Belgian man wins the chance to live in a stunning house perched 4,600ft up a cliff for FREE… but he’ll have no running water or electricity

THE search for a hermit is officially over for the residents of this Austrian town, who have been offering a unique job opportunity – and a FREE home.

The Saalfelden hermitage in the Austrian Alps has had a resident hermit for 350 years and offers stunning views.

The Saalfelden hermitage in the Austrian Alps is one of the last of its kind in Europe
It’s nestled 4,600ft up a cliff… and offers stuning views over the countryside
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Bearded Belgian Stan Vanuytrecht will take up the post of hermit this year
AP:Associated Press

There’s a catch – the house doesn’t have any heating, electricity or running water – but divorcee Stan Vanuytrecht reckons he’s the man for the unpaid job.

The bearded Belgian, who smokes from a pipe, certainly looks the part – but he says he was surprised to be chosen.

Stan, 58, told the Austria Press Agency: “I thought I didn’t have a chance. When I read about the Saalfelden hermitage I thought to myself: that’s the place for me.”

His new home has no electricity, heating or running water

Although the ancient house is perched 4,600ft up a cliff, it doesn’t offer total solitude.

People often hike up to enjoy the view, and tend to confide in the wise hermit.

But the Trabant-driving former artillery officer says his previous experience working with the homeless, alcoholics, drugs addicts, prisoners and psychiatric patients will stand him in good stead.

“It’s important just to listen without talking oneself and without judging,” he added.

The dwelling has remained empty since the last hermit left and returned to Vienna in the autumn, after just one year in the role

The Saalfelden hermitage has been occupied every year since it was built.

So when Thomas Flieglmüller, a former priest and psychotherapist, decided a life of solitude wasn’t for him just a year into the job – the local priest Alois Moser immediately started advertising for his successor.

Wannabe hermits had to submit their applications by post, and 50 people applied – but Stan stood out.

“We opted for Stan Vanuytrecht because his personality appealed to us.

“He radiates calm and comes across as well-anchored,” said Erich Rohrmoser, mayor of Saalfelden near Salzburg in the west.

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