Our 1 Year In Spain Is Up – How Long Will We Stay?

As mentioned in our post reflecting on 1 year in Spain, we have started the process for our resident card renewal.  Our resident cards officially expired on August 28, 2013.  We had the choice of renewing our resident cards or say adios to Spain.  After much family discussion and a long look at the budget, the goodbye part just wasn’t option (at least not for now).   As mentioned before, if we can supplement with some income, we can go a bit further. So how long will we stay in Spain?

1 year in Spain, how much more?

Our current plan is to continue to live in Spain until late Spring or early Summer 2014.  At that point we would like to move to Southeast Asia (SE Asia or SEA) for a while.  We are currently researching Chiang Mai, Thailand and Penang, Malaysia.  Both locations are of interest to us for very different reasons and perhaps they will help the budget stretch a bit further.

Thoughts from Lars and Anya

They are both very excited about the move and perhaps even more than us.  Lars is already doing research and would like to learn Chinese.  We will see.  The kids have requested that they be able to finish the school year here in Spain.  Lars would like to officially “graduate” from primary school.  If we had stayed in North Carolina, that would have happened after 5th grade, so he feels he missed out on that.  He also has some really great friends here, but knows he will keep in touch.  Anya would like to finish the year also, as she has so many good friends and loves it here.  She even said she loves it more than North Carolina!  Now I know that was in the moment, because a few days later she Skyped with her best friend, Emma, and said how much she missed her.  We are always up and down with our emotions.  We want it all!
1 year in Spain
Thoughts from Alan and Heidi

We of course love it here in Spain as well, but need to factor in all of the boring practical stuff, like budget!  We have a set amount of money left that we have set aside for this adventure.  There is an end to that money and how long it will last. We can use it all up here in Spain or in other locations.  So at this point we can have another year in Spain or a combo of Spain and SE Asia.  Of course, we will continue to strive towards making a location independent income and then it will last longer.

We all discussed it at length and want to go to SE Asia to experience the very different culture and see all that it has to offer.  If we don’t go until the summer, there is a high likelihood that we will only be able to be there for a few months.  If we were to leave in the late Spring, we would have a few months longer.  I know, tough problem to have right?

Another factor for us adults are the festivals and celebrations in SE Asia.  We are currently researching the timing of those to see if that will help add data to our departure date analysis.  If one of our “must do” items happens in April, then that may be the deciding factor.  As of now I know we want to do the Yee Ping and Loi Krathong Festivals, in Chiang Mai (big floating lanterns), which are in November.

I just wanted you to know all that is going on with us and how the wheels are constantly spinning in our heads.  Sure our life is low stress, but as you can see we create our own stress.  As of this moment, we aren’t sure when we will leave as we keep going back and forth.  However, we have promised ourselves that we would make our final decision on the timing sometime in January/February.  This will give us a few months to see if we can be successful with generating an income.  If we are, then the kids can have their wish to finish school and we will leave late June.  If not, then it would likely be March or April.

We also need to factor in many things such as schooling for the kids.  Do we home school, international school, online school or public school?  Do we settle in one country and travel from that as a home base or do we become a bit more nomadic and move around?   What are the visa requirements?  What is the cost of living?  What type of food and language should we expect?  We are basically starting the entire moving abroad process all over again, just to a different country.  We will keep you up to date on this progress as well.

We are in the beginning phases of researching and making the million domino decisions that go along with that one big decision of “moving to another country”!

This entry was posted in Expat Planning, Other, Spain and tagged , , , by Heidi. Bookmark the permalink.

About Heidi

Heidi has a passion for travel and has been exploring the world with her husband and 2 kids, since August 2012. She's visited more than 50 countries and loves to write about their family adventures, mishaps and costs. She has been an inspiration to others wanting to live their dreams. Her travel tips, planning posts, cost breakdowns, accommodation, and product reviews are also very popular. Her current home base is in Spain. Any post on this site may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase, there is no extra cost for you and we may receive a commission.

29 thoughts on “Our 1 Year In Spain Is Up – How Long Will We Stay?

