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WORKING IN SPAIN

How to find Spanish villages that are helping people to move there

If you're thinking of making a move to the Spanish countryside and giving back to a rural community, here's how you can find the villages attracting new residents with incentives and what they're looking for in return.

How to find Spanish villages that are helping people to move there
Spanish villages helping you to move there. Photo: Makalu / Pixabay

Depopulation in La España vaciada (emptied Spain) is a growing problem that affects more than half of the country (almost 300,000 km2), mostly large swathes of mainland Spain’s interior.

Twenty-three of Spain’s 50 provinces have seen their populations drop in recent decades. With just over 8 million inhabitants in total, they only represent 17 percent of the country’s total population.

It’s a trend that’s been taking place since the days of Franco, when young people left rural communities to look for work in Spain’s big cities. 

The country’s population grew by around 38 percent from 1975 to 2021, but this increase has only been seen in specific areas.

Provinces such as Zamora in Castilla y León have seen their population drop by more than 31 percent during that period, according to the population figures released by the Spanish National Institute of Statistics (INE), while others such as the Balearic Islands have doubled their population.

As a result of this, town halls in many villages have been trying to attract more people to go and live there either by offering incentives, attractive rental prices, or detailing the jobs available or the types of businesses they need. 

If you feel like you would enjoy a slower pace of life and want to help give back to a small Spanish community, then there are several ways you can find out what different villages are offering, and which one would suit you.

There are several lists in both local and international media of Spanish villages that will pay you to move there, and while many of these are no longer offering these schemes, there are places where you can find out what’s currently being offered.

READ ALSO – VERIFIED: Is it true these Spanish villages are paying people to move there?

The website HolaPueblo.com is a great resource to help you discover these types of villages and find out what they offer.

According to the site, despite Spain’s territorial disparity there has been a recent shift in people interested in making a change of life towards more rural communities, attracted by a healthier and more sustainable life alongside nature.

The website includes a map of Spain with many of Spain’s depopulated villages. Each one you click on will bring up various information for you on what the village is like and what it offers. 

Screenshot showing HolaPueblo’s map of villages that are looking for new residents and bright minds.

As well as describing the town, the site details the prices of properties to rent or to buy, the internet speed for those who need to work online, the types of jobs available, the types of businesses the municipality wants to attract or ones that will do well, the services available in the village and internet speeds.

There are villages across much of the Spanish territory looking for new residents, in Galicia, the Basque Country, Castilla y León, the Valencia region, Andalusia and Castilla-La Mancha.

For example, the village of Villarramiel in Burgos needs companies that can transform leather into finished products, active tourism companies, home delivery and other services for the elderly, private transport businesses and maintenance companies such as plumbing and masonry.

Near the beautiful city of Ronda, the village of Cartamija wants new residents to develop their tourist accommodation and industry, offering in return cheap land, easy permits and financial help. 

The village of Lastras de Cuéllar in Segovia is offering houses for rent for as little as €300 as well as seven different rooms for co-working. The neighbours together with the City Council have also created the Lastras Vive Rural Association with the aim of helping families interested in settling in the municipality, providing information on housing, subsidies for entrepreneurship, and details on the municipality.  

Each village has its individual preferences for the type of skills and business ideas new residents can bring with them, from food and wine production, to plumbing, tourism or teaching.

The website updates its information regularly, so you can find all the latest details and offers from the particular villages you’re interested in or simply get inspiration and discover which village might suit you and the new lifestyle you’re looking for.

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WORKING IN SPAIN

‘Spain must invest in Spaniards rather than turning to migrants’: EU work chief

The European Commission’s head for jobs and social rights has said Spain “must first find a solution for young people, women and the elderly” with regard to its labour market and “see later if they need immigrants”.

'Spain must invest in Spaniards rather than turning to migrants': EU work chief

The European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit recently took part in a summit on job security in Bilbao, where he spoke with Spain’s Labour Minister and Second Deputy Prime Ministers Yolanda Díaz about the state of affairs for workers in the country. 

