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Old May 22nd 2012, 12:33 am   #1
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Talking Planning to retire to Sicily - need advice

Hi everyone. My husband and I are coming to visit Sicilia next year with the plan to buy a holiday home which will turn into a semi-permanent retirement home. We are wanting to get the most for our $$ (sadly not independently wealthy) and we have been looking on the Interwebs at a couple of places. We have heard that Cianciana is a community that is welcoming of newcomers. Does anyone know if that's true and if Cianciana is a good place to live? We are also looking at Caccamo so same questions there. Any other suggestions about inexpensive places to buy that are great places to live? And one final question for now. If we choose to live in Sicily for less than 6 months so we are not residents, what are the options for getting health insurance?

Thanks for letting me pick your collective brains!

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Old May 22nd 2012, 11:30 am   #2
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Default Re: Planning to retire to Sicily - need advice

It depends what you are looking for. If you want a British enclave then there are places that will be more suited to you than others. Cianciana has become popular because prices are very cheap (because no Sicilian wanted to live there) and an English speaking agency has marketed the town well.
You can divide Sicily into two halves - the east and the west. The East is more cultural, more 'Greek' and more prosperous. The West more Arabic and in some cases, years behind the rest of the island. Draw a line down from Cefalu to Gela and thats your two Sicilies. Same dividing line for organized crime, except that Catania has to be included. Inland property is much cheaper, society more 'closed' and poorer - with the exception of places like Piazza Armerina. Tourism is the life blood of the island - especially at the sea. Agriculture should be, but is slowly dying. The other main industry is mixing vast amounts of cement and building useless buildings that lie empty. You should come to Sicily and spend at least 2 weeks driving round and getting to know it - it is hugely different from place to place - and then you will know where you like and where you would want to live. There is no point just going to a place because it is cheap.
If you are Canadian, and are not resident you will just have to have good travel insurance which will give you emergency treatment. You will need a Schengen visa.
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Old May 22nd 2012, 12:48 pm   #3
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Default Re: Planning to retire to Sicily - need advice

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Originally Posted by modicasa View Post
It depends what you are looking for. If you want a British enclave then there are places that will be more suited to you than others. Cianciana has become popular because prices are very cheap (because no Sicilian wanted to live there) and an English speaking agency has marketed the town well.
You can divide Sicily into two halves - the east and the west. The East is more cultural, more 'Greek' and more prosperous. The West more Arabic and in some cases, years behind the rest of the island. Draw a line down from Cefalu to Gela and thats your two Sicilies. Same dividing line for organized crime, except that Catania has to be included. Inland property is much cheaper, society more 'closed' and poorer - with the exception of places like Piazza Armerina. Tourism is the life blood of the island - especially at the sea. Agriculture should be, but is slowly dying. The other main industry is mixing vast amounts of cement and building useless buildings that lie empty. You should come to Sicily and spend at least 2 weeks driving round and getting to know it - it is hugely different from place to place - and then you will know where you like and where you would want to live. There is no point just going to a place because it is cheap.
If you are Canadian, and are not resident you will just have to have good travel insurance which will give you emergency treatment. You will need a Schengen visa.

I love Sicily, and 10 points for the accurate description. I prefer the south Sampieri or Pozzallo.
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Old May 22nd 2012, 12:55 pm   #4
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Question Re: Planning to retire to Sicily - need advice

Two summers ago we did exactly that - spent almost three weeks driving every where in Sicily. Cianciana was not a place we managed to get to see however. We did see the divide between east and west on the island and liked both for different reasons. Why is it that Sicilians don't want to live in Cianciana?
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Old May 22nd 2012, 3:19 pm   #5
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Default Re: Planning to retire to Sicily - need advice

Modicasa has given a very accurate description of the island. He's also right when he says it depends what you are looking for. What are you planning to do here?

It's not that Sicilians are deserting only Cianciana, you'll find the same applies to almost any remote, inland village for precisely the reasons modicasa outlines: agriculture is dying and there is nothing else to do in these places.

I really can't speak about Cianciana as I've never been there, but it does seem pretty remote. You are a long way from any infrastructure - airports, towns (unless you really love Agrigento), main roads, hospitals. Caccamo is at least nearer to the motorway. My personal inclination would at least be to try to live somewhere where things are going on. Siracusa is my own favourite, but all the area around Ragusa, Modica, Scicli etc is nice.

Also, anywhere in Sicily is lovely during the Spring, or even a cold, bright winter's day or early morning in the summer, but the grey rainy weeks of February or March can be quite trying.

