halfway through our roadtrip from Lisbon to Barcelona, pure happiness.
Take the risk or lose the chance
Three months ago and some change, we set off for a new life abroad. I thought I would make a blog post detailing a little bit more about our journey to our new home in Spain.
HOW WE GOT THERE
True mommas boy, loading up the car and leaving our home for the last time
Crazy dog-loving parents that we are, we took every precaution possible in getting our pup, Oliver to Europe. Flying out from DFW, we were bound to have a layover en route to Spain. (Unless we wanted to spend 3k one way per person for a direct flight to which we said oh Heeeeell no)
Because of this, we decided to rent a car and drive to Newark, NJ where we would then fly into Lisbon, Portugal and start our road trip across Spain.
We did this for a few reasons, one being that it would be only 7 hours in the air for Ollie and two being that our airfare from NJ to Lisbon was a meager $300 per person. We figured we would spend a few days getting to know Lisbon, get Ollie situated then rent a car and head across Portugal into Spain and eventually our home in Barcelona.
HOW CRAZY THE MONTHS LEADING UP WERE
Whew, okay, so the months leading to us closing our storage unit and taking off for a new life were complete MAYHEM. Just between January and April 30th when we left, we were in Norway, Colombia and French Polynesia.
In between those three, I gained my first nephew, left a fantastic company, we sold majority of our four bedroom house, said our tearful goodbyes to family everywhere between New Orleans and East Texas.
My paternal grandfather and I formed a relationship before his passing. The day he was admitted to the hospital, I lost one of my very close friends and kindred spirits to long and hard battle with cancer. I was able to bond more with my birth father and my family on his side. My maternal grandfather suffered a heart attack, leading me to visit in Houston and seeing more family I otherwise probably would not have. And so, so much more. It was a bizarre last few months in The States. Ultimately, we left our life behind in Texas. And that was hard.
HOW WE KNEW WE WERE READY
picture of us just outside of Dubai where we were mulling over me quitting my job in a few months
I get this question in one form or another, all the time. "How did you do it?" "How can you afford it?"
So here's the scoop, I will give you the short version as I plan on making a complete, in-depth blog post on exactly the steps we took to become nomads :)
We decided we wanted to move abroad back in 2015. We were working with a group of refugees back home in Dallas with a group by the name of Seek The Peace. Our time with them will forever be valued and remembered as a serious turning point for us.
The three years between 2015 and us boarding a plane in 2018 were filled with copious amounts of travel. Whenever and wherever we could. We saved to move and knew deep inside that one day, come Hell or high water, that we would make it happen. Every week or two, at work, we would email each other different places that would be easy to relocate to or that were expat friendly. Countries that our jobs could take us, countries that tend to have lenient immigration laws, literally anything, we were always swapping ideas for new homes in adventurous places and brainstorming where we could head if and when we ever had the nerve and the money.
Fast forward to November 8th of 2017. We had plenty of scarves and linen pants packed up in a suitcase and ready to go. After work that day, we would be boarding a plane for a trip to Dubai and Oman. I was making some calls and telling my co-workers about our trip when I got a text from Brett saying he was laid off. We couldn't believe it. His entire department had been laid off in a matter of minutes, and there he was, with everyone else, suddenly unemployed and in shock. His department had been putting up record months, and for all intents and purposes, he and his team were on fire.
We left that afternoon, with Brett in a somber mood, trying to figure out what we were going to do.
We wound up using his severance to add to our savings and decided to move abroad. We were in Hamad International Airport in Qatar when the reality of Damn, we can *really* do this now began to set in.
The short answer is that Spain's visa process just worked for us in comparison to other EU countries. Brett is also fluent in Spanish, and I am bound and determined to make it my second language. Spain is also a great place for expats who want to teach English which I plan on doing part-time once we get to Valencia. (More on that later)
Language aside, the cost of living is fantastic in comparison with other EU countries. The food is terrific, the Spanish lifestyle is so unique, and we love the warm community that comes with being in Spain. We fell in love with Madrid so it just seemed like a fit.
Gaudi's Sagrada Familia & Casa Batllo
The #1 reason is that Barcelona was somewhere we'd never been before. Yes, thar's right, we moved internationally, sold our cars, most of our possessions, bid our families goodbye and quit the high paying jobs to go to a city which we'd never seen. #yolo? Barcelona has some seriously incredible Catalan culture that is unlike the rest of Spain. Additionally, Barcelona is an excellent hub for traveling the rest of Europe. We'd actually planned on being in Barcelona the full year and seeing as much of Europe from there as possible. This has now changed, we love Barcelona, but have decided we'd like to see as much of Spain as possible. So we will be setting off for Valencia soon!
HOW WAS THE VISA PROCESS
Finally getting our visa page at the Spanish embassy in Houston, TX
This part was much more difficult than you would think. Because unemployment in Spain is sky-high, 16% currently, we had heard that getting a work visa is next to impossible. Neither of us is students, nor did we plan on becoming short-term students for a visa. We wanted something that would give us complete mobility to do practically whatever we wanted without having to be locked down in a 9-5 or be in a classroom setting. This was when we found the option for a non-lucrative visa.
A non-lucrative visa basically says you have x-amount of dollars to live off of and ensures you can't steal any jobs from the Spanish people. It also grants residence in Spain for one year.
All around, this was just a perfect option for us.
This was perfect for us because I liked the idea of having a year to decide if we want to stay in Europe area or go somewhere else. I also felt that a year is a good enough time for me to decide if me pursuing a writing/freelance career and living out my dream of teaching english abroad is really worth it and even enough time for us to determine if we want to stay abroad more permanently and lay roots somewhere back home.
WHY LEAVE THE US?
I feel this is an obvious answer, but many people have no desire to ever leave their home country, and that is completely fine! But for us, this was always in the cards. More importantly, we made it a priority. We specifically did not get pregnant or tied into a mortgage(we leased our house in Dallas) because we knew that ultimately, we would wind up somewhere else for some length of time be it many or few years. We knew that by 2020 we would be somewhere abroad and planned accordingly, this is why it worked as a double-edged sword when Brett was laid off. After that, things really fell into place.
Thanks for reading!
I plan on making a few sub-reads around this detailing a bit more on how exactly we made it happen and how we are making it work today. I'd also like to make a post more focused on the "how" part and ways you can plan to move, or just travel more!