How do You Live Abroad and Make Money?

I live in Italy for 8 months a year and the other 4 months I come back to the USA and work at a high season , high tourist resort job.  Since the cost of living is so low in Italy, even with the exchange rate, it is possible to rent something for $600-$1000 a month furnished including utilities.


You can rent a fully furnished apartment or room with utilities and internet for less than taxes and insurance on my home in Florida…which I liquidated and rent out to cover the mortgage.  Rent your home furnished if you can. You will get pennies for furniture and housewares anyway and it will save you a lot of hassle.  Don’t pay to store furniture.  It takes up a lot of space and you may never use it again.  Choose your renters carefully or hire an agency. They usually take the first month for finding a tenant and 10% for collecting the rent.  You will be surprised at who is renting these days.


Then, in the winter time, I return to the USA and work in a high season , high tourist job where I am tipped.  This way, I am living where the temperature is the best, the town is hopping and I am sure to get a job and tourists are abound with money to spend.  In winter, high tourist areas are Aspen, Key West or Palm Springs/Phx for example.  If you want to live in the Carribean or Mexico, your off season would be summer, so your high season would be Alaska, Hilton Head, Nantucket, Cape Cod or expensive resort town.


Take any job where you are tipped, so wait tables, cocktail, bar tend, hotel nanny, valet or bell hop, concierge, or beer babe on the golf course.  Choose your place based solely on how much money you can make in a short period of time, so you don’t have to work for the rest of the year.


Rent a room from a local in their home ( I have done well with Craigslist…you will be surprised who is renting out rooms to supplement their mortgages) – bring nothing but clothing and your car, if you kept it or take the bus.  So the key is to work as many hours as possible while keeping your cost of living to as low as possible. I have friends who are nurses and they take 3 month “traveling nurses” contracts that include housing and then stash the cash and return back to Italy.  Think of other seasonal work you could do that includes housing.


Before or after my “winter job”, I go see my family and really get to spend time together- like several weeks.  My Mom loves when I come, we get her whole ” Honey do list” for the year done in just a few weeks.”  When you do extended visits with friends or family, offer your time and talents.  You are home and can wait for a repair man for roof or A/C inspections.  Offer to take the car for service and sit and wait, or take the dog to the groomers.  I love to garden and paint, so I am happy to jump on those jobs.  I call it visiting without mooching!

Kelly’s Question


Kelly:  I am following a similar transition path as you and I am curious if you ever see a person like the person who you used to be, say a stylish blond driving in her Lexus SUV with her reflecting Gucci glasses, and think you might like to be there again or are you so happy that you are okay with the world you left behind. Just curious…



I am so happy and find “wealth and riches” in non material things. I do think it is tough to get off the money wheel and remain living in the US. Marketing is so strong that we really believe that happiness is in the next thing. In the US, we assign self worth to material things, your job and outward appearance. I look immediately beyond that and look at the person. If they are loving their life and work and the car is by-product of a joyful and abundant life, then PERFECT! For me, material possessions became a weight and never ending time/money pit.


I would not trade time, freedom and adventure for “stuff.” When I see a pretty car or jewelry, I can still admire it but there is no feeling of wanting to own it. I know that I would have to “trade” my freedom and time to earn the money to buy the “thing”, that I soon wouldn’t love as much and be on to the next thing. Where I live, the disparity between the haves and the have nots is very small. Everyone drives a Fred Flintstone car and business people in suits ride their bikes to work. Everything is old. I don’t feel like they have stuff and I don’t.


Replace what you are eliminating with a new activity or scenery in order not to feel lack or punishment.  Travel is an instant fix, that’s why moving automatically forces you to make a new lifestyle, so you won’t feel deprived but rejuventated by new surroundings.


If you didn’t have TV, at first it would feel very empty and boring at night, so replacing that with doing a puzzle, reading, music, painting or taking on line classes, working out or taking a walk outside after dinner.


Turn Down Time into Thinking and Gratitude Time!


Can you imagine getting up everyday and saying, “What do I want to do today rather than rushing through an overbooked day and chipping away at a never ending errand list which is only to maintain your stuff? Without possession, there is nothing to take care of. Now I make sure I am outside for the sunset, I love the birds chirping and having my morning coffee on the terrace.


Because of the language barrier, I must intentionally choose and find music, something to read and something to learn about. Read for learning, not something mindless, gossip or news. I am not bombarded and moving through life on autopilot. When you do your own thinking, you see the world differently.


Time and freedom are like a muscle that takes time and training to grow!

