Intentional communities in European towns in decline


You may have seen news coverage of various towns (mostly in Italy) that are selling houses for one Euro. There are even web sites to search for them.

This happens because many small towns face migration of their population to big cities. As population drops, houses get abandoned. These can become a blight on the city, possibly worsening its decline. To stop this, the cities seize the houses and give them away -- with some big catches.

To get one, you have to agree to renovate it, and put up a minimum bond. The real cost of renovation will often be higher, like €20,000. There will also be paperwork and legal fees. But getting a nice house in a nice village for €25,000 is still quite interesting -- though some people say it's much simpler to go to the same towns and just buy a house in better repair for a similar price, and do more modest work on it, without the special contract.

Let's face it, if you live very far away, and don't speak the language, doing all this work and finding contractors and remotely overseeing it all can be quite daunting.

Doing it as a group

It seems to me that it could be more interesting to find a group of like-minded people to do this. Together, they would approach city councils to get a group of homes, perhaps not too far from each other. If the city is eager to sell a home for €1 to one person, they would be very eager to deal with a group.

In particular, the group would have a single coordinator, who they would pay to manage all the paperwork, find the contractors and be on the ground supervising the work. The city and the buyers would be very happy to get quality work at low hassle. Cities might do even more than give the homes free, they might offer other perks.

Once built, a community of like-minded people would own the homes. While not that many would move full time to these homes, they would use them some of the time, rent them out much of the time, but also try to plan special events when everybody is in town for a gathering.

This is especially possible in today's world where many people can "work from anywhere" as long as they get good internet. And part of the requirements would be that each home be wired for tech. (Starlink seems to make this possible almost anywhere, now.)

There are many criteria that might go into selecting the town for this:

  1. The town is not under too much stress. Struggling, but not on the way to death.
  2. The town should be large enough to have a nice collection of restaurants and other amenities. A town rather than a small village
  3. For the nomads, it needs to be within reasonable reach of an airport, one with frequent connections to the major airports to get anywhere in Europe easily, and overseas without too much hassle and driving. Proximity to high speed rail could also work.
  4. Most people might want to pay much more than €20,000 to get superior properties with views, or good proximity to the town core.

There are several other interesting potential features

  • If the properties are close, also making a "shared space" which all members can use for parties, or for the regular gatherings. This could rent itself out as a venue to others as well.
  • A carpool could be handy for those who will fly in, if the town can be reached without a car. (Many are only convenient by car.)
  • Property management and cleaning for those renting out their units on AirBNB and similar. (At this cost, many may feel little need to do that, but towns may be keen on not having too many vacant days, even if the property is kept up.)

Since you probably won't find a town close to the big airports -- Milan, Rome, Venice, Paris, Frankfurt, Munich, Madrid, Zurich, Amsterdam, Brussels, Lisbon etc. -- which have flights overseas, the best choice may be something half-an hour from a 2nd tier airport that can get a connection.


To do this, one has to

  1. Gather the community (though some can join later)
  2. Find the local manager who will be well paid to get it all done, from legal to renovations to some of the negotiations
  3. Negotiate with the towns and pick the best town. Hire a sub-manager actually in that town for on the ground work.


China used more cement in 3 years
(between 2011 and 2013) than the U.S. did in the entire 20th Century.

More than 20 million Chinese relocate to cities each year, which is more people than live in downtown New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago combined. This massive change has taken place in less than 50 years. In 1978, less than a fifth of China’s population lived in cities. By 2020, that proportion will be 60 percent.

Washington Post

Let me illustrate this using the example of group lending: Cariad, or the Car-Software organization, was founded from within the group at the time – around 2,000 experts were loaned from the brands at the time. This corporate loan expired in July
and the employees had the opportunity to decide to go back to brands such as Audi or Porsche or to sign a contract with us. Around 86 percent chose Cariad.
Rainer Zugeh, Cariad

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