Can you buy an abandoned village in Spain?

Ruined house in abandoned village of Esco, Spain

Spain is a big country and most of its population is concentrated in the cities and on the coast. This together with a general exodus from rural to urban areas means that there are hundreds of empty villages and hamlets. Over the last few years, these abandoned sites have piqued the interest of investors. But can you buy an abandoned village in Spain? This article answers that question and tells you how to do it.

Types of abandoned villages in Spain

According to recent estimates, there are more than 500 abandoned villages and hamlets in Spain. Most of them are in the regions of Asturias, Aragon, Galicia and Castilla y León, often in mountainous areas or locations that are difficult to access.

Their state varies greatly: from villages in total abandonment with their buildings in ruins to others that are more like ghost towns with most houses still standing. Some empty villages have utility supplies while others have no electricity, gas or even running water connections.

Investor interest

In recent years, Spain’s abandoned villages have caught the eye of foreign investors, mostly from the UK, Belgium and France. But since the pandemic, interest has grown among Spanish buyers as well.

Their reasons for investing include:

  • Search for peace and quiet – lifestyle preferences have shifted since Covid 19 arrived and many people now want to live in absolute tranquility. Abandoned villages are often the best place to find it.
  • Property investment – many regional governments in Spain prohibit the construction of residential property in rural Spain, particularly in protected areas. Investing in an abandoned village gives developers the chance to build without the usual licence and permission issues.
  • Tourism investment – quiet, natural areas have come into their own since the pandemic arrived and abandoned villages offer excellent potential for rural tourism in the form of hotels or self-catering establishments.

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Buying an abandoned village

As you might expect, buying an entire village isn’t an easy or straightforward process. Once you’ve located your chosen village, you and your legal team must do the following:

  1. Ascertain exactly what you can buy. Note that you can only buy privately-owned properties and those for public use, e.g. the village council hall or church, must remain public domain.
  2. Find out who owns each property – this part of the procedure could be long and arduous, particularly if properties form part of an inherited estate.
  3. Get your conveyancing lawyer to check all ownership titles and resolve any potential issues with property in the village.
  4. Investigate utility connections in the village. Note that it can cost tens of thousands of euros to take mains electricity and water to a remote location.
  5. Agree a price with all the owners. Expect to pay €50,000 to €250,000 for the village.
  6. Get an estimate for refurbishment and/or rebuilding. This is obviously the most expensive part of the process – allow for at least €500,000.

Hire the professionals

Buying an abandoned village in Spain involves complex legal procedures, many of which have the potential to go wrong. To ensure they don’t, hire a professional team of lawyers with expertise in conveyancing.

At Costaluz Lawyers, we have been helping foreigners buy property in Spain for over 15 years. Get in touch for a free consultation and to find out how we can help you.

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