Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

We’ve tried to list out all the most common questions about purchasing 1 euro and cheap houses in Italy. But if you still have a question that isn’t answer here, please contact us

Is this for real?

Sort of. 

Most of the properties on this site are for sale either for FREE or 1 euro. That is the actual purchase price of the property. 

However, there are also a variety of fees and taxes required to process the purchase. The total of these will range from €2,500 – €6,000 depending on the location, size, usage, and municipality support. 

Most of the participating towns also require a deposit or surety bond, plus renovation costs. 

Even with all this, it is very possible to purchase and renovate a home for less than €50,000. 

These cheap houses are typically in rural areas with significant population decline. As people move to the cities for more employment opportunities, these properties become abandoned. 

Most to all of these properties need significant renovation. Some only need some modernization, while others may need to be almost completely re-built. 

In order to purchase a Free or 1 euro house, you agree to renovate it within a specified amount of time. 

The participating communities are typically in small, medieval, hill-top towns away from main business areas, hence the population decline. The historic centers are often a labyrinth of narrow, cobblestone roads, with charming stone houses built on top of each other. 

While small by population, they have all the necessities for a comfortable life – grocery stores & farmers markets, bars & restaurants, theaters & museums, and a variety of shopping options. 

Residents are often born and raised in the town. People are generally welcoming, friendly, and excited to have new comers around. 

No. However, some municipalities are selective about who can receive the 1 euro houses and if there are multiple interested parties, they may select someone who can spend more time there over someone who will only visit once a year.

Italian visas & immigration information

Italy operates under the rule of reciprocity. Essentially whatever Italian citizens can do in your country, you can do in Italy. The exclusion is for EU citizens who do not need reciprocity as they are afforded the same rights. 

For specific legal details, you can review the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs information or you can consult the full list of countries and their arrangements with Italy. 

But we highly recommend that you speak with an Accountant who has specific experience in helping foreigners purchase property in Italy to answer any questions specific to your situation. Members can find a list of suggested Accountants in our Services Directory. 

Your ability to live in the house that you have purchased will also follow the same reciprocity arrangement as above. If Italians cannot simply move to your country to take up residence, then the same applies to you in Italy. 

For non EU citizens, you will need to verify the visa requirements for your country to see how long you are able to stay in Italy at a given time. You can consult this Ministry of Foreign Affairs Visa page to learn more about your specific situation. For many, you would be limited to a social visa stay of 3 months at a time. If you plan to purchase one of these properties as a vacation home, then you should be fine. 

If you have significant financial means, and do not need to work in Italy, you can also look into applying for an Elective Residency visa. This is the route that most retirees would take. 

Again, for specific questions regarding your circumstances, we recommend that you speak with an Immigration Attorney. You can find a list of suggested professionals in our Services Directory. 

If your home purchase is dependent on finding a job in the town, you should probably look elsewhere. These houses are being sold for almost nothing specifically because there are very few jobs available. 

If you are an EU citizen, it is possible for you to live and work remotely from these towns.

If you are not an EU citizen, it will depend on the relationship between your country and Italy.

For example, US citizens, would NOT be allowed to live and work remotely without first obtaining a work visa, which can be difficult to obtain.

For specific legal details, you can review the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs information or you can consult the full list of countries and their arrangements with Italy. 

We would highly recommend that you speak with an immigration attorney regarding the specifics of your situation. You can find some listed in our Services Directory. 

Day to day life in an Italian village

Absolutely! 

They love their towns and want everyone else to love them too. Most I met are thrilled to have new neighbors and are more than happy to help and answer questions. 

This depends somewhat on your lifestyle. 

If you plan to use this as a vacation home and do not intend on leaving the town while there, then no. Bus/train service is available from Palermo/Catania where the international airports are located. And the towns are very walkable to anything you would need. 

If however, you plan to use this house as a base to travel and explore Sicily, then yes, you will need a vehicle. Depending on your length of stay, rental cars are available at the airports. 

In general, it is quite easy to drive around Sicily, however there are some things to take into consideration. 

