Get paid to move to Italy: the picturesque village offering up to €30,000 to new residents

Could you live here?  (Lupiae/Wikipedia Commons)
Could you live here? (Lupiae/Wikipedia Commons)

Sun, sea and…sweet property deals. A picturesque Italian town is offering grants of up to €30,000 (£26,900) to people to move there in an attempt to prevent depopulation.

Presicce Acquarica is the latest Italian destination to offer a financial incentive to entice new residents. Announced last month, people who relocate to the village under the scheme will be eligible for a non-repayable grant to help cover the cost of buying —and renovating— a home there.

Beneficiaries must buy a property in the village and make it their permanent home. €30,000 is the maximum contribution from a total budget of €150,000.

And Presicce Acquarica is a desirable spot. In Puglia, —the heel of Italy’s boot— it is a historic town known for its underground olive mills. Think wide piazzas, Baroque churches, trattorias, coffee bars and bakeries.

The Church of Saint Andrea (Lupiae/Wikipedia Commons)
The Church of Saint Andrea (Lupiae/Wikipedia Commons)

The sun-baked Salento coastline, not far away, is home to some of Italy’s best beaches, washed by the Adriatic and Ionian seas.

Presicce merged with the nearby town of Acquarica in 2019, which has increased its funding to revitalize its old district. With a population of around 10,500 collectively and 5,500 in Presicce, the town has been trying to counter its ageing population in other ways, including paying out a €1,000 (£863) bonus for newborns and launching another initiative to encourage young people to stay in the village.

"There are many empty homes in the historical centre built before 1991 which we would like to see alive again with new residents," local councillor Alfredo Palese told CNN. "It is a pity witnessing how our old districts full of history, wonderful architecture and art are slowly emptying."

Up to 30 per cent of the housing stock is supposedly eligible for the initiative, which is called Welcome to Presicce Acquarica. On Idealista, properties currently for sale in Presicce range from €18,000 for a detached house in need of major renovation to a 30-room farmhouse in the neighbouring countryside for €1.25 million. Most properties listed are under €100,000, and all but seven of 71 currently advertised are under €250,000.

A derelict property currently on sale for €48,000 (Idealista)
A derelict property currently on sale for €48,000 (Idealista)

Since the initiative was announced and publicised internationally, Google searches for Presicce Acquarica spiked to their highest point in the past 17 years.

A Facebook group for the town gained an influx of new members, with people from around the world asking questions about the scheme and local representatives, including Palese, bombarded with questions.

“You can’t spend all your time replying to everyone, hopping on here and there and risking being imprecise,” wrote councillor Luca Pacella after being tagged several times on Facebook. “I repeat: when the announcement comes out, everyone will know.”

Precise details of the scheme are still to be released and will be published on the town’s website.

In recent years, Italy has launched a string of initiatives to entice new residents into dwindling towns.

In 2019, the northern Italian village of Locana offered €9,000 to young families to relocate there. The same year, derelict properties in the hilltop town of Sambuca were famously sold for €1, to worldwide interest.

Earlier this year one such property, newly restored, was searching for an Airbnb host to live there free of charge for a year.