€1 Houses in Italy

Have you heard about the program in Italy that lets you buy houses for one Euro?

Now you know. This blog isn’t trying to court SEO traffic, just be a journal of good finance ideas, so I’m not going to rehash it all here. This post will just be about collating helpful resources around doing it yourself.

At time of writing, one euro is about $1.05 US. So for estimation purposes, you can mentally count any amount in Euros simply as dollars.

The Gist

Rural Italian villages are emptying out because you can’t find work out in the countryside, so some houses have sat empty for years.

To combat this, villages have agreed to sell houses for €1 to anyone who wants to rehab them, with some stipulations of course. This article has an overview with stories of people who have done or tried it.

Map of Houses

Here’s a starting map (not comprehensive list) of villages that are in the program. https://1eurohouses.com/1-euro-houses-map/

Cost Estimations

Rules differ by each locale, so this is just a rule of thumb.

  • €1 for “down payment”
  • €5000 deposit
  • €20,000-50,000 for renovations (you can use the €5000 as part of this)

Obviously you’re welcome to spend more, especially if you get more than one, like the woman in the above article did. But expect to spend at least 20,000.

What are these houses like?

In general, expect them to be townhomes in rural villages. There are some near cities, but they’re not going to be in parts of cities you actually like (e.g. the gross part of Milan). I’d rather be in a humble village than in a Soviet-looking city block.

Some example villages:

  • Pignone: village near Cinque Terre. This is my top pick.
  • Valle d’Aosta: mountain village near the French-Swiss-Italian border
  • Borgomezzavalle: mountain village east of Zermatt, northwest of Milan
  • Fabbriche di Vergemoli: tiny strip of a village in a narrow valley in Tuscany
  • Sicily: I counted 28 villages in Sicily, including one right on the coast called Augusta

Lots of Sicily ones were abandoned after an earthquake ~50 years ago, so there will never be a shortage of homes there if that’s your interest. Sicily averages 40-60°F in January, so if you wanted to visit in winter it wouldn’t be warm, but you’ll never freeze.

The other drawback to Sicily (and this is not a joke) is the mafia. Sure, they can be anywhere in Italy, but Sicily is literally known for this, so stai attento.

Who did it, and did it work out for them?

If you buy one of these homes, it’s actual work. No one gives away a perfectly good home for a dollar.

If you buy one of these, expect to redo the electricity, plumbing, windows, and then all the other general renovation stuff (flooring, walls, doors).

The idea of this program is that an eyesore becomes beautiful again, and you spend the money in Italy on supplies and contractors in the process.

Videos on the process:

My personal take:

  • Do it because you love Italy and want to spend time there
  • Do it somewhere beautiful that has the slightest chance of getting tourists (which is why I like Pignone)
  • Consider splitting it with friends. Imagine you and two friends spend €15,000 a piece, and each gets an entire month there in the summer (or all together if you’re single)
  • If you’re determined to make as much money as you can, do it as an influencer for the writeoffs and because it’s actually good content.
  • Or if you’re a lowkey person and maybe want an Italian vacation summer home, do it.
  • Do it with friends and get houses adjacent to each other! If you fix up a block, then everyone’s values goes up more than the sum of your parts

Anecdotally, it seems like because there are way more houses in Sicily, you can actually get decently-sized houses. If you don’t care about making money and are trying to do something cool, just go with that and build yourself a party house.

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