The picturesque region of Molise, Italy—known for its green pastures, medieval fortresses, olive groves, and surrounding mountains—is offering to pay a monthly stipend to people who are willing to settle in the province’s most underpopulated villages.
The local government in Molise recently announced that it will pay €700 (about US$770) a month to people who relocate to the region for three years. To qualify, newcomers will have to commit to starting a small business that will contribute to the local economy. They’ll also need to move to a town with a population of less than 2,000, which will be less difficult than it might sound: Out of 136 total villages in Molise, 106 have fewer than 2,000 residents.
Located east of Rome on a mountainous stretch of land that encompasses part of the Adriatic Coast, the province has experienced a serious population decline in recent years as thousands of residents have left the area to find work in larger Italian towns and cities or abroad while the country’s economy struggles. (The number of people living in Molise has reportedly fallen by almost 9,000 since 2014, which leaves the region’s current population at 305,000.)
In a statement to the Guardian, the region’s president, Donato Toma, referred to the offer as “a way to breathe life into our towns while also increasing the population.” Toma also claimed that each town with fewer than 2,000 inhabitants would receive €10,000 (approximately US$11,000) to “build infrastructure and promote cultural activities.”
“We [want] people to invest here,” Toma continued. “[Newcomers] can open any sort of activity: a bread shop, a stationery shop, a restaurant, anything.”
In recent years, similar bids have been made to attract residents to less inhabited parts of Italy, including small villages in Sicily and Sardinia. At its core, the bid to pay people to move to Molise is another example of Italy’s attempts to resuscitate dwindling rural communities in the country and preserve their heritage. However, if you’ve been looking for an opportunity to give expat life a try in a destination that’ll likely welcome you with extremely open arms, this offer might have your name on it.
Molise officials say that the offer will officially launch on September 16, 2019, and that young people and couples with children are particularly encouraged to apply.
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