MADRID – The British broadcaster Channel 4 cleverly capitalised on a trend among Britons. Instead of paying more than €200,000 for an apartment in their own country, many of them prefer to buy an abandoned village in Spain.
They then transform it into a rural complex to live in themselves or to rent out to tourists. “For the price of an apartment in Norwich we now have our own village”. Julie and Stevie Ward tell their story in the Spanish newspaper El Mundo. They are the couple that stars in the first episode of ‘Nuestro Propio Pueblo’, broadcast on March 27. The television format is based on the Channel 4 series ‘Help! We bought a Village’ broadcast in Spain by Cosmo.
New life in Spain
The Wards bought a half-abandoned village in Granada and turned it into a cave-dwelling resort. The series only shows British buyers renovating abandoned villages because Channel 4 has made it so. But according to producer Piero Sfreddo, for every British couple, there is also a Dutch, Italian or Scandinavian couple in Spain doing the same. Sfreddo believes there is a trend among foreigners to buy and renovate abandoned villages to keep a piece of history alive.
No campsite but cave houses
Julie and Stevie were initially looking for a campsite in France. In their search, they wandered a little further south and eventually found Los Carriones. A small town with less than 300 inhabitants. The complex of caves was long ago mainly used by shepherds as a shelter for their animals and storage for their food.
“We decided to take a sabbatical, we sold our house and started a trip in our RV,” Julie told the aforementioned newspaper. This is how they discovered Cuevas de la Paz, a small village carved out of the mountain that was for sale. “We discovered the coolness in the summer, the warmth in the winter, deep sleep in complete silence and the extraordinary thing about living in a cave,” says the woman. She adds that what they liked best about the place was the absence of British compatriots. The Spain from here has “nothing to do with the coast,” says Stevie.
Granada, Lugo, Asturias…
Initially, the hollows in the mountains were used by shepherds as feed storage and shelter for animals. After acquiring Cuevas de la Paz, the couple decided to set up a rural tourist residential complex with six cave houses. Their example is followed by many other Brits, as can be seen in the new Cosmo show.
Marcial Doporto took over the Galician village of O Penso (Lugo) for €225,000; Neil Christie, in turn, chose Arruñada, an abandoned city in Asturias, which he could take over for “only” €45,000.