There is a lot of hype about getting a house for next to nothing in Italy. Is this too good to be true?
Over the past couple of years, the media has created a viral sensation about the prospect of buying an Italian home for only a Euro (about $1.09 USD). This begs the question, can you legitimately get a one euro home in Italy: fact or fiction? In this article we look at the prospects, the process and the real costs associated with getting a deal that seems too good to be true. It begs the question “One Euro Home in Italy: Fact or Fiction?”
Why would Italian towns do this?
The answer is really quite simple, there are declining populations. Some villages have lost over 60% of their population in the past 20 years alone. Then you have to consider many of these home have been vacant for years, if not decades. Residents have moved or passed away. The heirs to these properties may not know what to do with them or have the financial resources to restore them. Perhaps they simply aren’t “sellable” due to where they are located or how poorly run down they have become. Most are in deep disrepair and initially are inadequate to live in.
Some cities now are looking for creative ways to generate interest in recruiting citizens. These largely abandoned properties are not always seen as a burden but as an opportunity for cultural revitalization at bargain prices. Some villages are paying people to come and live there!
What does this mean for investors?
First, for the right investor, this can mean a tremendous opportunity, but it doesn’t come without steep risks. Those who are looking for an affordable primary or secondary home, this is one of the cheapest ways to acquire foreign properties. The prospect of getting a home for only a euro is quite alluring. It is very easy to romanticize the idea of getting a cheap home in a beautiful country. However, this may not be for the faint of heart, it will take some capital outlays and a well-defined plan. Can you really become a true “€1 citizen” as some locals call them?
Can I really get a One Euro Home in Italy? Is this fact or fiction?
Secondly the answer is YES! You can actually get a one euro home in Italy, it is a fact. Towns like Mussomeli on the Italian island of Sicily (2017 population approximately 10,711) has several properties. Zungoli on the mainland (approx. 1 ½ hours from Naples, 2017 population approximately 1088) are desperate to attract residents to support the local economy, the tax base and avoid being ghost towns.
Then, how badly do these villages want you to move there? Towns like Locana, in Northern Italy, offers $10,000 to move there and have children, according to the Mayor Giovanni Bruno Mattiet. The Molise region, east of Rome actually has a plan to pay you $27,000 to move there. Finally, towns are resorting to drastic means to shore up their declining population base.
How does it work?
Many cities work directly with inquiries and now some companies have sprung up assisting with the process. One company, Double Act TV, is creating a reality show recruiting people considering buying and restoring these types of properties (https://www.case1euro.it/).
Next, the process varies from simply filling out an application and you are on your way. There are some catches that come with this. Most want the initial outlay for the property, but many want a €5000 deposit ($5447.67 USD) as a surety there. You will need a plan to renovate within a year and renovations are completed within 3 years. You will also be responsible for the title and transfer costs.
In the case of Molise, you also have to set up a business and contribute to the local economy. If you are looking to telecommute or use this as a base as a digital nomad, this may be a perfect solution. In fact, it may be a great way to lower your cost of living, live simpler and use exchange rates to increase your income. See my article Give yourself a 20% raise.
Next, these are not the only costs. It really depends on the state of the property, many are seriously dilapidated requiring tens of thousands to fully renovate. There is a strong emphasis in the application to use local materials and labor (again, to help the local economy). The idea you will get a home for €1 euro and that it that is the fiction part. On the other hand, many are taking up the challenge and rolling up their sleeves.
Lastly, this hopefully answers the question “One Euro Home in Italy: Fact or Fiction?” The answer is absolutely yes, but don’t go into it starry-eyed. Do your homework, actually visit places you are considering and take a hard look at the total costs of ownership. You will still get a bargain, but just be prepared.
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