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Want a €3 house in Italy?

Yes, you read that right!

This innovative housing scheme first made the news in 2019 and again in 2021. Now, it’s back!

Is Italy on your destination wish-list? Then you are going to want to read this!

Sambuca di Sicilia’s viral housing scheme

Sambuca di Sicilia is a rural town in Italy’s Sicily region. As is the case with many rural communities, it was facing a declining population. As of 2017, the listed population was just 5,876.

To combat the depopulation of the area and the resulting vacant homes falling into disrepair, in 2019 Sambuca di Sicilia came up with the idea to bring in both foreign investment and people to the area by auctioning off homes that were in need of renovation for €1.

The program was a viral success, bringing in over 20 million euros and revitalizing the economy. There was even an HGTV television documentary series made about it, featuring Lorraine Bracco of The Sopranos as she renovated the 200-year old townhouse she purchased through the scheme.

The town repeated the offer again in 2021, this time pricing the homes at €2, with similar positive results.

Since the introduction of this housing scheme, they have also sold 250 homes outside of the auctions. So it’s safe to say their scheme has had a positive ripple effect across the community.

And now, in 2024, they are bringing it back again, for the price tag of €3.

Sambuca di Sicilia’s 2024 house auction

Want a €3 house in Italy?

Now, keep in mind, this is an auction, so the chances of you actually getting a house for €3 are probably unlikely. In the previous auctions, most homes have gone for €5,000 to €10,000. But yes, the bidding actually does start at €3.

To participate in the auction, you have to put down a deposit of €5,000. That deposit will be returned to you if you lose and used as the initial deposit if you win.

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Now, let’s look at the houses themselves. This year’s batch of 10 homes is in the town’s old Saracen district. They were abandoned after being damaged in an earthquake in 1969 and now belong to the town council.

The homes have two to three bedrooms and are pretty cozy in size, measuring from 538 to 861 square feet. They have anywhere from one to three floors, with some boasting tiled courtyards and iron-wrought balconies.

While they are in need of significant repair, they are all reportedly structurally sound so you’ve got a good base to work with.

You’ve got up to three years to get the work done, but get that pocket book ready (are those still a thing?), because the renos on these properties can run anywhere from €30,000 to in excess of €200,000.

There are some really fun stories about people who have bought these properties here, where they share about their experience and what they have learned.

Can you picture yourself heading to Italy to supervise the renovation of one of these homes?

Can we expect future home auctions?

Want a €3 house in Italy?

The answer seems to be a resounding “yes”!

Sambuca di Sicilia’s housing auction scheme has been extremely successful at bringing in investment and revitalizing both the population and infrastructure of the town.

It’s been great for the local economy, for the construction trades directly involved, and for the secondary businesses like restaurants, shops, and hotels.

The houses have mostly been purchased by Americans, earning the town the name “Little America” thanks to the large American expat community there.

According to Sambuca di Sicilia’s mayor, Giuseppe Cacioppo, “Our town is now definitely on the map… We just want to make it clear that by numbering these batches, more sales will likely follow in coming years. Foreigners are flocking to buy our homes, it’s been a hit so far.” (Source: CNBC)

So, there you have it. If this year’s auction isn’t in the cards for you, you will probably have another chance!

Italy visa options

Want a €3 house in Italy?

Italy is famous for its delicious food, plentiful historic sites, and breathtaking architecture. Its warm Mediterranean climate and diverse landscape, featuring beaches, mountains and everything in between, make the country even more inviting.

If you are a non-EU citizen, you can stay in Italy for up to 3 months on a tourist visa, following the standard rule of 90 days in a 180-day period for the Schengen zone.

If you want to stay longer than that, you’ve got plenty of options. Here are the ones that would probably be most relevant for our readers:

  • Long-Stay Visa (Type D): There are several different Type D visa types you can apply for, however for retirees or those living on passive income, the Elective Residence Visa is probably your best bet.
  • Digital Nomad Visa: For freelancers and remote workers making at least €2,700 per month, this is a great option.

There is currently no visa you can obtain directly through real estate investment, but the above options should cover you or, if they don’t sound like what you need, there are many other visa types you can check out.

Would you take a chance on a €3 house in Italy?

Want a €3 house in Italy?

Having your own Italian villa sounds like a dream to many.

Who wouldn’t want to live right on the Mediterranean, with quick and easy access to Europe?

In a quaint little Italian town, where things are pretty chill, but where you still have the ability to pop over to Palermo, Rome, or Florence for a taste of the big city?

If this sounds alluring to you, Sambuca di Sicilia’s houses for €3 scheme could be just the opportunity you are looking for – if you have the time, money and, most importantly, the stomach to take on the renovations.

The good news is, many people have now gone through this process, so you know it’s doable and you can learn from those who have done it before you. I figure the town must have this down to a science at this point!

I’ve somewhat shied away from Western Europe in general because I think they are having many of the same problems that we are having here in North America.

But, I’ve got to admit, Italy does sound pretty inviting! I’ll put it on my list for places to visit, I think, and then who knows, maybe I’ll throw my hat into the ring for a €3 house myself one day!

What do you think? Would you consider this Italian adventure? If so, I’d love to hear all about it!

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Thanks for reading and have a great week!

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LisaLisa is an aspiring expat from Canada who is working to put together her Plan B with a young family in tow. She is excited to pair her lifelong love of writing with her passion for offshore strategies and outside-the box investments in her weekly articles for Escape Artist readers. Follow this “rebel with a cause” as she walks the path less traveled and shares her experiences along the way.
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