Your dream house for under €50,000?

The properties listed below are priced from €6,000 and upwards and are an intriguing prospect – but buyers need to do their homework


Have you ever dreamed of spending summers in your very own charming stone-built house in a sunlit Italian village? A cottage in France? Jetting off to your beach-front apartment on the Black Sea? Or even having a rural retreat?

Most dreamers (myself included) limit their fantasies to a perusal of the property pages, but with a little of what Americans call “sweat equity”, a sense of adventure and plenty of research, you could have a second – or even a first – home for under €50,000.

The website is the brainchild of architect and design couple Jenny and Ruben Frutuoso. In 2008 the German-Portuguese couple were living in Ireland and searching for a house to renovate with a very limited budget. Cue hours of frustrating online searches in Ireland, Germany and Portugal before they found their dream hovel. And so the idea for the website was born: a one -stop shop to discover inexpensive houses around the world.

The house they chose was in Germany, a turn-of-the-century 40-room property on three quarters of an acre. All for under €20,000but, Ruben says, “not very liveable”. And therein lies the catch with cheap property – they often, but not always, require the owner to have an appetite for refurbishment and a contingency fund to carry out any work that is needed.

Potential, however, says Ruben, was everywhere. There were carved stone elements, oak parquet, high ceilings with good plasterwork. It was “all very beautiful”. The couple bought a caravan in Ireland and set off with their cat to Germany to oversee the restorations. Jenny continued to work remotely as a web designer, with her home office now a caravan on their own building site .

They have since moved again because Jenny became pregnant and they found the house too large a project. By this time was up and runningand the company has since been joined by Irishman Luke Coyle and the site now has almost 1,300 properties in 41 countries. It is free to list a house on the site. While the website is called there are additional sections for property under €50,000.

There are a myriad of sites where you can find cheap property online including French property agent, Italian property site and which mainly deals with property on the east coast of Spain.

Gavan Russell from says that people need to consider the logistics before they buy. “In some areas where you can buy cheaply you can only get direct flights from Ireland for certain months of the year or you have to get connecting flights from the UK. Spain, for example, is fairly accessible from here but you can only get direct flights to parts of Bulgaria for certain months of the year and it’s cold there in winter. Buying costs also vary substantially from country to country.”

ITALY Casale Rocca, Ascoli Piceno


What: 120sq m (1,291sq ft) two-bed stone house over four floors in Italian village near the Adriatic coast. In need of restoration Why: You love the idea of buying your wine and olive oil locally and soaking up the sun How much: €20,000 Contact: (ID: 236)

FRANCE La Chapelle-Glain, Loire-Atlantique


What: 65sq m (700sq ft) cottage in the Loire region, with garden. Three rooms, plus attic. In need of restoration Why: All that cut stone and original timber rafters are very atmospheric How much: €14,500 Contact: (ref: 2926)

PORTUGAL Village House, Castelo Branco


What: 30sq m (323sq ft) stone cottage in Coimbra. It has a new roof but needs refurbishment Why: The previous owners made a start on renovation and at this price, it’s an attractive option How much: €6,000 Contact: (ID: 2167)

GREECE Crete Apartment, Lasithi


What: 35sq m (377sq ft) one-bed apartment with balcony in modern three-story block about a kilometre from the beach Why: Small apartment in a small complex – no work needed How much: €32,000 Contact: (ID: 2009)

SWEDEN Kamrumvägen Harads Boden

Sweden House

What: Swedish lake house, with two bedrooms over two storeys. With veranda and garden. Needs some redecoration and refurbishment Why: After soaking up all those Nordic Noir dramas, you’re hooked on the countryside. Now you can own a slice of the action How much: €14,500 Contact: (ID: 479)

SPAIN Townhouse in Andalucía, Arriate, Malaga


What: Two-bed townhouse on three floors near the historic town of Ronda. Built in 2006, and ready to move into, it is 60sq m (646sq ft) Why: With views over the surrounding countryside, and in the heart of village life, and near mountain and forest walks How much: €25,000 Contact: (ID: 1528)

IRELAND Connemara, Clifden, Co Galway


What: One-bed semi-detached holiday cottage at the Clifden Glen development, which includes mini-golf and tennis courts Why: This is ready to move into for a short break or longer stay in the heart of Connemara How much: €25,000 AMV at auction on 25th July Contact: O’Donnellan & Joyce tel: 091 564 212 US

USA Various Houses, Ohio


What: A selection of detached three-bed houses in and around Cleveland Ohio. These clapboard houses look like something out of any number of American movies Why: Why not make a start in America? Although a lot more homework recommended on these ones How much: €10,000 Contact: (ID: 1676)

BULGARIA Country House, Vratsa


What: Atmospheric country house, 60km from Vratsa. Three bedrooms over three floors, with a large garden. Overall there’s 230sq m (2,475sq ft) Why: You need lots of space and have a tight budget but this could become your dream home How much: €10,000 Contact: (property ID: 2078)

IRELAND Belcruit House, Belcruit, Co Donegal

Belcruit house

What: Ruined stone cottage on 10 acres right on the beach Why: The beach is simply stunning and with a lot of sweat equity, this site could be sublime How much: €25,000 Contact: REA McElhinney tel: 071 -984 1261

Buying a fixer-upper abroad: How it works

Do your research: sites such as are a great place to start.

Find the house you like. Click on the contact link, which links you to the vendor or auctioneer directly.

Never buy without visiting the area and viewing the site first.

– If you’re buying a newer apartment or house, check what the annual maintenance fees are and factor them into your budget.

– Confirm there’s permission to restore/renovate where applicable. Planning permission can lapse, even on existing buildings.

– Look out for any preservation or special conservation orders on your fixer-upper, as they can make doing work very costly.

– Remember to check local conveyancing laws and any additional taxes before you commit to buy. A legal representative in the country should ensure you stay on top of things.

– Get all documents translated. Never sign something you can’t read or understand.

– If you’re planning to rent the property for income, check out the local laws around this.

– Just like at home, it’s important to stay in with the locals when doing any building work, especially if you’re not from the area. Locals can also inform you about issues such as flooding or water supplies.