Zungoli, Italy’s, $1 Houses Are Among Several Ways Cities Try To Revitalize, Spur Growth

What's a town to do when its aging population dies off and younger people move away?

this is a stock photo of italy's amalfi coast
Daria / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0 Aaron Homer)

What's a town to do when its aging population dies off and younger people move away?

Two Italian towns are so desperate for new residents that they’re selling houses for €1 (or one Euro, roughly $1.12). And if that seems a bit extreme, you may be surprised to learn that there are some American cities that are doing something similar, even to the point of paying residents to live there.

It’s a fate that befalls towns all around the world — the economy dries up, younger people move away in search of bigger and better things, older people die off, and the town becomes a shell of its former self, even to the point of dying off entirely.

Zungoli, Italy, is having none of that, CNN reports. So desperate is the town of 1,000 people to bring new life into its walls that it’s offering homes for sale for a single Euro. City officials will even help you with the immigration process.

Of course, there are some catches, not the least of which is that you’ll need to learn Italian just to use the website. You can also use your web browser’s translating software, but if you’re going to move to Italy, you should probably start brushing up on your Italian anyway. Most of the homes are smallish by American standards, in the neighborhood of 550-1,000 square feet, and will require some work. That work is going to cost considerably more than $1.12, and it will need to be completed within three years. You’ll also need to put down a €2,000 ($2,248) deposit towards those repairs.

Zungoli isn’t the only Italian town offering one-dollar homes in order to bring in new blood. As Chicago’s WLS-TV reports, Mussomeli is offering the same deal, under roughly the same terms.

If moving to a foreign land and committing thousands of dollars to a renovation project isn’t your cup of tea, there are some American towns and cities that are even going so far as to pay newcomers to live there.

As CNBC reports, at least eight American cities and towns are offering incentives, up to and including cash payouts, to get people to move there. Of course, there are catches.

Tulsa, for example, wants your tax dollars but could do without you contributing to its traffic congestion. To that end, if you work from home, the Tulsa Remote program will pay you $10,000 cash if you can provide proof of income and commit to living in the city for one year.

Baltimore, similarly, is offering “forgivable loans” of up to $10,000 to purchase a home, particularly if you buy an abandoned one.

If small towns are more your thing, the town of Marquette, Kansas, which has a population of about 600, is giving away free land, on the condition that you build a house on it within one year.

Other towns and cities across the country are offering incentives to college graduates, skilled tradespeople, or other desirable groups, to bring in fresh blood, tackle blight, and beef up their tax coffers.