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American Entrepreneur Finds Affordable Dream Home in Sicily

Published December 26, 2023
7 months ago

Embracing the allure of Sicily's rustic charm and cost-effective lifestyle, Stephanie Synclair, a 41-year-old business owner from Atlanta, Georgia, redefined the American dream by purchasing a spacious fixer-upper in a quaint Italian town for about $62,000.

Synclair's fascination with Sicily burgeoned during a visit in 2012 with her son. Little did she know, this enamorment would burgeon into a resolution to create a life on the Mediterranean island that was both affordable and fulfilling. Amidst skyrocketing property prices at home, she began considering overseas locales where her American dollar could stretch further, eventually setting her sights on Mussomeli, a town enticing foreign investment with 1 euro homes.

Her discovery was not just a fluke find but a testament to the reward of diligence and bold decision-making. Running her tea company, LaRue 1680, garnering a steady $80,000 annual income, Synclair evaluated the numbers and realized that homes in her desired Atlanta neighborhoods were prohibitively expensive. Mussomeli's offer, though, was right within her $450,000 budget for overseas properties.

In partnership with a local real estate agency, the entrepreneur found her three-bedroom, 4,000-square-foot gem. Although the property was not one of the 1 euro homes — which often require extensive and expensive renovations — it was nonetheless a deal. She set aside €20,000 (about $21,000) for renovations, planning to convert the existing garage into a lively living space, complete with a bar area, and to add another bedroom and bathroom.

The financial benefits of her Mediterranean move don't end with the initial investment. Synclair's monthly living expenses in Mussomeli are a mere fraction of her outlays in Atlanta. Stateside, she spends approximately $2,635 on housing and utilities, plus $1,165 on transportation. Contrastingly, her Sicilian abode incurs only about $258 in utilities and internet, while a car rental and gas, as of her last payment, totaled just $389.

Retirement, a stage of life that seems increasingly elusive for many Americans given the current economic climate, appears more accessible to Synclair. Experts often advise beginning retirement savings early to reap the benefits of compound growth, and while Synclair initiated her savings journey in her thirties, she's amassed an impressive nest egg through diligent saving habits and investment strategies. Her accounts boast about $14,000 in savings, $33,000 in a Roth IRA, and $950,000 in a brokerage account.

Though a multimillion-dollar retirement fund might be necessary to sustain a comfortable life in the U.S., Synclair anticipates she will only require roughly $450,000 to comfortably retire in Sicily. She envisions a laid-back lifestyle filled with dining, travel, and leisure, all feasible at an estimate of $18,000 per year in Mussomeli.

Synclair's story is more than a personal triumph; it reflects a growing trend where individuals seek alternatives to the conventional American retirement plan. As she continues to live part-time in Atlanta, earning her income, and part-time in Sicily, enjoying the fruits of her labor, her bi-continental life sows inspiration for those reimagining what retirement can look like beyond American borders.

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