The past few months of pandemic lockdown have driven many of us past the point of stir-crazy to near-insanity. If all this time in quarantine has you rethinking your life decisions and your future, maybe it’s time to make a big change. One tiny town in Southern Italy agrees, and they’re practically paying people to move there.
Cinquefrondi (“five villages” in Italian) is a sleepy, off-the-beaten-path hamlet little-known even by most Italians. Tucked into the “toe” of Italy’s boot, it’s an idyllic town that oozes classic Old World charm. On paper, it has a lot going for it. It’s a cross-cultural melting pot with a history dating back centuries. Like much of Italy, the people are friendly, the town is a self-proclaimed “foodie paradise,” and there are special events and festivals almost every night of the year.
It also overlooks two coasts and is surrounded by the pristine beauty of the Aspromonte National Park. With a river nearby and beautiful beaches less than 15 minutes away, there are plenty of outdoor adventure opportunities. For expats, the town is in an area of Italy with one of the lowest rates of coronavirus infection. Cinquefrondi itself has reported zero cases. In short, there are worse places in the world to retire or start a new life in your 30s.
Sadly, the town is also dying. Like other small towns throughout Europe, it’s succumbing to a rapidly declining population. In recent decades, younger residents have moved to the cities in search of larger communities, more job opportunities, and a modern way of life. In the wake of this depopulation, whole districts of Cinquefrondi have fallen into disrepair as nature reclaims streets, parks, and abandoned buildings. Thick vegetation now covers some of the town’s most historical areas.
But, Mayor Michele Conia refuses to give up on it. In an interview with CNN, she said, “I grew up in Germany where my parents had migrated, then I came back to save my land. Too many people have fled from here over the decades, leaving behind empty houses. We can’t succumb to resignation.” Which is how she and the town’s locals launched the initiative to attract new residents. The proposition? They’re putting more than 50 of the town’s houses on the market for just €1 (roughly USD $1). “Finding new owners for the many abandoned houses we have is a key part of the Operation Beauty [mission] that I have launched to recover degraded, lost parts of town.” Many once belonged to artisans, farmers, and shepherds, and have stood empty for decades.
There is a catch, of course. Cinquefrondi is asking buyers to take out a modest €250 annual insurance policy until renovations to their new home are completed. Homebuyers then have three years to complete the work. At roughly 500 square feet, most of the houses are tiny and only require between €10,000 to €20,000 of reno work. In other Italian towns offering similar initiatives, many buyers complete the work in 18 months or less. For those unwilling to wait, move-in-ready homes are also available.
If you’re interested, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Just make sure to brush up on your Italian first.
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