Since my wife, Shonna, and I moved to Rieti, Italy, two years ago, the single biggest change has been in the slower pace of our lives.
A slow pace of life is at the heart of Italian culture, as spotlighted by the closing of shops for pranzo (lunch), and people’s commitment to putting family first. This leisurely approach also produces a quality of life that is among the best in the world.
One of the things retirement offers is a chance to slow down. A chance to see life in a new way—a more intimate, passionate, vibrant way. Ways that went ignored in our fast-paced work lives. By slowing the pace of my life, I’ve found space for self-exploration. And part of that was finding new ways of funding my life by doing things that bring me joy.
Italy’s low cost of living is also a major advantage in this regard. It takes the pressure off your budget and reduces the need to consume savings. For my wife and me, most of our monthly expenses are met by my Social Security check, giving us the freedom to turn our interests into earnings.
Another great advantage is the environment. From online freelancing to photography, travel writing to blogging, Italy is an ideal place to try your hand at a whole host of exciting income opportunities.
The trick is to find what you love to do, let others know, and then keep doing it at a pace that you find enjoyable. In our case, I took a course to learn how to work online, and another in writing, while my wife takes courses in painting and quilting. Now we use our newfound skills to supplement our income so we can travel more.
I’ve found that one of the best ways to turn something you enjoy into an income is to share your journey with others, and teach them what you’ve learned along the way. I love to write, and I love showing others that they can too. Working online, I have taught one person who writes about kayaking for a magazine, and another who writes about gaming.
Although I work in the online space, I feel a part of Italian society, and this is down to another great tradition here: inclusivity. Italians welcome others into their lives, and this has enabled us to adjust quickly to our new surroundings.
With our new Italian friends, we have shared weddings, family dinners, Christmases, and community events, helping us feel part of our adopted country. The feeling of inclusion has also created a sense of security, offering us the confidence to grow and explore our new surroundings even further.
Living in this decelerated, less pressure-filled environment has given us a feeling of renewed vitality, as well as the time to write and to paint what we are experiencing. The lack of pressure in our lives and on our finances is the greatest gift we have received in our move to Italy.
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