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Couple Goes from Van-Life to Off-Grid Tiny Life in the Spanish Countryside


I really love Laxmi and Alby’s story, because it’s a great lesson to the tiny house movement: Tiny Living looks different for everyone, and can manifest itself in many different ways.

The couple lived the amazing van-life for a couple years, travelling to 15 different countries and parking in all kinds of gorgeous places. While living that small was awesome, they eventually wanted to settle a down a bit and found an tiny off-grid rental in the Spanish countryside. Now they teach yoga locally and live the little life with roots.

Renting a small space in nature means they don’t need high-paying jobs and they can live minimalist lives while still calling just one place home. We got to do a Q&A with the couple which you can find after the pictures of their off-grid home and a couple of their former van.

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Van-Life to Renting Off-the-Grid

Love the entryway into this tiny home.

A sweet and simple compact kitchen with everything you need.

The dining table/office space is right nearby.

Here’s their lovely bedroom (with an awesome swing!)

The larger side of the house belongs to their neighbor, and they have the slanted side! Home sweet home.

Love the glass wall!! How lovely.

Sewing and studying at the kitchen table.

Here’s their backyard. Nature is the best!

Water is collected from the roof, and solar powers the entire home.

Here’s a view of the house as a whole. Once again they have the little addition portion (with the solar panels).

And their new home feels huge compared to this: The van they lived in previously!

It was a fun adventure!

Q&A with Alby and Laxmi

Tell us a little about your journey. It looks like you went from a van to an off-grid home. How did that all work? 

I (Alby) am from The UK, and Laxmi is from Barcelona. When we got together four years ago, we had no idea where we wanted to base ourselves. We dreamt about buying a van and converting it, but it was always a far off, vague idea. Until we came back from traveling in India. Being from different countries and not being tied down by any jobs, we were open to live anywhere, and one day it just clicked that we didn’t have to live anywhere, we could live everywhere! So it was the next logical step for us.

After 2 years on the road, having visited 15 countries, we felt like settling somewhere. We spent a few months living in the van around Girona city in Catalonia, Spain. After some time we got tired of that. Vans are meant to move, and van life really doesn’t have the same ring to it when you just want to go home and have a hot shower! For that reason (along with some paperwork issues of the van being English reg, and living full time in Spain) we decided with a heavy heart to sell it.

From there we spent some time in the city, but we knew we wouldn’t want to be there long. We kept asking around if anyone knew of a farmhouse for rent, and eventually, we found our home! Now we live in an off-grid tiny house up in the forest.

How many people (and animals) are living in your tiny house?

Just the two of us, but it is semi-detached with our neighbour’s house.

Where do you live? How long have you lived tiny?

We live 30 minutes from Girona, on the Costa Brava of Spain. We lived in the van for two years, and now here for almost a year.

What do you do for work? Or do you travel full-time?

We are Yoga teachers, teaching weekly classes locally, offering monthly workshops, and seasonal retreats in the beautiful Dolomite Mountains in Italy.

Why did you decide to go tiny? What are you hoping to get out of living tiny?

We decided to go tiny for low cost, environmental, and simple living. Small pad = less rent. We really value our free time; to visit friends in Barcelona, grow our vegetables, go paddle boarding, or to do random little projects and just enjoy being home. Teaching yoga is our passion. Instead of working long hours in some random job, we opted for being yoga teachers. It’s much less hours than most jobs and is hardly a money-spinner of a livelihood! So having someplace small (and off-grid) is a no-brainer for keeping costs down.

Being off-grid, our energy supply is limited, we share our solar energy with our neighbour, and having a smaller house means we don’t use up all our energy on heating.

It’s all about perspective. We like a simple life. We don’t need flashy things. Coming from living in a van (a 6×2 metre metal box) our tiny house actually feels quite big!

How did you first learn about tiny house life?

When you start living in alternative ways, you come across many people doing similar things. For a growing number of people, spending most of your waking life at work is just not a life they want to live. These days many people are opting for different ways of living because we are human beings – not human doings!

Are you comfortable sharing how much your tiny home cost? What are bills/utilites like compared to before?

Being off grid means no more direct debits to water and energy companies. That feels good! Our water comes from the rain on our roof, and our energy from the sun.

How did you find a place to park and live in your van? 

During two years on the road, we never entered a campsite. Not that we have a problem with campsites, it’s just that we always found incredible places to sleep, with nobody around. Choosing the view from your bed everyday was so much fun. Our van was very inconspicuous, it didn’t look like people would be living inside, which was an added bonus.

Before going tiny, what was life like?

Life was always on the move, from here to there. This is the first time we have based somewhere.

Is there anything from your old life that you miss?

