Imagine being paid to open your own business — in one of the most beautiful places on earth.
The walled-in, Italian hilltop village of Santo Stefano di Sessanio is currently offering 10 applicants the chance to move in and pay a nominal “symbolic” rent if they arrive with a firm business plan. According to CNN, the aging population of 115 people is hungry for a new, younger generation and hopes to lure in a few hearty entrepreneurs.
Located in Abruzzo wine country, the town is prioritizing applications with businesses tied to tourism, or essential workers with plans for creating maintenance or drugstore opportunities. Anyone who can figure out how to work with the town’s current food vendors should also apply, and join a list of over 1,500 applications.
The town council plans to pay the winning parties a monthly fee for three years that could amount to up to $9,500 a year. In addition, the council is prepared to pay the right business owners $24,000 to get their company up and running. It’s not clear how much their “symbolic” rent will be, but the winners will have to remain in the town for at least five years.
This plan follows a trend in several gorgeous Italian villages that hope to incentivize a wave of new arrivals. Past plans have offered to sell Sicilian villas for just $1, but this will be the first to welcome entrepreneurs.
Rebranding $2 homes in wine country as fixer-uppers has also been successful in the past, but the criteria for this round is a little more strict. Only people aged 18 to 40 will be considered, and to fight against further depopulation applicants must come from a town of more than 2,000. Moreover, only Italian residents, EU citizens, or those with some way of securing citizenship will be considered.
It might just be time to start planning a perfect Italian wedding.