REAL LIFE

Mark bought a house for $1.62 – you can too!

He's living the dream!

With house prices continuing to soar Australia-wide, Mark Kopun felt like the only way to get ahead was to take on crippling debt.

So when he heard about the quaint town of Mussomeli, Italy, where houses were selling for less than a cup of coffee, he jumped at the chance right away!

Here he tells his story in his own words…

Gliding down the ski slopes in France, I felt on top of the world.

A keen snowboarder, I loved the adrenalin of zipping down the side of a mountain.

But once I left school I got a job as an electrician and didn’t often get a chance to hit the ski fields.

I saved hard to buy my own house and live the great Australian dream.

But the increasing house prices meant over the next 11 years my debt worsened. 

Then, in 2007, I realised I needed a change. I decided to sell my home and use the money to see the world.

In November that year, I set off for Italy and spent a month learning about the country’s history. It was fascinating as my father’s family was from there.

Next, I travelled to Switzerland then Germany, Amsterdam and London before making my way to France.

There, I was thrilled to find work doing maintenance on houses in the snow.

Supplied
I decided to sell my home and use the money to travel (Credit: Supplied)

One day in February 2019, my cousin Tyson, then 31, called me.

He’d just read an article about a small town called Mussomeli in Sicily, Italy, where houses were selling for just one euro – that was $1.62!

‘You should check it out,’ he encouraged.

Even after reading the article it seemed too good to be true.

Who wouldn’t want to buy a house for less than a cup of coffee? I thought.

There had to be a catch, but I decided to look into it some more.

Calling a councillor in Mussomeli named Toti, he explained that many of the town’s residents had abandoned their homes to move to bigger cities.

As a result, many of the homes had started to deteriorate and were creating a hazard for those who had stayed.

So the council devised a scheme to sell the properties for just one euro to attract buyers who would revive the homes and the local community.

‘All you have to do is renovate the outside of the house within three years of the purchase date,’ Toti said.

I estimated it would only cost between $25,000 to $33,000 all up – less than a tenth of the price of a house in Adelaide.

So I booked a seat on the first flight I could get.

Supplied
I looked at over 30 houses (Credit: Supplied)

After landing in Catania three days later, I drove to Mussomeli. Passing by orchards full of lemon and orange trees, it looked like a scene out of a movie.

Meeting with Toti, he was delighted to show me around, and through him and his friends I learned life in Italy was all about taking things slowly. It was so different to Adelaide but already felt like home.

The following day, I looked at 30 houses. Some looked like they’d been lived in quite recently, others had been abandoned for a while.

I was able to narrow down my choice to five, before deciding on a three-storey home with breathtaking views of Mt Etna.

I knew it was the perfect place.

Handing over my euro, I couldn’t quite believe I’d bought a house for less than the cost of a gelato!

Supplied
My house in Mussomeli (Credit: Supplied)

Now back in Adelaide, I’m waiting on the last of the paperwork to come through before I get the keys.

I plan on living in Italy for three to six months each year and hope to eventually open a café or health food shop on the lower level.

The best part is not having to worry about renting it to cover the mortgage when I’m in Australia.

When people ask why I’ve bought a house on the other side of the world, my answer is simple – why not?

Life is too short not to be happy!

Supplied
For more, see this week’s that’s life! – out now! (Credit: Supplied)

Related stories