Not everyone gets to fulfil their dream of living life on their own terms, but an English woman achieved it when she moved to Spain and built her own sustainable tiny house on wheels. Elizabeth Wynn (34) is from York and she lived at first in various apartments when she moved to Spain almost five years ago,.
Growing up, Elizabeth decided that she would like to live in either Italy or Spain when she was older. "There was something about the openness of the Spanish and Italian people that drew me to them," she tells Lonely Planet. "I would study the lines in the old ladies' faces in the street and find them so beautiful. It was like they smiled on the inside. On the first day I arrived as a stranger to southern Spain, I opened the shutters of the apartment I rented and saw life, people, orange trees, skies and sunshine. I knew I was home."
Elizabeth decided to build her little wooden house at weekends on spare land owned by a friend in the mountains. It is five-metres-long by 2.2-metres-wide and 3.6-metres-high, and is built on the base of an old Mercedes van, so it has a chassis with wheels underneath. She drew a design and made a paper model and then bought wood and started building it. She recycled many of the elements from things she found along the way.
Elizabeth was apprehensive giving up her rental flat by the sea to live in the mountains six months ago, but has fallen in love with her peaceful location. "I wake up to the sounds of birds singing, and see colours, sky and nature all around me," she says. "The mountains look so grand towering around my house and the trees and plants are beautiful. The beauty of living in southern Spain is that I can spend three-quarters of the year outside and that's what I love."
When it comes to the advantages and disadvantages of living in a tiny house, Elizabeth says that the positives win the day. "It's a small space but I have everything I need," she says. "It also makes me not have too much stuff that I don't need or use, and it's easy to heat because it's so small and it feels cosy. Things rarely get lost because there are only so many places they can be in. The only thing that takes a bit of getting used to is the composting toilet. Everything else feels like a luxury to me."
Elizabeth hopes to buy her own piece of land in the same area in the near future and will move her little eco-house there. She is starting to grow a garden with trees and vegetables so she can become as self-sufficient as possible. "I don't have a mortgage or a big monthly rent to worry about so I feel more free," she says.
"The idea is my home will always be here but if I want to travel for a month or two, I can pack up and go and then return home at the end of it. I hope to travel to hundreds of different places, from weekend breaks to local places, right through to monthly travels to different parts of the world. I love exploring new areas and having adventures. I guess I'm a bit of a hippie at heart, but unlike a traveller, I always like to return home."
Outside of Spain and Italy, Elizabeth's travels have taken her mainly around Europe, and to Colombia and Dubai. She completed a fashion design degree in England, and did several different internships, including one at Vogue magazine. She also ran a jewellery business, using vintage pieces and recycling them into new creations, and also worked part-time for a prison arts charity in London.
Elizabeth released an album two years ago and is in the middle of writing another one. She has a project called Eden Whispers, which is all about the house and her creativity. She makes mobiles, wooden furniture, cushions, hanging art, stone and shell jewellery, and also runs workshops from her house to inspire and encourage people to find their inner creativity. These include a dream catcher workshop and one about using natural goat's milk to make cheese.
Her plan for the future is to run more events and workshops, and maybe one day to build more dwellings so that she can run retreats where people can come and stay. "I want to help people escape the stresses and pressures of everyday life and become more connected with their creativity," she says.
Follow Elizabeth on her website and Facebook page.
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