  1. You know how much we love Asia! Happy to help with any info. We weren’t keen on Penang at all, Malaysia is expensive by SE Asian standards, too.

    • Yes we do! Thanks for the tips Alyson, you are always so sweet. Without a doubt we will tap into your info when we get closer to departure.

  2. Exciting plans! One big event you might not want to miss is Songkran in Thailand – we’re determined to finally get there this year! I think being on the road you almost have too many options sometimes and it can be difficult to figure out what to choose. Andrew and I are also trying to figure out plans for next year; we know we want to visit the UK in the summer and we also know we’ll need to settle somewhere for a year from 2014 to recoup some of our savings – at the moment we’re thinking Taiwan or South Korea but we haven’t even been to either of those countries yet so we have no idea whether we’ll like them! Tough decisions, hey! We’ve just finished three and a half weeks renting an apartment in Chiang Mai and I have to say, it wasn’t as cheap as we were expecting, so think carefully about that.

    • Thanks for the tips Amy. I know we were fortunate enough to skype with 2 families living in Chiang Mai and they said the same thing. I think if you are single and a backpacker you can live on a tight budget. As a couple or with kids, it seems to be a different story. I think we are leaning more towards Malaysia, but that is probably pricey too. Alan is really worried about the food and I have to say from what I have been reading I am too. Just the MSG and grease etc…. Well, if we don’t like it, we get up and move..right? 🙂

      We really have a great deal here in Spain, so we need to earn some $$ in the next several months to help keep all of this going. We are taking baby steps in that area, so hopefully more to come. We are going to the UK in 2 weeks for a house sit, so that should be fun. The extra bonus is we get to spend time with some pets too!

  3. South East Asia is such a great place to stay with kids. For the last couple of years we always turned to the East when picking our Summer trip. Not only for budget reasons, but also the great food (food stalls on the streets everywhere, safe to eat!), the easy way of moving around (bus, trains, bikes), we just love it!
    Good luck with your decision!

  4. I lived in Spain for four year and loved every moment of it. That was over 20 years ago but would love to go back soon. Thanks for sharing all of your tips and recommendations. Things have changed a lot in the past 20 years.

    Good luck on the big move!

  5. What wonderful adventures await you all but I must admit I will be sad to see you all leave Spain; reading your post was like transporting me back.
    I guess I will have to mentally take the trip to SE Asia with you. LOL!

    • Ah, not to worry Christine. You still have several more months of our adventures in Spain to read. You would think after a year, we would have written all that we could, but no! I feel like we are flooded with ideas and posts to write. So plenty more to come.

    • Every day is amazing! Of course, we make it happen. Take the plunge and move. Where are you currently located? I am sure we want to go there. Funny how the grass is always greener and we want what we don’t have. For us, we just want it all and will keep dreaming up ways to try an make that happen.

    • I wouldn’t dare leave without seeing you first. It seems whenever we pass through Malaga, it is coming home from a trip on a Sunday night or something. Hey we are going to England at the end of the month for a house sit a Sunday – Sunday. Perhaps we can meet up with you upon our return. I will email you the details and see if we can do that.

  6. Hi Heidi, My husband is in the computer industry, and his company moved us over here to help launch their Malaysian branch. Penang is a great mix of cultures and religions since Muslim Malays, Indians and Chinese all have a strong presence here. Between exploring the World Heritage sites, trekking in the jungle and hanging out at the beach, I’m never bored. The food is cheap and fabulous. With the tropical climate, you can live in shorts and T-shirts year round. English is widely spoken, so there’s no language barrier. There are a few international schools but many expats homeschool, too. A very small number of Western kids go to the Chinese public schools to learn Mandarin, but most Western parents tend to dislike the ultra-strict teaching style and heavy homework load. Penang is a good launching pad for traveling throughout SE Asia, too. Since it’s difficult to get a residency visa unless you have a job at a recognized company or tons of money to put in a local bank account, some expats rely on the 3 month tourist visa. A visa run is always a good excuse for travel. There you have it — my little sales pitch for Penang.

