I wanted to give you an update on how we got on here at Finca Bravo in our first month. We want to do this every month to tell you what we are up to and how much we have been spending. Moving here will require us to live a simpler, more sustainable life and spending less is definitely going to be a crucial part of this. By tracking all our costs we’ll get a clear view where we are spending the most and where there is a potential to cut back. You can view the complete overview of our expenses here.
The first month was a little bit out of the ordinary due to some large costs we had to bear to get ourselves set up out here. The car (€3,035.96) and some other set up costs like a new fridge, battery, generator and pump (total €1,057.44) took up the bulk of our expenses this month. This means we expect to see those early set up costs come down significantly over the next few months.
Our total living costs were €636.85 for the 3 weeks in March we were here. As we didn’t have a proper fridge, and we had to go out to get internet in bars and cafes around us; there is potential to cut down further going forward. Ideally we should be able to stay around €600 for the whole of April.
The biggest focus areas for us in the first few weeks were:
- Get a car
- Get internet
- Get reliable (solar) electricity
- Get running water
- Get a hot shower
We were successful in getting the first three but still have some work to get running water and a fully functioning bathroom.
After searching online for a bit, we were lucky to quickly find a car in our budget. We didn’t want to spend too much on a car right now as we will probably need all the money we have to renovate our house and don’t yet have a good idea of how much and what we will use our car for. For those reasons we went for an older car, but in the end were fortunate to find quite a big car (Renault Megane Grand Tour) for a reasonable price.
The second priority was to get an internet connection that was acceptably fast and reliable. We ended up going for satellite internet as it suited our needs the best. The downside is that it can be quite slow to load a page (high ping) but once it’s loaded the connection is quite fast and so watching movies on Netflix or Youtube is possible. The other benefit is that it’s reliable and remains relatively fast even at peak hours. The only alternative was to rely on a 3G connection that slows down to a crawl in the evenings and the weekends. That’s the time we’ll be using internet the most so that would not really work for us. So satellite internet it was. After a bit of a search online, we contacted a local company and within a week they arrived at Finca Bravo to install the satellite dish. The technician brought his 1500W electric drill and we all had a good laugh when he saw our solar panel and realised that we weren’t connected to the grid.
Luckily, I had a smaller drill on batteries and by choosing an area of the house that had softer bricks we were still able to install the dish that day. A few hours later and we had an internet connection! We couldn’t believe our luck as we have had to wait much longer than that when we tried to get an internet connection in places like Barcelona and London.
As we had been visiting Finca Bravo every few months over the last year, I had installed a basic solar system with a single solar panel and a small battery. I knew this wouldn’t cut it when we wanted to live here permanently so I already purchased another solar panel and a new, bigger convertor (which turns the 12v in your panel/battery into 220v) in London. When connecting this extra panel, I realised that now my controller (which moves electricity from your panels into the battery) was now not capable anymore of dealing with the extra amount of Amps and the existing battery (60AH) wasn’t able to hold enough electricity for our daily use. So we spend some more money on buying a bigger battery (250AH – €293) and a new MPPT controller (20A – €35.95).
The new set up is a real game changer as it allows us to use electricity throughout the day and night and we are now capable of powering another new acquisition: our fridge/freezer.
The final focus area was to get running water in our bathroom and install a warm water boiler so we could finally take a hot shower at Finca Bravo. We had a plumber come over and assess the situation and he advised us to buy a pressure pump and a generator to power the pump. We bought both, as well as a new shower, boiler and tap but are still waiting for their delivery as we had some delays because of an issue with our Spanish bank. We should get everything delivered next week and then I will hopefully be able to put it all together and take the first hot shower here at Finca Bravo.
That’s in a nutshell all we got up to in March. Hope you liked this first update and we’ll aim to provide you with these updates on a monthly basis going forward.