6 Ultra-luxe Homes in Asia to Buy This June

Posted in What to Buy

This month in ‘Ultra-luxe Homes’, we’re once again diving into a plethora of impressive residences across the region: including a winter retreat in one of Japan’s most prestigious ski villages; the world’s tallest luxury apartment (complete with “sky car porch”) and much more.

No matter whether you’re in the market for a brand new getaway property or lucrative investment opportunity, here are six of the most staggering options we’ve found this month.

1. Saladaeng One, Bangkok

ultra-luxe homes

This ultra-luxe condominium is part of a wider residential development at the heart of Bangkok, by local real estate developer SC Asset. Located just across the way from stunning Lumpini Park, this one-bedroom unit boasts uninterrupted views of the surrounding Silom financial district; with tenants also having access to the complex’s club, rooftop pool and fitness facilities. Saleable area for this property comes to a total of 613 sq. ft., making it an ideal bolthole for the frequent business traveller.

2. Ford Avenue, Singapore

ultra-luxe homes

Designated by Singaporean authorities as a ‘Good Class Bungalow’ (one of the city-state’s most desirable residential property classifications) Ford Avenue is a slice of resort-style living that remains close to the heart of affluent District 10. At 15,600 sq. ft. there’s ample room for a family of six or more, with carport space and a suitably lengthy 23-metre pool to match.

3. Four Seasons Private Residences, Bangkok

ultra-luxe homes

Part of an ultra-luxe complex exclusively made up of corner apartments along the banks of the Chao Phraya River, this Four Seasons-administered property is the Canadian hotel group’s first waterfront residential concept in all of Asia. The 3,830 sq. ft. space is taken up by four bedrooms (each with their own freestanding bath), making this an ideal permanent base for affluent property owners who prefer a touch of hospitality in the home.

4. Galleria Costa, Ashigarashimo

ultra-luxe homes

Less than two hours drive from Tokyo in western Kanagawa Prefecture, Galleria Costa promises to be a getaway home unlike any other. Consisting of 8.5 acres of pristine oceanfront real estate (including a two-storey guest house), the property offers breathtaking, unparalleled view of Sagami Bay; with each room possessing an ocean view. The outdoor pool and baths (rotenburo) have been intentionally designed to give the impression of an infinite horizon; and when you finally manage to pick your jaw off the floor, there’s no shortage of amenities indoors (i.e. a gym, tennis court, karaoke, and golf simulator) with which to keep yourself entertained.

5. Glasshouse Niseko, Hokkaido

ultra-luxe homes

Nestled atop a tranquil woodland escarpment, this bespoke glass, concrete and steel build is one of the most stylish lodges to retreat to after a day spent skiing down the slopes of Mt. Yotei. The ‘Glasshouse’ is the brainchild of award-winning architect Hikohito Konishi: incorporating traditional Japanese building elements, such as an indoor spa handmade using Hinoki wood, into the otherwise contemporary two-floor layout. It’s great as a permanent retreat during ski season, or failing that — to rent for your next excursion to Niseko.

6. Moon Shadow Villa, Phuket

ultra-luxe houses

Located in Phuket’s affluent, resort-heavy neighbourhood of Kamala, ‘Moon Shadow’ is a stupefyingly large private villa, with six bedrooms and a saleable area totalling 12,366 sq ft. Incredible views of the Andaman Ocean are to be had at quite literally every angle throughout the house — excluding the wine cellar — with standout features of the project including a waterfall feature, double-wide terrace and peripherally connected private terraces.

As of the publishing date of this article, any aforementioned properties were available for sale. We cannot guarantee that these properties will be available for sale indefinitely, so please check the respective listings for the most up-to-date information.