    • This is great info. I need the sales pitches. There is so much info out there and it can be a bit much at times. I would love to chat sometime.


  7. It’s funny Heidi, but SE Asia has never appealed to me and I have no idea why? That’s not to say I wouldn’t jump at the chance if it was given on a plate, but I honestly think it would be last on my list. We will still stalk you though, no matter where you are! 😉

    Could this be the end of an era-The Wagoners leave Spain………..

    • Too funny. My mom and I backpacked from Bangkok to Singapore about 20 years ago and I loved it. Time for the rest of the Wagoner family to get a taste of something very different. Please do stalk us where ever we go. For now it will still be in Spain for a bit.

  8. I just came across your blog. We’re a Texan family of 5 who’s been living in Penang, Malaysia for the last 2 years and loving it (unless homesickness strikes). We spent a week in Chiang Mai doing all sorts of touristy things and thought that was fun, too. If you decide to move to CM in April, try to time it to celebrate the big water fight that is Songkran. Best of luck on your planning!

    • Thank Michele! I was hesitant to write and publish this post, because we are so up in the air on everything. But look, we found you in Penang and Ellen and Kirsten in CM. Love it! I will check out your site, maybe we could chat via skype sometime too? What’s your story? What brought you to Penang?

  9. Hello Heidi – I just emailed you but then read this blog post. You sound exactly like me right now, only in reverse! Mind spinning: being in Chiang Mai, the kids liking it and wanting to go home at the same time, the adults wanting to live and travel overseas but also have the kids feel really connected somewhere, etc. (we want it all, too!)

    Also, it’s getting really difficult to find hotel rooms over Yee Ping and Loi Krathong (we booked a room for our last month here (November) bc we wanted to be in the city, we are currently in the suburbs) so I’d recommend looking soon if you think there’s a chance that you’ll be here then.

    Looking forward to skyping with you! Ellen

    • Hey Ellen, Looking forward to chatting with you both as well. We will likely finish out the school year here or hope to. So it may not be until June/July before we leave Spain. Can’t wait to hear your stories and what you are up to.

  10. Wowee, Wagoners! Big decisions upcoming. Sounds like you’ll be moving on right when we plan on arriving (summer 2014). I suspect I’ll be making a “scope-it-out” trip to Spain in early 2014, so maybe I can catch you all then.

    I like your SE Asia plans and look forward to tracking along with you as you finalize those plans.

    • Yes, never a dull moment around our house! We would love to meet up with you when you are over scoping things out. It is fun doing the research, but as always overwhelming. My mind doesn’t stop spinning and I am back to being up late or up very early “with things on the mind” and on line researching. We will keep you and all others informed as we move along.

  11. We should set that up!! We met another family here in Chiang Mai (their kids are just about 6 & 4) and we’re both planning to come to Spain this winter. She actually found your blog today and passed it onto me.

    We’re headed to Myanmar tomorrow for a border run but maybe Thursday when I’m back we can set something up?

    Right now, we’re trying to figure out our short list for where to stay in Andalucia. We’re looking for a “real” town/village (i.e. not all high rises and tourists), near the water (or at least great views of the water), budget friendly and things to see and do nearby. Ideally we’d get a townhouse in a town where we can walk to most things and only need a car to get out sightseeing. We were thinking Estepona but are open to ideas?

    You can PM me any questions about Chiang Mai as well.

    Oh and we’re leaving here in Dec. and plan to arrive in Spain in January 2014.


    • You would love Almuñécar then, that was our same criteria. We were just in Estepona a couple of weeks ago. It wasn’t really our cup of tea to live there, but it was fun to visit. Thurs works well. I will email you our skype info and we can chat. Really, you can try any day and if we are here, we will answer.

  12. I just discovered your blog tonight and am so happy you spelled out so much information on your blog.

    Funny enough, we’re a family of 4 (our kids are 7 & 9) currently living in Chiang Mai, Thailand. We plan to leave here this winter to move to Andalucia Spain!

    Feel free to PM me if you want more information on Chiang Mai and I might be asking you a few more questions about Spain. Thanks again for all the information!


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