Thursday, August 30, 2012

Retirement Planning: Utilities Update

Guardia Sanframondi

As part of our exploration of Italy as a potential retirement location we've been corresponding with Clare Galloway, a Scottish artist featured in a recent House Hunters International episode. She's working with the mayor and town council of Guardia Sanframondi to put together a list of available houses in the old part of town and recently sent out some basic information about the cost of living there. But before I get to that...

What's the deal with these places?

In the case of Guardia Sanframondi (and other hill towns in Campania) it's earth quakes. Back in 1980 there was a big earthquake in the region: Terremoto dell'Irpinia. Almost 3000 people lost their lives and 300,000 were left homeless. Rebuilding did not go well. Due in large part to various forms of corruption less than a quarter of the funds spent actually went to reconstruction. As a result, many old hill towns became depopulated, their inhabitants rebuilding on the surrounding plains.  The same process is occuring today in L'Aquila Abruzzo where a 2009 earthquake devastated L'Aquila the city (and capitol of the region) and a number of other hill towns. Reconstruction there is ongoing, but corruption appears to be less of a problem today than in the 80's.

Some of these towns are actively seeking buyers for these very inexpensive houses (in Sicily the town of Salemi tried giving them away!) . Artists like Clare, folks (often from the UK) looking for holiday homes, and even people like us, trying to plan a reasonably comfortable retirement. Most of these places require some work (ok, a lot) to bring up to modern Italian standards. But there are enough that are liveable or nearly so to make it worthwhile to go take a look.

OK, but what about the utilities?

This is what Clare pays:

Real estate taxes: € 0,00 - her house is valued below the minimum taxable amount!
Water: € 15,00/month
Electricity: € 27,00/2 months
Bottled Gas: € 28,00/3 months
Phone/Internet: € 30,00/month
Mobile: € 8,00/month (!)
Trash Collection: € 150,00/year

If I've added everything up correctly that comes to € 1.060,00 a year - about € 88,33 or $110.85 per month. If you read my post on utilities costs you'll be a bit amazed (as I am) at how far off I was. Without knowing anything about Clare's lifestyle it's hard to say where the differences come but it's pretty clear that the Italian lifestyle involves a great deal less electricity.

We're starting to plan a trip in late Januray or early February 2013 (that's when flights are cheapest) so it won't be long until we find out a lot more.


  1. We watched the episode about Guardia Sanframondi, Itlay and we closed on our house there yesterday(12-6-2012). Thank you House Hunters International. Thank you Clare, and thanks to the town itself. Where else could you buy a house and they throw a party for you and the Mayor shows up to celebrate. I love this little community and the outpouring of hospitality.

  2. Congratulations! Are you posting pictures somewhere?



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