Randy Lai

Building Spotlight: Tai O Heritage Hotel, Hong Kong

Posted in What to Buy

Far from Hong Kong island’s maddening crowds, overlooking rustic stilt houses and agile fishing craft to and fro across Lantau, travellers will uncover glimmers of Hong Kong’s colonial past — lovingly restored, beautifully preserved and worthy of an extended residence. In our latest instalment of Building Spotlight — a monthly series spotlighting the structures which have come to define the city’s cultural legacy — we retreat to Tai O Heritage Hotel, a Grade II historic building set against the most westerly point in Hong Kong.

QUICK FACTS
  • Address: Shek Tsai Po Street, Tai O, Lantau Island
  • Built: 1902
  • Site Area: N/A
  • Gross Floor Area: 1,000 sq. mtr.
  • Price per square foot: N/A

The Tai O Heritage Hotel is perched atop a hilly outcrop overlooking the village of the same name: a historic Hong Kong fishing community that has populated western Lantau for over three centuries. Managed by the Hong Kong Heritage Conservation Foundation (HKHCF), the property consists of 9 rooms which occupy the site of the former Tai O police station. The original station was built in 1902 — among the first of its kind to be set up in the New Territories. Over the centuries, this expanse of coastline was a frequent target for pirates conducting smuggling runs in and out of Mainland China, making it a point of sustained interest for British naval forces, and later, Hong Kong’s colonial-era police force.

Tai O Heritage Hotel

For much of the 19th century, the station was only minimally staffed, yet during the 80s the total number of police posted here grew to 180 (due to increasing triad activity across the westerly part of Lantau). By 1996, a significant decrease in crime across the HKSAR resulted in the station being downgraded to a patrol post, before it was eventually vacated in 2002. In 2008, the HKHCF earmarked the complex as one of seven buildings that would be adapted for commercial reuse under the ‘Revitalising Historic Buildings through Partnership’ scheme. An estimated HK$64.9 million was allocated to the station’s redevelopment: as a boutique hotel that opened to the public in late 2011.

Tai O Heritage Hotel

Within the hotel grounds, the two structures originally housing the Tai O police station have been preserved: there is a main black and an outhouse, both two stories high, connected by an overhead footbridge on the first floor. The main block meshes traditional Chinese building techniques with Western architecture, illustrated in a tiled ‘pan-and-roll’ roof, cantilevered eaves and large, airy French windows punctuating the building’s facade. The outhouse was added in the 60s to enhance the station’s self-sufficiency: outfitted with multiple kitchens, a drying room and an interpreter’s office. To capitalise on the station’s hilltop location, a watchtower was constructed at one end of the outhouse.

Today, these historic spaces have mostly been converted into a handful of tastefully appointed spaces. Suites and guestrooms all bear the name of a vessel or rank used in the marine police. ‘The Commissioner’, formerly the station’s charge room and armoury, has been rebuilt as a suite with two vanities and a private terrace; while the ‘Eagle’s Point’ takes the on-site canteen and transforms it into a roomy, 375 sq. ft. abode — ample space for two intrepid vacationers and their children.

Tai O Heritage Hotel

In a city prone to incessant commercial redevelopment, the Tai O Heritage Hotel stands out for its rare blend of significant cultural heritage and commercial viability. But don’t take our word for it: in 2013, UNESCO conferred the coveted Award of Merit on the property, citing an “extensive cultural mapping effort that has greatly informed the restoration work and…enhanced social and economic opportunities provided by the building’s new use”. Now that’s the tagline to a hotel getaway that we can really get behind.

To learn more about the property or make a booking, visit Tai O Heritage Hotel online.

Randy Lai

Buy a New Apartment at Embassy Gardens in London

Posted in Sponsored Content

Who cares about Brexit? Despite widespread uncertainty regarding the UK’s future departure from the European Union, London’s luxury property market has remained resilient, with prices continuing to rise and new high-end developments opening all over the British capital. London’s most ambitious and exciting property development of the moment is none other than Embassy Gardens, an expansive 15-acre riverside project on the South Bank of the River Thames that’s anchored by the new U.S. Embassy. 

