I am Stef (male, 50 years of age, only just), married to Nico (male, almost 60), both born in The Netherlands and a couple since 1985 (prehistoric times).
We moved to Italy in 2008 after staying at Pavia for half a year, for reasons of study (medieval history).
In these 6 months we found our dream villa in the unknown Oltrepo Pavese region, south of Pavia, which was perfectly suited for our plan: starting a B&B vacation rental business.
What challenges did you face during the move?
Selling our own house in Holland, surviving the Italian real estate agent and trying to avoid disasters during the buying process.
Can you tell us something about your property?
We found the property via an advertisement in one of the many free magazines that circulate in Italy. It didn’t look very attractive from the photo, but price and description made it interesting. We knew the region more or less, as we had made daytrips from Pavia to explore it. The house turned out to be perfect internally and with respect to location: the panoramic view was breathtaking. The price was very reasonable. It “just” needed some restructuring to render it even better suited to tourists/guests.
What is the property market like at the moment?
Being located in a non-touristy region, where prices are reasonably stable, there were no particularities.
Are you employed or self-employed? What challenges did you face in either finding employment or running your own business?
We are self-employed in the B&B business and had saved enough money to cover initial costs. (http://www.duepadroni.it)
Are there many other expats in your area?
No, and in particular not from Holland or other Northern countries. Most stanieri here are from Eastern Europe, Greece etc
What is your relationship like with the locals?
Friendly, not very intimate yet, with some exceptions. It takes time to build more intimate relationships. People are very friendly though.
What do you like about life where you are?
Climate, surroundings, food, peace and quiet (population density definitely is much much lower here than in Holland). No queues in traffic and no stress in supermarkets.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
Less culture, less diversity (Italians love all things Italian). You really have to seize the occasion to enjoy some “internationally” oriented culture.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
Prepare yourself well, especially in taking time and effort to learn the language while you are still at home!!! Read a good book on emigration topics, buying property in Italy etc., to avoid the pitfalls. Hire a so-called geometra to help you out once a property has caught your interest. Do not underestimate the costs of restructuring a house: there are always unexpected extras. Plan at least 50% extra over estimated cost.
What are your plans for the future?
Enjoying the good life now all the major troubles are over.
Making good friends with guests and helping them out.
Discovering even more enjoyable spots, restaurants, itineraries etc.
Stef and Nico have also written a book, called ‘Living in Italy: the Real Deal‘, where they share the hilarious & horrendous adventures they experienced when they moved to Italy to start a bed and breakfast.
Villa I Due Padroni B&B Italy
Frazione Spagna 9
27047 Montecalvo Versiggia
tel.: +39 0385 99255
cell.: +39 3468572343 / 3485595064