I want to live in Sardinia – answering your questions

Jennifer Avventura My Sardinian Life (8)Once in a blue moon this little blog receives an email about the cost of living in Sardinia, Italy and today I am answering one readers email.

Dear JP,

Thank you for your kind words, I appreciate that you follow along My Sardinian Life and I hope I can shed some light on your decision to move to Sardinia, Italy.

Your questions answered:

“Based on various information, most importantly your blog, it seems to me living a simple life in Sardinia would cost us (couple with a little one on the way) 12K€ per year. That is, including rent, insurance, food, transport (thankfully we can drive since we’re EU), etc. There doesn’t seem to be any rent under 350 euro/month on the various immo web sites, insurances would add a hundred, 400 for food, 50 for gas, leaving a hundred for the rest & incidentals. Seeing the GDP per capita is less then 20K, it seems to me that jobs paying 1000 net per month are not to be found on Sardinia. So my first question would be: do you think we are completely off the charts with our budgeting 12K/yr for a simple life in Sardinia?

Searching for the simple life in Sardinia can be done but will need patience and hard work.

Rent

Any apartments closer to the sea will cost you more. If you move away from the sea even just 15 minutes you can lower your monthly rent by a good €50. Also, don’t be afraid to haggle with your landlord about prices. If you decide to move to Sardinia in the middle of August expect rent to soar! Try moving here sometime between September – March when most rentals are empty.

Food

We are a two person household and I spend about €120 a week on groceries. This includes: food, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, paper towels, shampoos & soaps. Food is expensive in Sardinia. Yesterday my husband came home from the local farmers with: 3 melons, 2 watermelons, a crate of figs, 2 onions, one giant peach, 4 cucumbers and 5 zucchini, he paid €25 – at a discounted rate.

Gas

Gas is cheaper in the larger cities like: Sassari, Tempio, Cagliari and Nuoro. If you find yourself in an out-of-the-way little town with a car running on fumes expect to pay at least .20c more. We live in a small little town and if I look out my window I can see the price of gas: €1.77 a litre.

Jobs

I work in the hospitality industry which is very seasonal (only two months a year) in Sardinia and I make €1500 a month. This is because I have over 23 years experience serving the public and I speak English. I would never settle for €1000 a month. Others that are doing the same job as me are making between €1000 – €1700 a month. Be ready to haggle for your salary like I have done.

In the off-season I teach English to school aged children and I charge €15 an hour. Those with a degree in English charge anywhere from €20 – €45 an hour.

Do I think you are completely off the charts with budgeting 12K/yr for a simple life in Sardinia? No. But I would try to find a job considering you have a little one on the way.

Like you our Italian is cosicosi, then again, we’d need to speak the local dialect more then Italian. You say on your blog for the kind of jobs you are looking for you need Italian. I’m wondering, how well does one get away with basic Italian in daily life? Outside of your town, are you being looked at as a tourist as soon as you “open your mouth” and being treated as a tourist, or is integrating with the locals and being treated as one feasible? What is your experience having lived there a few years? Can one feel “at home” after a while and be treated as “a local”?

I don’t speak the local dialect to anyone but my husband and nor should you. Most locals are offended if you speak dialect. Study Italian and study a lot. Every Sardinian speaks Italian and will understand you when you are at their shop ordering chicken cutlets for dinner. Learning and understanding the dialect will come with time and patience but its most important to learn Italian first. Just forget that a local dialect even exists.

I’ve now been in Sardinia 5.5 years. The first year(s) I was treated like a tourist but that soon faded when the locals saw my face every morning in their shops. I am now considered half Sardinian and I have integrated myself into their lives with much patience, understanding and a few flubbed upped words. Locals are more curious about your life and who you are. They are very welcoming, kind and completely honest but you must make the first move. Be sure to say buongiorno when entering shops even if you don’t see anyone.

Well JP, I hope this answers your questions. Please fell free to add any more questions in the comment section below.

And to any of my Sardinian followers: if you have any insight for JP and his family please speak up.