Located in the fast-transforming Nine Elms district, home to the iconic Battersea Power Station, Embassy Gardens is a landmark development which, when completed, will include nearly 2,000 new homes, stunningly landscaped gardens, offices and flexible work spaces, leisure facilities, and 130,000 square feet of bar, restaurant and retail space, including a new Waitrose supermarket. In addition to being the final chapter in the remarkable story of the South Bank’s revitalisation, Nine Elms will also become better connected to the rest of the city with the extension of the London Underground’s Nothern line to include stations at Nine Elms and Battersea.

Opening in three phases, Embassy Gardens has just completed its second phase (also known as the Legacy Buildings), which means that developer EcoWorld Ballymore is set to release a new collection of 2-bedroom apartments in Legacy 1 and Legacy 3, two buildings that overlook the US Embassy and the meticulously landscaped gardens in Embassy Square. Fortunately for Hong Kong buyers, the launch of these new apartments will take place during a two-day exhibition (16 and 17 November 2019) held at Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong. 

Both standing 22 storeys tall, Legacy 1 and Legacy have an architectural feature you won’t find anywhere else: the Sky Pool, a world-first in swimming pool design that connects the two buildings on the 10th storey. The interiors are just as impressive, having been designed by Benningen Lloyd and Luis Bustamente to offer residents the best in contemporary luxury living. 

Inspired by Soho lofts, the new 2-bedroom apartments coming to market feature an open-plan design that maximises space and makes the most of the natural that light that comes in through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Light-coloured oak, marble worktops, black granite, luxurious leather, richly woven fabrics, polished steel and handcrafted Spanish porcelain tiles and amongst the beautiful materials used throughout each apartment. 

Being a 21st-century luxury development, Embassy Gardens offers residents a dazzling assortment of amenities: the Eg:le Club, a private residents’ club for work, relaxation and entertaining; a rooftop bar with breathtaking views; a private gym with a yoga studio, boxing ring, and top-tier equipment; a business centre with two dedicated meeting rooms; a full-service health spa; a private cinema and more. Robin Gill, Good Food Guide Chef of the Year, is behind not one but two restaurants here: Darby’s, a ground-floor eatery focussed on immersive Irish cuisine; and a forthcoming 10-floor restaurant exclusively open to residents.

All this is in addition to Embassy Gardens’ ample dining, shopping and entertainment options, proving that this development is fast becoming a dynamic hub of London and a community in its own right. With its combination of great design, incredible amenities, beautiful green spaces and so much more, this wonderfully rejuvenated district is shaping up to be one of the most desirable places to live in London, one that’s worthy of your consideration whether you’re seeking a pied-a-terre or a permanent relocation.

If you’re interested to learn more about Embassy Gardens, be sure to attend the upcoming exhibition on 16 & 17 November 2019 from 11am-7pm at Edinburgh Room, 2/F, Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, 5 Connaught Road Central, Hong Kong. If you’re curious to learn more about this burgeoning district of London, don’t miss the “Transforming London-Nine Elms Regeneration” presentation, which will be held Friday, 15 November at 7pm; Saturday, 16 November and Sunday, 17 November at 2pm.

For further information, or to register your interest, please contact Cushman & Wakefield at +852 2507 0578 or ipm.hk@cushwake.com.

Michael Alan Connelly
A Chicagoan by birth and a New Yorker by habit, Michael has more than a decade of experience in digital publishing at leading titles in the U.S. and Asia. When he's not checking out Hong Kong's newest restaurants and bars or jet setting around the globe, you'll find him hanging out with his dog Buster and enjoying an Aperol Spritz.

10 Ultra-luxe Homes in Asia to Buy This February

Posted in What to Buy

Looking to ramp up your property portfolio in 2020? Now’s the time to invest in these stunning houses that double as both fail-safe investments and vacation homes. From Hong Kong to Bangkok, here are 10 ultra-luxe properties across Asia currently on the market.

