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Italian village that will pay Aussies $72,000 to live there

Lucy Dean
·2-min read
SANTO STEFANO DI SESSANIO, ITALY - JUNE 16: An old house and a cobbled street in the medieval town on June 16, 2019 in Santo Stefano di Sessanio, Italy. (Photo by EyesWideOpen/Getty Images)
An old house and a cobbled street in the medieval town of Santo Stefano di Sessanio, Italy. (Photo by EyesWideOpen/Getty Images)

Italy has a problem: its population is ageing and many of its rural cities and villages are being deserted by younger people, leaving them economically devastated.

And while many of these towns have tried to fight the trend by offering homes for as little as €1 or even giving them away for free to entice foreigners and out-of-towners back in, one town has significantly upped the ante.

The medieval village of Santo Stefano di Sessanio is offering as much as AU$72,000 to those who move there and who start a business.

That’s made up of a monthly fee for three years with a maximum of $13,000 per year, or $39,000 over two years.

SANTO STEFANO DI SESSANIO, ITALY - JUNE 16: A terrace with flowers of an old house in the medieval town on June 16, 2019 in Santo Stefano di Sessanio, Italy. (Photo by EyesWideOpen/Getty Images)
A terrace with flowers of an old house in the medieval town of Santo Stefano di Sessanio, Italy. (Photo by EyesWideOpen/Getty Images)

Then there’s a one-off cash injection the council will provide of $33,000 to help the newcomers launch their business. The new residents will also be given a property to live in, although the details of the rental fee haven’t yet been nailed down, Mayor Fabio Santavicca said.

Instead, it will be a “symbolic” payment.

“We’re not selling anything to anyone -- this isn’t a business move. We just want to enable the village to continue to live,” Santavicca told CNN.

But competition is fierce: while the council wants to open the scheme to around 10 applicants, 1,500 have applied.

High angle view of buildings and trees during winter, Santo Stefano di Sessanio AQ, Italy
Santo Stefano di Sessanio in winter. Image: Getty

“We want to ramp numbers up gradually, and we have to work with the housing that belongs to the authorities,” said Santavicca.

The village is located in central-southern Italy, in Abruzzo and has a population of 115, half of whom are pensioners. And less than 20 are younger than 13. Santavicca said the village is tranquil and encourages a slower pace of living.

The beautiful village Santo Stefano di Sessanio on a winter morning. Abruzzo, Italy.
Santo Stefano di Sessanio on a winter morning. Image: Getty

In order to be eligible, participants need to be 40 or younger and a resident of Italy - or have the ability to become one. They also must agree to stay in the village for five years. Interested applicants can apply on the council website, with a deadline of 15 November.

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