When a US woman saw a dirt-cheap deal on houses in Italy back in 2019, within days she was on a plane.
Now Rubia Daniels, originally from Brazil but who lives in California, owns three of the crumbling homes – which she bought for just $US3.30 (around $A5) combined, New York Post reports.
The catch, of course, is that purchasers must renovate the properties within a certain time frame – something that the 49-year-old is already well on the way to achieving.
When Ms Daniels, who works in the solar industry, first heard of the dirt-cheap homes being offered in order to help repopulate abandoned towns in Italy, she felt a spark.
“I was so amazed. It was one of those things where you have to see it to make sure it’s true,” the San Francisco resident told the outlet.
“I did my research, and within three days I had my plane ticket, a rental car, the hotel, and I left.”
The spot she was headed for was Mussomeli, a town of around 10,000 residents in the centre of Sicily.
Mussomeli is just one of many towns and villages in Italy offering up properties for rock-bottom prices in a bid to help combat dwindling populations.
It’s a trend that predates the coronavirus pandemic.
In 2019, for instance, the Sicilian town of Sambuca di Sicilia rose to fame for selling its abandoned homes for €1 (around $A1.60 at the time).
Two years later, another batch of homes there came up for sale again, with the price doubled – to €2.
Similarly, the southern Italian town of Laurenzana in 2021 offered up its own abandoned homes for €1 each.
Still, as low as the prices were, the properties required anywhere between $A35,000 to $A135,000 to restore – and owners had three years to complete the work.
In Mussomeli, Ms Daniels has different plans for each structure she owns.
One will be where she stays whenever she’s in town. Meanwhile, in an effort to give back to the community, she’ll convert the second into an art gallery and the third into a wellness centre. The wellness centre will be her biggest renovation.
After her purchase in July 2019, Ms Daniels began her restoration process later that year.
For now, the exteriors of two properties are completed with the last one yet to begin, but 2020 threw a spanner in the initial progress.
“Covid-19 happened and we weren’t allowed to go back, so I just started renovations again last year,” she told the outlet.
For Ms Daniels, the town of Mussomeli reminded her of her hometown near the Brazilian capital of Brasilia.
Beyond a pocket-change purchase of property, she also got warm neighbours.
“People were super welcoming and everyone wanted to have a coffee with me,” she told Insider. “The realtors embraced me like a sister – they were with me every single day through the time I was there.”
This article originally appeared on New York Post and was reproduced with permission