Bryan Barnfellow here again after a long absence. I have an update on my RE story. You will likely not remember, so here's the link:
The short version is that after having posted the above in early 2008 and living through the crash of 08-09, I was offered an opportunity to live and work in Switzerland. My wife readily agreed with pulling up stakes (or "upping sticks" as the Brits like to say) and we moved in 2009 with our clothes and some books and favorite art with an idea to see how it goes. We left our home in the US mostly intact and closed up.
Now, 2.5 years later we are loving it and recently sold our home and moved everything here. It's not Italy -- but Italy is just over the border from us (we are in Italian-speaking southern Switzerland). In some ways our canton is the best of both Switzerland and Italy. Lots to tell everyone if you might be interested on the subjects of being an ex-pat, dealing with a new language, taxes(!), climate, cost of living, and health care.
The RE dream isn't dead -- just postponed until December 31, 2015 (about 5 years after our original 2010 date). On the financial side, the move was good in terms of compensation, so more savings under our belt. We'll need it. Lifelong LBYMérs, we somehow managed to have moved to one of the most expensive countries in the world. We're still trying to adjust to the price shock. We are renters, as are many Swiss. A nice 2-bedroom apartment in our city can cost anywhere from 500,000 to 1M swiss francs (=$550K to $1.1M at current exchange rate). That gives you some idea. The quality of life here is insanely wonderful; so we believe the price of admission is worth it. Everything works -- trains, services, medical facilities, you name it.
So, revised member of the RE class of 2015 happy to report back in -- all is well and on track.