Renting in Sicily can be cheap - perhaps you should try that for a year or so first.

Good luck with your plans though.
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Old May 22nd 2012, 3:45 pm   #6
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Default Re: Planning to retire to Sicily - need advice

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Originally Posted by Caccicoo View Post
Two summers ago we did exactly that - spent almost three weeks driving every where in Sicily. Cianciana was not a place we managed to get to see however. We did see the divide between east and west on the island and liked both for different reasons. Why is it that Sicilians don't want to live in Cianciana?
A bit late of me but welcome to the forum.
We have some really lovely people on the forum here so stick around and I'm sure you'll get lots of help and advice.

Just shout out if you have any questions about how the site works or any other questions about life in Italy.

Ciao.
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Old May 23rd 2012, 5:41 am   #7
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Default Re: Planning to retire to Sicily - need advice

Excellent synopsis on Sicily by Modicasa! As a resident of Siracusa I would also strongly recommend this particular area if only because there is the best free motorway in Sicily that takes you to Catania airport in 30 minutes. I rent and strongly recommend doing so for an initial "test" period as it is cheap and easy to find places. Avoid residency at all costs! My own vision of Itay has changed since becoming resident and the introduction of the Salva Italia law.
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Old May 23rd 2012, 5:51 am   #8
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Default Re: Planning to retire to Sicily - need advice

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Excellent synopsis on Sicily by Modicasa! As a resident of Siracusa I would also strongly recommend this particular area if only because there is the best free motorway in Sicily that takes you to Catania airport in 30 minutes. I rent and strongly recommend doing so for an initial "test" period as it is cheap and easy to find places. Avoid residency at all costs! My own vision of Itay has changed since becoming resident and the introduction of the Salva Italia law.
What is the Salva Italia law? How does it change things if you become a resident?


D
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Old May 23rd 2012, 6:07 am   #9
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Default Re: Planning to retire to Sicily - need advice

Hi Caccico - I don't like to discuss the Salva Italia law on this optimistic and friendly forum as it is giving me nightmares. Italy has got to pay off absolutely enormous debts over the next few years and last December they opened in my opinion "Pandora's box". Foreign residents here now have to declare and pay tax on absolutely everything they have outside Italy. At the moment 34 Euros on each bank account + 0.76 % of the value of any property for a Canadian (- local taxes yet to be clearly defined) + a percentage of all your savings. This tax applies retrospectively i.e it was decided in December 2011 and applies to the whole of 2011. The sums involved are not enormous at the moment but in my opinion this is a worrying development!
Getting back to your subject though living near an airport is quite important in Sicily. This island is very isolated (boat/car/train connection times are measured in days) and air travel is the only way out so you are always ferrying people (even Sicilians as most have family connections throughout Italy) to and from the airport!

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Old May 23rd 2012, 6:09 am   #10
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Default Re: Planning to retire to Sicily - need advice

Thanks all - to elaborate a bit on why don't Sicilians live in CIanciana - its a small town of about 5000 souls - so little going on for the young'uns who like lots of Sicilians move on to find jobs. Despite the huge house building that goes on here, the Sicilian population is falling - and locals move to the north or emigrate. Most Sicilians live in the city - and the countryside is slowly being abandoned - though this isn't true in Ragusa province where historically the Modicani have lived in the country and still do so. This puts a good upward pressure on house prices though as you are competing with the locals. And this is the nub of your problem - you don't have loads of money to buy. Prices are cheap where Italians don't buy - North ITalians generally want to be within 5km of the sea, its only the Anglosaxons who want a place in the middle of nowhere. Remember that it may seem cheap on paper - but if its cheap there's usually a reason. What you spend on the sale you will save on the running costs. There are places in Sicily where you will not have mains water in the summer and that adds to the cost. Rememebr the 'house for a pound' scam run by Sgarbi in Salemi? - true the house cost a quid but you had to to spend 100 grand doing it up using local builders who can't believe their luck. And so on. Its all location location location. The best place you can afford in the best place - there's a reason why they are the most expensive sought after places. You could buy a little place in Caltanisetta - but you might live to regret it - and then you'd have to sell.... If you have the option to rent, its worth a try - its turning into a valid option for a lot of people now - if you get a long term contract the rent is very low, you can't be thrown out easily, and you have none of the problems with red tape and Italian law.
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Old May 23rd 2012, 6:19 am   #11
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Default Re: Planning to retire to Sicily - need advice

