Living in a camper because rent can no longer be paid

by Lorraine Williamson
living in a camper

MALLORCA – Rising rents and the difficulty of finding a house in good condition and at a reasonable price are leading to a growing trend in Spain: people are deciding to live in a motorhome or converted van. 

This is especially true for people who can work remotely or who do not have a permanent work address, such as pilots, choose it. They don’t want to spend more than half of their income on rent. As a result, camper pitches are gradually increasing in some Spanish cities. 

In Palma de Mallorca it is also increasingly seen: small groups of people living in campers and converted vans. Most of them have a job but say they can’t afford rent. 

Also read: Motorhome drivers in Mallorca: “They treat us like criminals” 

Juan José is 53 years old and has been living with his dog Óscar in his camper for ten months. After an accident and a long period of sick leave, he had to leave his house because he could not pay the rent. “With rising fuel prices and wages that are not rising… you just won’t get there. Earning a thousand euros and living in Mallorca is impossible,” he explains to RTVE. 

The rental price per square metre in Palma has increased by 50% in the last ten years. That makes the city in Mallorca currently one of the most expensive cities in Spain. Moreover, due to tourism in the summer months, there are no longer any homes to be found. Therefore, many have no choice but to adapt to life in a house on wheels. 

Adjusting to living in a caravan 

The high rents and the desire to live alone and not have to share a house led Ion to live in his RV. “We have no other choice. We have to live like this and luckily we can do that, at least we don’t end up on the street with a cardboard box for a bed,” he explained to RTVE. 

Cogesa Expats

It is increasingly common to see motorhomes actually used as homes by their owners in and around Mallorca’s capital. Moreover, up to 200 of these types of vehicles are sometimes parked in large parking lots. 


It is also a growing phenomenon in Madrid – where rents are also very high and the housing market tight. Iñaki is 39 years old, and works for a multinational company in the technology sector in Madrid. He didn’t have enough salary left for rent. That’s why he lives in a camper a few metres from his office from Monday to Friday. “I have everything I need to live and work. I feel comfortable and after studying the rental market, I chose this option,” he tells Antena3. 

Andrés is a flight commander for a well-known Spanish airline. This Asturian has his base in Madrid, where he stays no longer than eight days a month. After a long search, I couldn’t find anything for a reasonable price and decided to use my bus as a home. “With this option, you are not bound by the conditions of a landlord, you do not have to sign a contract and I still have money left over,” he explains. 

“I have everything, just like in a house” 

With no other options, many try to adapt. “I have Netflix and everything, just like in a house,” explains a man who lives in his RV. Although several acknowledge that it would be better to find another living situation. “If I had the chance to go somewhere else, maybe I would. I’d rather go somewhere else where I would be more comfortable,” says a woman who also lives in her van. 

Meanwhile, they live in a harsh reality in which they form a community and support each other, but which they feel is becoming increasingly difficult to get out of. 

Also read: What do you need to know before travelling through Spain with your motorhome? 

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