Abandoned Homes Now Offered for Alternative Living

Galicia is one of the least populated regions in Spain. Its remote location and rural economy mean that many young people leave Galicia to find work in the big cities. Now the government is trying to attract outsiders to live in Galicia by selling empty houses, infrastructure and large green areas there.

The province of Galicia in northwestern Spain is not the most popular destination for tourists or foreigners looking for a second home. Most young people find work in big cities, leaving 3,500 villages neglected, according to INE, Spain’s national statistics agency. Unemployment, a low birth rate and the number of Spaniards entering old age are problems facing the province of Galicia.

But not all foreigners who buy empty houses in Galicia, Spain, want to use them as vacation spots.

Abandoned houses near the village of Barreiros, February 19, 2014. Many of Spain's abandoned hamlets are usually abandoned by their inhabitants moving to larger cities or more fertile areas to find work.  (AFP/ MIGUEL RIOPA)

Abandoned houses near the village of Barreiros, February 19, 2014. Many of Spain’s abandoned hamlets are usually abandoned by their inhabitants moving to larger cities or more fertile areas to find work. (AFP/ MIGUEL RIOPA)

Bianca Cragg is one of the buyers of the property. Even though she already owns a property in warm southern Spain, Bianca says, Galicia offers something different.

“This place is very calm, very green. You come here to have peace, the people here are very friendly. So it’s a nice place to retire, although of course I won’t retire completely because we have a joint project,” he commented. .

Apart from the beautiful, rocky and calm coast of Galicia, property prices are also a factor in choosing the area, especially for those who have horses because of the large space for horses and other animals.

Bianca Cragg’s parents and younger sister Sarah, are from the Netherlands and England. Bianca said: “The fact is we can’t buy property in the UK or in the Netherlands at the prices you get here.”

Abandoned house in the village of Ferreria de Bogo near Pontenova, abandoned by its occupants, 19 February 2014. (MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP)

Abandoned house in the village of Ferreria de Bogo near Pontenova, abandoned by its occupants, 19 February 2014. (MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP)

To combat population shrinkage, the local Lugo government has created a digital platform that collects information about rural areas that have been neglected. The aim is to facilitate property sales and promote village revitalization.

Mar Gomez is head of the Land and Housing Institute in the Lugo region for the Galician government. “Many residents previously lived in the countryside. Now, people go to big cities mainly to look for work. So there are a lot of hamlets and villages that are completely empty or only inhabited by one or two residents. And in general, they are elderly people. In other words, there are only a few young people living in these remote villages,” he explained.

Gomez added that as the population dwindled, the condition of all buildings and related infrastructure began to deteriorate. The houses began to crumble and there was great damage throughout the countryside.

“So what the Government of Galicia wants is to create a platform to encourage people to own these properties, so that they can repair them if necessary with government funds. They can move there to live and revitalize the area. That way, their economic interests will not be affected. down,” Gomez added.

Martim Thomas, 41, from Switzerland, walks along "Camino de Santiago" (St. James Way) in Puente La Reina, about 25kms, 15 miles, northern Spain, April 14, 2021. (AP/Alvaro Barrientos)

Martim Thomas, 41, from Switzerland, walks along the “Camino de Santiago” (St. James Way) in Puente La Reina, about 25kms, 15 miles, northern Spain, April 14, 2021. (AP/Alvaro Barrientos)

The local government provides grants for the purchase and restoration of nearby well-known pilgrimage routes, the Camino de Santiago, and other historical areas. The potential buyer must be a legal citizen of Spain or a citizen of the European Union who is a permanent resident of the house they wish to repair.

Rosa Maria Costoya and her husband Mark Adkinson have built a business that connects potential buyers with rural properties. “We sell a lifestyle and now, thanks to new technology, and a new way of living, you can work from anywhere in the world,” said Sostoya.

“75 percent-80 percent of our clients are foreigners. They come from all over the world. They want to live in a small environment with their family to make a change or a new life. There are also newly married couples to start a new business,” he added. . [lj/uh]