sandcastle king
Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
February 24, 2024 ·  2 min read

Meet the Sandcastle King Who Has Avoided Rent for 24 Years

In Rio de Janeiro, where the average income is lower than the average cost of living, housing is difficult for many to afford. Meet one of the city’s most creative residents, The Sandcastle King, who has avoided paying rent for over 20 years. (1)

Brazil’s Sandcastle King

Marcio Mizael Matolias has lived in the prestigious Barra da Tijuca neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro completely rent-free for the last 24 years. He achieved this by building his own home on the beach – completely made of sand. (1)

Matolias grew up along the beach in the Bay of Guanabara, and so the beach is where he feels happiest. Unfortunately in Rio, living along the beach is extraordinarily expensive. (1)

When Matolias first built his sandcastle home, he didn’t actually intend for it to be a living space at all. Originally it was for storing some of his things. He quickly realized, however, that in order for the castle to stay intact, he had to be there all of the time, so he moved in. (2)

Read: Couple Lives Off The Grid After Spending 20-Years Building Self-Sustaining Floating Island

Big Castle, Small Home

Though the sandcastle itself is quite large, Matolias’ living quarters are quite small. His single room is three square meters (32 square feet) and is supported by wooden beams. The rest is just sand. (1)

Inside his room is filled mostly with his possessions: Golf clubs and fishing supplies, and most importantly, books. Matolias is an avid reader, having learned to build sandcastles largely from books and with some help from a friend. (1)

“I’m happy! As everyone says and as you can also read in some books, happiness is a spiritual state,” Matolias said. “I try to be happy always, even if I have moments of sadness.” (3)

He cooks his meals outside on a stove and uses the nearby lifeguard stations and fire halls for showering and going to the washroom. (1, 2)

Constant Up-Keep

In order for the sandcastle to not dry up and crumble, Matolias has to water the sides and tend to them so that they stay intact. Of course, sometimes storms will come through and it will largely be destroyed. He has perfected the build over the last 24 years, however, so rebuilding the castle doesn’t take him much time. (1)

The Sandcastle King: A Well-Known Talent

Matolias’ knack for building incredible sandcastles has not gone unnoticed. Not only has he been given the name The Sandcastle King, but it is also providing him with an opportunity to make some extra cash. (1)

The local shopping mall occasionally hires him to come there and build various sand pieces for their displays. (1) Beyond that, he makes money running a used book store right out of his beachfront sandcastle. (2)

If you are ever in Rio de Janeiro, you should make it a priority to stop by and visit the Sandcastle King.