Italian towns that have offered money for residency, including a new $31,000 scheme

Areas with dwindling populations have been offering financial incentives to newcomers for years

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Presicce is the latest Italian town to offer to pay people money or eye-popping deals to move there, in a bid to buoy local economies.

The picturesque area, which is in the Puglia region, said they'll pay people up to €30,000 (about $31,000) to buy an empty home and live there.

The houses on sale as part of the offer, those that have been long abandoned by owners, are priced at about €25,000, so the deal could be quite lucrative.

The idea by the Presicce authorities is that this financial incentive will help revive the town, where fewer babies are born each year.

"There are many empty homes in the historical centre built before 1991 which we would like to see alive again with new residents," local councillor Alfredo Palese told CNN. "It is a pity witnessing how our old districts full of history, wonderful architecture and art are slowly emptying."

This is by no means the only Italian town that's dreamt up this kind of offer; numerous picturesque yet population-dwindling spots have been making headlines over the past few years with similar schemes.

Here are some of the most memorable.

Homes for $1 in 2019

In April 2019, a number of small towns in the Italian countryside launched a push to revitalise and attract new investors by selling off homes for just over $1.

In the tiny rural village of Zungoli, in the Campania region, there were 15 homes available as part of the scheme. Zungoli had just had a facelift, with new piazzas, lights and pavements installed.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Lo Bianco/Fotogramma/Ropi/Shutterstock (10075208g)
Sambuca di Sicilia, Sicily
Houses for sale for 1 Euro, Sambuca di Sicilia, Sicily, Italy - 27 Jan 2019
Crowds of buyers, especially foreigners, flocked in Sambuca di Sicilia after mayor Leo Ciaccio - here pictured - put up empty houses for sale at 1 Euro in the hope of saving the town from depopulation.  Sambuca di Sicilia was named 'Most beautiful village in Italy' in 2016

The town of Mussomeli, a nine-hour drive away in Sicily, was offering up 11 properties for the same price. The medieval town is slightly bigger than Zungoli, but still has a village, offering a community feel with plenty to explore.

Earlier that year, fellow Sicilian town Sambuca was also offering up a number of homes for $1.

There was a slight catch, however, as the old homes were not in the best condition, and the new owners had to commit to investing in and renovating the properties.

In Zungoli, the new owners had to commit to pay a $2,248 security deposit, and promise to refurbish the home, while in Mussomeli, new owners were required to come up with an agreement with the notary to refurbish the home within three years — or risk losing a $5,620 security deposit.

In Sambuca, the deal said owners must invest €15,000 into refurbishing the properties within three years of signing the contracts and, to make sure it happened, city officials would take a €5,000 security deposit that would be returned once work has been completed.

Pandemic €1 homes

As Italy emerged from lockdown in June 2020, in Cinquefrondi, a municipality in the south of the country that had been deemed Covid-19-free, the mayor put several of the region's abandoned properties on the market for merely €1.

More than a dozen properties were for sale in the municipality, which is part of Italy's Aspromonte National Park. The initiative was designed to repopulate the town after many years of younger residents moving to bigger cities.

Several abandoned properties in Cinquefrondi in the southern Italian region of Calabria went on the market for €1. Photo: Facebook / PianaDiPalmi 

In addition to the initial payment, investors were also required to pay a deposit of €250 to guarantee that renovations on the properties, all of which are in varying states of disrepair, would be carried out over the next three years.

Like with the other initiatives across Italy, purchasers who failed to complete the works in this amount of time would lose their deposit, and face fines of up to Dh80,000.

Candela started the craze

Back in 2017, the tiny town of Candela, which lies at the heart of Italy, had one enterprising mayor.

Mayor Nicola Gatta offered people from €800 to €2,000 — depending on whether they were singles or families of four or five — to move to the town in the hopes of boosting the population from a dwindling 2,700 to 8,000.

There were a few stipulations, including that you had to move to the town — which is just under two hours from Naples — you'd have to rent a property and then you'd have to get a job that paid more than €7,500.

"Up until the 1960s, travellers called it 'Nap'licchie' (Little Naples), for its streets full of wayfarers, tourists, merchants and screaming vendors," Gatta said at the time.

Yearly fees and business start-up costs

Santo Stefano di Sessanio, a walled medieval village in Abruzzo, in central-southern Italy, was offering to pay people to move and start a business there, with support on nominal rent.

Santo Stefano di Sessanio is another town that has had to resort to financial incentives to attract foreigners. Reuters

The deal, which expired in November 2020, said you needed to be a resident of Italy, or were legally able to become one, and be aged 40 or under.

At the time, there were a mere 115 residents in the town with fewer than 20 under the age of 13, although the number of people living there year-round was more like 60 to 70.

The town council promised new residents a monthly fee for three years up to a maximum of €8,000 per year, with a one-off contribution of up to €20,000, to get a business up and running.

Updated: November 27, 2022, 12:48 PM