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Originally Posted by nicktonight View Post
Hi Caccico - I don't like to discuss the Salva Italia law on this optimistic and friendly forum as it is giving me nightmares. Italy has got to pay off absolutely enormous debts over the next few years and last December they opened in my opinion "Pandora's box". Foreign residents here now have to declare and pay tax on absolutely everything they have outside Italy. At the moment 34 Euros on each bank account + 0.76 % of the value of any property for a Canadian (- local taxes yet to be clearly defined) + a percentage of all your savings. This tax applies retrospectively i.e it was decided in December 2011 and applies to the whole of 2011. The sums involved are not enormous at the moment but in my opinion this is a worrying development!
Getting back to your subject though living near an airport is quite important in Sicily. This island is very isolated (boat/car/train connection times are measured in days) and air travel is the only way out so you are always ferrying people (even Sicilians) to and from the airport!
You're getting me worried now! I don't want to salvare l'Italia. Having enough of a job to salvare myself.
ciao for now,
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Old Jul 23rd 2012, 12:53 pm   #12
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Default Re: Planning to retire to Sicily - need advice

not really a reply for Caccio as we met in cianciana and you have now seen for yourself. congratulations on your new house and life i know you will have the most amazing time and have made a great move.

it is sad when people are negative about a place i feel they must not have visited. Cianciana is a booming place with strong growth and tourism. i agree it is somewhat strange to many as it is not "typical tourist type" but it is a remarkable place, i myself have lived there for 5 years after moving from the uk. and bar the odd niggle with cultural differences i have found it nothing but glorious. the people and community are incredible, welcoming warm and sincere. there is a great infrastructure for foreigners and infact many of us expats have set up businesses bringing both money and work to the area. the locals are moving back from other parts and for a quaint town it is one of the most vibrant places i have been to. there is no organised crime, infact there is no crime to speak of and property prices have risen consistently due to a healthy market. there is not much new build instead the older properties are being refurbished with a mix of modern and old techniques adding to the enchanting feel of this little gem. yes it is small and yes it is in the mountains but that is what we love. as for the greek / arab split the valley of the temples, Sellinunte, Erice, Cattolica Minoa all are in the west and are amongst the finest examples of greek architecture in the world. the low cost airlines all fly to Palermo and Trapani not Catania, and pound for pound the west is far cheaper and better value for money. with huge inward investment into Sciacca (Roccoforte resort etc) it is also the side of the island which is likely to see the largest amount of growth over the next 5-10 years.

so i would ask before people give negative comments get informed. for sure there are some amazing places in the east and in fact some of my favorites, Taormina, Syracuse and Ragusa have exceptional beauty and interest. but it is not fair to discount the west. it is definitely a on the up!

what ever.. Sicily is incredible, i love it and will be bringing my children up here from the day i landed i have seen it as the island of opportunity and have seen nothing to alter this view.. not an easy period of change but definitely a positive one.

S
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Old Jul 23rd 2012, 1:09 pm   #13
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Default Re: Planning to retire to Sicily - need advice

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not really a reply for Caccio as we met in cianciana and you have now seen for yourself. congratulations on your new house and life i know you will have the most amazing time and have made a great move.

it is sad when people are negative about a place i feel they must not have visited. Cianciana is a booming place with strong growth and tourism. i agree it is somewhat strange to many as it is not "typical tourist type" but it is a remarkable place, i myself have lived there for 5 years after moving from the uk. and bar the odd niggle with cultural differences i have found it nothing but glorious. the people and community are incredible, welcoming warm and sincere. there is a great infrastructure for foreigners and infact many of us expats have set up businesses bringing both money and work to the area. the locals are moving back from other parts and for a quaint town it is one of the most vibrant places i have been to. there is no organised crime, infact there is no crime to speak of and property prices have risen consistently due to a healthy market. there is not much new build instead the older properties are being refurbished with a mix of modern and old techniques adding to the enchanting feel of this little gem. yes it is small and yes it is in the mountains but that is what we love. as for the greek / arab split the valley of the temples, Sellinunte, Erice, Cattolica Minoa all are in the west and are amongst the finest examples of greek architecture in the world. the low cost airlines all fly to Palermo and Trapani not Catania, and pound for pound the west is far cheaper and better value for money. with huge inward investment into Sciacca (Roccoforte resort etc) it is also the side of the island which is likely to see the largest amount of growth over the next 5-10 years.

so i would ask before people give negative comments get informed. for sure there are some amazing places in the east and in fact some of my favorites, Taormina, Syracuse and Ragusa have exceptional beauty and interest. but it is not fair to discount the west. it is definitely a on the up!

what ever.. Sicily is incredible, i love it and will be bringing my children up here from the day i landed i have seen it as the island of opportunity and have seen nothing to alter this view.. not an easy period of change but definitely a positive one.