Soi Sukhumvit 55, Bangkok, Thailand

This gorgeous residence (HK$25,053,517) measures 177 meters in height, boasting a birds-eye view of the Bangkok city skyline within a state-of-the-art building designed by acclaimed architecture firm Quintrix. The building comprises 45 floors, with floor-to-ceiling triple glazed glass windows and posh materials heightening the natural sunlight that floods through the residence. Interiors have been crafted with the finest materials sourced from around the world, from rich mahogany woods to exotic patterned carpets. The property includes 3 bedrooms, 3 baths and 1 partial bath.

Dazhi Deluxe, Taipei, Taiwan

Located in central Taipei within close proximity to the river, this luxurious residence in the capital of Taiwan is notable for its modern architectural design by the talented duo Hsuyuan Kuo and Hueimei Huang. In addition to its prime location and beautiful design, the unit offers plenty of space, with ample light flooding into the property, and balcony overlooking the boulevard below. The building is currently configured as nine units, but is also available to convert into a stand-alone mansion. On the ground floor, the property invites guests to relax in an oasis away from the hectic pace of the city with an art-gallery lobby and secluded garden. The estate is also located in a well-regarded school district for families.

Galleria Costa, Japan

Located about an hour and a half from Tokyo in Kanagawa, this secluded hideaway covers 8.5 acres in a spacious ocean-facing residence complete with guesthouse. Look out on the stunning Manazuru Peninsula from the comforts of your palatial abode that effortlessly blends into the natural scenery. Inspired by the world’s ultra-luxe resorts, the residence features an outdoor pool and bathhouse featuring the ocean, a spacious deck to accommodate dinner parties, mist sauna, stona sauna, fitness room, jacuzzi, library and tennis court. The open-ceiling living and dining room is one of the best features of the home, looking out on the spectacular Sagami Bay.

477 Yongjia Road, Shanghai, China

This completely renovated 4th-floor apartment is located in Shanghai’s stylish French Concession neighbourhood, within close proximity to myriad restaurants, bars, shopping malls and entertainment centres. The chic apartment blends French architecture and Parisian charm with a bit of New York-style flair, and comes pre-furnished with plush furnishings and artwork. Highlights of the renovation include smooth dark herringbone floors, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a cosy balcony that looks onto a quaint Japanese garden flourishing on the ground level. For those looking for a pied-a-terre in Shanghai, this charming unit should do the trick.

The River, Bangkok, Thailand

Complete in 2012, this luxury riverfront resort (HK$38,839,132) takes after ultra-luxe hotel residences, with unrivalled sumptuous furnishings and views. Spacious and sophisticated, the 4-bedroom unit covers 546 square metres, complete with a high-ceilinged double volume living room and kitchen. Bathrooms and kitchen are outfitted with state-of-the-art fittings and appliances, while plenty of sunlights floods through the tall windows overlooking Bangkok’s skyline and meandering river below.

Jade Residence, Taipei, Taiwan

With views of Elephant Mountain and a 15-minute walk to Taipei 101, this glitzy residence (HK$50,479,382) combines the best of convenience to the bustling city centre and relaxation amongst breathtaking nature. Built with wood and bamboo, the beautiful exterior blends seamlessly into the hillside surrounds, complete with a sparkling infinity pool with sun loungers. A spacious living room accommodates guest parties, while the bedroom makes use of sumptuous materials and stylish design. The perfect residence for nature-lovers looking for a relaxing oasis to fuel creativity and energy.

Lady Hill Bungalow, Singapore

This architectural beauty is an elevated bungalow above lush greenery, with spacious living well-suited for families. A total of five bedrooms are all en-suite, while the residence is fitted with basement garage parks to fit up to 10 cars, a swimming pool, fully decked out theatre room and kitchen. The bungalow is situated within a few minutes’ walk to The Shangri La Hotel and a host of shopping and dining on Singapore’s main Orchard Road.

