Living in a Spanish Warehouse [Pros, Cons & Legalities]

Living in a Spanish Warehouse [Pros, Cons & Legalities]

Living in a Spanish Warehouse – Can it be done and what are the benefits?

Living in a Spanish warehouse full time is not legal as the building is classed as industrial and not a ‘vivienda’, the land a warehouse is built on is also a different classification usually reserved only for business activities or services.

This is rural Spain however and everyone’s circumstances are different…

Background story

When we moved to Spain back in 2004 we never had the the intention of ending up in a warehouse however that is how things ended up [at least on an ongoing temporary basis]. Our first purchase was an old Andalucian cave house which we renovated during the first three months after arriving in Spain.

In 2006 we started a business exporting Spanish goods and quickly outgrew the spare room so rented an office in our local village with more storage space. By 2008 – just before the financial crisis really took hold we set the wheels in motion to buy our own warehouse with the help of goverment grants etc [you can imagine the paperwork]

2013 and we get the keys, the warehouse is now ours but business is beginning to stall due to a myriad of reasons I won’t discuss here. In Early 2018 we close the business and sell our cave house simply because the warehouse is in a better location and the storage space has become incredibly valuable and convenient.

living in a spanish warehouse

The intention, with all the will in the world was/is to use the warehouse as a stop-gap until we can get sorted with another cave home/cortijo or similar. The self contained flat we had built when the warehouse went up has become incredibly convenient, living spaces in Spanish warehouses are not uncommon, even in rural agricultural buildings where it is more convenoent to stay [lets say ‘pull a nightshift’] instead of going home, such buildings are also common places to spend the weekends, build a barbeque, stay while the house is getting renovated….

Much depends on the area, sleepy little rural villages are places where life can be way more relaxed than larger towns and cities.

Living in a Spanish warehouse is not legal, staying in one temporarily is different. Our situation is different as we bought the building as a commercial and used it as a commercial for a number of years. I would not ever buy a warehouse in Spain with the intention of using it as a residential dwelling – not a good idea.

Much depends on the area, sleepy little rural villages are places where life can be way more relaxed than larger towns and cities.

Living in a warehouse in Spain pros and cons

There are many pros and cons of living in a warehouse, quite a few pros from an overlanding point of view. Remember too that Spanish warehouses are not converted flour mills in New York or old printing works with enormous floor to ceiling windows like you see on Pinterest. What we have here is new build reinforced concrete walls and a tin roof so let’s check out the positives first:

working in a spanish warehouse
can you legally live in a warehouse in spain
living in a warehouse in spain

Space [lots of it]

Space is the most obvious one, there is a huge amount of floor space available, in our own case we have 200m2 of floor space, 90m2 of which is living area split across six rooms, there is also an addition 90m2 of floorspace upstairs on top of the interior build giving us two levels. You get used to the space, it was a real ‘thing’ to begin with and unlike most novelties this one still has not worn off and I doubt it ever will, driving your 4×4 into your house after an overland trip is just cool.

Workshop

Another advantage of space is being able to allocate a few square meters for workshop space, handy when you have a multitude of tools and need some decent bench space to work on from time to time. Usually all of our power tools would be crammed into a large tool chest so it was nice to be able to have such tools laid out and easier to get to. The bench space of 2.5m is crazy handy for simple and complicated tasks, its good to have a spacious area when you are taking things to bits or like to take your time cleaning components etc.

Storage

You’d think storage would not be a problem and it isn’t as long as you have plenty of shelf racking, there is also the possibility of building a store room or rooms specifically designed for prepping gear/food/tools or anything else you need a store room for. The biggest danger with having so much space is that it’s very easy to end up keeping stuff ‘because you can’ which is why we try to be as ruthless as we would be living in a conventional house when it comes to throwing ‘stuff’ out.

warehouse living spain

Parking [outside + inside]

Parking, or rather lack of it has always been an issue for us, before moving into the village we’d use the neighbours garage to store our old Ford Capri, not ideal because everytime she came for holidays we’d have to get the car out and have it sit outside in the blazing heat. Now though, the car is parked on the warehouse floor here it’s kept dusted and clean as well as in full view.

you can work in any weather conditions, there is ample light, tonnes of space a nearby kitchen, workshop and power.

Parking outside isn’t an issue as there is ample tarmac and enough room for six cars immediatly outside the big up and over door. There is also ample floor space for our three vehicles inside the warehouse. When the Shogun needs attention which involves axle stands or getting underneath the warehouse really comes into it’s own, you can work in any weather conditions, there is ample light, tonnes of space a nearby kitchen, workshop and power.

Location

For us the location is ideal, our cave house was 7km outside the village which is not a lot but work in shopping and school runs etc and you feel like you’re never out of the car doing the same old run every five minutes. The location now is on the outside of the village within walking distance of school and shops. Being a rural village also means that the nearby woodland is only 100yds away and we can also get away for shorter overlanding trips wthout having to drive for too many miles.

