by Annabel Fenwick Elliott from The Telegraph, November 22, 2017
If it’s ever been a distant dream of yours to wind up in a tiny and beautiful mountain village, consider this.
The Swiss town of Albinen, located in the scenic canton of Valais, wants to pay people 25,000 Swiss francs (£18,900) each to move there.
The council will soon be voting on the new initiative, which aims to repopulate a community that has dwindled to just 240 residents, reports The Local.
Under the scheme, each new adult resident will be paid the fee, with an additional 10,000 Swiss francs (£7,600) per child. For a family of four, that’s more than £53,000.
Most of the previous residents who have left the village have been families with children, according to Swiss news agency ATS, with the last three departures leading to the closure of Albinen’s school. It should be noted, however, that this was never exactly a thriving neighbourhood. Its highest ever number of inhabitants on record was 380, back in 1900.
What’s the catch?
There are certain conditions attached to the proposed offer. New residents must be under the age of 45, and are required to build or purchase a property to live in full time, not used as a holiday home, worth at least 200,000 Swiss francs (£151,900).
You’ll also have to remain in residence there for at least 10 years, or forfeit the fee. Officials hope that Albinen’s flailing economy will benefit from an influx of new homeowners through taxes, building contracts and the purchase of local produce.
What does Albinen have to offer?
Six square miles of Alpine land makes up the municipality of Albinen, huddled at an altitude of 4,300 ft in the south-west of Switzerland and dwarfed by its surrounding mountains.
Most of Albinen is farmland and forest, with its settled area of buildings and roads accounting for little over three per cent of it.
There's little going on in the town's centre, save for its narrow cobbled turns, centuries-old houses, a church and a shop. And you’ll need to learn German, the region’s first language.
But hop in the car and it's less than four miles to Leukerbad, home to one of Europe's largest medical wellness, beauty and thermal baths complex. Charlie Chaplin, Tolstoy and Goethe were among those who travelled to the village to bathe in the calcium- and sulphate-rich thermal waters.
Prefer to live in Italy?
This is far from the first time a shrinking town in Europe has offered to pay people to move there, most commonly in Italy. Just last month, the Italian town of Candela in Puglia announced it would hand out up to €2,000 (£1,792) for new residents. They must live permanently in the village, rent a house, and have a salary of at least €7,500 (£6,723).
Earlier this year, Italy also said it was giving away 103 of its historic buildings for free, with one catch - all takers will need to commit to transforming the properties into tourist facilities including hotels, restaurants or spas.