Abruzzo is fantastically cheap.
You can eat like royalty here on a pittance. So much food (and pasta and wine and oil) is produced locally, it’s like getting everything at a huge discount. Most locals shop markets and mom-and-pop stores to buy local. In every town or city in Abruzzo you’d be able to shop butchers, bakers, greengrocers, pasta makers, and sundry shops exclusively. There are supermarkets, of course, but forego them to get the really good stuff from the specialists.
Many locals even produce some of their own food, drastically cutting food costs. Expat couple Dan and Karen (who I introduced you to a while ago) are completely self-sufficient on just a couple of acres—complete with pigs, sheep, rabbits, chickens, and crops—and claim to spend only about 700 euros (US$812) per month to support their richly satisfying rural lifestyle.
Likewise, housing is cheap, whether you’re looking to rent or buy. Renting in a city would run you between 700 and 1,200 euros (US$812 to US$1,393) for a 90-square-meter, two-bedroom apartment. In the country, rentals can go as low as 200 or 300 euros (US$232 to US$348) a month, usually including some land.
It’s worth noting that Italians aren’t typically renters… over 80% of the population owns their home, so the rental mentality is missing here. Holiday rentals are easy to find, but the market isn’t flooded with long-term rental options… you’ll have to hunt a bit.
The climate is mild enough to go without heating or cooling, but there are four seasons, so you’ll likely use air conditioning or heating for at least a few months a year. One upside is that most homes come with one or more fireplaces that help heat the house—and many have wood-burning ovens built into the kitchens.
Entertainment options are mostly free—it costs nothing to enter the national parks or hit the beach. Movie tickets cost between 4 and 7 euros (US$4.64 and US$8.12), depending on discounts.
If you want to get some household help, maids, cooks, and nannies are reasonably priced (and many offer discounted rates to be paid under the table). Going through an agency you’d probably pay about 10 euros (US$11.61) an hour—maybe 7 (US$8.12) under the table—but it’s also easy to find help through networking.
Otherwise, your expenses are limited to car ownership and travel, whether domestic or international. Gas is incredibly expensive in Italy, about 70 euros (US$81.24) to fill a tank—1.20 euros per liter (US$1.39)—so driving is not an insignificant cost. Air tickets from Abruzzo are cheap, though, so traveling throughout Europe is affordable with a little extra cash per month.
Italy’s health care is ranked #2 in the world, according to WHO, and it has the 14th highest life expectancy in the world, according the CIA Factbook.
There is a noticeable discrepancy between Italy’s private and public hospitals and also a discrepancy in care available in different regions of the country. Northern Italy is a more affluent area and tends to have better public medical facilities… while the south, which is poorer, has lower quality public medical facilities.
The national health care system is a collection of structures and services that ensure health protection and assistance for all Italian and foreign citizens. Enrollment takes place at the Azienda Sanitaria Locale (ASL) in your particular region. The enrollment is open to non-EU citizens after paying the minimal annual fee (determined in proportion to income). The minimum yearly fee is 388 euros (US$450) per person.
If you aren’t covered by the national system, you must pay before receiving treatment, even if you have private medical insurance. Some foreign insurance companies have agreements in place to bill hospitals directly.
In contrast with your public options, private hospitals are more like five-star hotels and have a price tag to go along with the luxury. A stay in a private hospital can cost from 500 to 3,000 euros (US$580 to US$3,482) per day; treatment costs can be up to 5,000 euros (US$5,803) per day (e.g. for major surgery).
What’s On The Market In Abruzzo?
Countryside. And lots of it.
The majority of the region’s available inventory is either rural or in the historical little mountain villages or towns (comune)—mostly country houses with land, farmhouses, and traditional Italian townhomes. Some of the properties will be move-in ready, but most will require some type of renovation.
The properties that you’ll find range from hillside farmhouses to luxury villas and everything in between. Some of the properties in the countryside will be move-in ready but most need either a full-scale renovation, restorative work, or upgrades.
Many of the countryside properties come with a couple hectares of land, often already planted with grape vineyards, olive groves, and cherry or peach orchards. Some even grow crops like beans, lettuce, tomatoes, and squashes on a small scale.
Keeping that in mind, Abruzzo represents a great opportunity to go off-grid. Most properties could easily be made self-sufficient… or you could dabble in winemaking or olive oil production.
You’ve got some direct beachfront or coastal real estate available, too, but expect to pay a premium for it.
New construction and master-planned developments are practically nonexistent, especially in the historical villages or countryside.
What You’ll Shell Out For A Foothold In The Boot
The property values in the hamlets and villages are severely depressed. The younger generation is moving to the bigger cities in search of better opportunities, so you’ve got some sections within these towns where properties have been abandoned and fallen into disrepair—these are the 5,000-euro-range (US$5,803) properties.
These communities still maintain a strong sense of pride. Local officials are fighting to preserve their history and restore these vintage towns to their former glory. Don’t discount capital appreciation… but don’t expect to see the fruits of appreciation growth in your lifetime.
On average, move-in ready units start at 800 euros (US$928) per square meter and go up to as much 5,000 euros (US$5,803) a square meter for newer construction located along the coast.
Agricultural land will start at around 2,000 euros (US$2,321) per hectare.
Holding costs are extremely low here. Yearly property taxes should be no more than 600 euros (US$696) per year. Utility costs should be no more than 150 euros (US$174) per month. Home insurance will be no more than 500 euros (US$580) per year.
Depending on where and what you buy, the prices for properties in need of significant renovation or restoration could start at as low as 100 euros (US$116) per square meter.
The cost per square meter for renovation projects would start at 600 euros (US$696) and go up to as much 1,000 euros (US$1,160). You should expect to spend around 1,000 to 1,500 euros (US$1,160 to US$1,740) per square meter to build a new home from the ground up. The cost per square meter will depend on the quality of finishes that you want to use.