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Monday, 03 May 2010

Living in Rome, Florence and Paris on a Fixed Income - Page 2

Written by Russ Firlik
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We were fortunate, especially with the current economic and housing crisis, to have sold our small apartment in New Hampshire for a bit of a profit. Since we had recently retired after over thirty years as educators, we now had the time, the incentive and the self-determination to follow our long-loved passion of slow traveling. In other words: we are senior citizens who will spend our junior year abroad. For the first time in our 45 years of marriage we were homeless, jobless, and after giving our 2003 Honda Hybrid to our daughter, also carless. What were we to do? Follow our passion!

Since we were homeless, carless, and jobless, we had to rely on our monthly teachers‘ pension and our small social security income stream. We obviously had to stay within our monthly income, just like everyone else; so had to maintain a reasonable and practical budget. Moreover, with our small profit from the sale of our apartment we needed to save that money for a down payment in case we decided to purchase another flat or rent when we returned after our year abroad. To be good consumers of slow travel, we had many questions to clarify. For example:

o How and where do you secure accommodations in Rome, Florence and Paris within our monthly budget?

o What are the expenses of living in a foreign country?

o What about inexpensive flights?

o Can we stay for more than 90 days without a special visa?

o What about money exchange and extracting money once we are in Europe?

o Is our health good enough to live abroad for a long period?

o What about our language skills, or lack thereof?

o What type of clothes should we bring, and how are we to dress in these new foreign territories? Does it matter?

These, and many more questions arose during our three months of preparation, as we waited for the closing on our apartment.

The first, and most important consideration was our health. We are thankful that we are in rather good health, but were we healthy enough to travel and stay for long periods of time in a foreign country? We followed up and passed our physicals, checked and cleaned our teeth, and received the necessary immunizations, just as a preventive measure. We were “classified” and “certified” as healthy for slow travel.

Living in Rome, Florence and Paris on a Fixed Income, Europe on a Fixed Income, year abroad Rome, Florence, and Paris, seniors on a junior year abroad, Russ FirlikAfter extensive research employing the many existing online renting-leasing accommodations networks, such as and, as well as numerous excellent travel guidebooks, radio travel shows, e.g., Frommers, we found our accommodations in each of the three destinations. Being ever so cognizant of our financial situation, we had to select locations and accommodations that were within our budget, yet, if needed, accessible to public transport. Another important consideration for us was that we be near a park or park-like setting, an open area to appreciate nature within the city itself. Furthermore, we are fortunate grandparents to three small grandchildren, and the thought of leaving them for an entire year was heart wrenching. This was much too difficult to endure without staggering the slow travel visits with stops back home. We decided to compromise our hearts, minds and funds and make sure that we spent some time back with the grandchildren each time we made the subsequent foreign visit. This might sound costly, but believe us, it was well worth the extra cost to be with our grandchildren, albeit intermittently.

“Rome is a dream that keeps returning

for the rest of your life.”

Anna Akhmatova

Living in Rome, Florence and Paris on a Fixed Income, Europe on a Fixed Income, year abroad Rome, Florence, and Paris, seniors on a junior year abroad, Russ FirlikThe accommodations in Rome – We opted for an apartment just outside the centro storico, historical center, because it is less costly than inside the touristy area. We used the Goggol “walking person“ to pinpoint the exact location. We had wonderful landlord-sisters who spoke English and provided us with a small, clean, well-furnished apartment, with easy access to public transport to the old city in a dense residential area. Also, there were three beautiful parks within 10 to 20 minutes walk from our flat, and that included the Villa Borghese. Perfect! One has to make sure that the lease agreement is very clear about whether or not utilities and cleaning are included. Are there any taxes that the renter must pay? How much and what happens to the deposit, if required? Is there Internet, do you pay for it? Telephone usage-costs? How are the monthly lease payments made, for example, PayPal, bank transfers, check or cash? Once these preliminaries were clarified and accepted by both parties, our first accommodations were set.

(Page 2 of 5)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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