A dollar doesn't get you much anymore, but in the Italian town of Ollolai, it can buy you a house.
Well, just about, anyway. The price is actually €1, which is $1.25 USD. But hey, semantics, right?
The town, which is in the mountain region of Barbagia on the Italian island of Sardinia, currently has around 200 homes listed for just €1 in an effort to bring an influx of people and boost the local economy. The town's population has been steadily declining (it stands at just 1,300 people today), meaning many historic homes have been left empty and in disrepair.
Of course, with an offer this good, there are bound to be strings attached. The super-low price tag comes with the condition that the new homeowner has to refurbish the property within three years, which CNN estimates could cost about $25,000.
Still, $25,001.25 is looking pretty good compared to $256,000, the median listing price of a home in the U.S.. And according to Time, there are assistance programs for people willing to take on the project, including grants that could fund up to 60% of the cost.
The Ollolai listings are part of a larger initiative, Case 1 Euro, whose goal is to bring people back to several small Italian towns, including in the Tuscany, Sicily and Abruzzo regions, while reviving the historic architecture and local economies.
So far, there seems to be a lot of interest: Ollolai's mayor has already received about 100 purchase requests, and three sales have already been finalized, according to CNN.
But before you pack your bags and jet off halfway around the world, you'll want to ask yourself several questions, advises Matt Shapiro, CFP®, a financial planner at LearnVest.
- Do you speak the language, or are you willing to learn?
- What are the citizenship and taxation considerations?
- How comfortable would you be living in a small town, far from major cities — not to mention, your friends and family?
- Can you keep your current job? If so, will you have the internet resources to successfully telecommute? And if not, what will you do to earn a living?
Beyond those, you'll want to think through the reality of undertaking a huge renovation in an area where potentially hundreds of others are doing the same. "The available labor pool could get very tight, not to mention that additional raw materials would need to be shipped to a small town on an island. Likely, your actual costs would be much higher than predicted," warns Shapiro. Beyond the initial reno, you'll also have to account for the ongoing upkeep any home requires and decide if that's something you're ready to handle.
And, of course, the usual homebuying advice still stands: While saving for the down payment may not be an issue, you generally don't want to buy a house until you've at least seen it, hung out in the neighborhood and talked with some of the neighbors, says Shapiro.
If all signals still point to go, you can apply through the Case 1 Euro website, but be warned: You'll need to understand Italian - or know someone who does. Ciao!
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements.