Posted by Adam Solomon on February 7th, 2018.
If you’ve been watching the news of late you might have seen headlines about people buying up council properties for as little as £1 and converting them into desirable family homes in places such as Liverpool, Newcastle and Stoke on Trent. Such schemes have come to be known as “Homes for a Pound” programmes with Liverpool set to offer 6,000 more such properties in the future.
There’s a catch, of course. The houses are often in areas that have suffered from stagnation and are usually in a dilapidated state. Councils, faced with the cost of demolishing them are instead offering them for sale at a bargain basement rate. All the prospective buyer has to do, after handing over their pound coin, is to promise to renovate them and live there.
As a result of this scheme whole areas have had new life breathed into them and people have created beautiful homes on shoestring budgets. It’s a win-win situation.
And the scheme is catching on across the world, with everything from historical buildings, plots of land and dilapidated village houses in some stunning areas being offered to the adventurous for a pittance. Here’s where you can find five of the best.
How much: €1
The place: The small town of Ollalai, nestling in the hills in the centre of Sardinia, Italy, is offering 200 quaint stone houses for €1 each. Worried about becoming a ghost town, the mayor wants to reinvigorate the place and hopes to see a wave of pioneers moving in and settling down. If stunning scenery, mountain air and some hearty traditional Sardinian cuisine appeals to you, you’d better get your skates on and register.
The deal: You have three years to renovate your somewhat abandoned home.
Buyer beware: Apart from having to do up the buildings you’ll be stuck in a rugged wilderness zone where one of the local dishes is a cheese filled with live maggots.
How much: €1 per property (18 offered)
The place: Roubaix, near Lille, is a former industrial boom town situated not too far from the border with Belgium. If you fancy a life of sitting outside cafes sipping espressos and nibbling on croque monsieurs, here’s your chance. Roubaix, which is a relatively new place compared to other French cities, is already home to some 96,000 people, and boasts some fine 19th century architecture including churches, an art deco swimming pool, as well as leafy parks and trendy microbreweries.
The deal: You have to renovate the property and live in it for at least six years.
Buyer beware: Council chiefs admit that the area in which the houses are sited is ‘plagued by urban decay, drugs and unemployment and is one of France’s poorest areas.’ – But hey, a house in France is a house in France, isn’t it?
Where: Italy – nationwide
How much: FREE!
The place: In an effort to prevent some of its beloved pieces of heritage falling into ruin, Italy is offering over 200 prestigious castles, monasteries and farmhouses … for free! Yes, that’s right, if you fancy, for example, living in an Etruscan farmhouse or an 18th century Puglian villa, now’s your chance.
The deal: Once you take ownership of your piece of Italian heritage you must open it up to the public as a guest house, hotel, restaurant, or similar. You’ll be allowed to ‘own’ it for nine years, whereupon the deal will be reviewed to see how much of a success (or otherwise) you have made of it.
Buyer beware: Most of the properties are BIG. They will require a lot of work to bring back to life, although the rewards could be worth it.
How much: €1
The place: Gangi, a peaceful and neat medieval hilltop village in a wooded region near Mt Etna, is offering 20 houses, each for less than the price of a cappuccino. The houses belonged to locals who had neither the will nor the funds to renovate them, and so the local council is selling them off for a song. Several adventurous expats have already taken up the offer, including four British couples, some Swedes and an American couple.
The deal: You must pay a €5,000 deposit to the local council, which will be returned when you have kept your side of the deal, which is to renovate the property and live in it.
Buyer beware: One thing you don’t need to worry about is the Sicilain Mafia, with the properties’ agent explaining that the Cosa Nostra are only interested in the multi million euro property deals on the coast, and not properties costing €1.
How much: Free
The place: The Pitcairn Islands are a group of tiny volcanic islands in the southern Pacific. With a population of just 56, said to be descended from Bounty mutineers, these British islanders are seeking some company and invite you to go and live amongst them. You’ll be given a plot of land on which to build a house, and invited to join the community.
The deal: A plot of land in this subtropical paradise is yours if you can prove you have over 30,000 New Zealand dollars to your name and some means of earning money.
Buyer beware: Said to be the most isolated island community on the planet and only accessible for three months of the year by supply ship, settlers in Pitcairn need to be independent and tough-minded. Also, jobs can be a bit thin on the ground there, as can distractions, spouses etc. If this still appeals you can simply fill out an online form and wait for them to get back to you.
If you aren’t able to snap up one of these bargain properties, you can still save money when buying a property abroad. Find out more about how we can help with your foreign property purchase.
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