Hello from Canada

caerus Image
12/05/2011 - 23:03

Hello all. Just wanted to introduce myself. We live in Canada and have been visiting Italy for the last few years. Got married in Siena last year. We are hoping to find some property in the next couple of years. Initially to holiday at but eventually for longer term after retirement. We love Canada but would like to spend about half our time in Europe. Anyway, just wanted to say hi. We look forward to learning a lot from everyone here and perhaps developing friendships.



Hello and welcome! Many of us had similar dreams in the past and many have successfully gone through the experience of finding a home in Italy and enjoying it. We will all be happy to give advice and encouragement. If you use the search engine, at the top of the page, on your right, you will be able to find interesting information. Here is a sample I found for you: http://www.italymag.co.uk/community/search/google/MOVING%20TO%20ITALY?query=MOVING%20TO%20ITALY&cx=008545532643634060996%3Awdodncttvow&cof=FORID%3A10&sitesearch= You do not mention the area that you are interested in. We have part of an old mill in Northern Tuscany (Bagni di Lucca), and we are very happy with our choice; however, there are plenty of wonderful regions in Italy, you need to find the one that suits you best. In any case, don't rush. Think about the lifestyle you want and the facilities you need. Good luck and best wishes!

Might seem intuitively backwards but as I now see things the issue of transportion has taken on increased importance with regard to where to live in Italy.   If you are citizen of Italy than buying/keepng  car there is a piece of cake.  The opposite is true if you are not citizen and/or do not have residency.  Bottom line is that if I found that owning/keeping a car in Italy is not easily do-able, I would definitely choose a place to live along one of the main railroad lines and not out in the sticks somewhere.

Thanks for the welcome. We are most familiar with the Siena area and the area around Milan-Verona. I agree there are many wonderful regions to choose from. We are considering northern Tuscany as it is an easy drive into France but we're not sure if the generally steep terain suits us. An area that has really caught our attention is Abruzzo around Chieti and Pescara. Close to the beaches and the mountains and a short drive to Rome Airport which we would need to fly between Italy and Canada. Unfortunately we haven't actually been there yet so we're planning a reconnaissance mission this summer. smiley I agree with the comment about owning a car in Italy. For the first 2 or 3 years we would only be there for 4 to 6 weeks at a time so probably renting. For the future, my wife is an EU citizen and we could (from what I've read) establish residency without too much trouble. Although it still seems it will be a nightmare what with all the paperwork, working toward getting an Italian drivers license etc. I don't even want to think about it yet. Again, thanks for the welcome. Ciao

Stefanaccio's comment above on car ownership for those without either Italian citizenship or residency doesn't ring true with my own experience. Before getting residency, we bought a car without any problem, the garage where we bought it handling the registration of the change of ownership. Admittedly, that was in the nearest big town, and I suspect that a garage which hasn't encountered foreigners wanting a car, or private vendor, might not know the regulations, or how to make them work. However, it is inaccurate to say that a non-resident is not allowed to buy a car in Italy. In passing, Caerus, you might like to know that there are Summer flights from Pescara to Toronto. Only weekly, but if I remember correctly, they run from the end of May to the start of September. Good luck!

In reply to by MargaretM

Margaret, I don't recall exactly - either February 2006 or February 2007. The rules may have changed, but having acquired residency in late 2008, this might have sidestepped any problems - I don't remember being asked for the residency card when we replaced the car. I accept the rules might have changed - it seems to keep the Italian administrative system in business (and I say that as a civil servant myself), but I'd also maintain that one has to do a lot of digging before getting to the actual administrative or policy reality, irrespective of what locals, businesses, or even Italymag contributors say....... A bit frustrating, but then the laid-back attitude is part of the whole attraction.......

