A decision by five young Chicagoans to live temporarily in Sardinia for a month illustrates how difficult it can be to secure a place to live, especially in southern Europe, where high housing prices and relatively lax immigration laws make it less affordable than other European countries.
The six people who took a semester-long trip to southern Italy in June and early July stayed in Sardinia’s capital, Porto Cervo, where they lived in a compact, two-bedroom apartment about an hour’s drive from the central tourist town of Olbia.
The cost of an apartment near Olbia is about $10,000 per month, according to PSA Informal, the real estate brokerage that arranged the apartment. Prices are much higher in mainland Italy. PSA estimated the cost of an apartment for a family of four in Olbia at $24,500 per month. Prices in Italy are much higher than other European countries because apartments are leased mostly by absentee landlords and expensive, central towns line many highways, making it hard to access housing alternatives.
Those qualities mean that large numbers of people leave Sardinia each year, primarily to Spain and to northern Italy and other Mediterranean countries. The practice, known as exporting, could give some hope to the Italians that their country may get more “migrant waves” as the United States recovers from the recession and more young people return home to continue their studies or jobs, according to SBSO, a commercial real estate company in Siena.