Kind regards

Jennifer Avventura

About Jennifer Avventura

Canadian Freelance writer living in Sardinia, Italy. A serial expat who lived in Australia, England and Cayman Islands. She eats Nutella with a spoon and hides under the bed during lightning storms. When she's not out running 6k you will find her sitting at the computer - writing her novel and searching for worldwide waitress work.
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18 Responses to I want to live in Sardinia – answering your questions

  1. JP says:

    WOW Jennifer. THANK YOU so much for sharing your experience.

    I’m trying to synthesise the financial picture, can you let us know where we have it wrong?

    First income:

    If I understand well and considering the idea we have of the cost of living, salaries seem OK after all. I mean, 1500 net a month seems to cover the basics well. There wouldn’t be a lot of savings, but we’re not moving to Sardinia to become wealthy.

    So with a 1500 net we’d seem OK, if it was coming in from a year round job.

    From what you’re saying, a great deal of jobs in Sardinia are only paid for during the 2-3 month tourist hustle with crumbles here and there during the rest of the year. This makes the prospect of 1500*3 for a year truly scary.

    So with many residents only paid during the season when tourism booms and needs them, leaving unemployment spiking the rest of the year, I guess the scarce jobs would go first to uncles and aunties so to speak, leaving non Sards belly up?

    We’d be able to stay for a year, but that’s the maximum time we’d have to secure a stable year round job in the 1500 net or better category.

    Second spending:

    With all the agriculture on the island we thought most of the year agricultural produce would be quite a bit cheaper. It seems things costs just as much if not more on Sardinia as on the market in Torino, Brussels, Paris,… I guess for the same price one gets better quality, fresher fruit and veg on Sardinia.

    I would have expected, Sardinia being an island with the sea never very far away, that fish would be abundant and financially accessible.
    I would have expected, Sardinia allegedly having more goats then people, that some meat would be abundant and financially accessible.

    So basically, we thought outside the busy tourism season the island would be self-sufficient food wise, with plenty of exports of value added agri products to the mainland.

    In one of your earlier posts (I think it was on your blog, can’t find it back right now) I think you said fish and meat are rather expensive compared to the average mainland? If so, do you know what the state is of agriculture and fisheries on Sardinia? Is there really a lot of it or is this a sector that is struggling or diminishing creating the need for expensive imports and logistics?

    Third: the Sard future?

    We’ve been reading so many press articles about Sardinia scrapping VAT and excise taxes from October 2013 onwards. There would also be talk of lowering employment tax specifically for Sardinia, with the mainland anxiously nodding “no way”. Taking the Italian press with an advisable grain of salt, and you living on the island, how much of this do you hear/think is true? And if it is true, are the Sards in your experience more inclined in lowering everything (so lowering the salaries because the cost of living comes down because there is less tax) or giving oxygen to the economy by keeping the same salaries and the reduced taxes really meaning locals will have more to spend?

    Maybe we’re asking too many questions and should dive into it and do it. But with a little one on the way and little financial lee-way, we’re trying to be thorough. Thank you for your thoughts and experiences!

  2. I love hearing other people’s viewpoints on life in Sardinia. JP, I lived here over 7 years ago (for four years) and I have to say I had a hard time adjusting. I wasn’t used to the long (summer) hours and low wages…and this was just when the euro was introduced. My husband and I visit every summer (with your two children) and we find it more and more expensive every year! Maybe it’s because we are on holiday but we do try to watch what we spend. Having said that, you can’t deny that it is very expensive here and you really need to watch what you spend! I remember, back in the day, the joys of waiting for that end-of-the-month cheque (so inconvenient!!) with only a few euro in my bank account…no overdraft, no credit card! It was tough to say the least! I’m obviously much more “Americanized” now that I’ve been living back in Canada and for that reason I tend to over-notice how pricey it is here. At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself…Do I want to live a simpler life? Can I give up North American commodities? Am I prepared to (most likely) struggle with finding a job, earning enough money to get by? If you answer yes, then you’ll be able to get past the difficulties of living here and accept the rural beauty and culture that IS Sardegna!!