S
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Old Jul 23rd 2012, 2:04 pm   #14
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Default Re: Planning to retire to Sicily - need advice

Caccicoo, I can not give you advice on where to buy in Sicily as I do not live there, but having lived in Italy for 10 years this summer, I can strongly suggest not to buy a property there( or anywhere in Italy) until you have rented first for a year/couple of years.
While Italy is a fascinating and amazingly beautiful country, being on holiday and living here are two very different things.
If you rent first at least you will know if this is the place for your retirement.
Personally, I visited the West side of the island and loved it.
I would rather retire near amenities such as roads to the airport, hospitals, etc.
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Old Jul 30th 2012, 3:13 pm   #15
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Default Re: Planning to retire to Sicily - need advice

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We have heard that Cianciana is a community that is welcoming of newcomers. Does anyone know if that's true and if Cianciana is a good place to live? We are also looking at Caccamo so same questions there. Any other suggestions about inexpensive places to buy that are great places to live?
I am a Sicilian born and bred, who moved in London in his thirties.

I hold a degree from a northern Italian red brick university (I'd daresay the, in the specific field), I like to think about myself as a decently well taught chap, and Sicilian geography and history are between my preferred past times ever since I reached the age of reason, but nonetheless, when years ago I saw Cianciana featured in an episode of A place in the sun, I struggled to place it in my mental map.

It was only after I looked up in a real map that I remembered a date I had in my early twenties in Palermo with a girl from that town. The story goes so: Cianciana is close to a much bigger and I suspect nicer Sicilian city, Sciacca, from which hails one of my youth's friend, whom I had been sharing a flat with in Palermo, and who one day organized a treble date with those university student girls from Cianciana. I have never been to the place myself, but suffice to say the three only aim in life seemed to find a way, any way, to escape from that place. Thanks God, I wasn't going to be the ticket or had any part on that escape thereof, and I hope they did make it nonetheless, but he rided that risk quite closer than me, and I never ever accepted anymore any such invitations from such an otherwise totally reliable and enjoyable friend, while probably removing any reference to such a place from my memory.

The qualities, or lack thereof, of the local girls notwithstanding, I can imagine many more places where I would like to spend my time in Sicily, and that I would advise to people wishing to live in the island, well ahead of backward places such as Cianciana. Caccamo would possibly be a better choice than Cianciana, marginally, but again, it is beyond the pale that I would ever consider spending more than half day in the place (and you would not find me ever contemplating to spend half day in a place like Cianciana, under any imaginable circumstances).

All the inland area south of the coast between Palermo to Cefal├╣ and beyond is pretty depopulated, and I suspect dirty cheap, but I wouldn't advise it to a foreigner. It is also pretty distant from any airport. From a place like Caccamo, to reach Palermo Punta Raisi you would have to bypass Palermo's hellish traffic from side to side!

Siracusa, quoted in the thread, now that is a place I would like to spend much more time.

I would suggest a different area tough: the north-west. The area is enclosed between 2 international airports, one, Trapani Birgi with its tens of low cost European point to point routes is a great base to explore Europe on the cheap, the other, Palermo Punta Raisi, is connected to Rome Fiumicino and thence the world with something akin to an aerial bridge. While it is true that Catania Fontanarossa is even better connected, but the low cost option for the point to point travels around Europe is still not there (they have been working on it, but the Italian government has been successfully putting any conceivable obstacle to avoid the opening of the Comiso airport).

In San Vito you have the best Sicilian beach, then you have the Egadi islands, Erice, the Zingaro reserve, hundreds of square miles of hills after hills topped by vineyard upon vineyard, the area alternating with Bordeaux the title of being the major world producing wine district of the world. You could try to base yourself in Trapani in spring, before Easter as Easter Friday is the place to be in Trapani, and spend 6 months there, then maybe next year, try the same with Siracusa, and then decide (another nice area close to an airport is centered around Taormina, while Capo d'Orlando-Eolie or Sciacca-Agrigento-Licata are nice areas, but quite distant from any airport).

If you own real estate properties out of the Italian Republic, I would suggest you strongly not to spend more than 6 months in there, due their heavy handed wealth taxes (and unbelievable sanctions, if you miss to pay those).

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