So, yeah. We’re moving to Italy with the kids.

Today we bought our plane tickets, so we’re one big step closer to our year in Italy!

About 15 years ago Christine and I talked about our life plan. We talked about wanting to have a bunch of kids (we only have 4 so far, but we’re also still in line for adoption and considering foster kids when the 4 we have now are older)… but we also talked about our excitement to take a sabbatical and travel with kids and live in a different country.

Siena Duomo
This cathedral is a 15m walk from our apartment in Siena. Photo by: Giorgos Vintzileos

Why now?

We wanted to go once everyone was out of diapers, and before anyone got to high school. Tristan is 4 and Max is 11, so the time is ripe.

Why Italy?

We wanted a country that none of us spoke the language so that we couldn’t lean on someone as an excuse not to learn. We were leaning towards Europe, but also interested in Central/South America. I liked the idea of rural Peru because of all the places I’ve visited the kids were the happiest there. Even when doing chores.

But ultimately the kids decided. When we talked about it, they remembered Italy from a couple of years before and asked if we could go there, so we said “sure”.

What are you going to do there

The main purpose is to change things up. Experience new things. Refresh our world-view. And of course to focus on family. Spend time with each other. Travel. Eat. Cook. I LOVE work so I’ll probably find plenty to keep me busy. Maybe write a book, or self-publish the last book I wrote instead of pestering agents and publishers and such. Maybe start a new business. Maybe do some contract work. I am giving a talk in Barcelona in September. My mom planning on visiting for a couple of months (two trips). Max wants to visit Greece, so we’ll be doing that at some point… and yeah it’ll be awesome.

What about Gravity Switch?

Gravity Switch is in great hands. Tess and Rachael have been pretty much running it for the past couple of years. Other than Nuance and SNHU Christine and I haven’t been involved with any of our larger clients in years. The past month I’ve been shedding remaining roles. Some of them are important (like tech support and hiring) but not rocket science and Tess, Rachael and Emily are picking things up quickly. I should have put them in charge of me years ago!

It’s been so much fun to see them take on new things and nail them…

So where are we in the process?

House and Rental Property

  • The office is rented to Gravity Switch, and we have a long-term tenant in the second floor (UMass CompSci), and we just rented the third floor out, so that’s all good. Steve Sanderson has always been our go-to guy for emergencies, so we just made it official. We’re paying him to be our property manager, and have a number of great contractors, so we’re not worried about anything on that front. Everyone pays with Google Wallet so the money just shows up in our bank accounts, and we can pay Steve electronically.
  • Our house is rented. We tried RentNoho and they were pretty sloppy and only got us one person to look at the house in two months, so Emily found a place to list sabbatical houses and we got a bunch of leads, including a really great couple who will be renting our house for a year while they build on some property they bought in the area. Steve also agreed to manage 116 so that’s in good hands. Besides Erik and Marlene are co-owners and are still living in the other half of the house.


So apparently Americans need a visa to stay in Europe for more than 90 days and there isn’t a tourist visa after 90 days.

Who knew?

We’ve been to Boston 5 times to try to get visas and have another appointment in a week. It’s been crap honestly. If I could have done one thing differently in this process I would have started going through grandparents and tried to get eurpoeen citizenship 2 years go. My grandparents are 2nd generation americans, so in theory they can get Canadian and British passports. Once they have them, my mom can, then me and the kids. With either of those we have more freedom in Europe.

I think we’re in good shape. Christine already has a student visa (she’s going to learn Italian, so studious of her). But we’ve been fighting for a visa with not much luck. Finally Elena (who babysits for us) bugged us to call someone at the congressman’s office she volunteers at. 24 hours later we got a call from the consulate and they actually answered questions and told us what we needed and helped us get paperwork!

Like magic…

What else

Definitely let me know if you have questions but otherwise we’re just packing our life into our basement (well Christine is). We rented the house furnished so it’s just little things. We’re trying to get school records. The kids will be in public schools in Italy… it’s about 6 blocks from the house, and there’s a park and playground about 4 blocks in the other direction. None of us speak much Italian but we’ve all tinkered with Duolingo. We are hoping we’ll get some visitors. We love company and hope a few people will consider visiting us. Not sure how great the accommodations will be. The apartment we’re renting is furnished so we’ll have something.

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3 thoughts on “So, yeah. We’re moving to Italy with the kids.

  1. That’s awesome you can do this! Best of luck to you and your family!!
    My friend and her husband, no kids, is taking a sabbatical too, and she mentioned seeing this article…We have 2 kids, I am currently unemployed and my husband owns his own business. I am the primary earner.
    A couple of questions I have: should I assume you earn a good income wherever you are? And…will your kids be going to an English speaking/American school?

    Thanks for your thoughts!


    1. Wanda,

      A couple of questions I have: should I assume you earn a good income wherever you are?

      We’ve both been working MANY MANY hours for 15 years and saving up for this (single car family, small appartment with housemates for many years, etc.). We have one real-estate property, and are renting our house for more than our monthly rent here in Siena. We will make *some* money from our business while away, but we’re planning dipping into savings by about $100,000 this year.

      And…will your kids be going to an English speaking/American school?

      No, they’re enrolled in Italian public schools. Still working on school for the 4-year-old.


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