When discussing potential solutions to Spain’s high unemployment rate, Schmit explained “I would not exclude immigration, but when I analyse the data, I see youth unemployment of 30 percent, more than double the European average”.  

“The priority for Spain must be to invest in its people,” Schmit continued.

“They must first look at their labour market and find a solution for young people, women and the elderly. They will see later if they need immigrants”.

Despite high unemployment levels which currently amount to three million people, Spain has worker shortages in a wide variety of sectors. 

READ ALSO: The ‘Big Quit’ hits Spain despite high unemployment and huge job vacancies

The Spanish government recently changed its immigration laws to make it easier for employers to hire non-EU citizens for sectors with shortages, from waiters to plumbers, whereas previously recruiters were required to prove that they couldn’t find an EU candidate for the job and the skills shortage list was limited and outdated. 

READ MORE: How spain is making it easier for foreigners to work in Spain

In 2023, Spain’s Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration wants to hire 62,000 third-country workers to cover an array of construction and trades jobs, something the country’s Labour Ministry has not agreed to yet. 

READ ALSO – EXPLAINED: Spain’s plans to recruit thousands of foreigners for construction and trade jobs

The government also recently passed its new startups law to attract foreign investors, digital nomads and talent to the country.

Could Spaniards not be trained to do these jobs as Schmit alludes to? Currently, low wages and unstable working conditions are dissuading many locally trained professionals from staying.

This includes almost 20,000 doctors who have moved abroad in recent years as salaries in other European countries are significantly higher than in Spain, with a newly qualified doctor’s salary only around €1,600 gross per month.

Staff shortages in the health sector are not helped by the fact that foreigners with non-EU qualifications wait for several years for their qualifications to be recognised in Spain through an unnecessarily laborious administrative process known as homologación. This applies to a number of regulated fields, from engineering to dentistry, all of which face shortages. 

READ MORE: How Spain is ruining the careers of thousands of qualified foreigners

Spain’s Socialist-led government has partly addressed some of its labour market issues by reducing the rate of temporary contracts and increasing the minimum wage (SMI), but voices within the opposition have accused Sánchez’s administration of “dressing up” the dire reality.

When asked about the rise in minimum wage, Schmit said that he believes “it will not mean significant changes for Spain, which already has a tradition of updating the minimum wage on a regular basis… but the government must take into account factors such as the cost of living and the economic context”.

“Spain must question whether the SMI allows for a decent life or creates poor workers. Its economy cannot be supported by low wages and low productivity,” he continued.  

When asked if salaries and inflation have to go hand in hand, Schmit argued “wages must be set by collective bargaining. We are experiencing very high inflation because of the explosion in energy and food prices. If there is a large lag between wages and inflation, there will be an impact on demand and the risk of recession will increase”.

With regards to pensions, Schmit explained: “I don’t think that pensions are very high in Spain and if you leave a gap between the rise in benefits and inflation, you can create a situation of poverty among the elderly. Spain has a disadvantage in that it has one of the fastest-ageing societies… The solution is to modernise the economy to make it more productive and attract more people to the job market”.  

Despite these issues, the commissioner acknowledged that the Spanish labour market has surprised many with its resistance this year. “Employment will remain strong if there is no deep recession,” he said.  

“The national plan for access to European funds has a good combination of measures to invest in green energy, digitisation, education and public employment services… Spain experienced its economic miracle due to the real estate boom, which exploded, and now it has to transform to go in the right direction”.

According to a report carried out by human resources company Hays on work trends in Spain in 2022, 77 percent of Spaniards surveyed said they would change jobs if they could. Furthermore, 68 percent of them confessed that they are actively looking for another job and the main reason they argue is to get a better salary. 

According to Eurostat data from January 2021, 37 percent of Spain’s workforce is overqualified, 17 percent higher than the EU average.

READ ALSO: Why more people than ever in Spain are overqualified for their jobs

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