Pong Yang, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Head up to the hills at this sprawling mountainside property (HK$10,872,482) set in the lush jungle of Pong Yang in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The secluded enclave features a total of three bedrooms and four bathrooms covering 265 square metres, while sitting atop 1,328 square metres of land. The distinctly modern abode features stylish furnishings and an elevated outdoor patio for outdoor entertaining. Double vanities and glass-walled bathtub can be found in the master bedroom, while the latter looks our directly on the verdant countryside.

Siam Royal View, Pattaya, Thailand

Completed just last year, this sparkling new property spares no expense in terms of offering the discerning homeowner anything they might possibly need in a luxe 21st-century home. Priced at HK$24,647,910, the property features the latest in entertainment, technology and security systems. A kitchen and dining area are outfitted in appliances from Smeg, while a wine storage cellar is ideal for avid wine collectors. Other highlights of the property include a cinema and relaxation area, living area with imported tile floors, pool table and tennis table, and automatic glass sliding doors to all floor levels. The master bedroom features sea views with a walk-in closet, double shower, wash basins, and extra high ceilings.

Four Seasons Hotel Residences, Kyoto, Japan

A picture of tranquility in the beautiful Kyoto, the local Four Seasons Hotel Residences Kyoto is a slice of heaven available for purchase. The unique collection of 57 stylishly outfitted residences blend old-world charm with all the modern creature comforts you could desire. In keeping with the local tradition, the design has been conceived to embrace ‘Kutsurgoi’, or the art of Japanese relaxation, with panoramic views looking out on a meditative Shakusuien pond garden and the beautiful Kiyomizu Temple. Potential homebuyers can also opt for a traditional tatami room, while all residences include access to the hotel’s dining outlets, facilities and 24-hour in-room dining services.

Leslie Yeh

5 New Condominium Developments to Know in Singapore

Posted in What to Buy

2019 saw a flurry of activity in Singapore’s residential property market — the bulk of which can be pegged to the island-nation’s increasing number of en bloc (collective sale) transactions. Though state-backed cooling measures are likely to reduce the frequency of new condo openings — especially when compared with the frenzied buying period between 2017-2018 — underlying market conditions in the Lion City appear to be stable. To kickstart your year, here are 5 new developments, ready to ship in 2020, that have caught our eye.

Leedon Green

Singapore condominium developments

Formerly home to Tulip Gardens, Leedon Green is the latest complex of freehold condos to be launched by Singaporean consortium MCL Land. Situation within District 10, less than ten minutes’ walk from the Farrer MRT station, Leedon Green will prove especially enticing to Singapore’s resident foodies (the development is a short drive to the major dining destinations of Sentosa and Holland Village). As is befitting of luxury condos at this scale, MCL have decorated the public spaces with an assortment of life-enhancing facilities: there are landscaped waterfalls, pools ideal for both exercise and leisure, and entertainment suites intended to facilitate residents’ social needs. Flats available for public viewing are configured in 1 to 4-bedroom layouts.

The M Condo @ Middle Road

Singapore condominium developments

The M is one of several residential sites to be auctioned off as part of the Singaporean government’s ongoing land sales program. Winning bidder Wing Charm has developed the site, located at the heart of Bugis, as a mixed-use development. A total of 375 leasehold flats are available, bifurcated into two zones of 20 and 6-storey buildings. 
The development’s Middle Road location presents an array of benefits that are attractive for quality of life purposes: there’s excellent accessibility to Circle, Downtown, and the North-South Corridor; in addition to a wealth of dining options on one’s doorstep.

The Enclave Holland

Singapore condominium developments

True to its name, luxury developer Three Sixty-Nine’s ‘The Enclave’ is a collection of 26 ultra-secluded duplexes — ideal for young homemakers who wish to remain close to the action. A variety of floorplans are on offer: ranging in size from one to four bedrooms (several even include double-height ceilings, for an unrivalled amount of space).
The project was overseen by celebrated local architects Park + Associates, making quite the impression with its mullioned, low-rise silhouette. Many of the property’s public spaces seize on the feeling of a shared, suburban domicile. There’s a single pool at the back of the ground floor shared between all residents, in addition to communal attic space above the 5th floor — both unusual details by Singaporean standards.

