Did I mention we are excited? Cause we’re excited! All of a sudden, the energy around us has changed, and I know why. We are out of the seemingly endless holding pattern, and have been waved in for a landing. And the weather looks fine.
Well, OK. Today it’s cloudy and rainy in Valencia, but I just take that as a sign the city is giving us a view into what our future looks like. Cooler temps and the threat of rain. We love it!
I know we showed up in Spain with just 4 duffle bags and a suitcase, but we shipped some things here from the US, too. On a ship that took 5 months to arrive. So we had to purchase some duplicate items. And we have some editing to do, after furnishing an apartment, our Espacio Creativo, and an office down the street. Not all that needs to go up north. It’s a good thing we brought all our cold weather gear from the US. We’re gonna need it.
But, while we are boxing up and trimming things down, we’re also spending time dreaming of the possibilities we are finally ready to explore. The whole reason we decided to move forward and purchase this property.
It’s actually 4 parcels of land. And these parcels are broken up into sections, from a land use planning and zoning perspective. Where the house is located, it’s considered urban. Where the barn is situated, and some of the other parcels, it’s considered rural. Did I mention it’s an unusual property? The appraisers had a hard time with it. The banks had a hard time with it. But in our last meeting with our banker she laughed at what came back from the land registry assessment.
‘It’s actually a great opportunity. I don’t know if anyone really knows what a great opportunity this property is. It is very unique. Do you understand what all this means?’
Jeff just looked at me and I could tell he was smiling under his mask.
‘Yes.’ I assured her. ‘It’s why we disputed the first appraisal. We know what we’re able to do with it and all the potential upside.’
The urban portion of the property is right on the Camino de Santiago. More than 350k people walk by our house each year from April to October. That’s decent traffic. This means there are limitations on what can be done with the land. But it also means there are baked in uses that are pre-approved. And, normally, getting approval for other uses of rural property is not easy in Spain. So, this is worth gold to us.
The first half of the biggest parcel is approved for a hotel, and/or a café. We can build free standing structures for these purposes, if we choose. My ex-husband ran hotels, and I lived in one for 3 years, so I understand back of the house hotel, and food and beverage operations, and the margins involved. And I know retail. However, this would be a very small scale operation. Nothing fancy. That’s the Camino.
Because the house is on urban land, we are allowed to increase the size of it by 50%, if it’s in service of a our businesses. Meaning I could blow out the kitchen to expand it, and I could create a large office addition on the other side from which to run the operation.
Rural depopulation is a huge problem in Spain. In the past few decades more than 40% of the populations in rural areas have fled to the cities. Especially, the young people. They actually have a name for it. It’s called Empty Spain. They have their own calendar. Not kidding. The farm country is dying. It’s resulted in farmers becoming a rare and valued commodity in Spain, and there are protests, even during Covid times, to highlight the problem.
Because any business we open will be run by me, and it’s a woman-owned business in a rural area of <5000 residents, we qualify for all kinds of government programs to help us get started.
We are planning on growing things using sustainable growing practices that can help with carbon reclamation. If you want to know more about these methods, and how important these are to the future of the planet, you can see some of it in the Netflix documentary Kiss the Ground with Woody Harrelson.
The Spanish government is starting a program to encourage young people to move from the cities, with 3 month paid internships to spend time working on farms, to learn what it is like to work the land as a potential career. And they will pay for us to take in a few of these people each year to help us with planting and harvesting.
How do I know about all these programs? The Spanish government websites and I are besties these days. And it’s easy info to get, if you’re interested in looking. In participating in the program, I think it would be really cool to do our part for climate change using sustainable farming, and help our adopted country to turn their rural depopulation problem around. Who knows? Maybe one of these kids will develop a love for getting their hands in the dirt. We will keep you posted on how it goes.
Just 100 meters from our front gate is the local farm coop. We will have to check out what that is all about, too.
The movers are coming to measure today. This is really happening. Never let anyone tell you that dreams can’t come true. They can. Sometimes, you just have to hang on a little past where you thought you could. I find, that’s usually where it all comes together.