In late 2019, Australian Danny McCubbin, 56, quit his work in London for the dream of living in the Italian countryside. He had bought a house in Mussomeli town of Sicily region for 1 euro. All he had to do now is to make the old and abandoned house a liveable home.
In his blog post on his website Googforgood.com, he shared, "It's always been a dream of mine to relocate to Italy and when the opportunity presented itself to meet with the agency that was selling the abandoned houses for one euro, I booked myself a flight to Sicily."
In the following years, Danny McCubbin, worked hard at renovating the house and eventually, raising funds to open a community kitchen in the quaint, little town of Mussomeli.
His 1 euro house journey shared on Instagram shows beautiful features of the Italian town's heritage, architecture, and the people who made it all possible.
The European country of Italy, famous for its food, architecture, culture and history—always open to visitors and travellers—has opened up its gates to those interested in investing in its countryside for as little as a euro.
Italy's '1 euro houses' scheme aims at finding owners for its abandoned homes with an intent to renovate the property and bring it up to shape.
How did it all begin?
The trend of buying and selling Italian country homes is nearly a decade old. According to Italianfix, an outlet that provides expert information on the country, "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."
While the Salemi project didn't turn quite successful, the idea hit off with other communities from nearby Italian towns. "Gangi received 1000 applications and had sold 100 houses by 2016," confirms Italianfix.
Recently, other places in Sicily including the UNESCO world heritage town of Caltagirone, Augusta, Sambuca amongst others have also made it to the list of municipalities putting out 1 euro houses for sale.
What began in the Sicily region, has also spread to Sardinia, Piedmont and most recently, the bucolic town of Maenza which is the first in Rome's Latium region to go up on sale for the said price.
Mayor Claudio Sperduti speaking to CNN revealed the reason behind the trend and how the price may not really be what meets the eye.
"Families and youths often leave town to move to larger homes in nearby cities and villas in the countryside, but there's always some newcomer who takes their place so it's balanced out," he told the CNN adding, "This is not a dying city, people still inhabit the old district but it needs a revamp, fresh oxygen."
The CNN also reported that it's possibly a move to block realtors and speculators from grabbing the old houses to make money.
The not-so-hidden clauses
While the one euro home scheme sounds inviting and works well towards meeting its purpose of repopulating villages, renovating abandoned homes, saving heritage properties from degradation, there are clauses and conditions to be fulfilled to own a home in the Italian countryside.
For starters, willing parties must deposit a refundable amount between € 1,000.00 and € 5,000.00 to the municipality and assure that the renovation work will complete within 3 years when the deposit amount shall be returned.
However, Danny McCubin clarified in one of his posts on social media that to purchase a house in Mussomeli, he didn't have to pay a deposit. However, the official paperwork did cost him about 2,800 euros.
According to 1eurohouses.com, a website that gives all information about Italy's one euro home scheme, the buyer also has to submit a restructuring or revaluation plan within a period fixed by the respective municipality, which is usually one year from the date of purchase.
The option of buying these homes is open to all nationals provided there is an agreement between the Italian government and the buyer's home government. The general rule is that if an Italian can buy a house in our country, we can also buy a house in Italy, states the website.
The downside of cheap deals
While there are many visible pros of deals like the one euro homes, there are also downsides and according to a CNN report from early 2021, some aren't happy with the show.
Many who inherited these countryside homes migrated to other countries and have neither paid taxes, nor contributed towards its upkeep; some even don't have proof of ownership to show. In such cases, the municipality has a right to take over the property and sell it off as part of the scheme.