I think we expats put so much energy into moving to a new country that it doesn't occur to us that the town or physical house we first land in might not be the right fit.
I've found that out myself in my first eight months living in Italy.
While I initially chose Calabria to move to, I have since realized that it's not the vision I've had for my life in Italy. In no way am I dissing Calabria. In fact, the opposite is true. It is a beautiful land with truly wonderful people. But it's not the right fit for me.
What Makes a Home for You?
If you're in the planning phase of becoming an expat, you might not be thinking this far in advance, but let me put the bug in your ear: not only do you have to find a country that's a good fit, but you also want a city/town, community, and house that is a perfect match. Be okay with this being a process, since it's hard to get it right the first time!
One way you can increase your chances of nailing it the first time is to journal about what makes a home for you. What makes you comfortable and relaxed? What sort of community do you seek? Here's my list:
I want to live near the sea
I want to live in a vibrant community with both Italian and expat friends
I want a bustling city life...but not too bustling!
I want restaurants, art, museums, and culture close by
I want to be able to walk to meet friends, shop, et cetera
I want easy access to trains and planes
I want a cozy home with space for work, play, art, and yoga
I want a home in the center of the action, but in a quiet pocket
Getting clear about what you need in your home can help you zero in on it during the search process. I've found everything I'm looking for in the city of Salerno, on the west coast, just south of Naples. I'll be moving there in a matter of weeks!
So many people have asked me if I've bought a home here in Italy, and the answer is a resounding NO. One day I hope to, but if I had purchased a home before I really tried out the town in Calabria I'm currently in, I would then be stuck with a house I'd have to sell or rent.
I highly recommend renting until you've found your footing. While a place can seem magical when you visit for a few days, it turns into something else when you live there full time, so allow at least a year or more to really get a better sense of a place before you consider buying a house.
You can find Italian rentals online on:
And, as is the case for anything you want, ask your network! Italians are huge on helping one another, so I have put the word out that I'm looking for an apartment in Salerno, so hopefully that will help!
My final advice? Be gentle with yourself. It's a tremendous lot to pick up and move to another country, region, city, and house. Sometimes not all of those things align. Look at it like this: moving is another opportunity to get to know a different part of your new home!