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The media became aware of the growing popularity of the phenomenon of pensioners abroad and are devoting more and more attention to it. In this article we analyze the facts and the judgments that transpire from news services.

Sofia city


Already in 2013, Rai spoke during Ballarò transmissions [1] and The Arena [2] about the theme of retirees who migrate abroad. Subsequently the number of services has increased a lot in all the media [3] and we have chosen two of them particularly significant aired on "Italia 1" during "Le Iene" and on "Rete 4" during TG4, running from two articles of "La Stampa".

Le Iene

Enrico Lucci,  a journalist of "Le Iene" team, interviews retired of many types: he starts with Franco Torriani, a truck driver who lives in Sofia with a pension of monthly € 1,200, and in the same city continues with Adriano, who worked in Switzerland and takes € 2,000 per month. Then he leaves the city and goes into the province to Pazardzhik (pronounced Pazarsic) to meet Antonio Tutino, who had a small bar and takes € 800, and finally he ends in the deep countryside with Alvaro, restaurateur with € 800, and Adolfo, € 780.


They all say that they can now afford a decent living doing things that in Italy they would not have even dreamed. Often at restaurant, with bills from € 4 per person, and then gym, tennis, spas and trips abroad costing € 150 each.

The change is due to the cost of living: Franco says it is 50%-60% less than in Italy and quotes a monthly rent of € 17, a kilo of bread at € 0.25, a kilo of tomatoes at € 0.40. Cheap for a retired Italian, not for a Bulgarian pensioner who receives between 100 and 250 Euros a month (eg Franco's wife receives € 70 per month). But also the low tax rate helps: Alvaro with € 500 per year pays all taxes and insurance, including house, land and two cars.

Franco Tenca con la moglieIn addition to material side, of course, emotional and social ones are important. For many of them the most important factor is to have found a wife of the place and have thus started a second youth. Adriano then speaks of his Bulgarian friends as "friends forever" and says that no one has ever asked for a penny answering to Lucci who asked him if someone wants to exploit him. As often happens to Italians abroad they are rediscovering national ties and a large group meets 15 times a month in the Italian pizzeria "Leo's."

The only real regret is due to affections left behind, maybe the children and grandchildren, who remain irreplaceable. To soothe the distance they use Skype, as does Alvaro, or they come back for a brief holiday with two hours by plane, as recommended by Antonio.
When Lucci asks why they went away from Italy and what are their feelings, the answer is unanimous. They fled because with their pension they did not manage to live and they were harassed by tax authorities; now they are happy with the choice made but against Italy they feel disappointed, cheated and thrown out of home and affections.

[1] Episode of  29/10/2013: "Italians in Bulgaria"
[2] Episode of 14/10/2013: "Italian pensioners living in Bulgaria with the state pension"
[3] Look for example at Il Fatto quotidiano, il Giornale.it and L'Huffington Post.

"La Stampa" and "TG4"

We completely change the geographical area with the news services of La Stampa and TG4 and we know Mrs. Maria Teresa Tomaselli, who in in Italy with € 800 pension had to sell almost all of his jewels, memories of a lifetime, to pay the bills.

LaStampa TV news service Now she moved (she says "ran away") on the island of Tenerife, Canaries, and finally begins to live together with the other 60,000 of her countrymen who moved to the warm, nearby the ocean. Yes, because it is the extremely favorable climate one of the reasons to choose the Canary Islands; the others are the cost of living, safety and quality of services.
To have an economic reference, you should know that taxation starts from 15% and those who have a lower pension does not compile tax return, there is no VAT on consumer goods and that gasoline costs € 0.8 per liter while a restaurant dinner € 12.

No less favorable experiences are that of Giacomo Augugliaro and his wife, pension of € 1,300, who rented for € 500 a wonderful house and detect a lower living costs by 40%, and that of Pierfranca Pozzer, 69, who resides in Torrevieja, near Alicante, for many years now.

Beautiful the concluding sentence of the article:

"[...] the Italian inaction hits. As could we lose the business game of the century? That for the industry that looks after the third and fourth age".

All that glitters is not gold

But then Bulgaria, the Canaries and those that the INPS calls "new destinations" are a paradise? No, they are not.

All respondents speak of a life of dignity and of a moderate well-being, nobody describes luxuries of a tycoon. Then let's remember that this is the particular situation of the Italians, who have average pensions between € 800 - € 1200; different story applies to a Bulgarian pensioner who must perhaps live with € 150 per month.

Likely the most important factor for a retiree is the impact that the transfer has on his emotional and affective dimensions.

Antonio Tutino

We say it with the words used by Antonio Tutino in another interview: "The arrival in Pazardjik (in 2006) was at first a bit traumatic, because suddenly I felt projected into another dimension, zero language, totally new habits and customs, the city with urgent needs of road, construction, electrical and sanitation renovations (*), cuisine completely different from ours, yes and no exactly contrary to our facial expressions... well, so many things that needed time to be absorbed, but facilitated by the Bulgarian friend who had brought us here."
(*) Shortly after Antonio noted that, after the entry of Bulgaria into the European Union, there have been been "great benefits, with the gradual renewal of all its facilities."

A real cultural shock, absorbed more easily thanks to the Bulgarian friend the Bulgarian and to the local partner.


From a material point of view, there is no doubt: the lower cost of living and the lighter taxes allow greater prosperity. Even INPS admits that there is a presence of an adequate level of social services, in particular health care.

The real difficulties are to be detached from the affections, in particular children, and from the habits of a lifetime. To have a cultural mediator in place, even better if she is a partner in life, is the most important stabilizing factor because it allows to overcome language, bureaucratic and practical barriers encountered in daily life.

If you are interested, but concerned about the difficulties, the best advice is to follow a gradual and cautious approach. Begin, as Franco says, to "come here two or three days to see the place" and, if you like it, you could plan a longer stay that is possible thanks to the low prices of these countries. You will always leave the way open for the return: if you can not manage to adapt, you can return to Italy thinking about this period as to the long holiday that you were never able to enjoy. If you go over the first half (this is the critical period) then perhaps you will be able to lay the foundations for an at last dignified life!






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