Only 160 miles east of Rome lies the Italian region of Molise. A region that, since 2014, has lost nearly 9,000 of its inhabitants, lowering its entire population to 305,000. As part of an rescue and recovery initiate, local government is offering to pay people $27,000 to move to Molise, Italy. The hope, according to regional councilor Antonio Tedeschi who spoke with CNN about the offer, is that young people with children will move to the area, open up small businesses and breath new life in to the soon-to-be desert town. According to the Italian National Institute of Statistics, and as reported by The Guardian, that in the last year, not a single birth was reported in nine of its towns, and more than 2,800 of its inhabitants died or moved away — the math is simple: Molise is quickly turning into a ghost region.
But why? The remote, rural area in Italy’s mountain region has both coastal property on the Adriatic Sea, and the National Park of Abruzzo. There are museums, ancient archeological sites, Romanesque churches, castles, farmland, and even a snow-filled ski resort — the most popular in south central Italy. So why, you might be wondering, is this culturally rich region experiencing one of the most signification depopulation crises? According to CNN, the remote nature of this historic region is part of its problem. As young people move closer to major cities and start families elsewhere, the population of the region dies with its inhabitants. Quite simply, there isn’t enough going on there to sustain the young people that live there, or entice young people from elsewhere to settle down there. So that’s where they pay-to-move deal comes in.
In an interview, Donato Toma, the president of Molise, told The Guardian that this offer is a longterm strategy. They don’t just want people to move to Molise with an short term hope to make some money, they want people to move to Molsie to invest in a future and help rebuild the region and change the trajectory of its future. “They can open any sort of activity: a bread shop, a stationery shop, a restaurant, anything.” Toma told The Guardian, giving potential inhabitants an sense that this is truly their chance to have whatever small business they’re interested in be turned into a reality — for a small price. I know, I said they’ll pay you to live there, but there is some fine print.
The $27,000 “gift” is broken down into monthly payments over the course of there years (about $770/month) and upon accepting this offer, you will essentially have to also pitch your small business idea to the regions council or show up with kids or a plan for kids in the future. Aka, the point of this offer is not only to increase the population, but rather to increase the incentive for the population to continue to increase, beyond this offer — which will officially launch on September 16.
So, if the combination of both wanderlust and the desire to open a small, but lucrative business in a remote, but picturesque mountain town in south-central Italy are on your bucket list, you’ll want to mark you calendars for Sep. 16. It’s an opportunity to start a new life, and help resurrect an old region and carry it with you, very literally, into the future.