3 Cuscaden

Singapore condominium developments

Sustained Land’s revitalization of the historic Cuscaden Mansions consists of an exclusive 11 apartments, sprawling out across a massive site measuring 21,560 sqm. Across the road from Four Seasons Singapore and Orchard Road, this is an apt choice for private investors who demand a property which ticks all the boxes when it comes to convenience and connectivity.

Kopar at Newton

Singapore condominium developments

Conveniently located near the Central Expressway, North-South Line and Newton Circus, Kopar is the newest strategically situated development to be built by Singaporean developer CEL. Being in District 9, purchasers will have good access to a range of exciting areas throughout the city, though the clear trump card is Kopar’s proximity to Newton Food Centre: a major dining hub for locals and tourists alike. Currently, a total of 435 condos are up for purchase — available for a leasehold of 99 years.

Randy Lai

6 Luxury Properties to Purchase in Hong Kong Right Now

Posted in What to Buy

Whether a townhouse by the seaside or a penthouse on The Peak, Hong Kong boasts a number of desirable luxury properties. Below, we round up six prestigious residences to consider if you’re house hunting in Hong Kong.

Poggibonsi

Conveniently located in the heart of Discovery Bay, the new Poggibonsi offers stunning sea views, striking architectural design and a choice of layouts from studios to four-bedroom residences. Its three towers, with a total of 196 units, sit on a hill above the bays of Yi Pak Wan and Sam Pak Wan and provide views extending from Discovery College to Victoria Harbour to Hong Kong Disneyland. Inside, each luxurious unit has been designed to maximise natural light and comes equipped with premium fixtures and appliances from leading brands such as De Dietrich. poggibonsi.com.hk

Mont Rouge

Kerry Properties’ latest prestigious residential development at Beacon Hill is a private sanctuary nestled among natural greenery at 9 Lung Kui Road. Mont Rouge comprises five villas, 14 detached houses and two towers with 26 apartments. Unit sizes range from 1,700 to 7,100 square feet. Its elevated hillside location provides spectacular south-facing views of Kowloon Peninsula, Victoria Harbour and The Peak, while Festival Walk and Kowloon Tong MTR station are just 10 minutes’ travel time away.
themontrouge.com.hk

Mount Nicholson

Taking pride of place atop The Peak in the west of Hong Kong Island, Mount Nicholson is a gated community of 19 unique detached houses and 48 spacious apartment units with saleable areas that range from 4,186 to 9,950 square feet. The top-quality design and construction is the result of collaborations among world-leading architects and designers including Robert A.M. Stern Architects, Yabu Pushelberg, Wong & Ouyang and LWK + Partners. Amenities and services include a large-scale clubhouse, ballroom, theatre and SAS-trained security guards.
mountnicholson.com.hk

The Carmel

Situated against a lush hillside in Tai Lam, Wing Tai Properties’ townhouse project The Carmel comprises individual townhouses (most with private gardens and garages) as well as 130 residential units from studio to four-suite penthouses. Renowned landscape architect Jean Mus has created three spectacular vertical gardens that blend seamlessly with the development’s graceful design.
thecarmel.com

8 Deep Water Bay Drive

Luxury residential development 8 Deep Water Bay Drive is built along the contours of prestigious Shouson Hill. Typical apartments range from three to four en-suite bedroom units with saleable areas of 2,865 to 4,214 square feet, while the state-of-the-art clubhouse facilities include an interconnected 20-metre indoor pool and 25-metre outdoor pool. The private enclave also features a 22,000-square-foot garden.
8deepwaterbaydrive.com

