72-Year-Old Man Who Says He's 'Past My Expiration Date' Buys Home in Italy to Increase Life Expectancy

Bingwa Thomas has done the math and figured out Italy is the place to be

Published Time: 11.07.2024 - 03:31:04 Modified Time: 11.07.2024 - 03:31:04

Bingwa Thomas has done the math and figured out Italy is the place to be.

The 72-year-old Kansas City native spoke with CNN Travel in an interview published on Tuesday, July 9, and explained why he relocated from North America to Europe.

“Life expectancy in Italy is 82.7 years, while in the U.S. it’s 79,” he said. However, the age is closer to 77, the outlet added, citing the World Health Organization. “But for a Black male it’s 70. So in the U.S., I’m already two years past my expiration date. But in Italy I can get 10 extra years.”

Thomas moved to Latronico in Italy’s southern Basilicata region as part of a program that offers homes for notably low prices in hopes of repopulating the area — which has seen a steep decline in residency since the 1850s. 

The expat purchased his 110 square-meter home (about 360 ft) for 8,000 euros (about $8,662). 

In 2020, several Italian cities offered hopeful homebuyers the chance to buy vacant houses for as little as one euro — which at the time, translated to about $1.18. 

More recently, turnkey homes are on the market for as low as 10,000 euros (around $10,800), as well as fixer-uppers for significantly cheaper prices. 

In addition to living a longer life, Thomas said he had other intentions in mind when he purchased the property. 

“My main reason for establishing a residence in southern Italy was to have better access to the African continent,” he told CNN Travel. “To be able to use my pension to create, fund, network and volunteer with programs on the African continent.”

Thomas has been doing work with social activism since he was just 18 years old. 

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“I wanted a residence that I would not have to spend a lot to make habitable, so that I could have more money for the African projects.”

According to CNN Travel, Thomas has self-funded the purchase, making money as an actor — including appearing in commercials, industrial films and doing voice-over assignments. 

Following renovations, Thomas would like to open an arts center for other creatives like himself.

“Artists have always taken over abandoned buildings in an undesirable area of a city and brought the buildings and neighborhoods back to life only to have the newly revitalized buildings taken away or had their rents increased by greedy landlords,” he said. 

“With these small neat little European villages, artists don’t have to rent, they can actually own their living spaces and studios,” Thomas continued. “The villages get repopulated and the artists don’t get ripped off of their creative energy.”

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Latronico currently has about 4,000 residents.

“As an artist, I love the challenge of taking forgotten, under-appreciated or discarded items and repurposing them,” Thomas added. “What I love most about Latronico is the dedication and attention to detail in the attempt to first, stop the bleeding, resuscitate and bring back to life this beautiful town.”

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