6 Months Living in Spain – What were we thinking?

Well it’s official!  This family of self-made expats, on a “Career Break”, left the U.S. six months ago to embark on our Living in Spain adventure.  As with anything in life you have a plan and then let it evolve.  Our original Plan for Living in Spain isn’t too far off from where we still are, but we would love to delay the last point.  We will see how that goes over time.

Remember we did have “reasons” for moving to Spain.  Feel free to refresh your memory with our original post: What are we trying to gain from living in Spain?.  I thought it was only appropriate to summarize the past 6 months for you.  Are we on the right path to reach our goals?  Was this the right thing to do?  Did we make a mistake?  What were we thinking?

Our first 6 months Living in Spain:

Language
The kids are Superstars!  It is amazing how much they have learned.  Here is a video where the kids show off their Spanish (Last minute or two).  As far as Alan and I…we have made great progress as well, but at a much slower pace.  We are able to communicate fairly well on most topics and can understand most as well.  We are having conversations with other parents and chit-chat with strangers as well.  I think we are doing well.  Not fluent by any means, but we are focusing on several things while living in Spain and not just the language.

The kids are interviewed about our 1st six months Living in Spain.

Education
Carnival at School in Almuñécar School is going very well for the kids.  They both have loads of friends and are getting grades that are topping the class.  I really don’t know how they do it.  We told them coming into this, we didn’t care about their grades.  Hello!  Free pass from the parents to slack!    I guess it just isn’t in their nature.  The have a special “tutor” class for Spanish, so that is helping quite a bit.  It has been an interesting and occasionally rough path, but they want to go to school here again next year.  We will see.

We are all learning so much about history and in most cases are actually able to see the history.  The kids knowledge of geography has gone “off the map”.  🙂  Okay, I know Alan is the funny one, but I had to try.  We have had countless meaningful discussions about life, nature, social cultures, adapting to change, and the list is miles long.  I think the kids are learning far more than would have ever crossed their plate otherwise.

Food
Believe it or not this has been one of the biggest challenges.  If you recall from some of Alan’s posts, he isn’t really the foodie (Little Differences, Big Differences).  The kids are exploring a little more now compared to when we arrived.  I guess you can say the family is taking baby steps in this area.  I am sure over time, we will love Spanish food.  The kids dig on the tapas and are now big olive fans.  We are venturing into the eating fish world now and again.  As you can see from any of our pictures, we aren’t starving so I am sure it will all work out.

Culture
Guadix, Spain CathedralThis is a No Brainer!  We are loving the culture.  There is a fiesta for just about anything you can think of.  We live, on a daily basis, near things that are 1000-2000+ years old!  We all have a good understanding of the social norms in Spain vs U.S.  We are even fortunate enough to be exposed to many French, British and German as well.  The kids are understanding how small the world really is and embracing it with great curiosity.  We have adapted to smaller spaces as well as Different Appliances. (I will have to update you on the appliances soon).

 

Travel/Diversity
Costa del SolWe have been exploring our little hearts out.  It is difficult to be so close to so many different cultures and just waiting to go explore them.  We have covered most of Southern Spain, as well as the full Eastern Coast.

The big tomato fight “La Tomatina“, near Valencia and the beautiful city of Barcelona.  We celebrated the kick off of Carnaval in Cádiz.  Chapel of Bones Evora, PortugalWe managed a long weekend to Portugal (Algarve and Lisbon) and even made a few scenic detours on the way home.  How many of you have stayed in a Cave house in the Sierra Nevada’s?  You should give it a try.  We experienced a Running of the Bulls.  We spent a glorious week in Paris, France for Christmas.  We have enjoyed much more, but you gotta dig through the blog to find it.

Budget
We were slightly above budget the first couple of months, but are now on track for our $100/day max for a family of four.  We will be exploring more of Europe over the summer, so that will impact our budget for a couple of months as well.  Overall, we are very pleased and will try to cut corners where we can to make up for upcoming travel.

What were we thinking?

We were thinking we had a dream and no one was handing it to us on a silver platter.  We were thinking that you can’t be afraid to make our own dreams come true.  We were thinking this is crazy.  We were thinking clearly and are so happy we made this choice in our lives.  We are thinking our options are endless, if we just put our minds to it.

Step outside of your comfort zone and make your dreams come true.

Running of the bulls in Castril, Spain

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24 thoughts on “6 Months Living in Spain – What were we thinking?

  1. I luuurrrve this post, I’ve got a tear in my eye! You are inspiring me more than I can say. Enjoy the rest of your adventures.x

  2. Agreed, having a plan and being able to stick to the plan are totally different animals. After nearly two years overseas we are starting to look at heading back. Our flat is for sale, I have given notice at the school and now I am starting to worry how I will cope with living in the US again. Keep being inspiring and having fun!

  3. I love this post… I think I am going to love your blog! Living in Spain was something wonderful that I did not realize how great it was at the time for us.

    Language: I am still studying Spanish because I love it and did not take advantage of it at the time. My daughter went to an all Spanish school and was so good with the language that 8 months after arriving an Australian lady thought she was Spanish and commented on how she didn’t look spanish…not realizing she was our daughter.

    In our town it was very rare to find anyone who spoke English…is it like that down South?

