Woman who bought one of Italy’s ‘one-euro houses’ on the truth behind the plan

A woman has transformed a derelict Italian ‘one-euro’ house into a £384k dream home – with a spa, outdoor kitchen and wine cellar.

Meredith Tabbone, 45, decided to bid on a $1 house on a “whim” after her friend sent her an article about the scheme.

Several small Italian towns have been in the news in recent years for selling vacant houses for €1 each.

Meredith Tabbone, 43, heard that municipalities in rural Sicily were auctioning off abandoned houses with a starting bid of one euro in an attempt to revive the village
Meredith Tabbone, 43, heard that municipalities in rural Sicily were auctioning off abandoned houses with a starting bid of one euro in a bid to revive the village (Meredith Tabbone / SWNS)

The municipalities offer homes for the symbolic price of € 1. They say improving and occupying these homes in coming years will be worth more to the cities than selling them at full price.

Meredith made a random offer of £4,400 for a disused 17th century building in Sambuca di Sicilia in Sicily, Italy.

The building had no electricity or running water and the roof was thick with asbestos.

Meredith bought the house next door for £27,000 and turned it into a four-bedroom, five-bathroom property.

She spent £384k and five years creating her dream holiday home, equipped with an outdoor kitchen, spa and outdoor party area.

Meredith's 'one euro' house before it was renovated.
Meredith’s ‘one euro’ house before it was renovated. (Meredith Tabbone / SWNS)

Meredith, a financial advisor from Chicago, Illinois, US, said: “The house was in very poor condition, but in many ways it was everything I expected and more.

‘It had so much charm.

“It had such interesting architectural details: you could really see the history coming through the walls. But it was a fixer-upper to say the least.

“It was worth it. It turned out well.

‘It’s modern, but consistent. It’s a holiday home.’

The outside area of ​​Meredith's 'one euro' house after it was renovated
The outside area of ​​Meredith’s ‘one euro’ house after it was renovated (Meredith Tabbone / SWNS)

Meredith began researching how to obtain Italian citizenship in 2016 and discovered that her father Michael’s great-grandfather, Fillippo Tabbone, was from Sambuca di Sicilia, a small village in Sicily.

After reading an article about people bidding on one-euro houses in Italy, Meredith placed an offer in January 2019 and discovered in May of that year that she had been successful.

She started work on it a month later, spending £661 to remove the roof in an environmentally safe way.

In August 2020, she purchased the house next door through a private sale to turn it into a 3,000-square-foot property.

Meredith said: “When we first saw the house – it was 700 square feet, had no electricity, running water or windows – and was full of asbestos.

“Initially the plan was to turn it into a small holiday home.

“Although we originally just wanted it as a small retreat, we turned it into a dream home.”

The kitchen of Meredith's
The kitchen of Meredith’s “one dollar” house after it was renovated (Meredith Tabbone / SWNS)

Meredith has bought two guest houses in the same village for a total of £28,000, which need minor repairs.

She also bought a disused building for £58,000, which she is converting into an art gallery and apartment for artists to stay.

Meredith is currently gathering plans and staff to begin renovating the gallery later this year.

Areas in Italy with €1 housing programs

Where you can get a bargain






Le Marche





After five years of hard work, Meredith’s holiday home was finally completed in April 2024 – and she now spends four months a year in Italy.

She said: “It was very slow and annoying.

“The sunsets are spectacular.”

Meredith recommends people buy a house for one dollar, but says it’s not for the faint of heart.

She said: “I went all in.

“If you can muster the strength, it will be worth it.”

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