Having your move to an idyllic Mediterranean paradise subsidised by local politicians isn’t an opportunity that pops up very often. And yet over the past few years, there have been inklings of such a thing as local governments come up with ways to entice new residents to bump up dwindling populations. Calabria in Southern Italy last year launched a scheme where the local government would literally pay you $44,000 to move there. Now it seems Sardinia, the Mediterranean’s second-largest island next to Sicily, is going the same route. Local authorities have pledged to pay potential new residents hoping to start a new life in the picturesque locale just for simply making the move to Sardinia in the first place.
When you hear of a Mediterranean island promising to pay people to move there, doubt is understandable. And look, it’s not as straightforward as it seems. There is a catch, but it’s part of the moving process anyway.
With Sardinia’s population now rapidly aging and younger locals deciding to move away, local authorities are hoping their promise to pay €15,000 outright to anyone moving to Sardinia can help. That’s around AU$22,350 in a one-off, non-repayable grant, given to the new resident under the condition that they buy or renovate a home in an area of Sardinia with a population of less than 3,000.
There is another fairly important caveat. The grant that is paid to the new resident cannot surpass more than 50% of the total cost of the house purchased or renovated. That means you can’t just find the cheapest house you can – if there are even houses for around AU$40,000 – and expect your payment.
The scheme is worth more than €105 million (~AU$156 million), aimed directly at more internationals who don’t mind the idea of moving permanently to an Italian island. It can’t be just a holiday home, by the way. To qualify for the cash, new residents must live in the house full-time and also qualify for permanent residency in Sardinia within 18 months of arrival.
“We have created the conditions for young people to decide to stay and develop the economic fabric of the most fragile territories,” said Sardinian President Christian Solinas in a press release. “Thanks to the contributions to the first houses, it is strengthened and becomes fertile ground for those who will move there or decide to build a family.”
The logic behind the new Sardinia payment scheme seems to be the thought that there can be no true growth without first enhancing the territories of both the internal areas and the most disadvantaged ones.
While you probably won’t see Florence or Rome paying you to move there anytime soon, there have been a fair few instances like this where Italian regions have offered financial incentives to encourage more foreigners to move in. In 2019, places like Bivona and Mussomeli in Sicily began selling homes for less than AU$5. The Molise region also offered to pay people to move there a few years ago. Sardinia wasn’t the first and, if the post-pandemic mass exodus that’s been happening all around the world continues, won’t be the last.
A move to Sardinia sounds like it’d be a tough gig but I’m sure there’s someone out there willing to do it.