Living in a mill
Alternative housing solutions for all budgets
There is a new market niche in the European property market that includes alternative housing solutions for all budgets: old mills, deconsecrated churches and ancient castles.
In Italy, prices start from 300 thousand euros, but maintenance charges are very high. These alternative investment solutions are mostly chosen by well-to-do families and couples of pensioners, but also by film stars: the famous Holliwood actor Willem Dafoe, for example, lives in an ex-convent. There are many mills in working order in Italy with double millstones and vanes not always at sight.
This market niche is not bound to crisis scenarios; on the contrary, it is linked to the rediscovery of the territory. The supply is high. Large mills can be converted into villas or complexes of 15-20 apartments of various sizes. In Trentino Alto Adige, an old 19th mill has been transformed into a 300-sqm villa. In Pantelleria, there is an old “dammuso” – the traditional house of the island of Pantelleria, 100 km southwest of Sicily – for sale. It was used as a mill and now needs renovation. The demand for small properties – former churches and old mills – is increasing due to affordable prices.
Investors interested in buying old mills must take into account that they surely are in need of renovation and maintenance charges are high. Furthermore, cadastral data are often too old and properties are registered as rural buildings; therefore, they must be converted into residential properties in order to obtain a first-home loan. Those who are in search of a more spiritual atmosphere can choose among the wide supply of ex-convents for sale available in Italy, that are usually transformed into holiday accommodation facilities.
Mills in the region of Marche cost around 330 thousand euros, but they are in need of renovation and must be converted into residential properties; in Lombardy, instead, mills can cost more than 1 million euros but they have already been renovated and converted into residential properties.
In France, most watermills are concentrated in the Côte d’Azur – the French Riviera. The demand is stable here, even if it is moving towards less expensive areas, such as the hinterland of Provence. The region attracts investors from England, Switzerland, Germany, Scandinavia and Russia.
Some examples of properties for sale in Provence include Mas du Chanoine – a 300-sqm property in need of renovation that can be bought for 1.6 million euros – and Santa Alida – that is sold for 6.5 million euros. A one-of-a-kind property is the old Duke of Orléans’ castle that has already been renovated by the German owner and is sold at a price of 11.5 million euros.
“Cheaper” offers can be found in the charming region of Finistère and in Brittany. There is an 18th-century mill for sale in Morbihan. The price is 412 thousand euros.
In England, prices start from 400 thousand pounds, but can be over 1 million pounds. There are elegant properties for sale in Beckside and in Cheshire County.
Click on the following links to find out more about alternative investment options:
- Living in a former religious building
- Mansards and lofts: Alternative housing solutions in Italy
- Community gardens: A new way to make condos green
- Renting an island off the coast of Spain is possible
- Almost-new: a new market segment in the property market of the United States