Reforged Italian Dream – episode 1 – picking the right house (house requirements, transaction fees and taxes and best real estate online base)

Welcome to episode one. The first of many to come. In each post I will describe what issue we are currently working on, we have just worked or we will be working in the near future.
I hope that in time this section will become a mini guide for everyone who wants to know how to carry a project like that and maybe help you make your Italian Dream come true.

So, as you know from the section’s opening post we decided to move to Italy. For us moving to Italy is a part of a larger plan – we want to change our lives and slow down our life’s pace a little. Our business plan for moving to Italy is partly based on the idea to make a guest house there (I will write about our business plan in details in near future). So, because guest house is an important part of our business plan, the house has to meet specific requirements. Because there are thousands of home ads online, before we could start browsing ads, we wanted to specify requirements for our dream home.

Our requirements list looks like this:

  • Size: at least 200-250 m2, ideally around 400-500.
  • Rooms: at lest 6, ideally 8-10
  • Bathrooms: at lest 2, ideally 3 or more
  • Constuction:
    • Detached house, free on four sides
    • Region specific desing, ideally traditional italian stone house
    • 2 or 3 floors with bathroom on each floor
    • Terrace or/and balconies and ideally large windows
  • Condition:
    • Ready to move in or small renovation works required
  • Location:
    • House in quiet place, but at the same time not to far from small city or village
    • Not to far from the main tourist attractions such as a big city or natural attractions located near lake, sea or in the mountains
    • House in dominant position with panoramic view on mountains, lake or sea.
  • Important additives:
    • Medium or large size garden with few trees
    • Garage at least for one car – ideal for 2
    • Good quality road leading to the house
    • Furnished or partly furnished
    • Possibility of connecting the internet with a good quality connection

The next key thing when it comes to buying a home is of course money. You probably think that this should be the first thing to consider and maybe for you this is the issue number one. But for me, and it’s not just about buying a house, I like to first build the vision of my dream in my mind and then think about the money and how to make it happen. So first I build this picture in my mind:

I see us living in a nice, stone house in a beautiful place in Italy. As every morning, we go out to the terrace for tea and we look at the breathtaking view. In our garden we can see our dog happily gambols. While drinking tea, we think about tasks to be carried out on the coming day and we can’t wait to start. We are happy and calm and we feel really special.

I know the picture is nothing special in general but it is special to me. Maybe your picture would look different? I think it’s worth spending some time visualizing your dreams. In my life I made a lot of many different projects and I made a lot of my dreams come true and I would not be able to do that wihout vizualization. Visualization is a powerful tool that has this magical power of making things happen. I honestly recommend it to everyone.

Ok., so after we did the visualization and requirements for the house, we started to work with the numbers. After short research I found that buying a house in Italy is quite expensive when it comes to transaction costs. According to the report from Global Property Guide it could be even 32% of the property’s value. Below you can find detailed table with fees and taxes and here you can read the whole article about the costs.

Registration Tax3.00 – 7.00%buyer
Value Added Tax (VAT)4.00% – 22.00%buyer
Land Registry Tax1%buyer
Notary Fee1.00% – 2.50%buyer
Legal Fees1.00% – 2% (+ 22% VAT)buyer
Real Estate Agent´s Fee1.50% – 4% (+ 22% VAT)buyer
Costs paid by buyer9.05% – 32.82%

So, all these fees and taxes are really high even if I would consider the optimistic variant that the costs will be around 10% (and they will probably be more). This is especially problematic for coutries that do not have the Euro or their currency is much weaker than Euro.
In Poland we have Polish zloty (PLN) and we have to pay around 4,25 PLN for 1 Euro. So for example if we consider buying a house that cost 250 000 Euro, the fee would be around 25 000 EU. To make you realize how much it is for us, I will say that it is a quarter of the price of a two-room apartment that can be bought in a good district of our capital city, Warsaw.

