A Comparative Analysis for Expat Real Estate Investment

Sicily vs Calabria

Italy’s rich history, cultural heritage, and delightful lifestyle have made it a desirable destination for expats worldwide. For those looking to invest in real estate, two regions often draw attention: Sicily and Calabria. Both regions offer unique opportunities and challenges that are worth considering. Let’s delve into a comparative analysis of Sicilian and Calabrian real estate markets for potential expat investors.


Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean, boasts a varied landscape that includes beautiful beaches, rolling vineyards, and the active volcano, Mount Etna. With its diverse culture, ancient architectural treasures, and renowned cuisine, Sicily offers an enriching lifestyle that many expats find appealing.

The Sicilian real estate market is quite varied. For instance, in the bustling capital city of Palermo, a 100 square meter apartment in the city center might cost around €200,000 as of 2023. However, prices can be significantly higher in more upscale neighborhoods or historic buildings. On the other hand, rural properties, such as country houses or small farmhouses, can be found at lower prices, often under €100,000.

Sicily gained international attention with the “€1 homes” scheme, where several towns like Sambuca and Mussomeli offered dilapidated properties for just €1, provided buyers commit to renovating them. This scheme has attracted many foreign investors looking for a “fixer-upper” and willing to invest in renovations.


Calabria, located in the ‘toe’ of Italy’s boot-shaped peninsula, is another region that’s gained traction among expats. With its rugged mountains, charming coastal towns, and untouched beaches, Calabria offers natural beauty in abundance.

The real estate market in Calabria is generally more affordable than Sicily, making it attractive to budget-conscious expats. For example, in the city of Reggio Calabria, a similar 100 square meter apartment in the city center may cost around €150,000. In more rural or less touristy areas, the prices can be even lower. It’s possible to find habitable rural properties for under €50,000.

Unlike Sicily, Calabria hasn’t had a broad “€1 home” initiative. However, individual properties at remarkably low prices can still be found, although they typically require substantial investment for renovations.

Comparative Analysis

Both Sicily and Calabria offer appealing opportunities for real estate investment, but the choice between the two largely depends on the investors’ goals and preferences.

Lifestyle: If you prioritize lifestyle and cultural opportunities, Sicily, with its rich history and vibrant food culture, may be the better choice. If untouched nature and a quieter, more laid-back lifestyle are your preferences, Calabria might suit you better.

Budget: If budget is a significant factor, Calabria generally offers lower property prices than Sicily, although it’s still possible to find affordable properties in both regions.

Rental Returns: If you’re looking to rent out the property, Sicily, particularly areas around Palermo and tourist hotspots like Taormina, may offer better rental yields due to higher tourism traffic. However, Calabria’s emerging popularity could present an opportunity for early investors.

Renovation Projects: For those interested in renovation projects, Sicily’s “€1 home” scheme could be an exciting opportunity, although it’s worth remembering these projects often involve significant time and money.

In conclusion, both Sicily and Calabria present unique and appealing opportunities for expat real estate investors. As always, thorough research, careful consideration of your personal preferences, and consulting with real estate professionals are essential steps before venturing into any investment.

Calabria Photo by Nemanja Peric on Unsplash


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