The idyllic village of Teora lies at the base of Mount Cresta del Gallo in southern Italy, a short driving distance to the pastel-coloured fishing villages of the Amalfi coast and the charming hill towns of Puglia.
And its government will pay you to live there.
Following the recent trend in Italian communities to sell off empty houses for 1 euro ($1.60) – or even give them away – in the hopes of attracting new residents and reviving their dwindling populations, Teora has taken a different tactic to attracting residents.
Mayor Stefano Farina hopes the financial gambit to move to his fiefdom will have longer-lasting impact, the New York Post reports.
Mr Farina thinks the 1 euro approach just makes it likely that buyers, who are then tasked with extensive renovations, will simply use the home for holidays or other short periods.
In order to qualify for Teora’s plan, newcomers must take up residence for at least three years, and already have a minimum of one child when they apply.
“I don’t believe in selling empty houses for 1 euro, that doesn’t incentivise people to stay in town,” Mr Farina told CNN Travel.
In return, they’ll get approximately $240 a month towards the cost of renting a house, over the course of two years — which is a pretty good deal, considering rent there can be as low as $300 a month. Prospective residents can opt instead for a lump sum of about $8000 that would go towards buying a home. Houses in Teora can cost as little as $45,000.
“They just come a few months a year as holiday-makers. That’s not the solution,” Mr Farina said. “But taking up residency and enrolling kids at the local school, that does breathe new life.”
According to Mr Farina, population problems began for Teora in 1980 when the village suffered a massive earthquake, killing 157 people and destroying many historical and cultural buildings. The earthquake also forced many younger residents to move to safer ground, and the town has never quite bounced back.
“Two babies are born (in Teora) each year versus 20 elders who die,” Mr Farina said. “We’re down to barely 1500 residents.”
For more information about what is available, prospective settlers can contact Teora’s town hall office by email. The available houses are all in good condition, CNN reports, and will come out to less than the 1-euro homes cost to renovate. Some are even furnished.
And Teora has plenty to see and do, including an annual celebration of love songs where couples re-enact the balcony scene from Shakespeare’s Romeo And Juliet and the Halloween-esque parade of Li Squacqualacchiun, where participants will knock on doors with sticks covered in pine needles before performing tricks.
Some structures also still remain from before the earthquake, including an amphitheatre, fountains, a watermill and an ancient church.
And, Mr Farina said, the scheme already seems to be working.
“So far two Italian families have settled down and one from Brazil with Italian roots,” he says. “They even brought along the grandparents.”
This article originally appeared on the New York Post and was reproduced with permission