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People in Italy bought homes for $1. Coronavirus has kept them there

People took advantage of a cheap Italy deal. But now they’re stuck there

A nun checks her smartphone as she walks in Campo dei Fiori Square, in Rome, Wednesday, May 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
A nun checks her smartphone as she walks in Campo dei Fiori Square, in Rome, Wednesday, May 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
AP

People started to buy homes in Italy for $1. Reports for months surfaced that small Italian towns offered their vacant houses for cheap. Most times, buyers would need to renovate the home and stay within the country, among other requirements.

The coronavirus pandemic hit soon after, though. And it has caused these home buyers to stay in their homes in sometimes remote towns. They don’t know Italian. They can’t leave the country. They’re stuck.

But that hasn’t stopped them from feeling happy. CNN spoke to a few different residents who felt “upbeat and eager to complete their property remodeling and make their Italian dream come true.”

“Despite the unexpected turn of events, it seems being stuck in Italy hasn’t been such a negative experience after all,” according to CNN. “And the virus crisis has made them appreciate even more the beauty of Italy’s rural villages — so much so that some are looking to invest in more cheap properties.”

One buyer, an artist from Miami named Alvaro Solorzano, bought two homes, one of which cost a little more than $1. He started renovating the home with his family before they departed back to Miami. He stayed behind. And he’s been spending time in quarantine.

“The first two nights were terrible,” he said. “It was cold, I slept with my jacket on top of my pajamas but then the neighbors were great. I can’t complain. They gave me heaters and even offered blankets, which I had, but I could use their internet.”

“They kept checking in on me, brought me tons of food for Easter which took me three days to eat. I don’t know what I would have done without them.”

In 2018, I wrote for the Deseret News about how people could buy abandoned homes in Italy for almost $1. But owners were required to refurbish the homes, which could cost $25,000 for a complete renovation project.

The idea of encouraging people to move to struggling hamlets, cities and villages isn’t new around the world. In Switzerland, a village tried to attract new residents by offering them $70,000 to move there.