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Why towns in Italy’s Salento are offering new residents up to €30,000

As if the sunny south-eastern tip of Italy wasn’t enticing enough, towns in Salento have now announced big cash incentives for people moving in. Why is this needed, and what’s the catch?

Why towns in Italy’s Salento are offering new residents up to €30,000
If you're looking for your own piece of Italy's sunkissed Salento region - at a bargain price - you could be in luck. Photo by Gabriella Clare Marino on Unsplash

Another town in southern Italy has joined a long list of depopulated areas which are trying to offload old, unwanted houses at bargain prices and offering cash incentives to new residents.

The municipality of Presicce-Acquarica, which is made up of two adjoining villages, has announced it will soon offer grants worth up to €30,000 to those willing to relocate there.

READ ALSO: The cheap Italian properties buyers are choosing instead of one-euro homes

No doubt the offer will be tempting to anyone who has visited the sunny Salento area, in Italy’s south-eastern Puglia region.

Salento sits right at the bottom of the peninsula that forms the heel of the Italian ‘boot’. It’s a highly popular summer tourist destination known for scorching temperatures, sprawling olive groves, whitewashed houses and long coastlines dotted with wild, pristine beaches.

With its famously abundant local produce, warm climate and authentic, traditional feel, Puglia (and Salento in particular) is an increasingly popular destination for foreign second-home buyers as well as holidaymakers.

The Italian region of Puglia is known for its unspoilt landscapes and agricultural traditions. Photo by Mathilde Ro on Unsplash

But the newly-announced incentives are aimed more at those who would become full-time residents, as the council hopes to attract young families and people planning to start a business.

Those moving to the villages of Presicce or Acquarica must be willing to invest in an older property in the area, and the council says it will subsidise 50 percent of the cost of a property purchase and any renovation work up to a maximum of €30,000.

READ ALSO: Why Italians aren’t snatching up their country’s one-euro homes

Houses for sale as part of the deal are reportedly priced from around 500 euros per square metre, meaning you could buy a 50-square-metre property at around €25,000.

Like other cheap or one-euro homes on sale across Italy, the eligible properties have long been abandoned and are likely to need significant renovation work.

The location of Presicce-Acquarica at the southern tip of the Puglia region. Image: Google Maps

To be eligible for the grant, the council says individuals or families must move their official residency to the town – which would require being a full-time resident in Italy, to begin with, something which could prove problematic for those who would need a visa, or who only want to spend part of the year in Italy.

And buyers would have to be sure about their decision, as the town hall is expecting them to stick around.

“The maximum sum of 30,000 euros is envisaged only if the buyer decides to move their residence for at least 10 years after the purchase,” Mayor Paolo Rizzo said, according to newspaper Corriere della Sera

The municipal council has already launched several incentives to attract new residents, including tax breaks for business start-ups and ‘baby bonuses’ for families with children.

After just 60 births compared to 150 deaths last year, the town hall says it will also grant new resident families €1,000 for every baby born there.

READ ALSO:

The municipality now has around 9,000 residents, around half of whom live in the old town, where the properties for sale are located.

But attracting new families to this sleepy area may prove a considerable challenge: like many other parts of Italy trying to reverse population decline with generous-sounding incentives, Puglia’s villages often have little public transport infrastructure, scarce public services, and limited employment opportunities.

Many villages in rural Puglia have an older population and are struggling to retain younger residents. Photo: Rich Martello/Unsplash

Perhaps the council is relying on the area’s outstanding beauty to tempt new residents: Presicce-Acquarica is designated as one of Italy’s ‘most beautiful’ villages, with a historic centre filled with ornate churches and Baroque palazzi.

The town is nicknamed the “city of green gold” due to the high quality of the oil from the surrounding olive groves, and it’s only a short drive from the Ionian Sea and the popular tourist destinations of Gallipoli and Santa Maria di Leuca.

