Working Remotely From Italy: Affordable, Relaxing, and Enriching

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Posted by The Savvy Retiree on June 20, 2020 in Live Better

Since moving to Italy, my morning commute is no longer mandatory. Rather it’s an indulgence…a gentle stroll along ancient brick-lined streets to get a freshly brewed espresso. Afterward, I might visit the gym, which is open again this week as life in Italy begins returning to normal. Then, I typically run some errands, before finally meandering back to my home office to tackle my latest writing and online consulting assignments.

If this sounds like a work schedule you’d like to have, then I can tell you, it’s eminently possible.

A few years ago, my wife and I “retired” to Rieti, an ancient town in central Italy. When we made the move, friends frequently asked, with no small measure of disbelief, how we’d be able to work remotely from so far away. That was some time ago, before coronavirus. I guess we’ve all figured out now just how possible this is.

In Italy and across the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated to governments, businesses, and all kinds of employers the many benefits of remote working. Public and private sector organizations are seeing lower overheads since they no longer have to heat, cool, and power office buildings. 

They’ve also figured out that remote employees can be just as productive as in-office staff, if not more so. Much of the worry about absenteeism and distraction among online workers has dissipated now that organizations have gained experience of operating with remote workforces.

For workers, meanwhile, the best part of operating online is that you have greater control over your schedule. It is also less stressful on the body and mind. Never, not even for a moment, have I missed the commute, the breakfast consultations, the lunch meetings, or the phone calls from clients on weekends or during vacations. My schedule these days is flexible and my free time is sacred. 

One of the factors that facilitates this lifestyle is the surprising affordability of life in Italy. The cost of living for my wife and me here in Rieti is less than $3,000 a month. The rent on our five-bedroom house, which has reliable internet, satellite TV, and incredible views, is just €748 ($840) a month. We can easily cover this figure with our online incomes, meaning we don’t have to dip into our Social Security or retirement accounts to pay for our housing costs.

Chip Stites’ five-bedroom home in Rieti offers stunning views of the rolling hills of central Italy.

Living in the EU, you can also find everything you need to work remotely, from fast, reliable internet to local technicians who can fix any issues with your smartphone, laptops, etc.

I’ve also found that by working remotely, on a schedule I decide, I’ve gotten renewed passion for my work. Before retiring to Italy, I was a certified financial planner and registered investment adviser. At one time, I managed up to $100 million in investments. It was a stressful work-life.

Now, I earn by writing about my life in Italy and helping people make the same transition I did…showing them how they can use knowledge and skills they already have to earn online. Honestly, if I can do it, anyone can.

Italy has now entered Phase 3 of its exit from lockdown and life is getting back to normal. Last weekend, my wife and I were able to take a daytrip with friends to Spello, the City of Flowers, and Rasiglia, the Little Venice of Umbria—two towns that Italians know well, but tourists rarely find. 

There are many charming towns like these to explore in central Italy, such as Ascoli Piceno, Spoleto, or Viterbo, where you could live inexpensively and work remotely. Moreover, prices on housing have dropped. Considering that very soon there will be many more employers that don’t find it problematic for you to live and work from places like Italy, your laidback “working retirement” could be just around the corner.

By A. W. “Chip” Stites