago and have 2 children now aged 9 and 5, so have gone through the settling in scenario and I have to say neither of our kids found it difficult, mainly because Italians are so welcoming and the schools in particular are incredibly warm places, it was immediatley apparent by the way the kids were greeted each morning by their teacher with a big hug and a kiss that they really do care about the kids in their care! As for work, we are doing a similar type of thing, I have bought a large farmhouse that we are converting into letting apartments for either holiday makers or local Italians depending on which we have more luck attracting! One thing I wanted to tell you was that if you decide to make the move, i have a project underway at the moment, which is for sale in the small town of Selci, just outside Citta di Castello in Umbria, it is a 140sqm house that is being converted into 2 appartments for sale or rental to the local market. Local rent in this area should see a rental income of between 350 and 400 €pm for each appt, and demand is quite high here in this area particularly as mortgages are hard to come by at the moment due to the financial crisis. if you are interested drop me a line and i can give you the details?   Best of luck with everything. Tony and Natasha