Buying abandoned villages — 1 euro deals on homes in Spain explained

Everything you need to know about “1 euro housing”: why someone buys abandoned houses, where is it possible to find bargain offers, how to benefit? Read now!
Rumour has it, in Spain, it is possible to become an owner of a whole town or village by paying only one euro. This fact has been stirring the minds of our clients for years. We receive many requests from potential buyers who wonder why we do not send them a long list of offers, because "on the Internet, they write there are plenty of such villas there, probably, you just do not benefit from such a deal".

So what do we have in reality? Is it possible to find a house for a euro?

1. How to buy a house for 1 euro?

Yes, indeed these deals took place – some villas and even villages were sold for 1 euro. But, there's always a but. Having bought such a property, the new owner had to put it in order by investing a lot of money. As a rule, a house was falling apart, it was located in an empty village, and with burdensome obligations to restore it... Not only the house, but the adjacent area within a maximum of three years. And if these conditions were not met, the property was returned to the municipality. On average, the amount of investments to restore the house and the surrounding infrastructure started at 200,000 EUR. We have to admit: in the end, the house was not cheap at all.
Abandoned village in Austrias
Photo by Jose Luis Cernadas Iglesias
So the "1 euro houses" were rather advertising tricks to attract real investors. One could spread information about this kind of deal in the media. These methods were popular a few years ago, but with increasing interest in the abandoned property prices rose as well. In 2015 you could find a village with several houses for 12,000 EUR. Now the average price starts at 50,000 EUR.

Where did these empty houses come from and who sells them?

2. Abandoned villages in Spain

If you've only been to Spain as a tourist and have relaxed by the sea or walked around Barcelona, you might think that there are crowds of people and empty cities and villages don't exist. But that's not true.
Map: Spain population density
Map: Spain population density. Source: elordenmundial.com
In 53% of Spanish territory, the population density is currently less than 12.5 people per square kilometre – the lowest number in Europe.

The factors that led to the emergence of about 3000 abandoned villages in Spain by 2019 are quite numerous. Various demographic and social problems – young people do not want to follow the traditional way of life and move to large cities. There have been some decent changes in agriculture as well – manual labour on the same scale as before is no longer required. Interestingly, there are many abandoned villages in the prosperous northern regions: Galicia, Castile and Leon, Aragon and Asturias.

3. Who buys abandoned Spanish towns?

Such properties are in demand among foreigners, mostly Belgians, British and Germans. Many of them, having retired in their own country, decide to change their lives, to get closer to nature, or to become an owner of a rural hotel.
Os Texois village in Austria
Os Texois village in Austrias. Photo by Jose Luis Cernadas Iglesias
In recent years, the Spaniards have also become active in this market. Before 2017 among the buyers of the abandoned properties, there were only 10% of Spaniards; by 2019 their number has increased to 30%.

What do all these people find attractive in abandoned homes, and why do they buy them? There are several types of buyers.

  • Retirement in the bosom of nature
As we mentioned above, many of the foreigners choose Spain for spending their retirement. There are many reasons for this: from the climate and the quality of local food to an excellent medicine. Another factor is a straightforward procedure of obtaining a residence permit in Spain for retired people. Not all of those who have decided to move here at a mature age want to live on the shore.

Some ladies and gentlemen, who have management experience and substantial capital, are ready to spend their time and energy to restore abandoned farms or houses, to live here for their pleasure and invite their families.

  • Turn an abandoned village into a tourist attraction
But not everyone seeks to live for their pleasure. For some, it is vital to do something useful. For example, to bring life back to a deserted town or to preserve old architecture.

For example, Os Teixois in Asturias, once a deserted town, has been transformed into an ethnographic museum and welcomes tourists from all over the world. Here you can look at the well-preserved Asturian buildings, a mill and mausoleum. The town had no electricity, so owners had to build their small power station, which also became a tourist attraction. Maintaining the city only at the expense of tourism is not possible; it requires significant investments, the government allocates some of them.

  • Country house
Spanish creative intellectuals are seeking to turn to historical roots and to live sustainably. To own a historically restored mansion in an abandoned village is both trendy and prestigious. The combination of seclusion in the lap of nature and the comfort they can afford after the renovation is increasingly tempting for wealthy Spanish. We have already written about this above: in just five years, the share of Spaniards among buyers has grown from 10% to 30%!

How do Spaniards transform these abandoned homes? It could be a place for summer holidays, a modern recording studio or a photo studio where people get inspired while working. But it's not just creative people who choose solitude. Another wave of interest was in the trend of remote work and sustainable lifestyle. This is quite popular among wealthy people of working age.

4. Where to look for offers?

In media or on property portals you can sometimes see viral ads about the sale of an abandoned house or an entire town. They are discussed and shared on social networks, but they are usually designed to attract attention.
Abandoned village near La Coruña
One of the lots of the Aldeas Abandonadas company: three farm houses near La Coruña for 110,000 euros
Meanwhile, there is also a real estate agency in Spain that specializes in abandoned Spanish villages and villas – Aldeas Abandonadas. Having chosen a somewhat controversial niche, Aldeas Abandonadas has gained its popularity acting as experts and opinion leaders every time there was another wave of interest in empty rural houses.

Today on their website you won't find any 1 euro villa. However, they have one of the most extensive databases of such properties. The price of the houses ranges from 50,000 EUR to several million. It depends on the region and the condition of the real estate. There are both options like a pack of homes in good condition, where you can open a hotel and move to live right away, and abandoned villages that require rehabilitation and serious investment. But if you've been dreaming of owning a mill by a forest river or living among vineyards, Aldeas Abandonadas is the agency you need.
Abandoned village near La Coruña
One of the lots of the Aldeas Abandonadas company: six houses and a piece of wood for 84,775 euros

5. Conclusion

If, after reading about all the limitations and difficulties, you still seek to become the owner of an abandoned property, it is worth drawing up a business plan. Think of how the restoration of houses will raise the attractiveness of the region and create new jobs. And try to get a grant from the municipality.

Some regions have local programmes at different levels, allocating quite substantial amounts, ranging from tens to several hundred thousand euros for renovations. It is also possible for a foreigner to get 100-200 thousand if he proves the usefulness of his project. But it is still worth understanding that the investments will be significant in this case. On average, the reconstruction now costs from 400,000 EUR.

If houses worth 1 euro attract you exclusively as an investment tool, we advise you to invest in new buildings in prosperous areas of Spain, they are increasing in price and do not require so much effort.
Thanks for reading! If you are interested in Spanish real estate, please, open our catalogue and choose an appropriate property. Take care of yourself and subscribe to the Virtoproprety social media to see future articles!

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