First it was Italy, now you can snap up a village in Spain for less than £100,000.
It’s not just individual Spanish apartments that are up for sale these days, it’s entire villages.
Admittedly, they aren’t to be found on the popular coastlines, and they don’t come with swimming pools attached. But what they do offer, is the opportunity to own not just one little flat, but to develop and sell an entire community.
It’s a sort of buy one house, get another half a dozen free offer.
The only snag, is that these little hamlets are currently deserted, and while you can buy them for virtually nothing, you do have to bring them up to a standard where other people will want to buy.
Take the abandoned village of O Penso, in north-west Spain. The last resident died 10 years ago, which means there are half a dozen houses for sale, plus two large farms. Yours for £150,000.
Alternatively, you might be drawn to the 12 crumbling stone houses that make up the 15th century village A Barca, in Northern Spain, deserted for the last 40 years, due to a dam project that never got built…
Asking price here is even more reasonable; the mayor of nearby Cortegada is happy to sell the village for nothing. Provided the successful bidders agree to restore the houses to a liveable standard.
Nor are these tales of empty villages just one-offs. It is estimated that there are nearly 3,000 empty villages in Spain now.
Many of them don’t see a person from one year to the next; apart from carnival times, when noisy and colourful processions wind through the empty streets, before once more abandoning them to their solitude.
Some of these little villages are tiny dots on the atlas: no more than half a dozen small houses, going rate £52,000 for the lot. Others, though are made up of dozens of empty houses, along with churches, bars and museums. Some villages have 75 empty houses: ready-made communities, except they lack the one vital ingredient: people.
It’s no secret, of course, as to why the population has drained away. People leave these isolated regions due to lack of jobs, absence of schools and medical facilities, the remoteness of the area, plus the general allure of bright-lights in towns and cities.
The hope now, is that, instead of being put off by the isolation of these places, foreign buyers will be drawn to them precisely because of their remoteness.
“All someone has to do is to promise to renovate the 12 ruined houses,” says Avelino Luis de Francisco Martinez, the mayor of Cortegada, who talks fulsomely of the orchards, where trees are full of peaches, figs, walnuts, apples and pears. Plus rivers alive with trout.
“They are beautiful houses. Next to a river and an 18th century royal procession path. Our challenge is that we just need to find someone to live here in this century.”
A hopeless task? Not so, it seems. One person’s unwelcome solitude is someone else’s ideal peace-and-quiet location. Estate agents tell of interest from clients who range from British retirees to an American who has plans for an English school.
Alternatively, you can buy a small house for under £4,000. Sell your house in the UK, and with the money left over, you could start a new life in the sun.
For more information, visit www.aldeasabandonadas.com.