9 Sep, 2012 @ 10:00
1 min read

Youngest resident in Spanish village is 70

old villagers

A SCOTTISH writer has discovered a hamlet in Spain where the youngest resident is 70 years old.

Tom Pow travelled to Villabandin in Castile Leon for his latest book, In Another World: among Europe’s Dying Villages.

According to Pow, social and economic change has drained many remote villages of people, with only the old and retired remaining.


  1. Alas, this is the fate awaiting many of the beautiful mountain villages in the Serranía de Ronda unless town halls can pool their ideas and avert what would be an economic and social catastrophe. It has already happened in some Genal Valley villages.

    But it is not too late for action. At least, not yet. It is vital that those foreign residents who have ideas get together with mayors and local councillors and get their ideas aired.

  2. Tony Bishop,
    with a little research you would find as I did when I first visited Spain in 68 – that Andalucia was the poorest part of Spain for two reasons.

    Firstly it was sparsely populated because it had zero infrastructure – eg. Almeria had no piped water, it was delivered by bowser trucks and it was with small pockets of exceptions, violently anti-Fascist so Franco starved both regions with zero investment.

    Many of the villages that you refer to were effectively dead and the only occupiers were the very old, the young had been forced to emigrate en mass as I witnessed when I left Spain to return home and met hundreds of Andalucians waiting at Hendaye train station to start new lives in France/Netherlands and Germany.

    When I lived in Galicia, the local papers ran big articles with pictures from the 1950s’ when Galicia’s population fell by over 60% – emigrate or starve.

    Tourism reversed the trend in Andalucia from around 1975 but now what? Tourists don’t want to look out on burnt scrubland and there is a trend which will grow where, people decide for economic and other reasons to holiday at home. As eastern Europe opens up to tourists, many from northern Europe dislike intense heat and will choose to visit places like Poland and Rumania which are far more attractive and have so much to offer.

    Desertification continues apace, so that rules out agriculture. Industry in small villages – totally un-economic – transport costs wipe out any gains on building/living costs.

    I think you must resign yourself to the fact that these villages will die because there is no rational reason for them to survive.

    Visit Dumfries & Galloway – once the holiday destination for Scots and northern English from the industrial cities. Total collapse when the Spanish Costas opened up – they will come alive again with the change in climate which will become apparent from around 2030 – hot dry summers and very cold snowy winters – think southern Norway/Sweden.

    Desertification is something that not only the Spanish but the foreigners buying property in southern Spain should think carefully about – when it becomes self evident property will be unsaleable. Before then all nec. services will have collapsed.

    Small villages in the interior of Andalucia are as nothing to huge problem of 100 million plus in southern Europe looking for a life somewhere else within a generation.

  3. Stuart Crawford, I´m not sure what you mean by your post.

    We live in a vibrant village, Montejaque, in the Serranía de Ronda. Yes, of course the whole area suffered under Franco and in the 1960s thousands of villagers were forced to seek work in other countries, mostly Germany. With a range of food shops, a hardware store, a baker´s and 16 bars, I think it can be considered vibrant.

    Montejaque is vibrant because it is not dependent on tourism, even though low-impact tourism (hikers, botanists, bird-watchers, photographers, etc.) is one small revenue source. Property sales are most definitely not restricted to foreign buyers.

    In other words, like so many other Serranía villages, Montejaque is economically self-sufficient. For now.

    So what does the future hold? What is clear that, for better or for worse, people are capable of shaping their futures, especially now that Spain is a democracy, even with its flaws.

    You clearly have an apocalyptic view. But you have to accept that is not a view shared by everyone.

  4. Apocalyptic views of Spain aren’t shared by people with blinkers. “Thriving” communities in Spain are largely fed by pension money, much of which flows from various European countries. As Stuart states, agriculture and manufacturing will wither. When all the old codgers finally pop their clogs, the income flow will dry up, not to be replaced, because all pension funds will in future be nicked by banks, financial wizards and those very governments who, at present, are helping to prop up the Spanish economy with those pensions.

  5. Well, I must remove my blinkers. We must be all doomed. No point in trying to stave off the inevitable. I will pack my bags immediately.

    Just the same, I wonder just how old you must be to earn the epithet “old codger”.

  6. Tony Bishop,
    how do you manufacture water – I’d like to know – I can make a fortune then.

    Andalucia was losing people long before Franco came to power.

    I’ve never understood how the ‘English’ came to be so blinkered compared to their kin who stayed in the Netherlands/Germany/Denmark/Norway and Sweden.

    All these other Germanics have always had the long view and the ‘English’ or most of them can’t see as far as the end of their noses – take the profits today and screw tomorrow.

    As I have always maintained lots of the ‘English’ and Spanish have much in common and your comments prove that very well.

    Your village is prosperous but there are many who can’t pay their bills or don’t you read in the Olive Presss what does’nt conform to your rose tinted view.

    Where does the money come from to feed this short term prosperity – not from wealth created by the Spanish but from foreign and Spanish pensioners and handouts from the North.

    Try and be a bit more Germanic and lift your blinkered head up and take a good long view at the future.- Macawberism is no good as a long term strategy.

  7. For some reason, I thought this section was for comments about the article. It seems I was wrong. Name calling seems to be what this section is for.

    One thing is for sure: I am far too long in the tooth to be indulging in childish behaviour.

  8. Be interested to hear your reply to Stuart, Tony, all the same. Where does the money come from? Any how will being part of a democracy (loose term, note) stop water shortages exactly?

  9. Stuart – “Try and be a bit more Germanic and lift your blinkered head up and take a good long view at the future.”

    Try and be a bit more Germanic. Why does something just not sound right about that?

  10. I can only comment on the small village and the people there where I have had a place for over 10 years. Most people who have some get up and left for Barcelona, some in the past went to Switzerland, Germany and then they come back to retire where they have a house. There is not a lot of work in these small villages and the prospects for the younger people are bleak. Most people will work cash in hand where available. Many of these small villages have an underground water source for their vegetables and they keep their bills down by living off the land. Of course there are always state hand outs. I have a friend in Cornwall and he would also say the above of his area (apart from the water) but he would add the property prices are sky high for the minimum wage that most earn down there. Spain is a retirement place. I would advise to only live there if you are financially independent or if you have a job where you can work anywhere in the world. It is difficult to make an honest living in Spain. There are so many barriers and red tape to doing anything in Spain. As for the water situation, I am sure man will be able to deal with water for the people, maybe not the land. You have to be aware that there is a lot of corruption in Spain regarding the politicians, lawyers and estate agents. If you can accept that or don’t need to deal with them very often then you should be OK. Sunshine alone is not enough for me.

  11. my family is from this very village and the youngest resident is actually a 5 year old child. It is not a ‘dying village’; the population may be small but there is more and more interest to either live there or use as a weekend break. And it is also seasonal- this summer there were 150 people sitting down for lunch at the village fiesta, and despite not living there all year round I doubt any of them, myself included, would let it ‘die off’. And I don’t think they appreciate all this ridiculous media attention, it is just a remote hamlet in the mountains after all.

    And btw, the fact that the two ladies in the photo are not even from villabandin says it all.

  12. Indeed, I wonder where that picture came from. But who cares, anyway? Only us who always carry Villabandín in our thoughts. I’m not Spanish, I’m not from León. I’m from Omaña and from Villabandín. And proud.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Mijas fire
Previous Story

Careless gardener suspected of causing Costa del Sol fire

jamie oliver food revolution e
Next Story

Jamie Oliver in Marbella

Latest from National News

Go toTop

More From The Olive Press