So knowing exact fees and taxes values for a specific house is crucial information. Reading online articles about fees and taxes are great source of information for the start, but to know the exact numbers we have to contact with some local accountant and real estate agency.
To find the italian accountant I used the Advocate Abroad site. Currently we are in the middle of consultation about the costs, so I can’t say if the contact was ok or not. I will definately update this later. The results of this consultation is crucial for our business plan, so we are really looking forward to it.
I have to admit that I’m a little afraid of the result of the conversation with the accountant, because I’m afraid that the amount of taxes can make it very difficult for us to make our dream come true. As soon as I will have the numbers I will definately write a post about this.

Regardless of the result of the conversation with the accountant, we have already started looking for a home so that during the next vacation we can see a few of them personally.
We currently mainly look for houses on Idealista.it and I can definitely recommend it. It has good interface, very nice search tool (you can draw a search area on google maps), but the most important thing is that its data base is really, really big, so you will not have a problem to find houses in any area you are interested in.

So that would be all about how we defined the criteria for searching for our house, how we determine the budget and where we are currently looking for online real estate sale advertisements in Italy.

The next step will be to create a complete tax and fees table, so we can see how much money we actually have for the house.
Then we will start working on a business plan that will show us how our plan looks in numbers.

Our Italian Dream – how it’s all started

I love when its warm, the sky is blue and the sun is shining. For me 30 degrees celsius is just ideal temperature. I have always thought that I was born at the wrong latitude and I should live somewhere in the south. Unfortunately I was born in Warsaw, Poland. Don’t get me wrong I love my country and I am really proud to be Polish, but the weather here is just killing me. Although, I must admit that the last two years have been really great, it does not look so beautiful normally. Our polish summer weather is very capricious and unpredictable. You never know if its gonna rain or not, and you can be sure part of your long awaited holidays you will have to spend in hotel room because of the rain or rapid temperature drops.

There is one more thing that makes it very difficult for us to spend our dream vacation in Poland. It’s geography. Like our great comedian Marcin Daniec said in one of his standups: “Every normal country has a sea in the south and mountains in the north. But of course in Poland it must have been the opposite.” As a result, it is often too cold and unpleasant by the sea in the summer, and in the mountains in the winter it is too warm and there is no snow.

But by far the worst for me when it comes to the weather in Poland are the long, dark periods of no sunshine in autumn and winter. Often for many days or even weeks all we can see are dark, steel and heavy clouds that cover the whole sky. Every winter I feel that it will never end and I will never see the sun again. After every winter I am trully exhausted because of lack of the sun.
We both with my wife simply love the wormth and hate the cold. That’s why for our holidays we choose mostly south destinations. So few years ago we decided to go on Canarian Islands. We stayed one week on Tenerife and one week on Grand Canaria. Before this trip I was only one week on a boat in Croatia, so for me this was the first true holidays in someplace warm.

The whole holidays were amazing and I simply can say that Canarian Island are true paradise. I remember that waking up with certainty that today the sun would definitely shine was a great experience for me. I felt like a great weight was removed from my shoulders. It was very, very nice feeling.
I feel that I never came back from this amazing place. I mean my body is back in Poland but my mind and heart stayed on those amazing islands.

Just after returning to Poland I started to search the information how we can move to Canarian Islands. My plan was simple, we will buy a house and we will start Guest House there. Unfortunately I found very quicky a law that says you can’t rent a home to tourists in which you live at the same time. It simply means that you have to have two houses – one for you and one for tourist. So, because we simply can’t affort to buy two houses, this was the end of the Canary dream for us.

But the idea to move to the south didn’t died with this little spanish obstacle. We continued our search and soon we found two new localizations: Croatia and Italy. We have been in both destinations few times and we loved them both. Two years ago we decided to go on two weeks holiday – one week in Croatia and one week in Italy. The oportunity to be in both countries on the same holiday really helped us made the final decision. We always wanted to live in Italy but we tought that we simply can’t afford it, that’s why we were looking for an alternative locations. Croatia was looking really good especially when it comes to financial issues, so we consider it very seriously. Unfortunately we discovered that many things has changed in Croatia over the last few years and the prices went really high and now there are even higher than in Italy (sic!).
In the meantime we did some research about the prices in Italy and we discovered that we are able to buy a House there. So the decision was done – Italy will be our new home!