We miss the van for sure. Just the independence and freedom was incredible. Just driving somewhere and not having to pack any bags. If it’s a busy beach we would arrive in the evening when the crowds were all heading home, and enjoy the evening and the next morning without anyone around.

What benefits are you experiencing after going tiny?

Now we are submerged in nature, which is our happy place! Also, living tiny means we can settle down but go off travelling if we feel like it, without worrying too much about the bills.

What about some challenges?

One thing we struggle with is that we live high up on top of a hill, and so to go anywhere we usually take the car. We miss being able to hop on a bike and not rely on a car. But that climb back home is a killer. Once in a while it’s doable, but (at least for us) not like a daily thing. Also, being off-grid we have to watch our energy and water consumption. If it’s been raining for more than 3 days straight, the battery will start getting low. So sometimes we can’t use the oven or heater when we want to, and we hope our water will last through summer, but you have to keep it in mind.

What makes your tiny house special?

As opposed to most tiny houses, our house is semi-detached with our neighbour. Years ago it was once a big farmhouse, and the farm animals would live downstairs and the family above. But now that living with livestock isn’t the done thing, the space could be made into two living spaces instead of one.

What is your favorite part of your tiny house?

Although the house itself is beautiful, it would have to be the surroundings. We appreciate nature so much and living up here away from the noises and the lights is  a privilege, especially during these last months of quarantine because of coronavirus. To see the seasons changing, different animals and birds coming and going, growing our own food, seeing the stars, it fills you up. Instead of wanting to get out of a city to be in nature, we are there already and don’t feel the need to always get out.

What helpful advice would you give to others interested in going tiny?

Stop buying shit. We all have materialistic cravings once in a while, but for the sake of fitting it all in to your tiny house, and for the sake of the environment, and for the sake of a simpler life where you don’t accumulate unnecessary stuff, just don’t buy it in the first place.

Do you have a website, blog, or social media page where we can follow along?  

We have a website www.tada-yoga.com which we keep up to date with our upcoming yoga workshops and retreats and we talk a little about us and our dream of having our own yoga shala/retreat centre one day. We have Instagram where we post about our daily lives and share what we find has value.

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Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee is a contributor for Tiny House Talk and the Tiny House Newsletter. She's a wife and mama of two little kids. She and her family just purchased a small fixer-upper and are starting a self-sufficient homestead on their happy little acre.
{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Avatar D. Pedersen
    June 1, 2020, 1:01 pm

    Nice house. But the kitchen counter top looks too short at the fridge. Missing about 5 cm.

    • Avatar James D.
      June 4, 2020, 10:44 pm

      Probably intentional, given the oven is below and the gap allows more airflow up and away from the fridge it’s next to, and right up to the range vent hood…

  • Avatar L
    June 1, 2020, 2:16 pm

    Off-grid would not be the term I would use to describe their lifestyle. They’re consuming more resources than somebody living on a cul-de-sac in the middle of suburbia.

    • Avatar James D.
      June 3, 2020, 2:59 am

      No, they’re consuming much less…

      • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee
        June 3, 2020, 1:08 pm

        I agree with James here.

    • Avatar Eric
      July 27, 2020, 8:08 pm

      I’d like to know how you come to that conclusion. Seems to me that the resources they are using are minimal. Free water, free energy (via solar panels?), and they don’t have to travel to work every day. Grow their own vegetables. That’d make them off grid to me. Probably to a million other people too.

  • Avatar Maria Nieves
    June 1, 2020, 2:36 pm

    I’m in love with this beautiful rustic tiny house. When can I move? 😘👍🏼

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee
      June 2, 2020, 1:20 pm

      Right!?

  • Avatar Jason Sawyer
    June 1, 2020, 6:58 pm

    We are currently at that stage now also. I was a fulltime Rver traveling the United States for the past few years, and my girlfriend Anna traveled to diffrent countries all the time with nothing more then a backpack. We currently just bought a little under a 5 acre piece of land that we are working on to build a farm on right now. We decided that we will be building a pallet house for now as our living area, but soon transfer to a container home when we are up and running. I wish you the best

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee
      June 2, 2020, 1:20 pm

      Wow Jason that’s so cool! Please send us pictures when you have your home built — [email protected]

  • Avatar LaCroix
    June 9, 2020, 3:09 am

    In the pic of them kissing by the fire (Van Pic) in the ‘smoke cloud’ notice the sad child face above them. Not sure if it’s a relative that passed away,, but there is Definitely a child’s face. *I see orbs in pics (especially in my own photo’s) that others may not notice. If you enlarge an orb in a pic, most times the face is seen. This isn’t heebie jeebie stuff-just sometimes in pics we catch the spiritual world on film. Life is dimensional, and we ALL are spirits in a ‘meat bag’ of sorts. I hope I Never end up as an angry or Mean “Meat Sack” LOL!!

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