    The food was a real issue for me. In Galicia they love seafood and we don’t eat it. It was frustrating not being able to find beef (instead only getting veal) and the smell of pulpo was a bit overpowering but I loved Tortilla de Potata and I learnt to even like the smell of Jamon!

    We used our time in Spain to travel around Europe as well. Sadly I didn’t see the area you live in. We were only a 3 hour drive from the Portugal border so went there quite a few times.

    Really looking forward to following your adventures there

    • I know what you mean Sharon. Thanks so much for reading and most of all for commenting! We love comments.

      The kids are like sponges. We have a post going out Friday with a bit of Spanish speaking going on. 🙂 Not many locals speak English, but there are some snow bird expats here in the winter (England, Germany etc).

      We aren’t big seafood eaters either, which it is plentiful here so not the best combo. We are trying to venture out and have made seafood a couple of times. Next month Alan’s mom arrives and she will save us. She is an amazing cook and will show us how to cook the seafood.

      I still can’t get used to the smell of the ham, but we do like BACON! and it is cheap, so that is good (not for the heart). And we finally found some beef, but we have to drive 20 miles to get it and they only have a few packages. Once we went and they were out. Luckily we only go when we need to go that direction for another reason.

      We are thinking of heading up to Asturias or Galicia for Spring Break and dip into Porto too. Just a pencil draft for now… we will make firm plans in a week or so.

    • Don’t ever apologize for commenting. I love it! Keep ’em coming.

      You are in SE Asia right? We are going to be keeping track of you too. If we can figure out how to do a remote income, we would love to go there next.

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  6. Hey Heidi and Alan,
    When you get a chance, please email me. I have something to tell you but I don’t want to post it. I miss you guys SOOOOOO much!!!!
    Love you,
    Helen

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  10. Love this blog! Just came across the YouTube video with your kids speaking Spanish–it’s so amazing! My husband and I along with our three kids decided last year to buy a sail boat, our “dream boat” which happened to be in Croatia, so the only way to get it to America was to start sailing in that direction (East!!). We thoroughly enjoyed Croatia, Italy, Corsica, and finally the south of France, where our boat is waiting for us —not far from Barcelona. We leave next week for France–will get the boat back in the water and head for the Canarie Islands, and then onto the Carribean. So, this leg will be a lot of sailing but we hope to see some of Barcelona, the Balerics, South Coastal Spain, Gibraltar and onto the Canaries. Do you have any tips for Americans in Spain? We are not fluent in Spanish but I hope we can muddle our way through….do you find Spanish residents fairly open and helpful? I can’t tell you how many times we were blessed by helpful folks along our journey last year, especially the Italians!! I also just found out that in Barcelona, they speak Catalan—oh my, I need to start studying!!! Any highlights in Barcelona that we should shoot for with our short time there? Can you find peanut butter in the markets? Or honey? You say beef is hard to come by, but what about chicken? Unfortunately, I am the only fish eater in our family

    • Hey Molly, so glad you found us. Wow, what a great adventure you are on! How fun! Excited for you. Spanish people are absolutely incredible. We never met anyone with attitude and everyone has always been helpful and understanding. A very lovely place for sure. Yes, the do speak a little differently in Barcelona. You can find beef, it is just usually mixed with fillers like soy or pork. You can go to the butcher and have them grind beef fresh for you and that should do the trick. Chicken is no problem at all. We don’t eat much seafood, which is a big deal in Spain. Seafood is everywhere. We lived along the south coast in Almunecar. There is a Marina right next door, if you need a stopping point (Marina del este) between Almunecar and La Herradura. Estepona was also very nice (very close to Gibraltar). Alan would love to do the sailing thing, but I like the land! I love scuba diving and being in the water, but I get very seasick on boats. Look up Gran Canaria Local when you are in the Canaries, Matthew has lived there for years and know his stuff. You should be able to find honey everywhere. Peanut butter can be a bit of a hunt, but it is around. In the big cities, it shouldn’t be a problem.

  11. Thank you for all your enthusiasm and openness about your experiences. We are an adventurous family of 6, four kids ages 12 to 5 years old. I was in Spain as a college student in 1990 and my husband and I are planning a family trip to return for 5 months in 2017. We are beginning our research and I wonder if you would recommend a region to settle in. I loved Barcelona but we don’t necessarily want a big city. Our plan is to learn the language, immerse in the culture and travel throughout Europe. Any insights you care to share would be much appreciated. Thanks again and happy trails.

    • Hey Julie, That is wonderful! Sounds like you have a great plan. We really loved Costa Tropical for all of the reasons you listed, but we are a bit biased. 65 Reasons Why We Love Costa Tropical Spain

      It really all comes down to your preference, budget, transportation, city, rural, western conveniences etc. We wanted warm winters and within an hour from a big city/airport. We were 45 min south of Granada and 45 east of Malaga. So that means it is that far to airports, some shopping malls, movies and things like that. Our little town has 1 McDonald’s and a couple of supermarkets and mom and pop shops.

      Barcelona is Catalan in language, so slightly different from traditional Spanish. Valencia has a slight twist to the language too. I am sorry to give you a vague answer, but it is personal preference. We love it everywhere to visit, but not to live.

      We have many useful tips and advice on planning, selecting a location, moving etc. Expert Advice for Living in Spain

      I hope that helps. please feel free to reach out to us again. 🙂

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