How I Moved to Italy Without Breaking the Bank



As a single, 44 year old woman, I moved to Tuscany even though I didn’t know anyone or the language. I rented a room from a woman in her home that I found on the internet. My purpose for going was to experience the Italian lifestyle and really live the way Italians do. I wanted to shop in the markets and cook, stroll the windy streets of the hill towns, nap in the afternoons, spend hours in galleries and, not rush through my days.


The first year, I went for 3 months. I brought 2 suitcases and a computer. My room was about $500 dollars a month and the rest I spent on buses/trains, museums, wine, a daily gelato and other food. The cost of living in Italy is very low, even though the Euro is not in our favor. I did not stay in a hotel, rent a car or eat in fancy restaurants. You can eat very well on a budget. Believe me, a bowl of pasta, pizza or other “street” food is very inexpensive and delicious.


In most places, the language is not a problem. Live abroad first, then see what you need to do about it later. You might start out in Italy and end up in Germany, Spain or France.
Know the weather. I went in May- so spring , then long hot summer days. Pack light! Keep it simple. 2 hands-2 luggages. 50 pounds each max for the flight. My carry-on is a backpack that I can fit my small pursue inside.

Renting a car is expensive ($500 a week) and driving is a competition sport! If you have one, it will make getting around easier but not in the cities. Parking is a problem everywhere. Make sure you can park it where you live. You do not need an International drivers license to drive a rental, but you do if you are driving a local’s car. I did not drive the first year, but I do now.


I didn’t work or try to “recreate” my old life. I didn’t have TV and limited my contact with the outside world. The isolation forced me to think on my own and not be bombarded with the opinions of others. I was extremely careful what media I let into my world. It is hard to reset your internal clock without taking a break from over stimulation. I replaced this with purposeful reading, journaling, learning about art, music, language, history and architecture. I reveled in the enjoyment of having no schedule. I explored my area, rode my bike and watched and learned how the Italians love life.


You can go to Italy (all of the European Union (UE) as a visitor for 3 months without any special visas, but you can’t work, vote or get healthcare, just as a foreigner coming to the USA. I ended up staying 5 months the first year without a problem.To find a room to rent or apartment, check out: . There are other sites, like (you can change it to English)


My criteria:
Near Florence (I ended up near Arezzo)

Walking distance to bus and/or on the train line.

 All inclusive- furnished with utilities

Host speaks English

If you are going with a partner, you can easily find an apartment. As a single, I liked living with another person and did it several times. The first year, I rented for a month at a time so I could try different areas. I lived in the countryside, then in Florence, and then at the seaside, just to try out different areas and discovered I liked the countryside. Remember, you are not buying the place, just passing through. Stay open minded. Everything is different and funky. It’s a bit like living in the 1950’s.


I’ve found that too many choices make us unhappy too, so enjoy the simplicity.
I never looked as it as a vacation but more as a “reinventing” of my live and focused on the quality of how I wanted to spend my days. My only child was off in college, I was divorced from long term marriage and my fiancé died of heart attack. I knew I did not want to spend the rest of my life chasing a dollar and that a house and job did not mean security and one knows how it is all going to play out.


My goal was to live within my means and then I figured out how to sustain it!


1. Go first for an extended period of time, and really get into your city/area.

2. Do not bring more luggage than you can handle without assistance.

3. Rent all inclusive. Furniture/utilities/sheets/pots and pans.

4. Be open and friendly. Talk to everyone.

5. You are not inventing the wheel. There are expats everywhere. Learn from them. If there is a way to do something, they have already figured it out.

6. Seek the experience of being alive…which is always changing.

7. Freedom and time are like a new sport and require training.



Living Abroad Will Change How You Think


Living in Italy or abroad will change who you are and how you view yourself and life.  It is the best thing I have ever done.  I am happy to talk to you about pursuing this idea, here on line.  It is so doable, although most think is it out of our reach.  I feel like I live a much better lifestyle for far less money than I did in the USA.  I love my country …but there is another way.


My biggest attraction is the lack of hurry.  Thought, pride and energy are put into the simplest things.  Italians do have a flair…for just about everything. We live purposefully and slowly, enjoying the everyday things. We are not bombarded with choices, which frees up our minds.


I love that everything is old, so the need to remodel, change out, upgrade, trade-in, and change is removed.  We do focus on the change of season, which means the foods we eat and the activities we do.  Summer is to enjoy the outdoors, go to the seaside and garden fresh foods.  Fall is festival time, grape and olive harvests.


