When Laura Alvarez and her partner Lewis Bailey got “stuck” for months during Covid confinement at their rural retreat, the converted housebarn ruin Villa Slow 🐌, they fell in love with rural life and decided to leave their lives and businesses in Amsterdam and move permanently to the mountains of Cantabria, Spain.
image: Kirsten Dirksen
They soon grew accustomed to chopping wood, caring for animals (2 local adopted donkeys) and lots of outdoor activities (especially hiking and surfing). The pace of life here is not only much slower than their former urban existence, but they spend considerably less money. Laura estimates they spend about a third of what they used to and probably use their wallet only once every week or two.
Their new home had been a popular rental and they decided not to give up that extra income during the summer months so they bought a second housebarn ruin in the valley and decided to build something as quickly as possible to relocate for the renters. Given their time and budget constraints, and the reduced needs of just two people, they decided to build a much smaller rendition of Villa Slow.
At just 30 square meters (323 square feet), the “Little Sister of Villa Slow” was partially prefabricated in Lewis’ workshop (across the street from Villa Slow) to save time and labor. Because construction started later than they’d hoped (May instead of March), the couple ended up moving into a tent during the summer months, but it was worth the wait. They feel the new place is right-sized to their lifestyle and with more outdoor space, it takes advantage of the idyllic surroundings.