Italian town sells free homes to lure residents

Enterprise


Ollolai, Sardinia, Italy.Michele Columbu

  • The Italian town of Ollolai is selling 200 homes for €1 ($1.25) in an effort to lure new residents. The village’s population has declined significantly in the last 50 years.
  • New owners must renovate the homes within three years, which will cost approximately $25,000.
  • Ollolai’s mayor hopes that the strategy will help preserve the town’s traditions.

On the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, the old village of Ollolai is at risk of turning into a ghost town.

Over the past half-century, the town’s population has declined from 2,250 people to just 1,300. And now, there are hundreds of abandoned homes.

In an effort to lure new residents, Ollolai’s government is selling 200 of these homes for $1.25 each. According to CNN, the village has already sold three houses, and more than 100 people from across the world have expressed interest.

But there’s also a catch. As part of the deal, the new owners must pay to renovate their homes within three years, which is expected to cost around $25,000.

italian village 2An abandoned home in Ollolai, Sardinia, Italy.Courtesy of Ollolai comune proloco

The village’s mayor, Efisio Arbau, says the goal is to preserve Ollolai’s culture.

“We boast prehistoric origins,” he told CNN. “My crusade is to rescue our unique traditions from falling into oblivion.”

Ollolai_ _Costume_tradizionale_(11).JPGA festival in Ollolai, Sardinia, Italy.Wikipedia Commons

This isn’t the first time an Italian town has offered homes for so little. As Business Insider previously reported, the Sicilian town of Gangi started selling vacant homes for €1 in 2015. Gangi and Ollolai shared the same condition: Owners needed to present plans for renovation within the first year, and fix up their houses within three.

Some US cities have tried similar strategies to attract new residents. Small towns like Gary, Indiana and larger metros like Indianapolis, Indiana and Detroit, Michigan, have listed certain homes for $1 or even for free.

It’s unclear if the tactic will work in Ollolai, but Arbau is optimistic.

“Pride in our past is our strength,” he said. “We’ve always been tough people and won’t allow our town to die.”



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