Ok., so now we only had to pick the region and start looking for a house. In the past few years we visited: Merano, Cortina di Ampezzo, Bergamo, south and middle part of Lago di Como, northern and middle part of Lago di Garda (Molveno, Tenno, Arco, Riva del Garda, Limone, Malcesine, Arco, Bolognano).
We love Dolomites, so we liked Lago di Garda the most, especially around Riva del Garda. However, this is one of the most expensive regions in Italy and we don’t think we will be able to find a house that we can affort, so our search is around four regions: Trentino Alto Adige, Lombardy, Veneto and Tuscany.

Moving to Italy is by far the largest and most complicated project I’ve ever carried out. In this section I will describe each step we take to make our Italian dream come true. There are so many aspects that need to be taken into account that I’m sure we won’t have any problems to find new topics.

My Reforged Photography

I think that photography is something really magic. For me the most important thing is that it helps you keep the best moments of your life. You simply take a photo and this moment is saved forver. You can return to it anytime and how many times you want. It also changes the way you look at the world – it strengthens your attention and affection to all these amazing things that are invisible for most of the people. All you need is a moment of fun with the camera and you will start to notice that everything can be beautiful and interesting. Another great thing is that you don’t have to travel to the end of the world to take great photos.

I was really fortunate that photography found me very early. It was just after my high school graduation. So, photography has been with me for over 15 years and I still enjoy doing photos. Thanks to how long I have been doing photography I was able to catch a lot of amazing moments of my life and I’m really greatful for that. On the other hand I had all time I needed to learn a lot about photography.
In this section I will try to share my experience with you and I hope you can find something usefull here.

But before I start making posts about more detailed topics I would like to show you some of my photos. I hope you will like it 🙂

Here you can take a look of my panoramas (3:1 aspect ratio):

Here you can find standard photos (3:2 aspect ratio):

If you would like to have one of my photos on your wall, I can print it for you. You can find avaible formats and prices below:

Panoramas prices:
20/60 cm – €80.00
30/90 cm – €120.00
40/120 cm – €150.00
Standard photos prices:
20/30 cm – €50.00
30/45 cm – €60.00
40/60 cm – €80.00
50/75 cm – €100.00
60/90 cm – €120.00
80/120 cm – €150.00

Accepted payment methods – PayPal
If you buy more than one photo you will get a discount 🙂

Shipping:
Poland – 5€
European Union – 10€
United States – 15€
Anywhere else – 25€

If you want to buy a printed photo from me, please contact me.

Blog’s structure quick guide

Hi, here you can find the quick info about the Blog’s topics.

Reforged Italian Dream – Some time ago my wife and I decided to move to Italy and start a new life there. This is definatelly the biggest and most interesting project I have ever run, so I decided to write about it. Here you can find all the information about how we make this Italian dream come true.

Reforged Life – recently, I experienced a series of events that caused me to change my life completely. Here you will find all information on this subject. In addition, you will find here posts with my perspective on various topics.

Reforged Cars – I have always wanted to trade in classic cars. I finally made the first move. Here you will find all information about my adventure with classic cars.

Reforged Guitars – I run a small online store with vintage guitars. Here you will find all information about running a store and about guitars that I have the pleasure to have in my store.

Reforged Photography – Photography has been with me for many, many years. Here you will find posts about my activity as a passionate photographer.

Reforged Vintage Stuff – I have always liked all kinds of antiquities. Here you will find posts about my efforts to create a small online antiques store.

Reforged Guitars – how it’s all started

It all started about 5 years ago. It was just few months after my 30th birthday. I wanted to start learning the guitar for a while now, but there was always something more important, so I didn’t made the move. But because I just turned 30 and I was in the beggining of a middle age crysis I decided to go for it and I bought my first guitar.
It was Ibanez model GRG 170 DX BKN and a little MG 10 CF Marshall amp. But you know how it is – the guitar is just a beggining, suddenly you realize that there is a lot of things that you have to have. So I started to visit the guitar shop regularly. Soon I noticed that the guitars and accesories and are very coservative or even simply dull when it comes to design.
I shared this observation with a friend and it turned our he also had the same feelings about this. We started talking about the situation and we decided that we will try to do customizations by ourselfs.

