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Living off the grid in Spain

Updated on November 18, 2015

Living off the Gridd in Spain

Living off the grid from your own produce in Spain.
Living off the grid from your own produce in Spain.

Moving to the Spanish country side.

9 years ago we moved from Amsterdam to the country side in Spain near the city of Valencia. We couldn't speak a word Spanish but decided anyway to make the big move and to go off grid.

It wasn't escapism or anything like that. No we had a good life in Amsterdam, fine jobs and great friends. But well, we missed the sunshine and the life outside.
The only thing we wanted to escape from was the hectic life. The treadmill of money, every month again you had to pay your bills and you where running from appointment to appointment.

We had a little allotment at the time, just outside Amsterdam where we tried to grow tomatoes and potatoes. But is was a hard fight. A fight against the water, the rain and the storms. In the end after the umpteenth flooding we said. Stop that's enough, we're going to look for an alternative.

Our off the grid herb and vegetable garden.

After a couple of years we build our herb and vegetable garden. Completely off the Grid
After a couple of years we build our herb and vegetable garden. Completely off the Grid

Gardens of New Spain: How Mediterranean Plants and Foods Changed America.

How to live off the grid in Spain.

It was a big change. We couldn't speak any Spanish at the time and we had no friends either. Although the reason we choose to live near Valencia was that the people we met over there where incredibly friendly.
A couple of months before we had made a tour along the Mediterranean cities of Spain. My wife wanted to settle around Sevilla because of the Flamenco and early music but I prefered Valencia which is the third city of Spain. It was bigger and as for me as an artist it was more interesting because of it's galleries.
Wandering around in Valencia and visiting galleries we came across a gallery that was almost closing. The woman who was closing the shutters saw us and let us in. She spoke amazingly good English and became in the end our first friend in Spain.

One other reason why we choose for the region of Valencia was that it was one of the cheaper parts of Spain to buy a house. We where lucky, we had a flat in Amsterdam and sold this for a good price and from this we were able to buy the house in the countryside near Valencia.

Ghosts of Spain.

Ghosts of Spain: Travels Through Spain and Its Silent Past
Ghosts of Spain: Travels Through Spain and Its Silent Past

Ghosts of Spain written by the Guardian correspondent in Madrid, Giles Tremlett is an amazingly well written book. It shows the all the sides of Spain in a witty and well humoured way. I would recommend it to everybody who wants to know a bit about Spain.

 

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Eco friendly produce from the Garden

Eco friendly home grown tomatoes and berries in Spain.
Eco friendly home grown tomatoes and berries in Spain.

Earning less money but living a higher quality of life.

Much has happened from the first day in Spain until now but we never regretted our decision.
There are loads of differences between living in the city and living off the grid on the countryside. One of the main differences is how you make your living.
On the country side you do not need much money. We earn far less money then in Amsterdam but we have a far more richer life and the quality of live is far better. We eat better food, breath healthier air and have a far more relaxed way of living. In a way we have far more freedom to do what we want.

Living off the grid means that we are far more independent of the machinery called economics. We barter with neighbours and friends. We paid one solar panel for instance half in marmalade. We have our own chickens for fresh eggs fresh fruit for breakfast every day, right out of the garden.

Fresh eggs every day.

fresh eggs are a great barter deal. we exchange them sometimes for a massage session.
fresh eggs are a great barter deal. we exchange them sometimes for a massage session.

Solar Panels, A great way to save energy and money.

Renogy 100 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit
Renogy 100 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit

Solar panels gave us the independence to live off the grid. We have about 1300 Watts and can do almost everything with it. Computer,fridge, lights,tele. etc. Only for some heavy equipment we use a generator as a back up.

 

Using a solar panel as a table top design.

Solar Panels are cheap nowadays and great way to use solar panels is to use them as table tops ;-) - This one though was a quick solution, we didn't had a tabletop at the moment and used the solar panel, later we used the panel for collecting energy.
Solar Panels are cheap nowadays and great way to use solar panels is to use them as table tops ;-) - This one though was a quick solution, we didn't had a tabletop at the moment and used the solar panel, later we used the panel for collecting energy.

Trying to live sustainable and independent.

We're not completely independent but not far off. Luckily and a bare necessity, we have a Internet connection at home. Because of the antenna on our roof and one on the roof of the church (8km. From our house) we can receive internet. The village is in line of sight whigh is not only cool for the Internet connection but as well at night, we see the lights of the village glimmering at the other side of the valley.

The nights are wonderful, because there is not so many light pollution like in the city we can see often at a summer night the milky way. A sight that always inspires me, or is it the glass of local wine.

We live in an area where most of the farmers have olive or almond orchards,wine yards or oranges. So in winter we have lots of oranges and throughout the year we enjoy the olive oil and the almonds.

At the moment it's high summer and in the morning we eat pear and strawberries with sheep yogurt. And for lunch we have a great salad with home grown tomatoes. So every season brings it own vegetables and fruits.

Living off the grid around Valencia.

A markerVillar del arzobispo -
46170 Villar del Arzobispo, Valencia, Spain
get directions

Villar del Arzobispo, the nearest village.

