Why did we move to Sardinia?
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 didnít 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.
A Place to Call Home
Both of us have individually discovered through the course of our lives 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 canít 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.
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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 at 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.
Making it Work
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 the Internet in the states; here we pay about $30 for all of that, including 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.
Have you ever thought of moving to another country? Do your values coincide with where you live? If you could move somewhere that was more aligned with your values where would it be, and why?
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.
More Related Posts:
Live Like a Sardinian: The Key to Longevity
Sardinia, Land of Many Faces
Taking A Walk in Our Sardinian Neighborhood
No Guilt (How Sardinia Helped Me Deal With My Unhealthy Relationship With Food)
Traditional Sardinian Food: Malloreddus and Maialetto
Sardinia’s Ancient Olive Trees
Wonderful article Jenn! I honor your sharing your personal stories as well as creating the life you want. Truly you turned a difficult situation into something so positive. What an inspiration you and Roberto are. And thanks for all the facts about Sardegna. I didn’t realize how affordable it could be there. ❤️
Thank you so much for your comment Jeni <3 We still have a long way ahead of us, but we've learned a few things about tenacity and perseverance and those are good lessons to have. Yes, Sardegna is surprisingly inexpensive. Most people make their entire living in the few months while the tourists are here. Even some of the grocery stores raise prices. If you don't have a seasonal job, then you'd better come up with your own thing, because the downside is that there are very few jobs here, especially in smaller towns that really only exist for tourism. It would be nice if there was more of a balance, but I am glad that tourism is so big here because now more Sardinians can actually live here. For example, Roberto's parents left the island for work, because the island economy was so bad back in the 60's and 70's. But now it is possible to make a living here for Sardinians because they built up the tourism industry so much in the past decades.
I’m enjoying your transition and wish you well. I can’t think of a better reason that wanting roots for your family to relocate. We’re on the opposite end, hoping to relocate in retirement. I’m drawn to where my great grandfather was born although I have no known family there. Best to you as you make your new path!
Thanks so much Kelly! <3 Relocating was NOT an easy decision, but neither was the part of life that lead us to push forward into making it. Life is such an adventure! I am excited to hear more about yours.
Hi Jenn ~
Another country hopper here ? US to UK and while I do feel at home after half of my life lived searching, I’m aiming for calling Wales home one day should the gods smile upon me ?. I find all of your posts so interesting, and agree with Jeni (above) that it’s fascinating learning about your little part of Italy.
Hi Kelly! Thank you so much for your comments! I didn’t know you were an expat too! How long have you been living in the UK?
Coming up to 17 years ?
Thanks for sharing your story Jenn! It’s amazing how so many of us ended up here, in the same spot, yet we have such different stories! Mine is quite different…my father is from Sardinia but moved to Canada at 26 years old. As a child, we would come here for the summers (every 3-4 years) so this island has always been a second home to me. As much as I feel at home here, I do have an amazing life at home – a great job, strong relationship with family and many friends…which makes it all so much harder to take the plunge. We are here temporarily (as a trial) for a few years (my husband’s work brought us here!). I was an elementary school teacher in Canada, and here I’m still a teacher – a yoga teacher! I’ve opened my own studio in Arzachena. I guess, time will tell for us! I love hearing other people’s stories on how then ended up on this island…we all have our motives though for staying, or going! ;-)
I love hearing your story too. I agree it is amazing to hear all the different ways we are connected to this magical place. I love that you are a food blogger too, I just followed you in a bunch of places! :) I’m excited to hear about your yoga journey as well -I always say yoga changed my life in some many good ways.
Your words speak right to my heart! I have been reading post after post and thinking how spot on your words, feelings, and thoughts are in my own situation.
I am American, by birth, but grew up in Europe. My husband is English through and through. We currently live in the States Bc he wanted to “experience” this side of the pond. Unfortunately we have ended up here for all 7.5/8.5 years of our marriage—much to my dismay. Many places in Europe would finally allow my mind and soul to find peace and comfort, so I am not extremely picky about where. Denmark would be pretty amazing though!
We have a 6 eat old son and I yearn for him to be surrounded by the culture, history, food, language(s), access to easy travel, a more well rounded world view, and more “socialist” society. If it was just up to me, I would pick our family (and dog) up and move today. Of course, the financial considerations of basic things such as a job or job offer prevent that from happening right now. It is for this reason that I decided to quit my corporate job last November and focus on my freelance copywriting business—with the hopes that we can just move.
