Stephanie Synclair first visited Sicily in 2012, after leaving a decade-long career in corporate marketing. She stumbled across entrepreneurship and launched her consulting business, which enabled her to work from any location, including abroad.
She told CNBC Make It, “I knew it was time to quit corporate America when I was sick of people telling me when to take a lunch break. I wish it was deeper than that.”
While searching the internet for the cheapest flights out of the country, she bought a cheap ticket to Sicily. Using the $250 plane ticket, she traveled with her 6-year-old son, Caden.
“I knew from the moment I landed that I loved it here, and it was almost like home for me,” she expressed, noting the friendliness of the locals that made her want to stay.
Synclair narrated an experience she had when she and Caden were walking around the town trying to find something to eat when they came upon a non-English-speaking woman.
The woman understood Synclair’s need despite their language barrier. “She grabbed me by one hand and grabbed my little baby by the other hand and walked us to the store that she had just left from. I felt like that was one of the most hospitable things anyone could have done, instead of just leaving me to be lost in the streets of Sicily.”
Synclair said she believes she knows more about her neighbors in Sicily who are like family to her than she does about her neighbors in the United States. She added that Sicily had a more laid-back pace than the U.S., where she felt people were more “work-focused.”
Synclair hadn’t considered purchasing a home abroad at first, but the increase in U.S. mortgage rates persuaded her to change her mind. She observed that houses in her preferred Atlanta districts that sold for $300,000 in 2019 were selling for upwards of $800,000 by 2021, so she began searching outside the country.
One day, she noticed a message in a Facebook community for American expats in Europe, where someone mentioned cheap properties for sale in Sicily. That is how she found out about Mussomeli, a town in Sicily that gained a reputation for offering houses for just one euro.
After doing some research, Synclair was able to get in touch with a real estate company that also offers reasonably priced properties that require less work. Having bought her three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 4,000-square-foot villa in Sicily in 2022 for 59,000 euros (approximately $62,000 based on exchange rates as of October 2023), Synclair, an Atlanta resident, arranged to make Sicily her home away from home.
The 41-year-old mother currently operates her tea business, LaRue 1680, and pays herself $80,000 per year. The mompreneur plans to retire in Italy once her now-17-year-old son graduates from high school, eventually making it her full-time place of residence.
She said, “If I was to retire in the United States, I would need at least $2.5 million to retire comfortably. That’s taking today’s inflation in consideration.”
“But by retiring here in Sicily, I only need about $450,000. And if I was to live here and live a life of eating out regularly, travel, shopping, etc., I only need about $18,000 a year, and that will be with money left over.”
Still learning Italian, she makes an effort to travel to Sicily once every three months for at least a week at a time, and longer during school holidays.
In recent times, some Black Americans have moved to Italy after realizing that they could get homes that are already inhabitable for reasonable prices. Last August, it was reported that the Dawkins family – Nadine, 59, and her husband, Kim, 61, and their children, Lorenzo, 29, and DeNaei, 27 – bought a pleasant home in the town of Latronico. Nadine said buying a cost-effective home in Latronico was also a way to connect with her roots, according to CNN Travel.
In that same month of August, the Insider reported that Ashley Blanc, who moved to the U.S. from Trinidad & Tobago when she was a baby, bought a house in Latronico, Italy, and said she couldn’t wait to move there.