Aragon: Spain’s Wealthy Community of Contrasts and Culture
The autonomous community of Aragon is tucked away in the Northeastern corner of the stunning Mediterranean nation of Spain – and whilst Aragon is rich in culture, rich in history, rich in traditions and also rich in GDP and employment prospects, it is poor in terms of what is known about it outside of Spain. Whereas the national average figure for foreign homeownership in Spain is 12%, in Aragon it is just 9% with the greatest concentration of foreign owners being in the region’s main towns where there is considerable employment.
Aragon is in fact one of the lesser known, lesser explored regions of Spain both by travellers and by international expatriates – and yet it is a haven for nature lovers, for outdoor sports enthusiasts and for all those who wish to get away from the madding crowds and head off the beaten track.
Aragon is bordered to the north by France, by Catalonia to the east, Valencia to the south and Castile-La Mancha, Castile-Leon, La Rioja, and Navarre to the west.
Being landlocked and bounded by better known regions, Aragon and its three provinces of Zaragoza, Huesca and Teruel are Spain’s hidden gems – and now it’s time to lift the lid off the delights that await all those who take the time to explore Aragon.
In travel and tourism publications the region of Aragon is little touched upon and usually described as being a featureless landscape – and yet how incredibly incorrect can the general consensus of opinion actually be! Not only is Aragon one of the most affluent communities with strong employment and population dense, exciting and vibrant cities such as Zaragoza, it is a land deeply rich in history as mentioned, where the people are fiercely proud of their culture, cuisine and heritage and where the geography is strikingly divergent – but because Aragon is lesser explored, opinion is often drawn from second or third hand sources.
Thanks to the fact that millions of euros have been ploughed into the development of a high-speed rail link from Madrid to Zaragoza and because the latter will play host to the 2008 World Expo, Aragon is soon to make its mark on the international travel and tourism scene – but outside the cities it is quite possibly the geography, landscapes, climate and natural environment of Aragon that makes this particular region of Spain so overwhelmingly appealing.
You have lush green valleys with rampant rivers, snow-capped Pyrenees peaks, arid plains and rolling hills. The flora and fauna in Aragon are also breathtaking in their diversity with vultures and eagles the most popular of the Pyrenean endemic species for those who explore this region. Those who enjoy the great outdoors are spoiled in Aragon – you can hike and trek, mountain climb, mountain bike, you can horse ride, paraglide, ski, raft and ice dive – and for those who enjoy shopping, culture or fine wining and dining perhaps, they can be equally spoiled in the regions main towns and cities.
New to Aragon as well will be a massive casino and theme park resort which has just been given governmental approval – and this of course will be a significant new draw to the region. The casino resort will take ten years to construct, consist of hotels, theme parks and a stadium as well as a conference centre – bringing much welcome development and likely greater prosperity to Aragon as well as huge numbers of national and international visitors!
As employment prospects in the region of Aragon are so impressive and the community’s GDP is so strong, property prices in the provinces of Zaragoza, Huesca and Teruel have remained strong in the wake of a global property slow down and more specifically in the face of a property market decline in Spain. According to the latest figures and statistics from the Ministry of Housing in Spain the Zaragoza province enjoys the highest property prices out of the three Aragon provinces with median values being about 13% above the national average. Teruel province is actually under priced when you compare it with the national average with prices about 37% below making this region of immediate potential interest to those seeking affordable homes in Spain.
Martin Dell from Kyero.com, winner of the 2007 CNBC Best International Property Portal award comments that, whilst there has been a drop off in terms of sales volumes, prices remain strong in Aragon because there is consistency of employment. What this means for investors is that there is strong demand and sustainability of affordability as well… and because Aragon is about to get its moment in the limelight when the spotlight falls initially on the World Expo 2008 and the city of Zaragoza specifically before focusing on the mega casino resort, demand among second home owners could certainly increase as could the desire for rental accommodation year round in the community’s most stunning areas of natural appeal.