Would You Buy This House for One Dollar?

In last September’s issue of The Bill Bonner Letter we reported on an interesting real estate deal in Sicily.

It was in a hill town in the interior of the island. But Sicily is a small place; it was not too far from the coast or from big cities.

We dispatched one of our researchers. He reported that the deal was real.

A village, called Gangi, in the Madonie Mountains in the province of Palermo, was desperate to stop the depopulation trend that was emptying central Sicily of people.

Rather than renovate them, owners turned their houses — many of them derelict — over to the local council.

What was the council to do with them?

Give them away for a euro each. That’s $1.12 at today’s exchange rate.

Our researcher got back to us with an opinion: the houses were probably not the best investment…even at a buck and change. They required too much renovation.

But the village — in fact, almost all of Sicily’s towns and villages — had plenty of houses that were in decent shape and could be bought for very little money.

Better than an RV?

We had a chance to visit one of those small towns on our drive from Agrigento to Syracuse yesterday.

Piazza Armerina is in the hills, not too far from Enna, which is said to be one of the prettiest towns in Italy and about two hours from the coast.

In the town centre, on top of a hill, is a large church built of brown stone, with a piazza in front. From there, narrow streets spiral down the hill, revealing small squares, restaurants, and balconies festooned with drying laundry and all the paraphernalia of small-town Sicilian life.

Our subject for the last few days has been how to live better for less money. In fact, we have taken it as a challenge to find ways to live on $500 a month.

So far, the consensus among readers is that living in a used RV in a Walmart parking lot is not better, and maybe not even possible.

We don’t disagree. But what about living in Piazza Armerina?

It would not be for everyone. But it might work for some…

We must sign off. We are rushing to catch a ship.

More tomorrow…


Bill Bonner,

For Markets and Money, Australia

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Since founding Agora Inc. in 1979, Bill Bonner has found success and garnered camaraderie in numerous communities and industries. A man of many talents, his entrepreneurial savvy, unique writings, philanthropic undertakings, and preservationist activities have all been recognized and awarded by some of America’s most respected authorities. Along with Addison Wiggin, his friend and colleague, Bill has written two New York Times best-selling books, Financial Reckoning Day and Empire of Debt. Both works have been critically acclaimed internationally. With political journalist Lila Rajiva, he wrote his third New York Times best-selling book, Mobs, Messiahs and Markets, which offers concrete advice on how to avoid the public spectacle of modern finance. Since 1999, Bill has been a daily contributor and the driving force behind Markets and Money.

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