Lifestyle & Culture

Jennifer Dixey: Could you get paid to live in ‘Empty Spain’?

If you’ve been keeping an eye on Spain’s in-the-works Digital Nomad Visa, you might be wondering where you could set up shop and live happily ever after. It turns out that Spain may make it easier than you think: some of Spain’s most picturesque small towns and villages are offering cash incentives for those willing to move there.

Empty Spain

This is all a knock-on effect from a phenomenon the Spanish call “España vacía”, or “empty Spain“. Many small towns that used to be thriving locales, including some where families have farmed for generations, are being emptied out. Scores of young people, uninterested in farm life, are moving to the cities for work.

While this is a predicament for local Spanish governments hungry for tax revenues, digital nomads and would-be expats alike are clamoring for three things: peace, quiet, and a lower cost of living. And these lovely villages just happen to offer all three in abundance.

The leading Iberian real-estate listing website, Idealista, recently rounded up some of the best live-in-Spain cash offers available.

This bargain home is located in the tiny village of Rubiá, Ourense. (Idealista)

Getting Paid to Live in Galicia

Perusing the properties for sale in my neck of the woods, Galicia, reveals some amazing bargains. Consider this 160 square meter (1,722 square foot) 3 bedroom, 1 bath village home for 39,000 euros (about $45,000). It boasts a stable and other outbuildings, plus a thriving vegetable garden. In the tiny town of Rubiá (near Ourense), pop. 1,393, its seller says he also has available “several irrigated farms (river Galir) and dry land, plus a piece of vineyard and 96 chestnut trees in full production”.

In case you’re wondering why the chestnut trees: chestnuts are a big business in Galicia, not to mention a locally famous holiday treat. (And if you wax nostalgic over New York City, like I do, there’s nothing so wonderful as being surprised by the unmistakeable scent of roasted chestnuts as you round a corner while Christmas shopping in downtown Vigo.)

Oh, and by the way … the village of Rubià will be happy to pay you between 100 and 150 euros per month just to live there.

Or if renting is more your speed, you could explore A Xesta. It’s a village of less than 250 people in the province of Pontevedra. Vigo and Pontevedra are the big draws for local young people, so A Xesta’s city fathers have decided to make rentals available as low as 100 euros per month to people willing to repopulate their town. When you scout out the rental scene, consider using as your home base the nearby Casa Grande de Fuentemayor, a classically Spanish 5-star hotel with stunning views of the gorgeous Galician countryside that will set you back all of $80 per night.

Casa Grande de Fuentemayor, 20 minutes’ drive from A Xesta, is a bargain at $80/night. (Booking)

If nothing else, it would make for a fabulous setting for daydreaming. So get ready to daydream, and read on ….

About the author:

Jennifer Dixey earned her Masters of Library and Information Studies from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC. Her decades of experience in web and interactive media development for corporate, non-profit, education and small-business clients has provided her with a deep technical background that informs all of her work.

Jennifer has lived in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Spain, and travelled in Europe and Japan. She has lived in Washington State near the Canadian border with her husband and son since 2002, but is currently realizing a lifelong dream of living in Europe, as a North American Language and Cultural Assistant (Auxiliar de Conversación) in a small primary school in Vigo, in the scenic autonomous community of Galicia, Spain.

You can connect with Jennifer via LinkedIn here.

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