24 Mar, 2024 @ 11:00
3 mins read

EXCLUSIVE: Meet the expats who have left it all behind to buy abandoned villages in rural Spain 

FANCY owning your own village? Meet the expats who have done it, converting rural Spain into their dream homes. 

Davis plans to make a tourism getaway with his abandoned Galician property.
Photo: AldeasAbandonadas

Many people have dreamed of running away to the countryside to start a new life, but how many actually take the plunge? 

Henry Davis, moved from the US to do just that. 

Alongside his business partner he bought a small abandoned village in Galicia to start his farm-tourist hybrid. 

“I wanted to get out of the city,” he said. 

“You can live a much better life in the country, the quality of life is better, there’s no stress and your time is your own.” 

The formerly abandoned village, near Lugo, has seven houses, a mill, granary and five hectare finca. 

The Galicia property has a lot of potential. Photo: Aldeas Abandonadas

READ MORE: Adorable ‘Hobbit village’ in Spain which will make the perfect retreat for Lord Of The Rings fans

“I chose the property because it is near beaches, mountains, rivers and is surrounded by pure nature and greenery.

“It’s also very easy to get to by car so it will be perfect for my business.” 

He is currently reforming the property’s stone houses with the aim of using them as tourist lets, rented flats or for digital nomads. 

Together with his business partner, they also hope to set up a farm. 

Galicia, one of Spain’s wettest and greenest regions, will be the perfect environment. 

Photo: Aldeas Abandonadas

READ MORE: This tiny-looking home in Spain is leaving house hunters STUNNED when they step inside – and it could be yours for just €120,000

“The government here is very helpful,” Davis said.

“Although the property was already economical, we’ve had grants and help along the way.” 

He found the opportunity through Aldeas Abandonadas, a Spanish real estate agency dedicated to helping people buy and reform Spain’s ‘abandoned’ properties. 

“We have everything: mills, farms, complexes, castles, towns and villages,” Elvira Fafian, owner of Aldeas Abandonadas, told The Olive Press.

“People ring us, tell us what they want and we find something which fits that brief. We have all sorts of clients, business owners, retired people, families and young people too.”

Although buying an abandoned property can be very ‘complicated’ and ‘slow’, for many people it’s worth the effort. 

Another Aldeas Abandonada’s property in northern Spain. Photo: Aldeas Abandonadas

“People move to Spain after seeing the quality of life here on holiday, because it’s cheaper, or because they want to retire. Most of them invest in rural life.

“A lot of young people say they don’t want to depend on anyone else, they don’t want debt, so they come to rural areas to live by their own rules and not be shackled to a mortgage for thirty years,” she added. 

While some criticise the ‘guiris’ buying up ‘abandoned Spain’, Elvira says it can only be a good thing. 

“It’s great that people come here. A lot of these places have been abandoned for fifty years and we can give them another opportunity,” she said. 

Many towns, villages and hamlets across the country are suffering from depopulation as young people move to big cities in search of work and opportunity. 

Some offer cash incentives, houses and even jobs for those willing to stay.

READ MORE: ‘We were paid to run the only bar in a tiny town in Spain – and are loving our new life’

The ‘quiet’ life that has pushed so many young Spaniards away from rural living is drawing expats in droves. 

Elvira said: “They want to live a quiet life and it’s not like you’re completely isolated, in most of our properties there are big cities just an hour or so away.” 

However, the property expert warned those considering an ‘abandoned’ property must carefully think over their decision. 

She recommends thinking about what you want to do with the town, how much money and effort it will take to restore and if you’re a family, what life will be like for you and your children. 

Aldeas Abandonadas has varied properties all over Spain. Photo: Aldeas Abandonadas

“You need to be sure that you want this because it’s a radical change,” she said. 

“If you invest and then abandon the property, you won’t get that money back.” 

But, Aldeas Abandonadas is there every step of the way to support buyers and help them with any challenges. 

Currently on their website is another Lugo village, with six cosy stone buildings including a main house, surrounded by eucalyptus and pine trees.

This hamlet has stunning views of green mountains and could be yours for just €73,000. 

Meanwhile in Burgos, Castille y Leon, an abandoned village offers 50 possible houses, fincas and land for €400,000. To see what Aldeas Abandonadas has to offer, visit their website here.

READ MORE: Expat couple buy an entire abandoned ‘pueblo’ in Spain: These are the plans for their new village

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