American spent $446K to renovate Italian home, found work-life balance

Meredith Tabbone first decided to buy and renovate a cheap home in Italy to reconnect with her family history. More than four years and nearly half a million dollars later, her 1-euro home journey has given her a new perspective on work, life, friendships and happiness.

Tabbone, 44, is a financial advisor in Chicago. In 2019, she learned about a town in Italy, Sambuca di Sicilia, that was auctioning off abandoned properties starting at 1 euro, or roughly $1.05.

At the time, Tabbone was researching her own family history and realized her great-grandfather was originally born in Sambuca before starting a new life in America.

Meredith Tabbone spent roughly $475,000 on her dream home in Sambuca di Sicilia.

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The coincidence was “too good to be true,” and she took it as a sign to place a bid.

Tabbone won her bid and spent 5,900 euros, or roughly $6,200, to take ownership of the home. She also bought the building next door and spent the next four years managing a local crew on the massive renovation.

In all, Tabbone spent roughly $475,000 on her Italian dream home.

A slower pace, but deeper friendships

The Chicagoan quickly learned that Sicilians work on a slower timeline than she’s used to in the U.S. On top of that, the Covid-19 pandemic slowed renovation progress for years.

But she came to appreciate the slower pace of life, and it helped her settle into her Sicilian community more deeply.

If travel were open like normal, she says, “I would have typically been coming here and going sightseeing and meeting other expats. I was instead spending time with locals who were renovating my home, and their friends.”

Socializing is now a big part of Tabbone’s life in Sicily, and she says it’s easier to make friends there than in the U.S. “It’s just part of the culture here to be out every day and be around people,” she says. “And if that’s what you love, this is definitely the place to be.”

Meredith Tabbone has made close friends with locals and fellow foreigners in Sicily.

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Less work, more personal fulfillment

Tabbone has a demanding schedule running her own business as a financial advisor, and spending time in a different culture gave her a new perspective.

“I’ve started to think differently about how I’m building my business, and maybe not having the focus of my life be about work, [but] about just personal fulfillment in general,” she says.

Focusing a little less on work gives her more time and energy to pursue her personal goals, like visiting every country in the world now rather than putting it off.

She’s taken her new outlook on work-life balance back home with her. “I’ve just tried to be as efficient as possible with my time when I’m in Chicago, and I’m definitely learning to say ‘no’ to a lot more,” Tabbone says.

A less work-centric lifestyle has been a learning curve, Tabbone says, but it “was something that I needed and has been really good for me.”

Her one regret

To this day, Tabbone says her only regret from her 1-euro project is not embracing slower living sooner.

Meredith Tabbone says she’s never done a renovation project like this before, but she was inspired by the work of her father, who was an architect.

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“If I could do anything over again in the buying or renovation process, I would have learned to have more patience” and enjoy the experience from the beginning, she says.

At the end of the day, Tabbone says, “I never felt like this wasn’t the right place for me to be, and that this wasn’t the right project for me to work on or community to live in.”

Conversions from euros to USD were done using the OANDA conversion rate of 1 euro to 1.05 USD on Oct 18, 2023. All amounts are rounded to the nearest dollar.

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Originally Appeared Here

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About the Author: Rayne Chancer