Writing about it makes it sound more real, and it’s true. We’re going to Florence after the holidays to live there for a few months. While it was hard announcing it the first time (it does sound a little ridiculous at first), the more I think about it, the more assured I become.
While it does seem random, I am more convinced that the steps that led us here to this place were not, and I am looking forward to what’s coming next.
Here’s what happened up to this point:
We made the decision for Doug to take a year off from work. He had just turned 40 years old, and he has worked hard for 25 years. We thought it sounded like a good idea to step back and figure out what he would do for the next 25 years, as well as take some time together.
With our apartment lease ending, we were hoping to go live in a different city without having to consider where Doug needed to work. Without being tied down by a mortgage or a long-term lease, we could try a few of the cities we thought sounded like a nice place to live.
We thought about cities here in the States:
New York City
and so forth.
We looked at cabins, cottages, and corporate apartments. We thought about living close to the beach in Florida and freezing our buns off in a cabin in Maine.
What we found is that renting a furnished place for just a short time here can be really expensive. People want you to pay a lot to sit on their furniture. So one night when I was supposed to be finishing my ebook but instead I was checking Craigslist rental listings obsessively for what was probably the four hundredth time, a thought occurred to me:
“Why is it so expensive to rent a furnished apartment during the off season? For that much money we could go live in Italy or some place.”
And then it hit me. We really could go live in Italy.
This was in the middle of the night, so of course it struck me as a good idea, just like how rearranging the furniture and coloring my hair sounds good at 2 a.m.
We had already talked about moving overseas, and I had wanted to, but it sounded like more of a challenge than we were ready for with two small kids and Doug working constantly before he quit his job.
As I looked then again at other countries, I thought that we could really do this. And when I found a village farmhouse in Tuscany renting for less than a remote cabin in the Texas Hill Country, I didn’t see any reason not to go for it.
We expanded our search, and it wasn’t easy.
We needed a city that we could live in without a car and one with plenty of food options to accommodate special diets. I needed to be able to pick up the language enough that I could communicate our special food needs for our daughter with celiac and our family’s other diet restrictions. We wanted a short-term rental that could provide us with a kitchen, internet, a washing machine, a second bedroom for the kids, and even a bathtub would be nice. We wanted it to be a city that we could enjoy, that we knew we wouldn’t get tired of, where we could settle down and live for a bit instead of being tourists.
And then I remembered Florence, and how the last time I was there I wished I could spend a few months living there to see everything. Later we finally found one: a reasonable apartment that seemed to fit our wants and needs. You can see it on the map above.
The last time I went to visit that city I had only a guidebook, and this time I am floored by the resources available online. With every bit of knowledge we shape our next few months, and this shot-in-the-dark idea starts making more sense.
I do plan to blog about it, although I don’t expect this to become a travel blog. I think the content on Small Notebook will continue much as it has before – about living simply and making a home in a temporary place. And for now, I have some catching up to do, because I spent so much time looking for apartments until I couldn’t sit still in front of my computer anymore, and my inbox shows it.
But there’s a lot to look forward to.