Advice about moving to Sicily

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Photo by Ingo Hamm on Unsplash

The world of blogging is fascinating, you meet many people who have the same interests as you, your ego gets a boost with every new subscriber and like and after a few years you begin to be viewed as an expert in your particular niche.

While I always enjoy hearing from my readers, answering questions and giving travel advice I occasionally get an email asking me about how to move to Sicily. I am honoured at the thought, some people see me as wise enough to give them advice I am always a little hesitant to dish out my opinion as everyone has their particular journey in life and I shouldn’t interfere with it.
But on the other hand, when I get a detailed email from someone asking for some help, I am ethically obliged to give them some home truths.
Recently I got an email with a list of questions which I thought would be helpful for anyone else considering a move to Sicily, as I’m sure many readers are thinking along the same lines as this person.

 

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Photo by Tomas Anton Escobar on Unsplash

 

Here are the questions and honest answers about living in Sicily:

I am paying a loan while working a full-time job and my partner has a plan is to sell our home and buy two properties, one to live in and the other one to rent for us to be able not to work. I think he’s just fantasising about this and this cannot be realistic?

Well, you could buy an excellent investment property at a reasonable price in Sicily, and the general cost of living in Sicily is much cheaper than living anywhere else in Europe, but it would be risky, what if you don’t like it here? It can be very challenging for foreigners to adapt to the quite close-knit communities of Sicily.

What I’d suggest doing would be to come over and rent a place here for a few months on an extended holiday. Don’t go selling your home just yet.

Try coming for a couple of months in the autumn/winter and search around for places you might like to buy and try out how life in Sicily fits you.

What about the education of my child in Sicily? Will he get a good education? What about the University?

I live in a small town in Sicily, and my son has been going to the local primary school which has been a lovely experience, the schools are quite traditional, but the teachers are very attentive to their students. While the infrastructure is a bit run down the schools and high schools are just fine, and there are many universities to choose from in Sicily and Italy in general, and you can always look into other European Universities in the future.

The only problem would be if you’d like your child to speak English, the English in the schools is rather basic so you could look into International schools or will have to teach your son English (which is what I am currently doing with mine) it’s time-consuming but well worth the effort.
I recently wrote a guest post about my experiences teaching my son English in a small town in Sicily if you’d like to read it on Mammaprada: The trials of raising a bilingual child in small-town Italy.

 

I cannot speak Italian and don’t understand it which for sure is a disadvantage.

Now this one may be a problem, you will need to have a basic understanding of Italian at least as there is very little English spoken outside of the major cities, so if you do consider moving here down the line, you’d need to work on this. But there are many schools around, even online if you are interested.

 

Is Sicily getting financially better or worse? Will there be any real jobs in the future?

 

Well, things in Sicily have always been slow economically, there is a high unemployment rate, and I’m not sure if it’s going to improve.

There is a considerable demand for ESL teachers, and you could probably find work with something like a CELTA qualification, teaching online is another option, you might be able to find a job in tourism or if you see a property consider turning it into a B&B, and there are many other ways to work online these days. It depends on where your skills lie, and you may need to get creative, do some private tutoring or start up a business that you think would benefit the local community.

Things like photography, babysitting, English, website design, hairdressing, beauty, nursing or as a carer anything you might see an opportunity for or are lacking in your particular community.

 

Crime. Is it safe to go out in the evenings? Is it safe to leave my son playing outside? Is it safe to let him go out when he’s a teenager?

 

I don’t think there is any need to be concerned about crime. If you are living in a small town, it is quite safe. In the bigger cities, you have to use your common sense like you’d do anywhere else, i.e., be aware of your surroundings, keep away from shady places like train stations and dodgy neighbourhoods.

Letting your son play outside shouldn’t be a problem. And when he’s a teenager, he’d well and truly have his own trusted group of friends and places where he knows it is safe to hang out and by then you’d have all of the other parent’s phone numbers from his school just in case you need them

 

Would having a place for rent be enough to be able to live comfortably without working? If not, is it difficult to find a job? I currently work as a manager; however, I have never been to university.

