This week we chat to Dave Garrison who moved from the UK to Tuscany just five short months ago. Now fully settled in, we discuss the emigration process and ask what advice he would give to others who are looking to do the same.
Moving to Italy had been a plan of mine for several years. I chose Italy simply because I have always enjoyed visiting the country and I enjoy the culture and environment. Tuscany has it all - mountains, beaches, a national park, wonderful cities, airports and good road and rail connections.
The Overseas Guides Company provided me with a well-established, tried and tested framework for emigration. When scouring the internet looking for advice, many websites I came across advised me to check out the OGC framework. I received excellent support from the staff when I had to ask questions about specific issues. On the whole, the impartial advice that I received was invaluable…and it worked!
I chose the area that I wanted to move to by spending hours scanning the internet and on the advice of OGC, I decided that it would be a good idea to visit the area a few times. I wanted to find an area with a strong and reliable infrastructure of public services which, to me, is essential when establishing a new home. Some regions in the south have problems or are not easy to access because of logistical issues.
I live in a wonderful two bedroom, ground floor apartment with a nice garden close to a river – it’s very idyllic. When I moved in it was badly in need of a lick of paint and I had to change all of the windows and doors but since finishing it, it feels like home at last and is just the type of home I’d always wanted when I began my search.
People looking to move to Italy should be aware that the buying process is a lot different from the UK. However, as long as you follow all the steps advised to the letter and employ a reliable solicitor – you will be fine. All in all, the process took around three months from making an offer to signing the deeds.
I would advise that before you sign your name to the final deeds, you make sure that all work is completed. The completion of work on your property in Italy can be written into the “Compremesso” (exchange documents) before you actually complete. I did this because my house was not habitable in the middle of winter and I wanted it finished before I arrived. My advice is, treat buying a property in Italy as you would a property in the UK – pay just as much attention to detail. If you do that, all will be okay.
It’s absolutely essential to conduct your own independent research. You will need to have a certain degree of faith in the foreign system but employ the right people to help you and they will be able to guide you through the whole process without any hiccups.
In terms of finances, do your maths well and build in a good contingency allowance. Be clear about what you want from your home, the area itself and the social life. I have heard of many English people who have bought cheap properties in the hills but gone on to sell them quite quickly because they found they were too isolated.
Take your time with your planning to make sure that you are making the right decision for you. It’s essential that you learn the language. Try to enjoy the process, language lessons are a great way of meeting people in a similar boat and learning can be fun!
For me, making the move was about looking forward to a new life and to retirement. Life here is truly wonderful – just as I had hoped it would be.
What tips would I give to people looking to do the same? That’s easy - make lots of new friends! A good support network will help you so much and make you feel at home. Do not remain isolated, embrace change and relish getting to know your new home and all of its locals. The Italians here say, "piano piano". It means, slowly slowly. Get involved in activities and festivals, be nice and polite and remember that the locals here do not know you. As they get to know you a little better they will begin to associate with you. Resettlement is the most vital part of successful emigration, not the paperwork!
I enlisted the help of Smart Currency Exchange to move my money abroad. I had an excellent service from James Thorpe and I still receive a good service from the whole team whenever I need to move money between the UK and Italy. Smart delivered exactly what they said they would do and on time. They were very easy to do business with.
Emigration is all about change and dealing with a new life. If you do not like change, don't emigrate, or if you feel you will not cope with the loss of your family and friends, talk to them and think everything through carefully.
If you are about to emigrate, or buy property abroad, make sure you use a currency exchange specialist, such as Smart Currency Exchange, to transfer your pounds into your new local currency. Smart consistently offers better exchange rates than banks, saving you money, as well as a more efficient service. For more information on this, download their free guide by clicking here.try