Cave life

Cave Life: What It’s Really Like To Live In a Spanish Cave

As I write this, I’m sitting on the bed in the cave with lots of layers and a woolly hat on, as I’ve had the doors wide open all day and it’s only seven degrees outside.

But even if it’s chilly out there, I can’t resist throwing the doors open during the day. There’s nothing cosier than being in the cave and hearing the rain outside on grey days, and on sunny days in winter the sun comes streaming in.

For those of you that don’t know (have you been living under a rock? Wait, no, that’s me), I live in a small cave house in Granada, in the south of Spain.

I go on about it quite a lot, so I thought it was high time I shared a bit about what life as a troglodyte is actually like.

I’ll answer some of the questions I get a lot, and then I’ll answer a few questions from some lovely people on Twitter.

Cave life - interior of the cave
  • Are there lots of caves in Granada?

There are plenty of caves and cave houses (houses that have some cave rooms) in Granada and the surrounding province and they come in all shapes and sizes.

In Granada, they’re mainly concentrated in the very touristy Sacromonte area, and my neighbourhood is a very well kept secret.

  • Is the cave natural?

No. There are some natural caves in this area that were once inhabited, but the vast majority are hewn from the soft rock.

This cave was done up by the owner (who lives part-time in another cave next door) about 10 years ago, but he thinks it’s at least a couple of hundred years old. He tells me there’s another sealed cave from Moorish times just next door, but I try not to think about that because it’s a bit creepy.

If you’re interested in the history of cave-dwelling, check out this brief history of cave living in Spain by a couple who live in the Granada province.

Cave life - sunny day
  • Is it in the city?

It’s only about 20 minutes walk into the town centre (which is a long eay for tiny Granada) up a couple of big hills, but behind the cave is countryside, so it’s the best of both worlds.

  • Do you have electricity?

Hard-core cave dwellers have no electricity or running water, and much as I like getting back to basics you wouldn’t catch me living in one of those.

My cave has everything you’d expect from a normal house, except an oven. There’s a hob, microwave, fridge, freezer, washing machine, and very acceptable wifi.

  • How did you find it?

A friend of mine spotted the cave on a site called Idealista when I was looking for my own place.

I wasn’t especially keen, as it said it was a studio space and I’d been in some pretty damp, dingy caves in the past. But as soon as I walked in, I was biting the landlord’s hand off.

  • How many rooms does it have?

It’s just one space, but the ceiling is over three metres high in the centre, so it doesn’t feel at all claustrophobic.

The only separate space is a tiny loo cubicle, and the shower is just a sunken corner, open to the rest of the cave. That means that you really have to like anyone you’re sharing it with.

  • Do you have any outside space?

Yes, I have a garden with furniture that’s about half the size of the cave again.

There’s even a little swimming pool in the corner shaded by a trellis. My landlord fixed it up and filled it up last summer, which was glorious when I’d walked up the massive hill to get home in 35-degree heat.

  • Is there much storage?

Not really, no. With an in-wall wardrobe and a chest of drawers there’s enough for my stuff, but with my boyfriend pretty much living here it’s a tight squeeze.

  • Do you have heating? (This, and the next couple of questions are from the lovely Dee).

Nope.

Granada gets really hot, and pretty damn chilly, but the cave is the perfect place to be as it naturally stays at a fairly regular temperature.

When it’s 40 degrees in the summer, the cave stays below 20 degrees. And when it’s sub-zero on winter nights, the cave normally stays above 15 degrees. There’s no heater.

To be honest, the last couple of weeks with all the snow up on the mountains (it’s only 45 minutes to the ski resort from here, so you can imagine how cold it gets at night), and us not spending much time in the cave to warm it through, it has been feeling a little chilly, but it’s nothing a woolly jumper, slipper socks and a hot water bottle at night can’t fix.

Cave life - rainy day
  • Do you find you need more artificial lighting?

Yes and no. If it’s a really cold, gloomy day and I can’t have the doors open, then it’s pretty dark and I need a couple of lamps on.

But that doesn’t happen too often, and I can generally have the double doors open between about 11 am and 5 pm.

The entrance is south-facing and very protected from the wind. Whoever dug it out knew what they were doing.

Because the floors, walls and ceiling are all white, any light that filters in is reflected and the whole place lights up like a Christmas tree.

  • Do you get more creepy crawlies than you would in a house?

I think I get the same number of visitors as you would in any house surrounded by countryside. But yes, if you’re petrified of spiders it’s probably not the place for you.

The ants are horrific from about April to November, and you get the occasional gecko. Once, the neighbour’s cat decided to eat the back half of a gecko and leave the (still alive) front half in my shower. I didn’t handle that well.

Surprisingly, it’s not. I know from other people’s experience that a lot of other caves around here are.

The only thing that’s ever gone a bit mouldy was my friend Lara’s surfboard cover when it was living in the part of the wardrobe I never opened. Sorry, Lara!

As long as air can circulate, it’s all fine. There are metal doors and inner glass doors, so you can leave the inner doors cracked open to let the air flow and still have the cave locked uptight.

Cave life - sunset
  • Are you encouraged to leave paintings on the walls for future archaeologists?Eoin

I think my landlord might have something to say about my daubings on his beautifully white walls. Spoilsport.

Any more burning questions about the cave? Just shout and I’ll add them to the list.

1 thought on “Cave Life: What It’s Really Like To Live In a Spanish Cave

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    […] It’s probably a good thing I’ve never found it hard to draw a line between work and everything else in life, because if I’m working from home I can’t actually work anywhere but my bedroom. The downside of living in a one-room cave. […]

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