  • It is highly recommended that you take some time to review general road signs in advance ‘No Parking’, ‘Do Not Enter’ and other critical signs may look different from those in your home country.
  • Road quality can vary significantly. You can start out on a modern, paved highway, which can turn into a potholed, one-lane country road with a herd of sheep crossing. Just go with the flow and enjoy the scenery. 
  • If renting a car, it is recommended to rent a portable WiFi device (rather than a GPS) as it will allow multiple devices to connect at once. This will also allow you to create your own custom Google map to follow. 
  • The historic centers in these towns was not designed for modern vehicles. Residents who were born and raised there drive through them without difficulties, but for foreigners, they can be difficulty to navigate. To avoid getting stuck, you should route your map to a parking lot (parcheggio) near your destination and then walk the rest of the way. 

In the larger cities, many people speak English and it is relatively easy to communicate. However, in the smaller towns, there are fewer opportunities for people to practice English and thus fewer people who speak it. That being said, with Google Translate, body language, and an open mind you can still get quite far. 

But if you plan to purchase property and spend time there, it would be beneficial to learn some basic Italian. Some simple Apps like Duolinguo can get you started, but you may want to look into taking a short course in conversational Italian to help you better integrate into the local community. 

In general, Sicily is very safe, assuming common sense behavior. 

Pickpockets and the like are around in the larger cities, but rarely in the types of towns listed on this site. The Mafia does exist but is shrinking and also primarily only in the larger cities. Additionally, the few Mafia-related incidents are rarely targeted at tourists. 

Food and tap water are all safe and no additional vaccinations are required. 

But, as with anywhere, use good judgement. Don’t carry lots of cash, keep documents in a safe location, be aware of the local emergency number (113). 

 

How much does it really cost?

That depends on a variety of factors including the condition of the house, size, and the type of renovation that you choose to do. That being said, one architect suggested to budget around €800 per square meter for a property needing significant renovations. But he also advised that this amount can be reduced if you are able to reuse materials already in the house. For example, using the original tiles, sink, doors can all reduce the overall cost of materials. Minimizing structural changes (moving doorways…) can also reduce the renovation costs.

There are a variety of fees and taxes that are required for the purchase of any property. Depending on whether you select a 1 euro house or a privately listed, the size and condition of the house, and how you intend to use it, you can expect to pay between €2,500 – €6,000 in related ‘closing costs’.

This depends on your lifestyle and frame of reference. 

Generally speaking, the cost of living is quite low. Groceries, shops and restaurants are generally less expensive than those in larger cities. Utilities will depend on usage but can run between €70 – €150 per month. Transportation will depend on whether or not you have a car. Most towns are serviced by either a bus or train to Palermo/Catania for access to an airport. 

Annual property taxes on a 100 sq.m property in one of these rural towns will be around €300. 

For specifics, we suggest you reach out to your real estate agent who can provide you with more details. Alternatively, you can take a look at the figures published on Numbeo (though note that this is for a city, not a rural town.)

Yes! In fact, some of the municipalities encourage buyers to use these properties for tourist accommodation either in entirety or when not being used by the owners. 

If you plan to do this, it is recommended that you speak with an Italian accountant regarding any tax implications. Tax obligations will vary depending on the income generated, property size/location, and general use of premises. For part-time rental properties, all of these are minor expenses, but would require annual submission to the government. 

Beyond taxes, there are also a variety of requirements for running rental properties such as collection of IDs. If you intend to let the house in your absence, it is recommended that you engage someone locally to manage it for you. 

What is the process to buy a 1 Euro house?

If you are buying a 1 euro house, each Comune (municipality) has its own application and process requirements. We have provided this information on each of the Comune pages within the site.

In addition to any required application forms or documents, you will also need your original travel document (passport) and a Codice Fiscale (tax code number). This is the equivalent to your national ID number in your home country, such as a Social Security number in the US. You can review the instructions and download an editable PDF on the Ministry of Economy and Finance site. This form can be submitted electronically to your local Italian embassy or consulate office.

This depends on a number of factors primarily who is selling the property (municipality or private seller) and are all the documents in order. 

