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Switzerland scraps one-franc home scheme after nobody signs up

The Local
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Switzerland scraps one-franc home scheme after nobody signs up
Switzerland's stone houses often require a great deal more work than previously thought. Image: Pixabay

A local council in the south of Switzerland has scrapped a scheme selling houses for ‘one franc’ after three years, with nobody signing up to buy one of the ‘rustico’ homes.


The Ticino village of Gambarogno, which has been selling abandoned houses — the so-called “rustici” — for one franc since 2019, will no longer do so.

Swiss tabloid Blick reported on Saturday that despite significant interest in the project, nobody has signed up due to the poor condition of the properties, the lack of infrastructure, the remoteness of the homes and the prohibitive costs. 

While some are supplied with water, they are without electricity and gas and are located far from roads or public transport. 


“We saw on the satellite images what a bad state the rustici are in”, said Thomas Kappeler, head of the Federal Office for Spatial Development, adding that many the houses can no longer be rebuilt.

For the moment at least, the sale of these properties is blocked, and the issue will be brought before the Federal Court.

Local politician Pierluigi Vaerini told Blick he doubted whether the project would ever be restarted. 

“It takes a good 45 minutes of walking to get to the hamlet. Because there is no road to go up there”, Vaerini said. 

“The reconstruction of a single rustico quickly costs 200,000 francs, rebounds the retired policeman. Frankly, I wonder if we will get there.”

Too good to be true

Rebuilding the villages has been talked about since the 1970s, with an Italian-style ‘one-franc home’ plan seen as the possible solution. 

However, as The Local has reported previously, while many of the Italian homes were in the centre of towns and connected to electricity and transport infrastructure, the isolation of the stone houses in Gambarogno is prohibitive. 

A former buyer, who wanted to remain nameless, told Swiss media 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. 

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

“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. 

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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