Rent can be a real bitch sometimes. Unless you buy a house outright with cash, you’re either paying someone else’s mortgage or you’re paying the bank. You’re never really the king of your castle—unless it’s a castle made of sand and you live inside it, like Marcio Mizael Matolias.
Nicknamed the “sand king” for obvious reasons, the 44-year-old Matolioas has lived in a sand castle on a Brazilian beach for a staggering 22 years. Supported by driftwood and complete with turrets, his current home measures in at around 32 square feet. Which, if one is able to get away from all the trappings, is more than enough space to lie down. Sure, there’s not much room to do much else, but the sand king’s happy with his situation.
According to the BBC, there’s a particular architectural style he goes for when creating a sand castle. Antoni Gaudi and Oscar Niemeyer are his inspirations and it shows. Gaudi, a Spanish architect who is widely regarded as one of the masters, “integrated into his architecture such crafts as ceramics, stained glass, wrought ironwork forging and carpentry.”
Matolias’ castle sits on Barra da Tijuca beach in Rio, where rents are through the roof. According to Quartz, the residents’ average wage is roughly half of the average monthly rent. Years ago, Matolias lived in an apartment. At first, he never really intended on living on the beach, but as time went on, eventually he realized that for him, a life on the beach made more sense than struggling to make enough money to keep a roof over his head.
The sand king makes a few dollars here and there selling used books to tourists from his castle, which he spends on food and the occasional shower at the nearby fire department. “I have become a sort of tourist attraction,” he explained. “People pay exorbitant rents to live in front of the sea, I do not have bills and here I have a good life.”
He spends his days fixing up his house, entertaining tourists, and reading in the sand. He’s even got a throne, crown, and sceptre for good measure. Of course, since it’s Rio, some nights the heat is unbearable. He occasionally spends a night or two at a friend’s house, but eventually heads back to his own little paradise. If a man’s home truly is his castle, the sand king is the king of his. You know what they say, though: a foolish man builds his house upon the sand. In this case, however, that doesn’t seem to be the case. “I’m happy,” Matolias said. “As everyone says—and as you can also read in some books—happiness is a spiritual state.”