For Marta Zaforteza, originally from Spain, that solution came while fixing up a van in which to travel around. Halfway through the process, Marta eschewed her London accommodation to actually start living in the van… and hasn’t looked back since.
Marta had been craving a lifestyle with a closer contact with nature and away from the craziness of city life, so she bought a blue Citroën Relay, which she named Julieta. With the help of Right to Roam Campervans Ltd, Marta was able to convert her van into a luxury home on wheels.
A resident of London for the last ten years, Marta’s original plan was to rent Julieta out as a business, occasionally using it herself when she wanted to go travelling. But when the pandemic hit, Marta began a plan: a plan that eventually saw her travelling around Spain, working remotely, and living as a ‘digital nomad.’
One of the questions you may be asking is how much money you could save living in this way, and how you scale down your life to fit in a van. Watching Marta living and working in Julieta, it becomes clear that there are many ways to do this.
Marta began turning the van into a place of work and living by obtaining reclaimed wood for the kitchen surfaces: there’s a pull-out table that means Marta can prepare her food and eat her meals outside the van. There is also a full-size tap with an extendable head, an 80L water tank under the sink and an underslung 100L grey tank. The 12-volt Italian Vitrifrigo fridge freezer has just enough space to store a comfortable amount of food to live off for a good few meals. It’s a good quality kitchen too: a brass backsplash and a two-burner hob utilises gas from her LPG tank, and she gets about one month out of each gas tank.
Marta has made the kitchen the most dominant space in the van, because cooking is at the heart of her adventurous life: it can get hot in there but Marta has installed a fan and skylight window for fresh air and gorgeous views of the skies.
Lighting-wise, there are three lights on dimmers that Marta can control and she keeps her fairy lights more than the main lights to prevent people from seeing inside.
Marta has minimal possessions around the van, attached to surfaces with double-sided velcro. Van life is not by definition one that requires multiple possessions, so that also helps keep costs down: living in a van does not really allow you to hoard! Selling or downsizing your living space also helps you afford the right budget van insurance for you.
Another thing Marta is talented at is storage of what she does have: cunningly secreted drawers that contain paddleboards and snorkelling equipment, as well as a heater, electrics, and two batteries are all stored under the sofa, which at night is transformed into a cosy, luxurious bed.
Finally, you may ask, what about ablutions? A hot outdoor shower is stored behind another door, but Marta tends to shave and wash her hair and body at the sink, or have showers at the beach or a friend’s house. And there’s a discreet box toilet that’s easy to use and clean.
This chapter of Marta’s life is now on hold as she has recently sold Julieta to have a child and move to Yorkshire… but we’re sure there’ll be more adventures soon!
If you’re inspired by Marta’s unique lifestyle, first of all you can watch this great little film of her living in Julieta and also visit her Instagram which has more information and pictures here.