The plan was ready, so we bought our first guitar (it was the Jolana Proxima I) with the idea to change her look completely including the laquer. We took it apart and started working with the body so it would be ready for the new paint. I remember that the body sanding was quite a big task, specially when it comes to hand sanding. It took me a while to get rid the old laquer. So after the guitar was laquer free, we started the painting. But as you may guess painting turned out to be a total failure. We coudn’t make the proper laquer spread and there always were some stains and bumps. This was a classic thing with the YouTube tutorials. They only looks simple when you watch how someone else is doing the work. Painting turned out to be far, far beyond our skill reach. The poor Jolana has never been put together again, and her parts will lie somewhere in the depths of the basement to the end of time.

So first leasson learnt – we are not skilled enought to make modifications by ourselfs.

In the meantime I was working on our company name. When I was thinking about the name I was looking for something that will fit the: flames and iron style and will also describe what we are doing. Since our plan was to remake the items in our own way I finally came up with the name: “Reforged”.
This simple word made a lot of very important changes in my life and guided me very well for the last couple of years. In the near future I would like to tell you more about this for sure. But for the purpose of this post the short version should be enought.

After that we made another try to change the world of dull accesories. The plan was to change the look of a hardshell Gator case. But this time we hired a specialist (airbrush artist) to implement our ideas. The idea was simple – we wanted to change the look of a standard black case to something that would be awesome to have. So we asked the guy to make a hot rod flames and put them on one side of the case. We also made our logo (Reforged) cut from steel and painted black and we put it on the case. The final effect was simply awesome and we were very proud of it. We still are, despite the fact that to this day we wasn’t able to sell the case. Maybe we are the only ones who think that this case is awesome case? And what you think?

Reforged Guitars custom made hot rod flames Gator hard shell case
You can buy it here: https://reverb.com/item/25939588-guitar-case-gator-handmade-custom-aerographed-hot-rod

We put some money in this case, so we decided that we won’t make any other things before we sell this one, so we paused this part of the business.

The next step for us was the idea that it would be awesome to start working with vintage guitars and bring the forgotten ones back to live. We were planning to make a little renoviation works and simple fixes and reselling the guitars.
So, for the start we bought some cheap guitars, mostly Defils (made in Poland) and Jolanas (made in Czech Republic) and we started to working with them. The work was simple: disassemble all parts of the guitar, clean them, put it all together, make nice photos and put in our shop.
Soon we had our first sales. That few first sales were awesome news, because this was a proof that this guitar shop could be a real thing.

After first few sells, I had to go on 3 months unpaid leave from the software house I was working on (you can read here why). Thanks to that I had a lot of time to work with guitars and I learned a lot about how guitars are built and which parts are crucial and which are not. This knowledge was and still is crucial when it comes to buying guitars.
In the meantime my business partner got the news that he will be a father. It was obvious that he won’t have the time to work on the shop, so after the talk we decided that I’m taking over the business.
From now on I was on my own with the shop and the Reforged brand.

Because I believed (and still do) that there is a lot of potential in kind of business I decided to continue building the shop. Before I started working on the store again, I made some ground rules which were supposed to help me bulding the shop in my own way.

The rules:

  • I will be buying only guitars I like, not the ones that are popular. The weirder the better.
  • Every month I will invest some money to buy guitars, pay for luthiers services and the shipping.
  • Every Euro I will earn from selling guitars I will invest to buy more guitars.
  • Each item on my shop will have a high resolution photos and very detailed description which will show the actual condition of the item.
  • In contact with people from whom I will buy guitars, I will never underestimate the value of the items to buy them cheaper.
  • I will never left any of my clients who had any problem with the purchased item from my shop without a support. I will always look for a win / win solution from any situation.

