Italy’s Empty Houses: A Grim Reflection of Economic Decline

Perhaps you’ve come across the intriguing headlines about towns in Italy giving away houses for just one Euro or even offering thousands of dollars for people to come and live there. While these news stories may seem amusing at first glance, they shed light on a deeper question: why would a country like Italy need to pay people to live there? This seemingly lighthearted trend actually reveals the grim economic reality faced by Italy today. In this article, we will delve into the reasons behind Italy’s one Euro house schemes, the growing number of empty houses, and what they signify about the country’s current state.

Italy’s One Euro House Schemes: Revitalizing Small Towns

Underneath the surface charm of Italy’s idyllic landscapes lies a stark truth: millions of homes across the country stand empty, and this number continues to rise. These vacant properties, many of which are historical houses nestled in picturesque countryside locations, are an integral part of Italy’s cultural heritage. To safeguard these homes from decay and abandonment, towns throughout Italy have initiated one Euro schemes. These initiatives offer the empty houses for sale at a symbolic price of one Euro, effectively giving them away for free. However, these transactions come with conditions, typically requiring buyers to invest in renovation to restore the properties. Although the cost of renovation is relatively low, ranging from 20,000 to 30,000 Euros, potential buyers can acquire these properties at an incredibly affordable price, while simultaneously aiding the preservation of the local town’s architectural treasures.

Unveiling Italy’s Economic Stagnation

The one Euro house schemes merely scratch the surface of Italy’s underlying economic predicaments. Italy has encountered two major crises, both of which have remained largely unresolved. Firstly, since the mid-1990s, Italy’s economy has experienced stagnation, with minimal or no growth. This may come as a surprise, considering Italy’s status as one of the world’s largest economies, home to renowned brands and companies across various industries. The reason behind Italy’s economic decline can be attributed to what an esteemed Italian economist has termed the “Italian disease.” According to his theory, Italian businesses have long valued loyalty and connections over performance, resulting in an economic landscape that failed to adapt to the demands of the 21st century. Additionally, Italy grapples with unstable governance, a chaotic legal system, rampant tax evasion, and one of the world’s largest public debts. These factors, combined, have hindered Italy’s growth and led to its increasing dysfunction.

The Consequences of High Unemployment and the “Thousand Euro Generation”

Italy’s economic woes are further exacerbated by persistently high unemployment rates, particularly among the youth. For over two decades, Italy has struggled with one of the highest unemployment rates in Europe, with an average of 10% and a staggering 30% among young people. This has given rise to what is known as the “Thousand Euro generation.” This term refers to individuals in their 30s, highly educated and qualified, who earn less than one thousand Euros per month. They face significant financial challenges, often struggling to make ends meet. The pervasive nature of this issue has contributed to Italy’s reputation as one of the unhappiest countries in Europe. When even successful individuals are burdened by financial instability, it becomes clear that the economic system is breaking down, making it increasingly difficult for individuals to secure their financial futures.

Italy’s Demographic Crisis: A Perfect Storm

Italy confronts not only economic decline and high unemployment but also a significant demographic crisis. Since 2008, over 2 million young, qualified Italians have left the country permanently. This massive exodus continues unabated, with hundreds of thousands of people emigrating each year. Additionally, Italy faces the challenge of a rapidly aging population, often referred to as the “silver tsunami.” With the third-oldest population globally and the third-lowest birth rates in Europe, Italy’s demographic imbalance poses significant obstacles. As the number of elderly citizens requiring pensions and care increases, the workforce shrinks. This dual phenomenon stifles economic growth and leaves fewer individuals to start businesses, create value, and drive the economy. Italy’s demographic crisis, combined with its economic struggles and emigration patterns, perpetuates a negative cycle that is increasingly challenging to break.


Italy’s one Euro house schemes capture attention with their seemingly generous offers, but they also provide a glimpse into the underlying economic and demographic issues faced by the country. Italy’s economic decline, marked by stagnant growth, nepotism, and systemic inefficiencies, has created a challenging environment for businesses and workers. High unemployment rates, particularly among the youth, contribute to financial instability and prompt many to seek better opportunities abroad. Moreover, Italy’s demographic crisis, characterized by a declining population and an aging society, further exacerbates the economic challenges the country faces. As Italy struggles to keep its small towns and villages alive, the proliferation of empty houses serves as a stark reminder of the nation’s decline. The road to recovery may be arduous, but acknowledging and addressing these complex issues is crucial for Italy’s future prosperity.