I know now that a property ‘you can configure how you like’ is not a loft space. It is a property which you are free to knock down and rebuild in your own special way (should building permission be granted). At best, it is a property which could do with some walls, thus creating rooms. I am also now alert to liberal use of the use of the conditional tense, as in, ‘could have ten bedrooms’, and ‘could have a plunge pool’. These houses ‘could have’ a penthouse designed by Claudio Silvestrin, but they don’t.
If I was to sit back down, work a bit harder for a couple of decades and come back with the extra tenner, I’d have more choice. There are, obviously, most excellent rural properties for sale across southern Spain, just not in my range. I do however have enough for a substantial doer-upper. ‘How much work do you want to do?’ is a very popular question with men in bars, the neighbours, the neighbours’ mothers, the woman in the chemist, the wood man, local cohorts Manolo and Molino, the mayor, and so on, because everyone around here has a house they hate that ‘needs a little work’. Probably, if I’m honest, I’m thinking more along the lines of choosing taps, not being very interested in building.
Anyway, so here we are again. This time in the west of Granada province, an area with an ageing population and plenty of unemployment what with the collapse of the construction industry and a minimal influx of tourists and everything. The house – or what’s left of it – priced at 70-something thousand euros, is about 30 minutes from a town with a name that translates as cold mountain (Montefrio), and 30 minutes from Granada airport (more appealing), comes with a bed, a chair and a cage, and has 2.5 hectares of olives. Of course. ‘Enough olives to give a good income’ (no one had been arsed to pick them, I noted). While I’m not certain about this, I think journalism is still marginally more lucrative than olive farming, so at this stage, for me personally, having a lot of olive trees doesn’t compensate for not having electricity. Or walls.
There were a lot of lugubrious blokes sat around on barstools watching a morning chat show on TV in the dark bar downtown. Tough times. Whole place is a bit of a doer-upper.