As I said before, it is difficult to choose a location in Italy as all regions have exceptional qualities. On the other hand, I want to clarify a point about Northern Tuscany. You will find plenty of places which do not have a steep terrain and it is true that it is an easy drive from France (We reside in Spain and we go to our place in Bagni di Lucca with an overnight at Antibes. Generally, we leave Antibes after breakfast, have lunch at Portofino and we will be doing our fresh food shopping at a large supermarket between Lucca and Bagni by 3 or 4 pm. From there, it is less than 20 minutes drive and we are home. Northern Tuscany is served by Pisa airport and there are good regular flights from France with Air France. You will have the same situation coming directly from Canada via Paris with the same airline. From Pisa airport, you are also very close to the southern part of Liguria, if the area interests you. But Liguria has its own airport (Genoa) and if you are near the border, you can fly to Nice. My advice is to look carefully at all potential areas, see how accessible they are, how easy it is to go to other interesting cities. We chose to be within walking distance from the downtown area, so we do not depend on the car all the time. Look at transport and facilities available. Think at maintenance of the property, particularly if you are not living there all the year. It took us some 2 years to find the property that suits us. Take your time. Rent a house or apartment in the area to see how you feel there. Generally, you fall in love with a certain region or town. This happened to us with Bagni di Lucca and we kept on coming back until we found a suitable place. Ask questions. Most people in the Community have gone through similar experiences. Good luck!

Thanks all for the comments. I certainly agree that there are less steep places in northern Tuscany and that Abruzzo is very similar. As you say Gala, we will take our time in finding something. We are currently planning a trip which will hopefully give us at least a week in both the Tuscany area and in Abruzzo. In checking the various property sites (Homes and Villas Abroad, Rightmove Overseas, HouseAroundItaly etc) it seems there is a lot of choice. One area in Northern Tuscany that seems to have a lot of property for sale is the Fivizzano area. Does anyone know about this area? In reference to the companies listed above, I would appreciate any advice or insights that people have experienced in their own search for property and any pitfalls to watch for. This board has already been most helpful in my research. I have read about the waste dumping problems around Bussi and this is something I would probably not have known about. Issues with residency, car ownership, house care while not there and many other things are all things we need to consider. Many Thanks

Fivizzano is a beautiful town in the Lunigiana region, at the border between Tuscany, Liguria and Emilia Romagna. We know the area through visits to friends. The fact that you have seen quite a few properties for sale in the area may be because there is a very active agent in the area. I think that right now there are lots of properties for sale not only there but throughout Italy and Europe in general. There is a credit squeeze at the moment and banks are reluctant to lend money. For this reason, sales are slow and it is a buyer's paradise at the moment, even if real estate prices in Italy have not dropped significantly as it has been the case in other countries. My advice is: visit the areas you like and take your time (unless you find your dream house.... which sometimes happen). You need to see as much as you can before deciding. Do not rely only on the information you get through the Internet, visit agents, both English-speaking and local. Compare prices. Carefully check the properties that interest you. Look for hidden problems. I do not know any of the agents that you mention, but perhaps other members may know them. Remember that location is most important. Actually, the three most important things when buying a house are: location, location, location. Find a town or a community where you feel at home and that has all the facilities that you need. You have a big job ahead. Enjoy it, because it is part of the fun of buying a house in Italy. Good luck!   P.S. The Lunigiana and  the Cinque Terre recently endured terrible floods that caused several victims and lots of damage. Not all the areas had problems, but it would be important for you to check whether the properties have been affected. Keep in mind that in Italy there are earthquakes and landslides. I do not mean to scare you, but you have to do a bit of research about the areas that you are interested in.

Hi caerus.  Welcome and I look forward to hearing about the results of your search.  We have a home in Northern Lazio when we are in Italy, in a village on the Lago di Bolsena.  It suits us well ....  but then there are so many beautiful parts of Italy!!

