From Berkeley to Sicily: American Finds Happiness in $1 Italian Home

Rubia Daniels, a resident of Berkeley, California, traded the high cost of living in the Bay Area for a dream project in Mussomeli, Sicily. Lured by the town’s €1 (roughly $1) house sales, Daniels ventured across the globe in 2019 and ended up buying not just one, but three abandoned properties.

With a background in construction, Daniels envisioned a grand plan: a vacation home, a restaurant, and a wellness center. While the pandemic added its own challenges to renovations, Daniels has already poured $35,000 into transforming her vacation home with the help of a local crew.

More importantly, Daniels has found a significant improvement in her quality of life. Mussomeli’s slower pace and lower costs stand in stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of Berkeley. “It’s a much more stressful way of living” back home, says Daniels, pointing to the high cost of living that forces Americans to overwork and neglect personal well-being.

Daniels’ story highlights a growing trend of people seeking a more affordable and relaxed lifestyle abroad. Italy’s €1 house scheme aims to revitalize rural towns by attracting new residents and businesses. While renovation costs can add up, the initial price tag makes these properties undeniably appealing.

For Daniels, the investment has paid off in happiness. “It’s much easier to be happier here than it is to be happier back at home,” she says. Mussomeli may now boast a Californian with a slice of Italian bliss.


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