Italy has always been an extremely popular destination for both for summer holidays and as a  retirement relocation.  The more relaxed way of life, the cuisine and the climate are tempting.  After a year of lockdown, without holidays or much light at the end of the tunnel, it could be the time to reassess the options available.

For many people, the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic have considerably altered their perspective and they have made the decision to change direction with a view to enjoying a better and calmer quality of life in a more relaxing and pleasant environment.  It is not only people coming to the end of their working life in a stressful City environment who have decided that they do not want to wait for peace and quiet, but young couples who want their children to be brought up without the stresses and strains that harass us in big city life.

Those people with family connections to Italy who are familiar with the slower pace of life often see the many advantages to making a move to a calmer environment.  This coupled with the discovery that actually it may not be absolutely necessary to work from an office and working from home, (anywhere in the world) often achieves the same results as office-based work, makes the decision even easier.

The areas in Italy that suffer from dwindling populations, notably in the south, have for some time employed a variety of strategies to encourage new blood to the areas struggling to maintain a reasonable population.  Real estate schemes involving the sale of a limited number of houses in need of serious renovation for one euro have proved popular.   However, such schemes require a fairly hefty sum to renovate the properties, between €30,000 and €20,000 and a guarantee of completion within three years.  Whilst, in many cases, it can nevertheless offer a very cost-effective property there is still a degree of organisation and monitoring needed to see the project through.

Recently the mayor, in the town of Biccari in Puglia, Gianfilippo Mignogna, devised a scheme to revitalise the area that was stricken with unoccupied properties, that was different from the schemes that involve properties that require considerable renovation before the owners can move in.  The Biccari scheme offers properties that are ready to live in for £7,500, the price of small second-hand car.  Predictably, this highly attractive proposition has led to an explosion of interest, with 20,000 email enquiries from around the world, with the commune (local authority) having to set up a multilingual team of advisors and legal professionals to cope with the demand. There are, of course, a finite number of properties available, in initial tranche amounted to 30 properties but it is expected that further properties are to be released into the scheme. 

The perception that if you miss out on such a scheme there are no further options is not strictly accurate. In fact, often some of the schemes can be limiting and the purchaser is tied to renovation schedules and may also be obliged to relocate to Italy. The lawyers in Giambrone's real estate team have extensive knowledge of the Italian property market and point out that there are many extremely attractive opportunities in rural Italy that simply need to be searched for.  Without the constraints of a scheme, the purchaser can designate whether the property will be for their own exclusive use or to be let out as a holiday home to tourists. Equally, it could be turned into a commercial enterprise for tourists such as a retreat or offer cookery courses.

Giambrone's experienced real estate lawyers are experts in their field can advise you on any aspect of your future plans.

Originally Published by Giambrone Law, February 2021

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