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An Italian town that offered $1 homes was transformed by an influx of remote workers and tourism

Joshua Zitser   

An Italian town that offered $1 homes was transformed by an influx of remote workers and tourism
  • Mussomeli in Sicily launched a one-euro home program in 2017.
  • It was a huge success, the deputy mayor said, with nearly 95% of the inventory sold within 5 years.

It all began with an enticing offer: homes in a picturesque Sicilian town for just one euro, barely more than a dollar.

According to Mussomeli's deputy mayor, who helped launch the initiative in 2017, it sparked a total revitalization of the once-underpopulated town, attracting tourists, remote workers, and investment to the area.

Toti Nigrelli told Business Insider in a documentary that before the program's implementation, Mussomeli faced major depopulation issues.

He said that after World War II, the population gradually dwindled from 25,000 to about 10,000 as residents migrated to the US and other European countries in search of better opportunities.

As they emigrated, they left behind a trail of empty houses, particularly in Mussomeli's Old Town.

This left enough houses to accommodate around 40,000 people, Nigrelli said, but there weren't nearly enough residents to fill them.

Inspired by one-euro programs elsewhere in the country, Mussomeli launched a website aimed at foreigners, advertising homes for barely a dollar to American and European investors.

The response was overwhelming, the deputy mayor said.

He told BI that within the first five years, almost 300 houses were sold — about 95% of the one-euro home inventory.

"Now we can see a lot of people from all parts of the world," he said, pointing to English, French, and Spanish speakers now living in the town.

The program not only revitalized Mussomeli's population, it also triggered a tenfold surge in tourism, Nigrelli said.

The COVID-19 pandemic also drew remote workers to the area, many of whom decided to stay because of the relaxed pace and low cost of living, he added.

To accommodate this newfound community, Mussomeli set up its own co-working space.

The town's recent growth has also attracted substantial investment — tens of millions of euros — from the European Union and the Italian Government, Nigrelli said.

These funds are earmarked for new roads and the remodeling of the Old Town's central square, he told BI.

"Everyone is happy here," Nigrelli added. "Happy because we have nice people that came here, who are integrated in the society."



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