    • JP says:

      Sorry to hear moving to Sardinia didn’t work out for you Lisa, but at the same time something must have worked out since you still go back on holiday :-)

  3. colonialist says:

    Fascinating comparisons and information, in response to well-formulated questions.

  4. runtontorun says:

    Love your Blog. Must admit I have not considered moving to Sardinia but find the cost of living/employment situation interesting especially as I think about moving to just outside Lucca or somewhere in by Trieste…Would love to run in Sardinia though sounds great…I almost had a heart attack running in the Tuscan hill towns): Keep up the wonderful posts, you may turn me into a sardinian dreamer yet!!

  5. Janice says:

    I might add that personally I wouldnt recommend coming to Sardinia to work unless you are a muratore or have a trade. OR you have an influential relative who can get you into some sort of gainful employment . OR if your work is on the computer (have a friend who is an editor for Penguin) and you could work from home.
    Rents here are cheap, only in the cities would you pay 600 euros a month or more.
    Property is also cheap if you buy a rustico, but the restoration is very expensive (i could write a book on my experience with this).
    I would recommend a trial period, say a year, or less if you cant do that–to see if you can do it financially. Gas will cost you way more than 50 euros a month unless you live somewhere in a village where everything is within walking distance.most villages have a pharmacy, grocery stores and a bank, not to mention wonderful places to buy bread, meat, fish and have weekly markets.
    Its also frightfully expensive to ship your furniture should you want to…and there are funky rules about residency and shipping— the bureaucracy in Italy is not for the faint of heart. That said, i have found it incredibky easy to meet and develop wonderful friendships. Perhaps that is e most wonderful thing about living here. I bought my “ruin” in 2008, but now its my permanent home…the process has not been simple but an invaluable learning experience which I have never regretted. One must have courage though!

    • JP says:

      Thanks for your insights and sharing your experience Janice!

      With work on the computer you meant local computer work for companies in Sardinia or work by distance for the “home front”?

      • Janice says:

        I was referring to a writer/editor working for an American publisher or the entrepreneur with their own business (running on their computer). Those lucky people could live anywhere without compromising their lifestyle. Its certainly true that here, if you can live more simply—-and who cant? Most of us dont need half of what we have/ had to have a high quality of life. Having lived in the US for most of my life I can attest to that. You make your own “paradise”.
        I came here for the first time in 2005 and was captu.red.

  6. JP says:

    As we keep reading and speaking to people we are learning more and more about sardinian life. Almost all of what we hear&read is enchanting!

    About the tax thing you can read about everywhere on the net, most Sardinians we spoke to say it is politicians moving air. Apparently it has been on and off the agenda for the last 15 years…

    For income most people we spoke to mention a family of 4 needs an income of at least 2000 a month outside the city, (much) more in the city. Average salaries seem to be in the 900-1200 with big differences between places and job types. There isn’t really a way to objectively nail the income versus cost topic, but we’re starting to get a feeling more cost then income for people leading a life like in big city Europe, and financial feasibility for a simple life.

    There is one thing we haven’t got our head around yet, hoping someone can share their view! We’re trying to understand which jobs are in year-round high demand. Muratore’s are mentioned on a couple of occasions on laaventura, but we are wondering which other types of jobs or sectors are in high demand, have labour shortages, in Sardinia?

  7. The Hook says:

    Fascinating and enlightening.
    Thanks, Jennifer.

  8. Pingback: Inside Sardinia: Lake Cucchinadorza | My Sardinian Life

  9. Stefano says:

    I’m sardinian, i’ve 24 years old. I learned that: if you want to stay in sardinia you don’t expect to live as the same in other country. If you want to live in sardinia you don’t try to became a citizen of a big city with a good work and a lot of money earned. If you want to live in sardinia you want to live with nature, with only the money to stay alive and to stay happy. You will have to give up a lot, but you will be rewarded by the beauty of our land, and our people. Good Luck! ;)

  10. Pingback: Cost of Living 2013 – Sardinia, Italy | My Sardinian Life

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