Considering that Italy is steeped in thousands of years of history, is renowned for its food and wine, and is known for its captivating art and architecture, it’s no wonder that many people dream of moving to the Mediterranean country. In recent years, the government has made the reality easier, with visas aimed at courting foreign retirees and by selling homes in certain municipalities for as little as one euro. Now, one Italian island is even offering to pay people to move there.
Sardinia, an Italian island off the western coast of Italy, wants to offer people 15,000 euros (US$14,976 based on current exchange rates, which are very favorable for the dollar right now) to relocate to its shores. It’s the second largest island in the Mediterranean (behind Sicily) and is famous for its pristine waters, beautiful coasts, and distinctly local fare (expect a culinary canon unlike the mainland, marked by what can be harvested, like prickly pears, or caught locally, such as lobster). To get there, travelers can fly into any of Sardinia’s three airports (Cagliari, the capital city, has the most routes) or go by ferry.
There are some stipulations to the scheme, however. Namely, the money must go toward buying or renovating a home in a town of fewer than 3,000 people, such as Galtellì (near Mount Tuttavista, popular for hiking) and Calasetta (known for its white-sand beaches). Applicants also need to plan to live there full-time—the funds aren’t intended to be used for vacation homes.
Why the scheme started
In recent decades, Sardinia’s rural communities have suffered from dwindling populations. The program is meant to repopulate the countryside—and give those smaller communities an economic boost.
“We have created the conditions for young people to decide to stay and (develop) the economic fabric of the most fragile territories,” Sardinian President Christian Solinas said in a press release. “There can be no growth without a real enhancement of the territories, of the interior and most disadvantaged areas, which must pass through new policies for their repopulation.”
The government has now set aside 105 million euros for the project. Considering that not every applicant will use the full amount (the grant cannot exceed 50 percent of the purchase and renovation price), more than 7,000 individuals or families could ultimately participate. The maximum rate of 15,000 euros will be provided to applicants as a one-time, nonrepayable grant, which home buyers can apply for at the main office of their new municipality. However, they would first need to register their residence in Sardinia (which they must do within 18 months of arrival to be eligible for the assistance).
Note that the hurdles of dealing with Italy’s bureaucratic system are infamously challenging, so applying for the fund may be easier said than done (especially if you don’t speak Italian). Still, for a chance at la dolce vita, it may be worth a shot.