So time was passing by and I was buying and selling guitars and slowly but surely my shop started to grow. From month to month and sale to sale I had more and more guitars in my stock. Also guitars I was able to buy were better and better and many of them started to be really nice sounding instruments.
Now, 5 years later, I have 45 guitars in my store and during these 5 years I sold and sent my guitars to people around the world.
It’s really amazing to me because I always had a problem with savings. My friends were always saying that I’m the Golden Consumer. No matter how much I earned, at the end of the month my account was empty and often even on debt. Well to be honest my account is still empty but now at least I have some money in guitars, so when I really need it I can use them.

But the most important thing this store gave me was courage and hope to for living on my own. This small store greatly contributed to my decision to leave the regular job and I am very greatful for this.

So, if you always wanted to start something of your own just remeber that you don’t have to have much money or time to start the business. All you need is a bit of perseverance and honesty. The great thing is that you can easily take care of any small business without giving up your regular job, so you don’t have to take a big risk on the start. And who knows, maybe your small business will grow quickly and you will be able to take care of it full time? I think it is worth a try.

My main shop you can find here: reforged-guitars.com

You can also find my guitars on Reverb here:

My main guitar shop is on here:

Shop My Store on Reverb

or on eBay here.

You can hear some of my guitars on my YouTube channel here.

Burnout – the best thing that happened to me in my professional life

When in comes to working life I think I was really lucky. I always knew what I want to in my life. Thanks to that I have never felt lost in my professional life. Well, at least until burnout.

I started working soon after the high school. My first serious job was a waiter job. This job was really nice for me that time. The job itself is quite easy, there is a free food, sometimes also free alcohol, the schedule is very flexible, you have 15 days off each month, and the money you can earn are very nice.

First, I was working in of the more famous and prestigious restaurants in Warsaw as a waiter’s helper. The work there was super hard and the atmosfere was really, really bad. But the service standards was super high, so, I learned quite a lot there. Unfortunately I was only able to last there for two months.

The second job I got was in another restaurant in Warsaw. I worked there for about two years and after that for another four years on special corporate events with couple of restaurant from the group. The job, specially the special events was really hard physical work, but I really like it. This was really amazing time for me. I was young, I earned a decent money, I had 15 days off each month, so I had the time to spend the money. It was like a never ending party. So if you are wondering which first job to choose, consider working as a waiter – its really nice job for the start.

In the meantime I started my master’s degree in psychology with specialization in social psychology. I have chosen psychology because I wanted to use is in my life – to better understand myself and the world around me and in my target job, which was to be a job at an advertising agency.

I wanted the job that is interesting. The job that gives you an oportunities to do many different things and you don’t have to do the same things every day. That is why I have chosen working in the advertising agency.
When it comes to the position, the matter was simple – I always loved to organize and manage projects, so the Project Manager was ideal position for me. With that criteria I started to looking for my first office job.

My first office job was in the biggest (that time) advertising agency in Poland. The brands we were working for were the biggest ones in the industry. The team I was part of was very nice, people were friendly and the work standards were really top notch, so everything was looking very good. I really liked this job and learned a lot there. I worked there for almost a year (this “almost” caused me quite some problems later), but unfortunately I was reduced as part of mass layoffs. That way I became unemployed overnight.

After that I had a really big problem finding another job. This “almost” year was very bad for me, because I was not a Junior anymore but still not a Project Manager, so I didn’t fit either on Junior Project Manager or Project Manager Position. Because of that and because I was not interested in anything else than working in advertising agency I was looking for my next job for almost a year. It was not fun.

Finally I get the job in another advertising agency where I met very interesting girl (my boss at that time) and when she proposed me to move on to her newly created agency I didn’t hesitate even 5 min. That way I joined the company which was the most important one in my whole career.
The company was indeed two companys in one. Advertising agency and a software house (with my girl boss partner as a boss). This was great because I could make and learn many things from two different areas.

