Living off the grid in Spain
Living off the Gridd 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.
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 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.
Would you like to live abroad ?
Have you ever thought of living abroad ?
Eco friendly produce from the Garden
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.
Solar Panels, A great way to save energy and money.
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.
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.
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.
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.