Properties sold by private sellers through an agent can take as little as 3 weeks, provided everything is in order. 

Properties sold through a municipality through a 1 euro house program will depend on how the program is being run. Some go to auction, some through an application process. You would need to contact the municipality directly for details on their timeline. 

Problems tend to arise when a property has multiple owners, such as one that has been passed down for generations and is jointly owned by all the descendants. Or when there is a problem with the documentation. When buying from a private seller, we recommend engaging an agent to help navigate this for you. 

We always recommend that you engage an agent to help you navigate this process. Even if you are fluent in Italian, they will be able to assist with the documentation to ensure that everything is done correctly. They may also be able to assist with house-related tasks if you are overseas during the process, such as helping to open utility accounts. 

Additionally, this 1 euro house initiative is primarily about economic redevelopment. Engaging an agent will not only give you the peace of mind that the process is being managed correctly, but will also help support the local community. 

Some municipalities will have a designated agency who manages the 1 euro house purchase for them, and others will allow you to select your own. You can find some listed in our Services Directory. 

How to renovate and set-up a house in Italy?

Yes. In fact, most buyers will do it this way. 

Typically, the Architect will coordinate the work for you, in a similar role to a contractor. You can work out with them how you want the process to be managed in terms of materials, timeline, and fees. 

If you find a property that you like, either on the site or by visiting, the first step would be to contact an Architect to arrange a quote. 

If you are purchasing the property through the municipality or an agent, either of them can connect you with some local professionals to get you started. There are also some listed in our Services Directory. 

If you are purchasing a 1 euro or free house, keep in mind that some of the municipalities will require documentation of your renovation plans as part of your application. 

Once the purchase is finalized and you come to an agreement with the Architect on the scope of work, they can oversee the project for you. 

Without a doubt, it is better to hire locally. 

Most of the architects and tradespeople were born and raised in these towns. They are familiar with the houses, materials, what works and what doesn’t. They have connections with suppliers and specialists to ensure you get the best quality. And they are right there in case of any problems or issues. 

If you have concerns about hiring someone locally, we would suggest you spend some time with them on your visit. Ask to see some of the other properties they have worked on, ask to speak with other customers about their experience, and visit materials stores (ceramics for tile, carpentry for cabinets…) to clarify your preferences. 

Local is always better. 

The materials and style will will likely be more harmonious with that the home, logistics of transport will be easier and more cost effective and it will support the economic redevelopment of the area, which is at the heart of this initiative. 

There are plenty of local retailers available, some of which are listed in the General Services pages for each of the towns on this website. And you can always ask your Agent or Architect for recommendations. 

Healthcare & Emergencies

The Italian healthcare system in general is very highly regarded, having been ranked 2nd in the world by the World Health Organization. However, there are some discrepancies between conditions in the north versus the south. 

European citizens have access to the national healthcare. Non-Europeans are recommended to purchase health travel insurance. 

Most of the towns where these properties are located will have a local clinic and pharmacy that is able to address basic illnesses. The details on closest hospital are listed on each of the town pages on this site. 

As an anecdote, I came down with a sinus infection while in Cammarata. My Airbnb owner took me to the local clinic at around 7pm. I walked right in, nobody else was in the building and spent about 10 minutes with a doctor who wrote me a prescription for antibiotics. There was no charge for the visit and my course of antibiotics cost €10, which I picked up at the local pharmacy. The whole process took about 30 minutes. 

If you are spending your holidays in Italy, you may want to simply bring an adequate supply of your prescriptions with you. It is recommended that you bring them in the original containers, in your carry on luggage, and that you bring a copy of the prescription, with the scientific name or name of the key compound. If you have a severe condition, you may want to carry a letter from your doctor explaining the condition and medication being used to treat it as well. 

If you will be spending an extended amount of time in Italy, you should take your prescription and doctor’s letter to a local doctor to explain your condition so that they will be able to issue ongoing prescription for you locally. 

This will depend significantly on location, with a higher likelihood the larger the city. 

For less serious illnesses, it is possible to get by relying on translation apps and body language. However, if you have a serious illness or an accident, you should take someone with you who can help translate. 

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