Why settle for a tiny house, when you can have a whole tiny town? It may not be as crazy as it sounds…
All along the northern coast of Spain are quaint little villages among the verdant hills of Galicia, a rocky coastal region known for its fishing trade and animal husbandry. Quaint little homes made of stone, with slate roofs and cobblestone pathways are nestled here and there, often within sight of the shimmering waters of the Bay of Biscay. Vineyards, cork tree orchards, sheep paddocks and lovely natural woodlands lie beyond as far as the eye can see. Doesn’t that sound like a beautiful place to retire, or a grand opportunity for young folks to start life off in style?
Over the last century, declining job opportunities and the lure of the big cities in the south and east have led the generations that used to inhabit these villages to abandon them. Now, they’ve all become ghost towns – nearly three thousand of them. Landowners, in many cases, have taken to selling whole villages so that they can rejoin their loved ones, and people from around the world, (often those who are looking to escape the concrete jungle for the pastoral life of a homesteader,) are flocking to buy them. I know what you’re thinking… a whole village must cost zillions of dollars. But they don’t. In one case, for instance, British-born retiree Neil Christie left his stressful office job in the UK to buy the quaint little hamlet of Arruñada for around $80,000.
To be clear, much of the village was overgrown and its structures were in various states of disrepair. Mr. Christie had to invest additional funds, and lots of time, in demolishing a home so that he reuse the materials to build himself and his wife a new place. (In the meantime, she works as a teacher nearby.)
But think of the possibilities… A group of friends, or an extended family, could pool their resources together and buy a tiny village of tiny houses ready to move into. You’d have acres of land to garden or raise animals, (and often times established vineyards and orchards that simply need a little TLC,) as well as some of the most spectacular ocean views anywhere in the world. I could imagine a professional accustomed to working remotely being able to live quite happily in a place like this, after a quick chat with the local telecommunications provider.
Spain is known as a country that is accepting to ex-patriots, as long as you meet a few simple criteria, you can bring sufficient wealth with you and/or an established business and/or an accredited degree. Additionally, if you’re an English speaker, (and I’m assuming you are if you’re reading this article,) you’re likely to have handy access to a community of other ex-patriots from the UK – many Europeans speak English, anyway. (Still, you should be prepared to learn the local dialect.)
Mind you, the weather won’t always by warm and sunny. The rainy season or February snows might lead to impassible roads at times. Based on the reviews I’ve read, owning land in Spain as foreigner, while nowhere near as difficult as it is in, say, Nepal, can be a bureaucratic nightmare. (In fact, some Britons who bought a piece of land in Iberia to live out their dreams on the Spanish Riviera found out later, after giving all their money to an unscrupulous dealer, that they didn’t have the necessary approvals to begin construction, and so weren’t allowed to build their new homes.)
Nonetheless, if you play your cards right, you really could be living the homesteader lifestyle of your dreams in one of the most beautiful regions our wonderful planet has to offer. Más vale ser cabeza de ratón que cola de león! It’s better to be the head of a mouse than the tail of a lion. In other words, I’d rather take a risk and have a chance at lifestyle freedom, (however humble it may be,) than live out my days uneventfully in relative quiet, only to wonder upon my death what might have been… If you’re like me, and you’re ready to begin your journey to Galicia, my recommendation is to seek out an English-speaking Spanish realtor who can help you sort out all the details from square one.