Many people dream of retiring, getting rid of their large home or condo, and moving to a villa. For most North Americans, the world "villa" conjures up images of older mansions set on sprawling European lawns. However, few people really understand what makes a villa different from a mansion or what is involved in buying and caring for a villa. If you have a European retirement dream, this is one article you won't want to pass by, as it could disabuse you of your misconceptions.
You won't find a villa on just any real estate listings, because villas are Italian by nature, originating with the Roman Empire. Much in the way that the British aristocracy would own country homes on large plots of land, villas were the country retreats of the Roman upper classes. There were actually several kinds of villa, including a suburban type that allowed its owner to commute to Rome during the day and a proper country villa surrounded by farm land where owners could escape the heat of the city.
Because of their long heritage, many villas are considerably older than any real estate you might be looking at buying, consequently they may be more primitive (perhaps even lacking in running water). However there are also many new villas that have been built to appeal to the modern upper classes who are used to more amenities. Either way, the properties tend to be quite large, both in terms of the home and grounds, and will therefore require more time and effort to maintain.
The main appeal to owning a villa is the fact that you get to have your own vineyards which can produce wine and oil either just for the family or for sale as either a side business or a means of support. Villas need more than just you or even your family to run properly. Consequently you will have to hire staff to run the farm who may live in cottages on the property. If you don't want to do the farming, you might do a cabin rental type thing and rent the outbuildings to tourists.
The best place to look for a villas is in the Tuscany, Veneto, and Palladio regions of Italy as well as the area around Rome. You can also find some villas in England due to the time the early Romans spent there, and in South America, the Caribbean, and other parts of the Mediterranean, where "villa" has become synonymous with "vacation home." The closer to a city you are and the more popular the locale, the more expensive average property values will be. Proper Italian villas will likely cost you millions of Euros.
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