Before I get to the details how the process of burnout started and ended I have to say few words about me and my approach to work.
I think the crucial thing is that I was raised by my grandmother. I owe her a classic old school values like: to keep one’s word, iron moral backbone, a passion for honesty, truthfulness and commitment to the job. Also I really engage emotionally in everything I do. I hate fails, so I always try my best and work that way, so I can avoid as much fails I can. For me, working well is not a duty performed for my boss, it is a matter of honor.

So I worked really hard and was giving all the time and effort to make things right. I made a lot of overtime not because I had to, but because I believed that this will take me to the place I want to be. The place where the time I invested will be returned to me and I will claim all the benefits from my hard work.
Because of how I worked I was able to get my bosses attention really quick. Thanks to that I had a oportunity to do many interesting things that were far away from my job description. I really like that.
When we gained our mutual trust we started talking about the plans for the future. We were talking a lot about the future and how we want to get there. I felt quite special and felt that I am an important part of a grand plan. I really believed in this plan and this gave me the energy to work even harder.

But time went by and unfortunately I began to notice that what we were talking about was not implemented. The promises made were not kept. Something else was always more important. So we did everything but our promised plan. Work has become repetitive and boring. Clients were dissatisfied all the time because we didn’t meet the deadlines. So my work turned into constant apologizing to clients and chasing unrealistic deadlines. Overtime didn’t change anything and there were a lot of them every day. I remember I felt really hopeless that time.

In the meantime, we were looking for an employee who was to work with me in the team. We managed to find a very interesting person. We managed to get along very fast. We had a similar approach to many matters and understood each other very well.
We noticed some things that we could change to improve the situation in the company. We wrote all our ideas down and full of energy and hope we went to present them to our boss. I remember this conversation very vividly. He listened to us carefully and then criticized all our ideas. That single event was crucial for me. That day I realized that there is a very small change that anything will change.
So my job was still constant apologizing to clients and chasing unrealistic deadlines and making meaninless overtime. At least now my boss knew what we were thinking about the situation.

Soon I started to feel very bad. Constant pressure made me nervous, restless and stressed. I often felt that I wasn’t myself. I had frequent abdominal pain and chest stinging. I felt hopeless and I thought that I’m waisting my best years on a meaningless job that is simply not worth all the time and effort. On Sundays afternoons, I had a standard stomach aches because I knew I’m going to work on Monday. I couldn’t fully relax even on holidays, and on some of them I even experienced a panic attacks.
I could not stand that long and soon I gave my notice. We had a long conversation with my boss and he convinced me to take 3 months unpaid leave before the final decision. This 3 months didn’t change anything for me, so I decided to change the job.

When I was looking for a next job I decided to give an advertising agency one more chance. It was because recently I was doing mostly IT projects, so I wanted to switch not only a company but also the type of the projects. I sent some CV’s and soon I get the job in one of the Warsaw advertising agency.
I worked there almost two years. After a year and half I started to feel the same symptoms, only much stronger. I remember that one day when I was coming home I experienced such a strong pain in the chest that I had to stop the car for a while.
That was the last warning for me. I knew that if I did nothing I would get a stroke, a heart attack or both.

So I made the fisrt step. I quit my job and started to make changes in my life. Already in the first month I received a little present from the Universe. I achieved massive sale in my guitar shop which I started two years before. I will never forget this day, the day I felt really, really good with my decision.

It’s been almost two years since I left my the standard working life and everyday I’m greatful that this burnout happened to me so quicky. I’m only 35 years old now and I have all the time and energy to build a different live for me and my family.

I take my time to do all the things I always wanted to do but I never had the time and energy for it. I changed the way I eat, the way I work, the way I rest. I returned to my big passion which is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I feel free and I feel I can do everything I dream of.

Do I regret all these years of working like that? Definately no. I learned many important things. I gained a lot of professional skills and I was working on many interesting projects. All this experience I gained is very useful for creating and managing my own projects.
But the most important thing I got from all this years is knowing who I don’t want to be. I had to experience it, but now I know exactly how my life should look like. Maybe for you this kind of event would be a disaster but for me this burnout was simply a liberation.

To everyone who struggles at work every day I can say one thing:
I’m on the other side of the fence now and you know what? The grass here is indeed much greener.