How to learn Spanish in Spain.

As said, I didn't speak a word of Spanish when I immigrated to Spain. Some people want to prepare themselves "properly" for the big move. A move that sometimes never comes because in the process of preparing to leave your country you find yourself making more and more excuses not to go.

We moved to Spain without learning the Spanish language beforehand. And when we got there we noticed that not many people spoke English and if they did, poorly. There was one elderly women in the village though who took care of us and offered us to teach Spanish.

It meant that during the classes she talked mainly about food and how to prepare it. Something that's very important in Spain. Bit by bit speaking with the builders of our house and the locals we learned to speak Spanish. A great help in the beginning was for sure the course of Michel Thomas CD course. Although his voice was sometimes a bit annoing he kept us going on the right track the first year. It helped us immensely and haven't found a better course in the mean time, except for speaking with the locals.

Something we did from the start as well was watching Spanish T.V. and listening to Radio Tres, one of the best radio channels I came across, better then the BBC I dare say!!!

In the end to learn a Language is practice , practice and practice, don't be afraid to make mistakes. Just blurt it out. And the amazing thing is I found the Spanish people amazingly tolerant and patient, they really try to understand you although in the beginning your certainly make huge mistakes. But so what, don't take it to seriously. See learning a foreign language as a game, it's fun to learn something new. And to say that you're too old is a cliché.


Michel Thomas Spanish Course, The best Spanish course for starters I've come across.

Total Spanish: Revised (Learn Spanish with the Michel Thomas Method) (A  Hodder Education Publication)
Total Spanish: Revised (Learn Spanish with the Michel Thomas Method) (A Hodder Education Publication)

The Spanish course by Michel Thomas is world famous and rightly so. The method he uses to teach you Spanish has great results. When you follow the course you feel that you are actually learning something. Learning by heart and understanding. Without the difficulties of boring grammar.

 

Spanish with Senor Jordan - a great you tube help to learn Spanish.

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    • PeterStip profile image
      Author

      PeterStip 14 months ago

      Thanks, living abroad widens your perspective. I see my home country Holland with different eyes now as when I lived there.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 14 months ago from Central Florida

      Glad you took the plunge and changed your lifestyle. I lived for 3 years in Australia and we loved it there. Now, we are back in the U.S. and miss so many things that we enjoyed in Australia.

    • PeterStip profile image
      Author

      PeterStip 19 months ago

      Hi Chef-de-jour, great to hear from you. Never been to Tarragona although have been a couple of times in Castellón de la Playa. Still got to do the roadtrip to Barcelona. But there are so many lovely places to visit in Spain.

      I'm from Holland by the way. Before we moved to the country side near Valencia we lived in Amsterdam.

      The Bed & Breakfast is still running. And you're welcome to give us a visit. Google bblosgatos and you'll find our website.

      We also openend a cultural centre for arts and ecology. nearby. Will write a hubb about it when I've got some time.

      The cottage in Andalucia definitely sounds like a dream. Olives... Yes we cure our olives as well.yummy.

    • chef-de-jour profile image

      Andrew Spacey 19 months ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      Thank you, interesting to read about your eco life. I lived in Spain, Andalucia, renting a cottage at 1400m for 6 months with my small family, a dream. Lots of big birds, raptors, and plenty to keep us busy. I even managed to pickle some olives, black ones, and take them back to the Netherlands where my partner's family still live. We visit Spain once a year on average - my youngest son studies in Tarragona - and perhaps next time we could make a tour to Valencia? Is your bed and breakfast business still running?

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 2 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      I love your idea here of using solar panels as table top! I do love the country side too and I could definitely live off the grid.

      Very interesting hub! I'll be back here to read more...meanwhile, you have my votes and will be passing this hub along.

    • PeterStip profile image
      Author

      PeterStip 2 years ago

      yes El Greco is an amazing painter, I too was overwhelmed by the expressiveness of his style the first time I saw his paintings in Madrid. Together with the Guernica of Picasso.

      I think if you want to live in another country you have to learn the language. Not only out of respect for the locals but in the end you will integrate more and end up with more friends and a richer life.

      Great to hear that I brought some lovely memories back.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      PeterStip,

      It is beautiful country and I found the people to be very friendly when I made the effort to speak Spanish... poorly. Most of the Americans at the AFB there at Torrejon didn't want to bother speaking Spanish and the locals looked at them very sourly. I can understand that. The Spanish I learned in high school in California is not the same Spanish spoken there so I got into a lot of faux pas. Still I enjoyed the experience and the art. We saw paintings by El Greco in Toledo nearby. Awesome experience! Yes Madrid did seem high and rainy to us. I didn't know it was the highest in Europe though. I truly loved seeing castles everywhere. We don't have old things like that in the US. Thanks for the memories.

    • PeterStip profile image
      Author

      PeterStip 2 years ago

      I've never been in Torrejon. I've been to Madrid though. But Madrid can be very cold, it's level wise the highest capital in Europe.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

      I lived in Spain for a couple of years in the 70's. We lived in Torrejon de Ardoz just 30 miles south of Madrid. I loved it. The weather is very close to California. But we lived in an apartment and couldn't grow anything there.