The full details of the scheme and application process have however not been finalised yet, and will be published on the town hall’s website in the coming weeks, according to Italian media reports.

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PROPERTY

Where in Italy are house prices rising fastest?

Property values are expected to continue rising overall in Italy in 2023, but the situation looks much better in some cities than others. Here's how average prices compare.

Where in Italy are house prices rising fastest?

Until 2020 Italy’s real estate market had long suffered stagnation, weighed down by a large number of old, neglected properties which were proving difficult to sell.

But the pandemic turned Italy’s property market on its head, leading to the first increase in house prices for years at the end of the first quarter of 2020.

This trend has held up since, and industry experts cautiously predict further price growth in 2023 – albeit more modest than previously hoped.

Factors putting the brakes on growth include the soaring cost of living eroding households’ purchasing power, rising mortgage interest rates, the soaring cost of building materials, and a shrinking economy.

REVEALED: Where in Europe have house prices and rent costs increased the most?

Mortgages are also expected to become more difficult to obtain in 2023, meaning fewer people able to make a purchase.

But despite the gloomy picture overall, the outlook varies significantly around the country and some cities are expected to see a significant rise in prices this year.

Milan remains by far the most expensive major Italian city for a property purchase, but prices are rising faster elsewhere. Photo by Ron Dylewski on Unsplash

A recent report from Idealista Insights, the property search portal’s research team, looked at changes in the average prices per square metre in property listings in Italy’s biggest cities.

In 2022, the price per square metre “generally increased throughout the country, with ‘exclusive’ neighbourhoods becoming even more inaccessible to the average buyer,” the report found.

But, while bigger northern cities saw rising prices across the board, most southern cities were struggling with “stagnation”, it said.

Based on Idealista’s data, here are the ten most expensive cities to buy property in Italy, in order of the rate at which prices are rising.

  1. Genoa: the Ligurian capital is Italy’s tenth-most expensive city to live in – but prices here are rising faster than anywhere else on average, according to Idealista. An increase of 4.5 percent is forecast for Genoa in 2023, meaning the price per square metre will go from 1,602 to 1,674 euros.
  2. Bologna: Bologna records the second-highest price increase in Italy compared to 2022. The citywide average price per square metre will rise by an estimated 3.9 percent, reaching 3,419 euros.
  3. Verona: in seventh place we find the city of Romeo and Juliet, where the increase in prices is substantial, equal to 3.2 percent. The average cost will rise by around 80 euros per square metre, going from 2,483 to 2,563 euros per square metre.
  4. Milan: Italy’s economic capital will easily remain the most expensive city for property purchases, with prices set to rise by 2.9 percent compared to 2022. The average price per square metre is expected to exceed 5,300 euros, 150 more than now, with significant price variation between city districts.
  5. Bari: The capital of Puglia in the south-east is set to record an price increase of 2.8 percent, with the citywide average price per square metre going from 1,909 euros to 1,962 – making it the ninth most expensive Italian city in which to buy property and the only southern city to record a significant increase. 
  6. Turin: The northwestern city can expect an overall price increase of 1.5 percent, equal to around 30 euros more per square metre for a final price of 1,979 euros on average. 
  7. Florence: The Tuscan capital still has the second-highest prices, and can expect an average price increase of 1.4 percent, with the cost per square metre to rise from 4,128 to 4,184 euros .
  8. Rome: The capital may have some highly sought-after and expensive districts, but overall average prices will remain at around 3,336 euros, up slightly from 3,360 in 2022. This is equal to an increase of just 0.76 percent.
  9. Venice: La Serenissima remains the fifth-most expensive city to buy property again this year as the average price will remain almost unchanged with a reduction of -0.3 percent, meaning the cost per square metre will be around 3,090 euros.
  10. Naples: The southern capital is set to go against the trend, with a -1.5 percent drop in house prices expected. This means the average price per square metre will go from 2,737 to 2,696 euros, a difference of 41 euros.
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