Grand Homm

Unveiled in September, Goldin Group’s first luxury property development in Hong Kong, Grand Homm, aims to redefine opulence in the residential market. The Ho Man Tin project comprises six towers with a total of 401 spacious apartments, each accessed via a private lift lobby. The complex also features 284 parking spaces, a four-storey clubhouse and lush tropical landscaping. Amenities include indoor and outdoor pools, and an indoor clay tennis court.
grandhomm.com

Staff Writer

7 Places in the World Where You Can Buy a ‘Free’ Home

Posted in What to Buy

Astute property watchers will remember the furore this May when the Sicilian municipality of Sambuca began auctioning abandoned homes at the starting price of €1 — essentially free. The initiative, geared towards resuscitating the town’s economy, resulted in a massive injection of foreign investment (a large number of Sambuca’s ‘free’ homes sold for as little as US$1,200, on the proviso that buyers spend US$17,000 on renovations over a 3-year period).
Given the success of that scheme, an increasing number of sleepy, rural hamlets (mostly in Italy) are trying to get a piece of the ‘free’ home action. But what’s the catch? Read on to find out…

Cumnock, Australia

Once an important stopover in the New South Wales railway network, Cumnock is about a 4-hour drive from Sydney. Over the years, the population has dwindled to fewer than 300 people, so in order to attract new residents the town is offering homes with ‘a typical Australian country feel’ for as little as US$1. Even a 3-bedroom house — complete with fireplaces and a palatial veranda — will only set you back US$100 a week.

Okutama, Japan

By now, rapid population ageing is a well-documented issue affecting multiple aspects of Japanese society — housing included. In order to attract younger residents back to the countryside, rural towns are allegedly giving away unoccupied properties. The most desirable of these ‘free-housing’ schemes is located in Okutama, a remote municipality that is in fact part of the western Tokyo Metropolis. Naturally, eligible properties here aren’t exactly free: families, whose children are under junior high school age, may only claim ownership pursuant to paying off a 22-year mortgage (totalling roughly US$120,621).

Monti Scìaga, Switzerland

Not content to let the Sicilians have all the fun, Monti Scìaga — a mountainous village bordering Italy and Switzerland — is currently selling its empty homes for the princely sum of one Swiss franc (US$1.01). Situated a stone’s throw from Lake Maggiore — the largest lake in southern Switzerland — and about 100 km from Milan, Monti Scìaga is among the most remote villages in the region. Not a bad spot if you’re looking for peace & quiet (in the middle of the Continent no less).

Mussomeli, Sicily

The runaway success of Sambuca’s dollar auctions meant it was only a matter of time before other Sicilian townships launched similar schemes. While all of them benefit from being able to offer housing in a temperate, serene environment, the city of Mussomeli has gone above and beyond with its very own online property listings. This freestanding, 70-sq.-mtr. house is in a style that’s fairly typical of the area — boasting a balcony and sufficient space for multiple bedrooms. Still, it goes without saying that a substantial restoration will be required, in order to account for the property’s lack of internal heating or electricals.

Patrica, Italy

Patrica, an ancient commune on the outskirts of Frosinone, is another of the small Italian towns which have recently joined project Case a 1 euro — one of the biggest nationwide efforts to combat rural depopulation. At 450m above sea level, the town’s biggest drawcard is its breathtaking views of the surrounding Valle Latina. Each of the 38 houses on offer overlooks the Sacco and Liri valleys: reason enough to pay the (approx.) US$28,000 renovation fee.

Sambuca, Sicily

The one that started it all: since mayor Giuseppe Cacioppo launched his pilot ‘free housing’ scheme in May, the quiet Sicilian hamlet of Sambuca has experienced nothing short of a revitalisation. Currently, 66 properties have already been sold to private owners including the Discovery Channel (who intend to document the progress of other foreign investors in the town next year).
New international arrivals aside, Sambuca possesses a host of features that make it a fantastic spot for an idyllic holiday home: Cuisine is influenced by Sicily’s long history of Greek and Arabic migration; the town boasts an enviable location near the coastline; and Mt. Etna looms majestically on the horizon.

Randy Lai