The price of living in Sicily is very reasonable, you could probably live off a rental property, but that would also depend on if you get a good tenant. It is easy to rent a place out for the summer.

You’d also have to consult an accountant here in Italy to see about how much tax you’d need to pay, as there are some tax allowances for new businesses, but there are also some tricky aspects to tax in Italy which can be quite high.

As for the work situation, I’ve already mentioned this.

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Photo by Sabrina Mazzeo on Unsplash

On the whole, if you are seriously thinking about moving to Sicily I’d suggest you come to stay for a while if you can manage it, take a look around visit a few places and get a feel for the area.

Life in Sicily isn’t perfect, but there is a beautiful sense of community, Sicilians are wonderfully generous, life is slow paced, there is a lot of bureaucracy, but the cost of living is much better.

You’d need to invest time in learning Italian, you may feel a little isolated, but there are lots of expats here.

I hope I’ve answered some of your questions and it’s given you a little indication about life here.

Good luck and all the best to everyone.

Don’t quite move to Sicily, yet …

Ah Sicily so picturesque and appealing
Ah Sicily so picturesque and appealing!

I recently got an email from a woman who was contemplating moving to Sicily from the US as she desired a change in her life and felt connected to her Sicilian heritage. She was looking for some advice and here is what I said to her:

Thanks so much for your email, I feel privileged you choose to contact me about such an important choice in your life, I will do my best to be honest and hope I can give you what you are looking for.

As an Italo Australian I can honestly say Italy and Sicily will always be quite alluring to you as it is a part of your upbringing, your family and heritage so you will always feel emotionally connected to Sicily in one way or another.

Living in Italy is never going to be the same as simply visiting it, even if you have gone back and forth for years to visit relatives being here full-time will be a deeply challenging and at times isolating.

I moved to Sicily ten years ago with my Sicilian husband and I can tell you it has not been an easy journey. Yes, Sicily is a beautiful place, great food, wine and the people are amazing. At the same time it is a land of crippling bureaucracy, it’s an old country and so with it’s ancientness comes the problems of an archaic place, it’s not all museums and Greek ruins, it is corrupt, inefficient at an infuriating level, people will try to rip you off and at times the culture shock will be mind numbing. The bigger cities in Sicily have the usual problems of big metropolis, they are densely populated, with high crime rates, they are dirty and confusing. I guarantee you will always feel like an excluded outsider, despite acquiring a fluent level of Italian, there is nothing you can do about it you will always stick out, whether it’s the way you dress, your accent or diverse point of view, a Sicilian will always pick you out as a foreigner and you will be constantly reminded of this.

I suggest if you are feeling strongly about moving overseas why not simply test the waters a little, if you have long service leave coming up why not try to spend a few months here and see how you go? Rent a house for a few months, perhaps instead of coming in the summer try 3 months in the fall when things are more relaxed and real. I think the secret to life in Sicily to create your own community, projects and work towards your goals and above all do not let anyone get you down, Sicily can be a negative place.

The language is going to be important for you too, Sicily more so than anything else will mean one hundred percent Italian as it is a thoroughly monolingual country and it would help if you understood a little dialect too!

Be sure you have a project to keep you busy and connected while you are here, be it doing a language course, teaching english, volunteering, learning about Sicilian cuisine, wine, art, writing a book or whatever else you might enjoy as it will help you feel more connected to the place. The connections to make to the place are what will sustain you if you are not actively experiencing Sicily and not simply complaining about it constantly you will never get anything out of your experience here.

The best advice I can give to you is to be honest and tell you the truth, moving to Sicily isn’t going to be a bed of roses, but if you want to be challenged the an expat life can be rewarding.

So try it and see.

Life’s a journey feel free to try new experiences.

Good luck to you and let me know if you make it to Sicily.

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