“The best things in life are the people you love, the places you have seen, and the memories you have made along the way”
This is why we believe that is really important to choose the right spot to develop your dream project. The place you choose will be part of your life for years, so please take a little time to read this post.
After long years experience and thanks to the advice of our beautiful customers I have decided to write this post, talking about these few main issues that people abroad should consider before buying land and building a house in Matarraña, Aragon, Spain.
When you live thousands of kilometres away from this remote but magical spot, called Matarraña in Spain, this marvellous region named by the CNN as the Spanish Toscana, you probably have a list of questions and doubts about whether or not you are choosing the right place to start building your dream project.
Thanks to the many talks with people who we have met over the 8 years since we started building our customers sustainable houses thanks to their honesty and confidence in us, we are able to understand the main concerns when you are standing on the first step of a big, challenging, exciting new project. Building the house of your dreams surrounded by nature in a foreign country. In this case we are talking about Matarraña, in Aragon, where you can legally build your dream house. But we understand that although legality is important there are other items that you need to know before making any decisions.
We hope that after reading this post and going through all the points below you will have some valuable answers about your first doubts and hesitations.
1. The surroundings:
The Matarraña region borders with Catalonia, Castellon and the Bajo Aragon. The region has 18 charming little villages. Valderrobres is its main village and Capital.
Valderrobres and Calaceite are listed in the rankings of the most beautiful villages in Spain http://listas.20minutos.es/lista/los-35-pueblos-mas-bonitos-de-espana-402450/.
Each village has something special and historic that captivates new visitors. Beceite, Valderrobres, Cretas, Calaceite or la Fresneda are usually the most visited villages, but Arens de Lledó, Lledó, Monroyo, Torre de Arcas, Fórnoles, Penayroja de Tastavins, La Portellada…all have the magic touch and feeling of being in real Spain surrounded by nature and history.
2. The possibilities to do sports, hiking, bicycling, horse-riding and other general outdoor training and activities…..
In the region you have many natural attractions that deserve to be visited:
El Parrizal de Beceite
Las Rocas del Masmut. Penyaroja de Tastavins
El Salt, in the Portellada Village
Natural Park of Beceit for nice hiking and walks.
Green Track for cycling
L’Assut de Lledó
Natural swimming pool Arens de Lledó
3. Culturale activities, cinema, concerts.
You can enjoy summer cinemas that are part of many villages cultural activities
In Tortosa only 45 minutes drive away you can find a Big cinema which is part of a large shopping area.
Many of the villages celebrate traditional festivities such as:
- Sant Antonio in January
- Sant Jordi in April
- Sant Cristobal in July
- Summer Cultural weeks with many activities to join in
- Fiestas Mayores
- Fair Exhibition
Each village cares about the social life of its neighborhood and visitors. During these events you can share their traditions with the local people, and get closer to Spanish culture.
4. Historic places and towns.
- Castillo de Heredia XV.c considered a National Monument since 1931
- Gothic bridge from beginning of the medieval age.
- Asuncion Church XVIII.c
- Tossal Redó, Iberic Village
Penyaroya de Tastavins
- Sanctuary of La Virgen de la Fuente. Gothic style built in 1653
- Prison route built between 1588 and 1594
- Iglésia Parroquial del Salvador XIV.c
- Mirador de Santa Barbara
- Sant Santiago Apóstol Church XIV.c
- Casa Turull, Stately Home, 1746
Arens de Lledó
- Old Sant Francisco Convent XVIII.c
- Sant Hipólito Chapel 1711
- 15 meters old stone bridge built in XV.c – XVI.c
- Santa Barbara Chapel VI.c – XIII.c
5. The weather and climate.
The rainfall decreases markedly from South to North, since we move from the higher areas of the Ports (* common name for the Natural Park, Els Ports de Tortosa & Beceit ) we get closer to the depression of the Ebro. While the mountainous area can experience up to 700 mm, the areas located further North and may not even reach 400 mm. In addition, in the mountainous areas part of the precipitation tends to fall as a snow (10-15%), while in the lowlands, the presence of this phenomenon is rather anecdotal.