I love hearing about the simplicity and beauty of your experience. I admire your choice to give your children access to the past and its traditions. Your battle with food also strikes a cord with me. As an independent food and culinary hiatorian (and home cook), I have a passion for food but have always struggled with body image as well. Your candor about your struggle made me feel like I am not alone. Thank you.
Thank you so much, Crystal, I really appreciate your comments! The best thing I have learned about being more open with some of my harder experiences is that I have realized no matter how hard it is, we are rarely ever alone, and there are so many people out there to support us in our struggles and help us come out the other side. It is really hard to know where to live sometimes, especially when you are in an international marriage and have children. There is no easy answer, or one size fits all solution. I hope you will be able to make it back to Europe though since that is what your heart wants <3
A friend of mine just sent me the link to your blog, because I too, am living the American expat life in Sardinia, raising my 4 year old boy and 2 dogs here with my Sardinian husband. I’d love to connect with you! Your blog is beautiful and it’s always nice to share experiences with other like minded individuals who’ve been through some of the same changes including the challenges! We are a bit south west of you all, in Province of Oristano.
So great to hear from you! Can’t wait to dig into your blog!
This idea has been brewing with the wife and I since around 2006 I was looking into my family name “Loya”( AKA “Loia” AKA “Loggia”) and some genealogy buffs led me to believe that my name is from Sardinia. Never really got past that. Seen any Via Loya’s around town? Thoroughly enjoyed what I’ve read thus far and I look forward to reading more as we weave the dream of finally being there. Hope to hear from you soon
Hi Jesse, Great to hear from you. I’m not familiar with that name, but you never know – keep looking into it, you never know what you’ll find. Genealogy is so much fun. If you like history, there is nothing better than unlocking your own family history. Have you ever visited Sardinia?
What about the education? Is it worthy to move there with kids? I am so concerned about the schools and education. My kids are in Primary school.
Hello! Thank you for your review about living in Sardinia!
I live in Berlin, Germany right now. In 2016 I had 10 days holiday in Sardinia and it made me miss Sardinia.
First of all, I am happy that you told about your bankrupty and have survived in such a wonderful way, because it gave me hope, too.
I moved to Berllin from Finland some years ago. Berlin is a wonderful place but recently I have strted to miss more nature and sun. In Finland we have nature, too, that is another option to me. But Sardinia and the sun and the sea is in my mind! I love handicrafts and arts and I remember that something left undone in Sardinia to me.
So, I started to find out how it would be live in Sardinia – and found your article. I am building my internet business, so, I will not be forced to live in any special place. My biggest requirement is that the place is beautiful – and Sardinia is. Also of, course, people are important and because I have only good experiences about Sardinian people, I have no doubts about it. Also I noticed that surprisingly my name, Sanna, is common there… In Sassari, there is “Muzeum Nationale Di Sanna”. :)
So, you think that it could success? How about language? I have three cats – I’d bring them with me. How people like about animals there? I remember that many had little dogs. Of course, the Corona situation might now give some limits.
I wish you are fine, all your family!
Thank you so much for your comment, Sanna, and I completely agree with you, very few places surpass the beauty of Sardinia. Although I am very interested in visiting Finland sometime in the future, as to me it looks like one of the most beautiful places. Plus aI love Finnish food. If you are independent, meaning you don’t need to get a job in Sardinia to survive, I think it could work for you. People run into trouble when they need to find work on the island, as much is seasonal. As far as I have seen people have a lot of pets. We have a small dog, and he loves his life in Sardinia!
Thank you so much for sharing your story! As you have children, do you mind sharing your thoughts on the schools in Sardegna? My husband and I are considering a relocation and this is one area we wish we had more information on. Thanks!
My daughter had a really good experience with her school, but I hear that it varies depending on where you live on the island. Best of luck to you with your plans!
I have been trying to find information about my father’s family in Sardinia. Even though I have never been to Italy, I feel as if it is my home!! I am finally planning a trip and have been learning more and more about Sardinian culture and my ancestors. My family name is Campus. I heard that it is a popular name and the Campus family were well known landowners. My father and his parents and siblings left when he was just 6 months old and I am having trouble finding out more. I found your blog while doing a google search and I love that you are living and immersing yourself in the culture. Going to Sardinia has been my dream for as long as I can remember! ❤️
Hi Nancy! This is incredible. The town we live in is full of Campus families! It is definitely a common surname in this region (the north of Sardinia/ Gallura). Hope you can make it here soon! it would be nice to meet another relative! :)