Have you heard about the 1 euro houses in Italy?
Well, it’s true.
Italy is giving away houses.
You can buy a house in Italy right now for 1 euro.
I’m going to tell you how to score one.
Why is Italy giving away houses for 1 euro?
You’ve probably seen the headlines about the hundreds of homes being flogged for pennies in Italy recently. They were even unloading castles last year for practically nothing!
Sounds too good to be true, right? Some fake news making the rounds?
Whether it’s too good to be true is something I’ll get into in a minute, but fake? Nope. This is a hundred percent actually happening.
So the big question is: WHY?
Houses in Italy for $1
The main reason is Italy’s rapidly shrinking native population. Italians used to have more kids, but now they have the lowest birthrate in Europe. That means people are inheriting “extra” houses from Auntie Gina and Grandpa Roberto that once would have gone to siblings or cousins. Or the elderly are finding themselves with no one to leave their houses to. Their kids don’t want them — they’ve already moved to bigger cities with better opportunities.
Owning houses means paying taxes, and so liquidating surplus homes can be a huge financial load off. Often these “extra” houses are donated to city hall, and many municipalities have had to get creative about what to do with them.
Mayors already scrambling to backfill their dwindling populations have come up with an innovative way of killing two birds with one stone — sell the houses for super cheap to anyone who is willing to commit to restoring them, with the long term goal of bringing life and tourism back to these areas.
The trend started a decade ago when the mayor of Salemi, a small town in Sicily, came up with the idea of selling homes that had lain in ruin since a 1968 earthquake to anyone who would agree to renovate them for just one euro. For reasons ranging from the buildings not being earthquake-safe to the homes being repossessed because of mafia infiltration, the Salemi project was ultimately a failure. But it inspired other communities to create similar initiatives that have been quite successful — nearby Gangi received 1000 applications and had sold 100 houses by 2016.
So how does it all work?
How can I buy a house in Italy for 1 euro?
You’ll need to fill out an application to buy a house in Italy. Applications can be found on individual municipalities’ websites.
A list of the towns currently participating in this initiative can be found here. The applications and all of the info are, of course, in Italian, but you can do some preliminary browsing by googling some of the areas taking part, like Patrica near Rome, Lecce di Marsi in the Abruzzo region, and the Tuscan towns of Fabbriche di Vergemoli and Montieri.
The latest Italian town to give away houses is called Ollolai on the amazing island of Sardinia — it’s about an hour away from this stunning beach I visited last summer. Also in the last few days, the town of Sambuca in Sicily announced it’s deal and the mayor has been shocked by the response, his offer has gone viral and they’ve been inundated with requests.
The recent success that towns like Ollolai have had (120 requests by late 2017 from all over the world) have spurred other villages around the boot to start their own 1-euro projects, so it’s worth checking the Case a 1 Euro website often to read up on the ultime notizie (latest news).
So what’s the catch?
When I received the third text in a row from a client asking for advice on how to get in on the deal, I knew I needed to outline some realistic expectations for anyone actually thinking of doing this.
We’re a team of Italy experts who either own property in Italy or live and work there full time, so we’re not only able to read the Italian fine print, but we’ve experienced Italian bureaucracy, permissions and wait times first hand.
While it wouldn’t be entirely accurate to say this offer is too good to be true (it is a pretty sweet incentive!), to suggest that all it will take is some reno money and it’ll all be easy peasy is just not true either.
It’s a bit like buying a horse. The actual animal might be relatively cheap. It’s the vet, hay and barn that can do a number on your finances!
(Not that that deterred me from begging my mother for a horse for six straight years, but that’s another story.)
These are the hard facts many news outlets are leaving out:
You’d better be insanely good at bricklaying, painting and roof installation.
And managing a general contractor in another language.
And have many months to do only that.
And be able to tackle Italian red tape (which is so long and sticky it would make your head spin around a Tuscan hillside).
And have alligator-style thick skin.
When I was telling my husband about this initiative, he immediately pictured some poor foreign souls at the whim of the Italian tradesman, engineers and surveyors he knows. He shook his head and muttered something eloquent like, “Ahhh ha ha e farsi inchiappettare” — the Italian translation of which involves rear ends and getting shafted and… you get the picture.
But… oh, I GET you!
Even knowing about the red-tape torture chamber… a girl’s gotta dream, no?
A pile of stones with an epic view could have so much potential, amiright? 😉
How about we all pitch in 100 bucks and get ‘er done, no?
Seriously though, if you do want to buy a home in Italy, there are other ways to go about it. And you don’t need to wait for news of Italy giving away houses.
Plus, you can still travel to Italy every year and stay for a few months as a tourist. Just rent an apartment long-term and ditch all of the headaches associated with owning the home.
If you REALLY want to own a home in Italy and can see yourself making that lifestyle choice, you can see what’s available on immobiliare.it.
Or better yet, spend some time road tripping around the country, keeping your eyes open for places for sale in the cute spots you visit. Listings are everywhere, peeking out from behind those iconic Italian green shutters.
P.S. Just in case you think we can help you turn this Italian dream into a reality, pronto…
Know that we’re just a travel company, not real estate agents.
AKA we’re just doing our part to spread the word (because it’s so awesome!) but we are in no way your go-to people to help you purchase an Italian home on this crazy discount. We’ll leave that in the hands of the pros.
Leave a comment! Have you ever thought about buying foreign real-estate? If you could buy anywhere, where would you buy?