Fivizzano is a beautiful town, one of the first rural places we visited and stayed in here in Italy before later buying in Abruzzo. Biased a little, but both are similar and really we could not decide at first, but after a few visits here we found there to be more property and at a much better price... You should definitely check out the site provided by Esme regards Abruzzo.   Good luck :)

Hi Esme and Steve. I have to confess I have been lurking at abrozzolutely for a few months and plan on joining shortly. I know the issues that have been taking up most of the posts there lately and can not tell you how touched I was by the support shown by everyone. I did of course not know Dave but having read along, even writing now I had to stop for a few moments. I would have joined earlier but I felt that I would have been somewhat intruding at a family time. And the community there does seem to be a family. Hope to join you there soon.  Mike

Finding a viable  house via the Internet is very difficult for me.  It seems that every house that is listed on line is either a million or two or a total hovel in need of major rehab.  Are there no Italians selling decent houses in semi urban areas that are 50 years old and habitable.  The agencies I've seen on line give very few pictures and don't mention the age of the house or its amenities.  Can any wise one here tell me what I doing wrong? Thanks for any advice.

I think by far the best solution is to decide on a general area first and then come and talk to the agents that deal with property in that area.  Location first, specific house second.  Certainly in our area the agents generally use the internet badly, almost as an afterthought, not as an essential form of marketing.  New properties take a long time to go up, old ones don't come down, the pics are dreadful and info more than a little sketchy.  What you're describing doesn't seem like the obvious choice for a holiday home either so you'll need Italian rather than British agents primarily.

Fully agree with Tartuffa's comments.  And if you are dealing with local agents you will probably need to speak some Italian - though that may depend on the area.  Even in Marche local agents will now try and accomodate non-Italian speakers.  That was only just starting to happen when we found our house in 2003

There are several houses in my village of 350 people, Valle San Giovanni, near Teramo.  They have been continuously for sale in one form or another for the past five years or so.    Two are complete ruins, one very nice at about 200k euros, one in between.  There are more for sure that people are willing to sell but have not bothered to put on the market.  The marketing of the houses leaves a good bit to be desired in my opinion.   Although we are on 8km or so from Teramo, young people do not want to live in the houses because there is no school in the village, few to no paid positions in the village, and many of the jobs that people do find are 15 km on the east side of Teramo in the direction of the Adriatic Sea.   If I was coming in fresh I would come to Italy for a couple of extended visits, get a feel for what you like, then put the word out that you are looking to buy something.   With diligence, you can still get habitable (not luxury) places to live (many rennovated in the 60's and 70''s) for something in the neighborhood of 1200 euros msq.    Hard to go much under this figure but you can sure spend more if you want more elegance, panoramic views, etc etc

We were living in Milan when we started looking in Liguria so it was easier for us, but I can't imagine trying to do this online - as per Tartuffa's comments, many places don't show up there. Even Italians don't use it! I have an Italian friend in Milan looking for an apartment downtown, and she checks the weekly reports in the newspaper.  But really the best thing, as has been mentioned, is to go to the places where you're thinking of buying, and talk with local agents. Be prepared to see a lot of crap before you find the one you love...just like spouses!

Like you, I am new here. We just recently purchased a house in the Langhe region of Piedmont. Its in the wine region not far from Alba. Its a lovely spot. Close to the Alps, the sea, the wine and the famous truffles. We use it primarily as a summer home but will spend more time there once we move back to Europe. What part of Canada are you from. I grew up in Maine so used to go to Quebec once in a while. Take care.

In reply to by willc

Welcome to you too willc. Sounds like you're already way ahead of us in the house buying department. Congratulations. Piedmont (like all of Italy smiley) is beautiful. We live in Calgary which is in Western Canada. Never been to Quebec. It actually cost us about the same to fly to Europe as to Quebec.

Hello,have recently bought in Abruzzo/Chieta/Atessa which is not far from the coastal town of Vasto.It is a picturesque country area of rolling hillsides,hilltop villages and a little further inland the mountains,which form part of the largest national park in Italy.We first used Housearounditaly,on our first visits,they have lots of properties more inland,mountain regions.After our 3rd visit and (various agents) we decided on more of the country area closer to the coast,for this we used the services of Betterproperty.Italy.We are now renovating our old country house.Just a word of warning make sure your agent is registered,some are not and you can have problems!!Am also not long a member on this site but have found the members information very good indeed!All the best.