For members


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

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.

A Swiss flag against a stone house somewhere in the Swiss mountains
Switzerland's stone houses often require a great deal more work than previously thought. Image: Pixabay

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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For members


How a cross-border train has pushed house prices up in Switzerland and France

A commuter rail link between Switzerland and France has caused property prices on both sides of the border to rise sharply.

How a cross-border train has pushed house prices up in Switzerland and France

When the Léman Express (LEX) was inaugurated in December 2019, its main goal was to connect the Geneva region with neighbouring French towns and provide a quicker commute for cross-border workers.

Established by the Swiss (SBB) and French (SNCF) railway companies, LEX is Europe’s largest cross-border regional rail network.

Some of the approximately 92,000 employees from France commute to their jobs in the Lake Geneva region by car, while others prefer to take Léman Express, which was launched specifically to reduce journey times and cut traffic in and around Geneva.

But while this goal has been largely achieved – the train carries 52,000 passengers a day — the rail link is also causing rents and property prices in the vicinity of the train’s 45 stations to soar by 8 to 9 percent on average — a sharper increase than elsewhere in the region.  

Prices rose in the French departments of Haute-Savoie and Ain, as well as in Swiss cantons of Geneva and Vaud, all of which lie along Léman Express’ 230-km track, according to Tribune de Genève (TDG).

Screenshot Léman Express

Why has this happened ?

As a general rule, transport infrastructure influences real estate prices, according to Dragana Djurdjevic, statistician at Wüest Partner real estate consultants interviewed by TDG.

Increases vary based on the type of transport —such as trains, buses or trams — as well as the frequency and the distance of the property to the nearest stop.

Typically, prices / rents are the highest within 300 metres around a station.

In general, Swiss and French municipalities with a LEX station have recorded significantly higher rents and sale prices than areas that have no access to the train, Djurdjevic said.

Just how much have prices increased along the LEX line?

On  the Swiss side, rents rose by 4.9 percent along the track.  In Geneva itself (already the most expensive rental market) , they went up by 1.5 percent, and only slightly less (1.4 percent) in Vaud.

READ MORE: Why is Geneva’s rent the highest in Switzerland?

In terms of properties, prices along the network rose by 17.7 percent; in Geneva the increase is 12.3 percent, and 13 percent in Vaud.

In neighbouring France, rents increased by 6.1 percent along LEX stops. In Haute-Savoie, the increase is 6.3 percent and in Ain 9.1 percent.

Sale prices went up by 15.7 percent along the track, 14.8 percent in Haute-Savoie and 23.7 percent in Ain.