In 2019, a US woman saw houses in Italy going for dirt-cheap prices, and within days she jetted over to Europe to see for herself.
Originally from Brazil but living in California, Rubia Daniels now owns three of the abandoned homes, which she bought for just $US3.30 (around $AUD5) combined, according to the New York Post.
However, snapping up these homes comes with a catch: the buyers must renovate the properties within a certain time frame, something that the 49-year-old is well underway with.
When Ms Daniels, who works in the solar industry, first heard of the dirt-cheap homes being offered to help repopulate abandoned towns in Italy, she realised she had found her calling.
“I was so amazed. It was one of those things where you have to see it to make sure it’s true,” the San Francisco resident told the outlet.
“I did my research, and within three days I had my plane ticket, a rental car, the hotel, and I left.”
The place she was headed for was Mussomeli, a town with a population of around 10,000 in the centre of Sicily.
Mussomeli is just one of the many towns and villages in Italy offering up properties for remarkably low prices in an attempt to help combat dwindling populations.
It’s a trend that predates the COVID pandemic.
Back in 2019, the Sicilian town of Sambuca di Sicilia gained substantial traction for selling its abandoned homes for €1 (around $A1.60 at the time).
In 2021, another string of homes were up for sale there, bringing the price up to €2.
The southern Italian town of Laurenzana jumped on the trend in 2021 and offered up its own abounded homes for €1 each.
Although prices remained astoundingly low, the properties required anywhere between $A35,000 to $A135,000 to restore, with owners having three years to complete the job.
In Mussomeli, Ms Daniels has different plans for each structure she purchased.
One property will be dedicated to when she stays in town. Meanwhile, in an effort to give back to the community, she has plans to convert the second into an art gallery and the third into a wellness centre. The wellness centre will be her most significant renovation.
After her initial purchase in July 2019, Ms Daniels began her restoration process later that year.
Currently, the exteriors of two properties are completed, with the last one yet to begin, but 2020 slowed down the initial progress.
“Covid-19 happened and we weren’t allowed to go back, so I just started renovations again last year,” she said.
Mussomeli is special for Ms Daniels as it reminded her of her hometown near the Brazilian capital of Brasilia.
Aside from hitting the jackpot with her properties, she’s received a warm welcome from the community.
“People were super welcoming and everyone wanted to have a coffee with me,” she told Insider.
“The realtors embraced me like a sister – they were with me every single day through the time I was there.”
Image credit: Instagram
This article first appeared on Over60.