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‘Impossible’: Why Switzerland’s one franc homes are too good to be true

The Local
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‘Impossible’: Why Switzerland’s one franc homes are too good to be true
Switzerland's stone houses often require a great deal more work than previously thought. Image: Pixabay

This week, a municipality in the Swiss canton of Ticino offered homes to buyers worldwide for one franc. However, a former buyer says the offers are too good to be true.


Early in 2022, southern Swiss town of Gambarogno, located on the shores of Lake Maggiore, became the latest village to offer houses for one franc.

The stone houses, known in Italian as rustici, are situated on the hillside with a view of the lake. 

As with previous one-franc offers, the news - along with pictures of the Ticino countryside and the lake itself - spread across the globe, with people inside and outside of Switzerland letting themselves dream. 

However, as we wrote in our article, the offer comes with a catch - with buyers required to make a significant investment in the properties along with speaking Italian and having their plans approved by the local parliament. 

Gambarogno: The latest Swiss village to sell houses for one franc

One former buyer got in touch with Swiss news outlet 20 Minutes to say that the situation was even tougher than advertised, telling the paper that it would be close to “impossible” to turn the dilapidated shacks into comfortable holiday homes. 

Images of the homes can be seen here. 


The former buyer, who wanted to remain nameless, said once they received the paperwork on the home, they saw how much work was needed - and how difficult it would be to carry it out. 

"We were interested in a rustico in Gambarogno two years ago and received the documentation for the project,” she said. 

She said contrary to what the council claims, the huts do not have views of the lake, while none of them have access to electricity or running water. 

“They have neither roofs nor windows, nor electricity or running water,” while regulations prevent the installation of a solar system. 

"So getting electricity up there is simply impossible at the moment."


“The problem with the water could only be solved with a lot of effort. But there is still no sewer system.

“You could only heat (the house) with wood. "

The buyer said that the homes needed too much work and were too remote for even the most enthusiastic handyman or woman. 

“The rustici are in fact nothing more than ruins”. 

“There is no parking space in the nearest village of Indemini, and you have to walk an hour from there. How is that supposed to work with the shopping or with the disposal of waste?”

Building materials “can only be transported by helicopter and that costs 400 francs an hour” she said. 

The buyer said the only way the council could realistically regenerate the area was if the houses were purchased by a foundation or organisation which could afford the costs of setting them up as a “holiday camp” or something similar. 

Are you interested in the one franc homes and have you tried to get in touch with Swiss authorities? We’d love to hear from you: [email protected]. 

Contact details for the Comune di Gambarogno can be found here. 



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