And I love the rhythm of the day with its up and down of energy. Rise at 8, work 9-1pm, lunch and nap, work 4-8pm, dinner at home, then walk in the piazza for a coffee or a chat. Now it stays light until 9:30 pm or so.  In my old life, I would rise at 5am, hit the gym, car pool/commute , work 9-6pm, grabbing a quick light lunch, commute/a glass of wine to unwind while I made dinner, asleep in front of the tv by 9 or 10.  It is impossible to be productive all day.  Longer days is not the answer, but managing energy and focused action makes much more sense.  No one really talks about what you do for a job, but everyone talks about food.


Why not live for 6 months and work for 6? Just like a foreigner moving to the USA, you need a work visa.  I suggest you go to Italy, rent a room in someone’s home or rent a furnished apartment for a 1-3 months and live the Italian lifestyle.  Check out or (change it to English).  I did it for 3 months the first year and had the time of my life. Not working gave me a chance to reset my internal clock and learn to live without constant stimulation. Busyness is a trick of ego and makes you feel important or accomplished when all you do is run in a circle.  Europeans do less and accomplish  more.  I did it with very little money because I rented out my home and reduced all my monthly bills to a cell phone, health insurance and storage unit.


The cost of living in Italy is very low even though the exchange rate is not in our favor.  Without a car, tv, and other luxuries discised as necessities, I found I could live cheaper than by keeping my home, properly tax, house insurance, car payment, car insurance, pool guy, yard guy, cleaning lady, cable, health club membership, cc membership, hair and nail appts, etc.


It is a different way of life but I replaced the “money wheel” with time, freedom, adventure and travel.  Now I collect experiences, not stuff.

Ever Dream of Living in Italy?


“Right now, it is readily feasible to live abroad on about a $1,000- $1500 a month. I have been living it for 5 years.”

At 44 I decided to reinvent her life and jumped of the treadmill of the American Dream and travelled across country in an RV from PA to Alaska, sailed the Caribbean and spent the summer in Tuscany and is still going.


“Once you make the decision,” she says, “your view of the world changes. From then on you think, ‘I am moving. I am mobile and travel light. I need nothing. Everything is negotiable. I choose to spend my time differently. I choose to spend money differently. I choose to live my life differently.’


You choose to decide what is best for you, not what others think is best for you.”

Would you rather have a plane ticket or a mortgage?
Would you rather have freedom or a paycheck?
Would you rather have a backpack or walk-in closet?
Would you rather have a passport filled with stamps or a bank book filled with money?
Would you rather live your dream watch it on reality TV?


It really is about mindset. I wanted a different life, not to re-create my life in another country with a job, mortgage, car and commitments. If is very difficult to make these changes in the USA. In Italy, everything was different, so I didn’t feel deprived.


If I said no TV, dining out, driving, living on peanuts, and such, I would feel deprived back in Orlando. In Italy, like most of Europe, most are middle to lower class, so most people around you live the same way but they know how to “treat” themselves daily with a coffee at a cafe 1 euro or a gelato at 2 euro a day. I replaced things I gave up with art, music, learning and reveling in the ancient. It will take me the rest of my life to learn all there is here. My days are full of adventure and learning,,,,who cares about sit coms, maintaining a house, celebrity gossip, saving money I may never see or get to spend and fear monger newscast?



I gave them up. Liquidated my possessions are rented it out to cover the costs. I would sell it if I could but Florida is a bit stuck at the moment and I have renters who pay for which I am soo grateful. I also stopped all reoccurring charges and now have 3 monthly bills. Cell phone ($40), storage unit ($68) and healthcare ($253).


If you don’t spend it , you don’t have to earn it. I went from bringing in about $6000 a month and spending about $6000 including all expenses to spending $1000 a month. Even if I paid my mortgage off, it would still cost me in taxes and insurance about $750 a month to live in my house, without any maintenance or repairs which is a totally wild card. Staying in my paid off home costs more than living in Italy.


Because the cost of living is so low in Italy, you can live frugally for about $1000- $1500. Earning a living is a different sorry. Salaries are low and unless you have a visa, you work illegally, which I don’t recommend. So, come to Italy with dollars, even though the exchange is not in our favor, and live like an Italian.  If you are 2 people, your can still rent a room or an apt, depends on city vs countryside for way less than in the USA and not work.  It would be very difficult to do this in Orlando, where I am from without feeling deprived. Because I am replacing time , freedom and adventure, for the illusion of security in a house, job and familiar surroundings, I feel alive, evolving and growing rather than bored and stuck in a dull routine of repetition.