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How to buy a house in an Italian Ghost Town?

Ian Harvey

Have you always wanted to buy a house in a ghost town? Many people have discovered abandoned, rusty and dusty places while searching through Italy for the perfect forgotten village to call their vacation home. Italy has around 6,000 ghost towns, where the only life you will probably see are shepherds, sheep, and dogs. Yet buying a house in these spots is not easy. Here is our guide to house hunting in a place where all the neighbors are dead or have left town.

 

1:  The first thing you will need is patience, and lots of it. Most of these lost houses are not on the map. You have to ask locals on the road or just keep driving until you reach the destination. Eventually, you will come across the ghost town, but be prepared to walk as most ghost towns do not have roads leading to them. You will most likely have to park your car in a town close by, and then hike the rest of the way. Most of the time you will be hiking through dense forests, and asking every local on the way if you are going the right direction.

Romagnano al Monte Photo Credit

Romagnano al Monte Photo Credit

2:  You will have to find the owner, or at least attempt to. It’s been around 60 years since these lots of these spots have been occupied. You will be lucky if the local council still has records of the family descendants who live close by. Countless former villagers have run off to Australia or the U.S. decades ago, and descendants may well be scattered around the world, so it will be a challenge to just find them to make the offer. If you want to buy more than one house, that adds to the challenge.

Craco from above

Craco from above

3: Make sure to offer the same amount to everyone. News has the ability to spread like wildfire in tiny places and if one family hears about 2,000 euros being offered , they might ask for at least double. Being able to truthfully say “I offer the same to everyone” will help in your negotiations. Decide what you are willing to pay and stick to your guns.

Panorama of Pentedattilo

Panorama of Pentedattilo

4:  Try to talk to the government in towns where properties that have been abandoned belong to the local authorities. For example, take Gangi deep in Sicily, which is noted for its Arabic-style dwellings and their exotic gardens. The mayor has set up a special real estate agency that displays the houses on the market for just 1 euro each. The catch is you are required to renovate the house within three years, and the makeover should not cost more than 20,000 euros. They have a website that shows the buildings, and have a hired PR team that will take clients on tours and sends them email alerts when houses become available. A lot of locals have fled, and this place has become a ghost town – they consider buyers to be honorary citizens.

One of the best parts of the adrenaline adventure, though, is at the very end, and not just because of the fun of the restoration to make your former ghost house shine in the suburb location. When you are away, you can rent out your home for a very good price – maybe 1,000 euros a week during the summer peak season when the globetrotter crowd hits Italy’s historical piazzas and beaches.

So what are you waiting for? Italy has so many options for you to live in a secluded place that has been abandoned for decades. You can have a unique vacation home, that is not too expensive, in one of the most beautiful countries around.

In addition, check this awesome video about Ghost Towns:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHJAoR0Jw58