Problem is, Tuscany is now prohibitively expensive in all
seasons. So the solution, say savvy expats, is to settle in an
area less publicized and pricey. Just a few years ago Umbria
was dubbed “the next Tuscany.” Guess what happened?
So where’s the “next Umbria”? We located it one region
east: Le Marche (pronounced “lay markay”), bordering
the Adriatic, is a lovely land of vineyards, snow-capped
mountains, and splendid beaches (which you won’t find in
Umbria). “Nature lovers will get more pristine beauty for
their money in Le Marche than anywhere else in central
Italy,” writes John Moretti in Living Abroad in Italy. It also
prides itself on some of the best fish dishes in the country—
and is trendy enough to have snagged Dustin Hoffman as a
tourism spokesman. Whereas Le Marche can’t match the
fabled art treasures of Rome or Florence, the walled city of
Urbino boasts Renaissance architecture considered among
the most impressive in Italy—minus the crush of tourists.
John Williams, 62, a chiropractor from Pennsylvania,
moved here 23 years ago and now lives on a three-acre
country home in the village of Senigallia, just off the
beach, with his wife and two teenage children. There
they tend a grove of centuries-old olive trees, from which
they make their own oil. “I came intending to visit for six
months and stayed,” he says. “I wouldn’t think of living
anywhere else.” Excluding the cost of housing, a mini-
to ask yourself
Have you thoroughly
researched your target
country? Have you traveled there at least two or
You shouldn’t go online to
buy or rent abroad—you
need to talk to expats and a
reliable local lawyer.
Have you examined
what it will mean to be
away from family?
This is why you have to
consider accessibility to an
airport, distance from the
United States, costs of your
travel, and costs to the
family for visits.
Are you patient? Do
things roll off your back?
Inefficiency and delays are
the order of the day in Latin
mum annual income of $20,000 is feasible, he reports,
though higher incomes are more realistic. “What I like
best is having beautiful beaches and mountains within
45 minutes of each other,” Williams says. “There’s such a
variety of choices, it’s like a permanent vacation.”
America, and red tape in
Europe can be daunting.
Are you willing to
learn a new language?
You’ll find English spoken
widely, but knowing a little
local lingo can deeply enrich
Are you willing to be in
Other expats may be around
for support, but you’ll still
be a foreigner in your new
Have you asked yourself what you’re willing to
First-run movies? Oreos?
Are you really cut
out for a life-changing
“Don’t come just for the
lower costs” is a common
refrain among expats. You
need to embrace the experience and the changes—both
pros and cons. —B.G.
Climate: Mostly sunny; summers—warm and dry; winters—
cool with some rain.
Expat community: Relatively few; an international mix.
Cost of living: A comfortable life can be had on $20,000 to
$25,000 a year. Dinner out: $40 for two.
Housing costs: Depending on location, rentals start at $600
a month in rural villages, $1,500 and up on the coast. Prices of
coastal houses begin at $300,000 (inland, half that).
Health care: Generally good. The top local hospital is in
Ancona, the capital of the region, which is within an hour’s
drive of all the main towns in Le Marche.
Culture and leisure: Open-air opera festivals, Renaissance
painting and architecture, wine tasting, nature reserves,
beachcombing—even skiing (in the Sibillini Mountains).
Access to the U.S.: Fair. Regional flight from Ancona to
Milan or Rome, then a transatlantic trek. ;
Barry Golson is the author of Retirement Without Borders
(2008) and Gringos in Paradise (2006). Additional reporting by
Michelle Rae Harris.