I finally got my “Residenza” or residence here in Santa Teresa!
Many people both here in Sardinia and back home in the states wonder why we moved our family of five (plus the dog) to Sardinia. Even though people move to different cities or parts of their countries every day, people still marvel when you move continents.
There is no simple answer, but if there were it would be to align our values and our chosen home. Let me explain. Here are the 2 main personal values that pushed us to make such a huge change in our lives.
Both Roberto and I believe strongly in the value of tradition and cultural heritage. We love art, history, language, music, and cuisine, and living somewhere where those things are not only important but also truly treasured and protected by the lifeblood of the people who live there are aligned with our way of thinking.
Neither of us grew up where our people are from. For me, I was adopted, and even though both of my families are from the same region in the same state, I didn’t grow up there either. I loved the parts of my childhood when we went to visit my grandparents and were surrounded by relatives. I loved family meals that focused on traditional foods. I have also found a profoundly strong connection to the places where my ancestors are from when I have had the chance to visit, and I always want to learn more about the places where those that came before me were from.
For Roberto he was born here in Sardinia, but his family moved to Rome when he was a boy, and he grew up there, but always wishing he had grown up here.
Both of us have individually discovered through the course of our lives a longing for a place that feels like home; a place that we belong to, and that belongs to us. It is as if part of our own selves is missing. Something in us that wants to be rooted somewhere, but can’t quite find the place.
This is not a feeling we want either of our children to experience. We believe that the way the world has become so transient is very un-grounding for people in general, leaving many anchorless and lost. Sometimes there is so much choice it is overwhelming and not productive. Just as an example, look at the various diets, and ways of eating people are presented with every New Year. It shows how disconnected Americans are from our own traditions; whereas, for example, in Italy people are still very much tied to their very regional cuisine and will give up pasta and bread over their dead bodies.
So we came to a place that still has strong cultural traditions because it is healthy for our family. Our kids are half Sardinian and therefore are a part of this island and it is a part of them. Their surname is literally on products and street signs here. Living here is a good way for them to go through their lives with a sense of being grounded, and to have a home to always come back to no matter where life leads them. Our intention as their parents is to make it work here so that they always have this place. It is also my job to make sure they speak English and know they are American by celebrating all the American holidays and staying in touch with family and friends back home. That includes, once things get better financially, for us to take regular trips back to the states.
Since I am adopted, and American, with family in several different states, there is no one place for me to call home, for our family to go back to, to build roots. But for Roberto and the kids, it is Sardinia, and so Sardinia is the closest thing I have to call home now too.
Quality of Life vs. Cost of Life
2017 was a very hard year for many people I know. There was a lot of loss. For us, we went bankrupt and lost our home to foreclosure after losing the business we had for 8 years.
When you lose everything, you get a chance to start fresh and make new decisions to map out the course of your life. It is a tough lesson but can be ultimately very valuable.
After 2 years of trying to find “normal jobs” in our fields in the states, and figuring out living costs if we moved to where those jobs were, we realized we would be stuck in an unending rat race, and we would be living in a place just for a job. Again, we’d be without family, or any ties to the place beyond money to pay the bills. I guess it was a good thing none of those jobs worked out in the end.
In Sardinia, the cost of living is much less. An average family makes 25K per year and gets to live in an ancient and mysterious land surrounded by the azure Mediterranean Sea. Jobs here are virtually non-existent, and when they are, they are seasonal.
So you have to look to your skills to make it work here. We have begun digging into our creative projects again. I am writing books and Roberto is illustrating, designing and formatting them. I am creating a line of needle felted folklore figures, while Roberto does his wood burning, and works on commissioned projects in our Etsy store. We are starting a small publishing house for independent
authors, which we hope to roll out in the next few months. Sometimes we do side projects, and I am looking into tutoring English. We are looking into teaching business English and how to do business in the American market at a business school here in Sardinia. These are all things we love, and they are our gods-given talents. The thing about living where the cost of living is low is that making money through a lot of smaller ventures is enough to have a decent life here, something we could not have considered in the states.
Now that we have focused our efforts on which projects are most in demand things are starting to move forward. We feel hopeful about the future and while we still have a long way to go the climate here is milder, so we can spend more time outside with the kids. There are a ton of local beaches, which are just as fun in the wintertime. Our town has an adorable and clean playground for the kids to play, and we have relatives in town. All of this is free and easy to enjoy.
The food here is also incredible, and cheap. Our food budget is half of what it was when we were in the states, about $350-400 per month for a family of 5 if you want to really stretch it. The growing season is longer here, and so there are always fresh fruits and vegetables, so they cost much less. We eat pasta every day, and it is less than .25 per serving. Italy was named the World’s Healthiest Country by Bloomberg in 2017. Sardinia, in particular, has the largest population over 100 years old in the world. In fact, the oldest person in the world right now is from Sardinia. This clearly shows that Sardinia is doing something right in terms of lifestyle and how it affects health.
Utilities are also much less here. We spent almost $200 a month on phones and Internet in the states; here we pay about $30 for all of that, including a landline and television. This all makes your money go farther.
If you take that budget to the US, you find you can live on that little, but in some pretty undesirable places. It is hard to get by these days no matter where you live, but we decided if we were going to make it work with little income, we could do much worse than Sardinia.
It is not easy to uproot everything and go to a new place, but sometimes circumstances in life cause you to rethink everything and make adjustments to what is no longer working or serving.
If you don’t live in a place that jives with your ethics and values, try to focus on the values that are most important to you, and come up with some daily practices to keep them alive.