Potential

There is no getting away from the fact due to the space there is a huge amount of potention inside a building of this size, mezzanine floors, extra rooms, storage, flooring, windows you name it, a warehouse is like a huge blank canvas which, given enough money thrown at it can end up being a fantastic place to spend some time when not in your residential dwelling…


So you might think that living in a Spanish warehouse is ideal right? There are quite a few negatives too and a couple of them may well be dealbreakers for anyone considering this type of building for short term/weekend accomodation or business activities [offices or similar].

Summer

Summer time, wow, it’s like a greenhouse, a big building with a tin roof and one window at the front which does nothing. We recently remedied the heat in the summer issue however by removing a section of the roof [can’t do that with a conventional house can you!] which allows significantly more air flow through the building. The only downside is that we need to monitor the weather until a sealed floor is put in uptairs in case it rains but overall well worth it for the hotter months.

montero sport on axle stands

and… Winter

Baltic. Any kind of warehouse is difficult to heat and while we have invested in a good wood burner its is still cold in the rooms furthest away from it. Temperatures in rural Andalucia can get down to well below freezing, add the wind chill factor and also that the warehouse has no isulation at all and yeah, it gets cold.

Noise

In a row of similar buildings we have carpenters, storage units and almond farmers, in truth they are are all as noisy as each other – especially when speech is amplified even further than it’s already high volume through large and spacious warehouse acoustics. Yes you can hear machinery sometimes, tractors and when it’s olive season the farmers like to get going early, for us it’s not too much of an issue as we gt up at 5.00am ish anyway.

warehouse overland

Weekends and holidays [of which there are many] are very different, pretty silent in fact apart from the fireworks going off in the village of low drone of music during the August fiestas. Is it as quiet as where we used to live? No, but then again it’s still more quiet than being in the village center.

Government assistance

One downside of living temporarily in an industrial building is certain financial benefits you can occasionally receive from the government. One such example would be back in 2021 during the height of Covid – those with mortgages could get 1 month relief in payments. We were told that this was not possible for us as the building was commercial not residential.

Cleaning

Big buildings need lots of cleaning and with rural Spain being very dusty cleaning can be a big job. Dust gets everywhere, there is no seal under the monsterous industrial door and the wind brings everything with it. Brushing out and even getting the blower on the hoover is a regular exercise.

Pigeons

As with cleaning above [and noise] pigeons are a real PITA, they nest in the gutters and the amount of sh*t they generate is quite something, gutters need to be cleaned monthly to avoid any rain seeping through in the event of a storm or heavy downpour which are inevitable in the summer. Pigeons also make a lot of noise, on a tin roof they can sometimes sound like a fully grown man stamping around up there. Thankfully removing a roof panel as mantioned has deterred them although not completely.

Outside space/garden

Some warehouses have outside space, kind of a walled industrial style parking area, ours does not therefore we have no outside space to call our own. While we are only yards from woodland it is still not the same as having your own garden where you can grow stuff, build a pergola etc etc.

But, not having a garden can make you think differently, if we can’t go outwards for garden space we can go upwards. One plan is to create kind of a hybrid roof terrace come courtyard, removing some roof sections and creating some welcome outdoor space with abundant natural light and space for growing container veg. Watch this space!

Buying a Spanish Warehouse

Buying a Spanish warehouse for business is much the same as buying a residential property in Spain – exercise extreme caution. Buildings will either be second hand or new build, with reference to rural areas unless the building is fairly recent and in an industrial setting then it may be wise to stay clear, many older buildings did not have foundations or will need extensive renovation and in may cases it is simply the land you are buying.

Just because a new build is part of a government grant scheme and ‘appears’ sound and good does not mean that the quality of the workmanship is up to standard – we discovered this the hard way. Corners were cut by a supposidly reputable developer resulting in buildings that leaked extensivly, internal plans not followed and not having their own electricity supply for over two years. Obviously I will not be mentioning any names in this post.

The option we would take today: If we were to do it all again we’d buy the plot of land and build a warehouse on it to a specific design. At the time a grant was the only thing making the warehouse purchase possible but today we’d build which would save money and bring the overall outlay to a similar round about figure. No way would we consider buying from a developer.

Conclusion

Living in a Spanish warehouse in Spain is something that we enjoy, although temporary it offers something different until we settle on a more permanent solution which would have to have a significant amount of space or building attached to it. The space is ideal for our overlanding set up, the big door opens up so high you can get an 18 wheeler under it so anything on the roof rack is not a problem, it’s like having one huge workshop with your house inside it too with enough room to park your classic Ford and your 4×4 overlander outside the living room window.

k90 overland

Potential is huge, we’d like a full room built for all of our prepping foods and gear, it’s perfect for extending and combining our passion for overlanding and getting things in place for an uncertain future. While our own building was lacking in the quality department it has become so useful to us that all considerations of selling are now off the table, I don’t honestly think we could go back to a conventional home after having this, unless it was very close by or had it’s own almacen.

So, living in a Spanish warehouse, can it be done? Yes. Is it legal? Not full time no.

Have you considered an industrial building in rural Spain or do you currently use a warehouse for residence? Tell us your experience in the comments below.

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K90 Overland

K90overland is Mac and Gayle, they have lived in Granada [Andalucia] since 2004 and began their budget overland build in 2019 documenting both the vehicle and their overlanding trips through the Andalucian region of Spain.

K90 Overland

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