Ever dreamed of opening an artisan boutique and settling down for good in an idyllic village in Italy’s deep south where it’s warm almost all year-round — and get paid to do it?
For those willing to take the plunge, it could soon no longer be just a dream.
The region of Calabria plans to offer up to €28,000 ($33,000) over a maximum of three years to people willing to relocate to sleepy villages with barely 2,000 inhabitants in the hope of reversing years of population decline.
These include locations near the sea or on mountainsides — or both.
This isn’t money for nothing, however. To get the funds, new residents must also commit to kickstarting a small business, either from scratch or by taking up preexisting offers of specific professionals wanted by the towns.
There are a few other catches, too.
Applicants must take up residency and — sorry boomers — be a maximum of 40 years old. They must be ready to relocate to Calabria within 90 days from their successful application.
It’s hoped the offer will attract pro-active young people and millennials eager to work.
Gianluca Gallo, a regional councilor, tells CNN the monthly income could be in the range of €1,000-€800 for two to three years. Alternatively, there could be one off funding to support the launch of a new commercial activity — be it a B&B, restaurant, bar, rural farm, or store.
“We’re honing the technical details, the exact monthly amount and duration of the funds, and whether to include also slightly larger villages with up to 3,000 residents,” he tells CNN. “We’ve had so far a huge interest from villages and hopefully, if this first scheme works, more are likely to follow in coming years.”
Dubbed “active residency income,” the project aims to boost the appeal of Calabria as a spot for “south-work” — the rebranded southern Italy version of remote working — explains Gianpietro Coppola, mayor of Altomonte, who contributed to the scheme.
He says it’s a more targeted approach to revitalizing small communities than the one euro house sell offs that have recently hit headlines.
“We want this to be an experiment of social inclusion. Draw people to live in the region, enjoy the settings, spruce up unused town locations such as conference halls and convents with high-speed internet. Uncertain tourism and the one euro houses are not the best ways to revamp Italy’s south,” says Coppola.
The “active residency income” project — and application process — are expected to be launched online in the next few weeks. The region has been working on it for months and has already earmarked more than €700,000 for the project.
The region of Molise and the town of Candela, in Puglia, have adopted similar schemes in past years as an alternative to selling crumbling homes for the cost of an espresso.
Over 75% of Calabria towns — roughly 320 — currently have fewer than 5,000 residents, leading to fears that some communities could die out completely in a few years unless regeneration occurs.
“The goal is to boost the local economy and breathe new life into small-scale communities,” adds Gallo. “We want to make demand for jobs meet supply, that’s why we’ve asked villages to tell us what type of professionals they’re missing to attract specific workers.”
As global travel resumes and Italy welcomes back tourists, visiting the region this summer might be a good way to get a feel of the Calabrian village life.
Here’s a roundup of the most picturesque places you might end up living in.