Abandoned villages are ghost towns in Spain with empty properties as a result of rural depopulation. There are more than 3.000 abandoned villages in Spain, most of them in the northern region (Galicia, Asturias and Castile and León), but also in Andalusia, Aragon and Catalonia.
Why have these “villages” been abandoned?
The most recent European Commission (EC) Country Report for Spain highlights that a number of factors are responsible for this abandonment.
Since 2008 Spain has experienced territorial cohesion challenges, such as depopulation and ageing in rural areas, due to the relocation of younger generations to urban areas. As a result, the aforementioned rural areas have since suffered from reduced universal basic services such as schools, transport, public service providers etc. as well as a depreciation of land value.
Measures to revive Spanish abandoned villages
The European Network of Rural Development has created the Pueblos Vivos (Living Villages) Project, a pilot project with the aim of investigating the causes of abandonment in Aragon. This project has identified the transferable actions needed to revive abandoned villages and to attract new investors. For instance, improvements to universal basic services, such as housing, internet connection, communication network and services for the population (medical care). In the 2019 Draft Budgetary Plan the Spanish government has already envisaged investments to develop ultrafast broadband in rural areas by early 2020.
Advantages of Spanish abandoned villages for foreign investors
The main advantage of Spanish abandoned villages for foreign investors relates to their prices. For example, various sources have reported selling prices from as little as €100,000 and an entire village of 75 homes may be valued at €425,000. The American actress Gwyneth Paltrow recently purchased an abandoned village in Spain stating that they make an awesome Christmas gift, thus sparking interest amongst foreign investors to carry out their investment projects in Spain.
Other advantages of Spanish abandoned villages include the following:
- Sense of community: due to the small size of the villages it is easier to form close ties
- Improvements in quality of life: the lack of pollution and smog bring individuals health benefits (pure air and peace of mind)
- Ability to produce food: the quality and size of the land allows potential owners to produce their own food and rear animals. The possibility of growing your own food is in demand in Spain, since the number of people who adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet keeps growing. According to official statistics (*), 7.8% of the Spanish population adopts a vegetarian or vegan diet. Within this figure, 1.3% of the Spanish population is vegetarian, 0.2% is vegan and 6.3% is flexitarian -a term applied to those who are principally vegetarian, but sporadically consume meat or fish-
- Traffic congestion: the lack of traffic congestion in these areas allows for a quieter and healthier environment.
Notwithstanding the above, whoever decides to invest in abandoned villages in Spain will need to ascertain the ownership of its multiple properties in order to proceed with the acquisition. After the sale and transfer of the properties, further procedural requirements must be completed such as the notarisation and the entry into the Land Registry.
Additionally, it will be necessary to obtain the relevant licenses and authorisations for planning permission purposes. Furthermore, if the modification of the original structure of the property is envisaged, certain legal duties must be observed. Setting up a business in one of these Spanish abandoned villages will need to comply with taxation, acquisition, incorporation and registration requirements.
It will therefore be necessary to take into account all these particularities so that investment in abandoned villages in Spain is profitable and does not become an inexhaustible source of problems and headaches.
Amy Lewis & Serena Fernandes