When faced with the choice between town and country, odds are plenty of people would opt for the former. After all, cities offer a different sort of stimulation than their rural counterparts, which explains the mass exodus that’s been slowly sweeping through nearly every continent for the last several decades. Such is undoubtedly the case in Croatia, the small country in the Balkans whose residents are flocking to metropolitan cities of Zagreb, Dubrovnik, and Istria, leaving the charming villages in a bind. But now a few local governments are getting creative: The quaint town of Legrad is slapping a mind-blowingly low pricetag on its abandoned homes in exchange for a 15-year commitment from buyers.
Today, the northern Croatian city, which just barely reaches the Hungarian border, is home to about 2,250, a number that, 50 years ago, was much higher. Before the Austro-Hungarian empire disintegrated, Legrad, which encompasses lush meadows and dense forests, boasted the second-biggest population center in Croatia, but since it became a border town with few transport connections to other cities, the population fell dramatically. Luckily, Legrad’s contingency plan is putting the small rural city back on the map.
The town started with 19 abandoned houses that were in dire need of a contractor. So far, 17 have sold for the low price of just one kuna (or 16 American cents). What’s more, new homeowners aren’t expected to pay for all the necessary repairs; the generous municipality is offering residents up to 25,000 kune toward any home improvements for the dilapidated structures. Of course, like any promise that seems a little too good to be true, there’s a catch: Residents must commit to staying in their new homes for at least 15 years, and, for this reason, also need to be under the age of 40 and financially solvent.
Perhaps the world’s best deal will flip city dwellers, making them want to spend a little more time—15 years, to be specific—in the country.