photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

Have you dreamed of owning a home in another country? It could be the quintessential getaway. It might even be something you could retire to. Alas, buying a home overseas might just be too cost-prohibitive. Then again, you could buy a house in Italy for less than a cup of coffee. Is this one of those deals that is “too good to be true?” Yes, you can buy a home and be the titled own for one dollar but you’ll need to commit to making significant repairs and renovations to that home. Those projects could add up to several thousand and maybe even $100,000 in costs. Still, that is a decent price to consider what could be a charming home in the Italian countryside.

Starting back in 2016, a number of rural Italian downs put dozens of villas up for sale for a symbolic price of one euro. Over 200 homes have been sold in Sardinia, Sicily, and Campania. That is providing a significant boost to the local economy. Just imagine if two hundred homes in your neighborhood were undergoing renovations. A lot of folks would be going to work each morning on those projects.

Of course, there are some caveats to the purchase. You have to provide an insurance deposit. That can be up to $5,000 depending on the town where you’re making a claim. You then have to submit your renovation plans to the town council. Once approved, the clock starts ticking and you have three years to get the work done. That’s plenty of time!

Why is this happening? It all has to do with the local residents growing older and the kids have moved away to the “big city.” As that population shrinks, there are fewer people to keep up the town. Schools are at risk of closing because of low enrollment and those abandoned properties create an eyesore for everyone. With the one-dollar homes, the hope is that the tax revenues will increase and all the local businesses can start to thrive again.

Some of the investors have big ideas for their renovations. One new owner wants to create a kind of “off the grid” oasis. A retired couple is turning their new villa into a B&B. Another plan to totally demolish the building and rebuild it as a four-unit apartment building. It might be cheaper to rebuild than to renovate with some of these buildings.

Although the initial renovations might be expensive, the cost of living in these areas is rather low. One obvious barrier would be the language. Not many of the locals speak English. Then again, learning to speak Italian wouldn’t be such a bad thing.