Another very important element that defines the rainfall is that it is irregular, and can give very dry years (about 300 mm) with others with generous rains (close to 1000mm). It’s cycles are something very typical of the Mediterranean climate.
This irregular character adds three factors that determine the climate: seasonality of rainfall (with two peaks in spring and autumn), the torrential nature (in summer and autumn especially, with point values which exceed I 100 l/h) and the presence of a strong dry wind known as the Cierzo.
In terms of temperatures, we also notice this phenomenon of gradation, giving annual averages from 12 ° C to 16 °C. At the highest altitudes the minimum can fall to – 15 ° C and maximum in the lower areas can reach 40 ° C. Another significant element is the temperature range which, especially in seasons such as spring and autumn, can exceed 20 ° C.
Storms and floods
In summer we experience stormy rainfall, that in a few hours, can result in more than 100 l/ square meter being registered. So, rivers and ravines, sometimes dry, suddenly carry plenty of water (cloudy due to the sediments that wash down) in a short space of time.
6. Ecology and environment issues
As we are based in a rural and prosperous region, all projects are developed using ecological and sustainable systems with boreholes for water and solar panels for electricity. Wood burners are connected to radiators to heat up the houses in winter and ceiling fans are used to cool it down in summer. Swimming pools are maintained by using the power of solar panels.
7. Relationships to local people.
Local people are willing to welcome new neighbours and visitors. Language can be an initial difficulty, it is not in the end. In the whole Matarraña region they speak Spanish and Catalan due to the proximity to the Catalonia region.
But in the end the locals enjoy inviting and welcoming new people to their
day- to- day life. Going to the village bar and joining the festivities will help you to start new relations with the inhabitants of the Matarraña villages.
8. Relationships to officials, Town Hall.
On this point we recommend you obtain the services of a local agent and project manager. We deal with the administration and it is always better to have someone with professionalism, knowledge, and good manners to deal with local authorities to obtain the necessary licenses to legally build your project.
9. Relationships to other newcomers / other nationalities….
As per our experience with new neighbours coming from many parts of Europe and the world, we like to introduce the newcomers to the ones already living in the region. It helps to start, when you don’t know many people and you have the guarantee that you can also build your dream project as they did. It is not a matter of building a community of foreign people in Matarraña but it helps when you have just landed. There are many different nationalities, so no ghettos involved in the progress of this beautiful spot in Spain.
10. The language barrier. Possibilities of learning the local language.
In Valderrobres there is a language school where you can take your first lessons, but what really helps is living in the area and using the local services and meeting local people. This will take you a few months but you will end up speaking Spanish. It is just a matter of being interested and making little effort.
11. The local schools.
Each village has its rural school which means that if you have young children you can take them there to join other local children and grow up with them. In Valderrobres there is a secondary school and also college where they can study until they go to University.
12. Commuting – local buses, taxies , trains…..
In the Matarraña region you need a car to be able to move around with any freedom. There is a train station in Mora la Nova or Tortosa but both places are about 45 minutes drive away.
There are buses from Calaceite or Valderrobres to bigger cities like Alcañiz
Taxi there is a taxi company in Valderrobres
You can also use the kindness of your neighbours.
13. Security and safety in general – a very important issue these days
Spain in general is a safe country with no conflicts. The Matarraña region is a very calm and quiet region where you feel safe and secure anywhere. This is an important issue to consider where you start searching for new locations in which to invest and start building your dream project.
14. Doctors and medical services – how does it work in the area.
In the smaller villages there is a doctor who comes every day for a couple of hours. In Calaceite there is a bigger health centre with ambulance an in Valderrobres too. If you ever need hospital assistance there is one in Alcañiz. You can use National Health insurance by obtaining your personal health card or they will assist you as a foreigner.
We hope the above post helps you to choose a destination to start your dream project.