Last Christmas, real estate interest in Spain’s abandoned villages for sale peaked when the actress, Gwyneth Paltrow suggested they would be an ideal gift. Estimations show 3000 ghost towns as locals call them, sit dormant across the country.
Starting prices are the same as a luxury car, making this a tempting idea for many. However, a recent Reuters article suggests once people move past their excitement on to practicalities, interest fades, and along with it, discussions about demographic decline and economic policies are blamed for their decline.
In the article titled “The Race to Revive Spain’s Dying Ghost Villages,” Paul Soto, an expert on rural developments says…
“There is a huge discussion in Spain over rural depopulation at the moment.”
He blames growing urbanisation that started during the 60s and 70s when young people struggling to find work move to larger cities. It is a familiar tale happening in many countries around the world, but he says Spain’s problem is fuelled by the government’s drive to promote tourism and real estate in coastal resorts, hence they have ignored inland areas.
There is also an in balance of supply and demand. Overseas house buyers prefer coastal resorts with all social facilities and amenities on their doorstep.
Rural retreats are often secluded, and house owners need to be car owners to get essential day-to-day supplies. Modern necessities like the internet are also up for question, in areas where a sparse population limits the practicality of installation.
Economic costs also need to be factored in. While buyers can snap up an entire village for next to nothing, houses direly need repair and renovation. Younger demographics don’t have unlimited funds. Hence the buying pool is further diluted down.
Releasing the massive dilemmas that these communities face, Paul Soto has suggested alternatives like large housing projects or commercial residences where business owners would enjoy lower running costs.
Reuters asked the Spanish government for comments and Ignacio Molina de la Torre, director of the Commission for Demographic Challenge replied…
Depopulation is “one of the most complex demographic and territorial processes affecting Spain, and it requires more decisive action. The government recognises the need to turn rural areas into spaces of opportunity” that take advantage of local resources.
Meanwhile, projects like “Living Villages” and “New Paths” offer free help and guidance to anyone considering investing in rural retreats. While they are a valuable source, they don’t, however, solve the lack of interest and incentives for people to move to Spain’s abandoned villages.
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