If you are contemplating buying a place in Italy or anywhere in Europe you must consider the lifestyle of that area. Europeans live different from we do. You should understand that and adjust your expectations. Some things to be considered are:
- Car sizes are typically smaller. This is because gas is so much more expensive (about $10/gallon in Italy but cars get 50-70 mpg). There are also many small cities where a larger car will NOT fit through the streets. We like having a hatchback in Italy. You can fold down the seats and carry most things you buy easily. You can find big american cars like Jeeps but they are rare and you need to be well off to afford to operate them.
- Cars are usually stick shift. Mountain roads are windy and many do not have guard rails (similar to California). Using your brakes on a downhill can wear them out and cause a fatal accident. Stick Shift (manual transmission) offers lower gears to help slow the car down without breaking.
- People in Europe tend to live outside even in winter. Their houses are very small by our standards. Kitchens are small, bathrooms are small and bedrooms are small. Houses and condo’s of 300-5– sq ft are large there. There always are large palatial mansions for millions of dollars but the typical home is small. Italians love to eat outside with family and friends. Balconies and decks are common.
- There are typically no closets. You need to buy an armoire (wardrobe) for your clothes.
- You usually do not get a kitchen even in a resale. There are furniture stores (Mobile) that sell full kitchens with cabinets and appliances.
- A typical day has stores open in morning until about 12:30 or 1 pm. Then everything except restaurants and touristy places close down. They reopen around 4pm and stay open until 8 or 9 pm. During the noon break, families spend time together. They eat lunch, walk together and meet up with friends. If you are looking for something during this closed time, you will not find it. Plan your day with this in mind.
- Wine is always cheaper when order as “House Wine” (vino di casa). It comes by the glass, 1/2 liter or full liter carafe. Some restaurants do sell bottles of wine but they are more expensive.
The most important thing about buying a Place in Italy is having fun! Determine what your most important criteria is. Ours was views. Set your budget. You can negotiate as you do here. Understand all your monthly bills (water, gas, electric, garbage and taxes). These can be paid monthly, every 2 or 3 months, semi annually or annually (depending on the area). Once you buy, make friends with your neighbors and store owners in town. Italians are friendly people and love Americans.
George & Jo Anne