In a pattern that has also been seen in a number of other countries, people in Spain have been moving away from small villages in the countryside into larger centres, and as a result many small towns are dying — and being put on the market. In some cases, you can buy a hamlet with half a dozen buildings for less than $100,000. A site called Aldeas Abandonadas specializes in selling both small villages and stately manor houses that have been abandoned. One listing describes a village with nine houses and about 4,000 square metres of land for just 73,000 Euros or about $80,000 US, and another is for an 18th century manor built for a judge, including a former dungeon that has been turned into a guest house, as well as a pool and an attached farm, for 275,000 Euros or about $300,000 US.
For her recent holiday gift guide, Gwyneth Paltrow advertised a village that was for sale on Aldeas Abandonadas for just $172,000. According to Spain’s prime minister, over half of the country’s municipalities have less than 1,000 residents, and many of them continue to shrink because there is nothing to keep young inhabitants interested in staying and the existing population is aging rapidly. In 2014, the mayor of a municipality in the Barcelona region was willing to give away an ancient village of 12 buildings to anyone who would promise to restore them, and a village called O Penso was for sale for about $230,000 — for 100 acres of land, half a dozen houses, two farms and an ancient wood-fired oven bakery.