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There’s been a lot of hype in the news lately about small communities in Italy selling off properties for as little as 1 euro. New communities are adhering to the project every month. So, is it true? Can you really buy your dream villa in Italy for the price of an espresso? The answer is Yes, and No

This article is in no way meant to be used as financial or legal advice.
Consult a professional for proper guidance.

Why are they selling houses so cheap in Italy?

From the northern lake districts of Lombardy to the southern Mediterranean coasts of Sicily, small towns and villages are losing residents. Older populations are dwindling, and young people are leaving in search of modern cities and new opportunities abroad.

An article in Il Fatto Quotidiano newspaper states that in 2017 an alarming number of Italians, both youths and adults, have emigrated abroad – 285,000 which is just ten thousand shy of the mass emigration numbers reached in the 1950’s. According to Tuttitalia, 22.5% of the country’s population are residents over the age of 65. Of the remaining 77.4% youth population, 38,759,434 are between ages 15-64 and it is still yet to be seen what percentage will remain in Italy.

For a multitude of reasons this phenomenon is spreading, and as a result, the rural areas, towns and villages of Italy are being abandoned. In an effort to save their city and give new life to the community, some towns are taking action and selling off abandoned and unused properties for as little as 1 euro.

Even though the natives are leaving their hometowns, there are still thousands of people who are ready to leave the urban hustle and bustle to live the idyllic Italian lifestyle by settling down in a small town. Movements like Slow Food and Slow Living are guiding people towards living simpler, uncomplicated lives that more culturally enriching.

Maurizio Berti of the Case a 1 euro Project agrees, “Italy is a beautiful country known for its breathtaking landscapes, the immense artistic heritage and the spirit of Italians: people who are always able to surprise you. In films like ‘Roman Holiday’, ‘To Rome with Love’, ‘La Dolce Vita’, ‘La Grande Bellezza; Italy has always been depicted in the cinema celebrating art, food, fashion, the climate, and Italian lifestyle. There are certainly many reasons to buy a home in Italy. The Case a 1 euro project offers the opportunity to be part of the Italian community and realize the dream of living Italian Style.”

Houses in Sicily are selling for 1 euro / 1eurohouses.com

Seems too good to be true, eh?

Well, don’t expect a turn-key solution. It’s not as if you are going to walk into a plush new beach house.

Although the transaction price to purchase the house is 1 euro ($1.12 USD) there are of course additional costs and requirements.

Note: Each municipality has its own regulations and rules, do your research!

Before buying, there is an application form to fill out. Some towns allow remote purchases, which can be entrusted to a local agent and the agent can then manage the project on your behalf. Others require investors to take a tour of the properties. In order to cover management expenses and vet serious investors, some of these tours start at 400 euro.

If you buy a house or property for 1 euro in Italy, expect to spend a substantial amount to repair, restore and renovate. Remember, the houses for sale have been abandoned for years and need new plumbing, electricity and heating systems. They will also need to meet new building regulations and standards.

Many of the house for sale for 1 euro still need new plumbing, electricity and heating systems and will need meet new building regulations and standards. / 1eurohouses.com

Many of the properties, because of their age, could be considered historical buildings and may have limitations on the types of renovations and remodeling allowed. You may think that knocking down a wall might be a good idea, but you’ll need to get approval from the local Soprintendenza archeologia e belle arti (archeological and arts superintendent.) All project plans need to be submitted in advance and must get unanimous approval from all local authorities.

Depending on your style and of course the size of the house, renovation cost could come to cost a pretty penny. A required minimum investment of €20-25,000 is necessary for renovation work, as is a security deposit of €5,000 to guarantee that buyers will actually go through with the development project. Each municipality has its own regulations, so it is wise to check with the local urban planning commission before presenting a project.

Few communities offer to pay or split the legal fees, so don’t be surprised if these are not included.

Apart from the costs of getting the project done you will also have to consider your travels and hotel stays (if you are not already living in the area) while overseeing the job.

There are deadlines to respect. You will have to start work within two months of the purchase and complete the renovation work within three years.

However, the government is offering tax breaks of up to 50% based on the amount you spend to restructure. You must keep careful accounts of all transactions, and all work must be paid by bank transfer. You will certainly need a good accountant to help you with all the paperwork and to follow the rules of the 40 page guideline from the Agenzia delle Entrata (Internal Revenue Office.)

Is it for you?

The 190 sq m house in Via Vincenzo Cacciatore, Mussomeli, Sicily / Case1euro.it

All considering, it certainly is a bargain – that is if you are looking for a challenge, ready to commit to a long-term project, and like the idea of living an alternative lifestyle in Italy.

In my opinion, it could be an exciting project for a young couple. If I could dream, I would take on the 190 sq m house in Via Vincenzo Cacciatore, Mussomeli, Sicily and hopefully be able to convert the six bedrooms into three. Unfortunately, much of the documentation only offers exterior photos so unless you actually go there and fall in love with it, you’ll never know how much potential a place really has.

Want to be a reality tv star?

If you are willing to have cameras follow you and witness all the ups and downs of your days while renovating your 1 euro house, there’s a new Primetime TV series looking to document your journey. The online ad states:

Ever fancied your very own place in the sun but never quite within your reach? Well look no further as ITALY WANTS YOU!

This Sicilian town of Mussomeli is giving you the chance to buy a historic home for just ONE EURO.

If you think you have what it takes to bring one of these houses back to life a NEW PRIMETIME TV SERIES wants to hear from you…Whether you’re a seasoned developer looking for a new investment, or a restoration novice in the market for a holiday home we want to follow your story as you FOLLOW YOUR DREAM.

Please contact lizzie.ackerman@doubleact.tv to find out more!

Communities selling houses for 1 euro in Italy

  • Lecce nei Marsi (L’Aquila), Abruzzo
  • Zungoli (Avellino), Campania
  • Patrica (Frosinone), Lazio
  • Cantiano (Pesaro Urbino), Marche
  • Borgomezzavalle (Verbano Cusio Ossola), Piemonte
  • Carrega Ligure (Alessandria), Piemonte
  • Fabbriche di Vergemoli (Lucca), Toscana
  • Montieri, (Grosseto), Toscana
  • Ollolai (Nuoro), Sardegna
  • Nulvi (Sassari), Sardegna
  • Mussomeli (Caltanisetta), Sicilia
  • Gangi (Palermo), Sicilia
  • Regalbuto (Enna), Sicilia
  • Salemi (Trapani), Sicilia
  • Sambuca (Agrigento), Sicilia

Where to find information on buying a house in Italy for 1 euro

You can visit the municipality website of each town by searching: the town hall (comune) website.
Search “comune + name of town”

Alternatively find a real estate agent (agenzia immobiliare) in that town.
Search “agenzia immobiliare + name of town”.

  • The website 1eurohouses.com has a guide and information on how to find a property and how to go about making it happen.
  • The website Case1euro.it has the listings for Mussomeli, Sicily.

Article by C. Abernethy. This article originally appeared on Milanostyle.com