Erica and I recently bought our first house, which was a surprise to us more than anyone, for when we made the decision to move permanently to the Cinque Terre area and put down roots in Levanto, we always figured that buying a house would be the last thing to happen for a simple reason: they’re so damn expensive.
But life is wonderfully unpredictable, and what between the pleasure of being here, the contentment of our children growing up near the beach, and some stinky low-down landlords, we found ourselves making the plunge.
What does it mean when I say it’s too damn expensive? Well, we bought a very small two-bedroom house (for 4) with a combined kitchen-living room located about 2 miles from the shoreline in a hamlet called Le Ghiare, and we paid roughly €490 per square foot. Do the conversion into dollars, and we’re talking serious high rent. Not Manhattan, but not so far off. At least there’s a big yard!
So imagine what it means to buy a house in, say Vernazza or Manarola, the jewels of the Cinque Terre. The prices are astronomical, and there’s one reason why: tourists. Being one of the most gorgeous places on the planet means that sooner or later you are going to find a wealthy German, French, British, or American tourist who is willing to plunk down whatever price you want for his or her little slice of heaven.
Great for property owners, lousy for the younger generation. Unfortunately, here in Levanto and all over the Cinque Terre, younger Italians are being forced to move over to the other side of the ridgeline, into an entirely different climate, so as to get a house.
We decided that it was more important to sacrifice square footage for sunshine and sea air, so here we are. Poorer in the bank, but richer in bricks and mortar and plants and happiness.