Living Abroad 500 Days – Lessons And The Unexpected

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By choice, I have been out of paid work since May of 2012 and Alan has been since July 2012.  Yes, that is when we quit our fantastic corporate jobs and sold almost all of our belongings.  That is when we decided we were going to temporarily “retire”, take a sabbatical, a mini retirement and have the life of leisure.  Oh yes, and we were going to up and move to Spain too, to enjoy life.  It was our dream to once again live overseas and we knew we had to take destiny into our own hands to make it happen. That is when many people thought we were crazy to give up our home, our security our storybook suburban life.

August 26, 2012 –  We sold it all, each packed up a suitcase and back pack and moved to Spain!

500 Days Living Abroad - Lessons and the Unexpected

That was 500 days ago!  Within no time, we moved into our incredible apartment, the kids started attending Spanish public school and our new Spanish life began. So many people are curious about what we do with our time.  We are often asked “You aren’t working? What do you do all day?”  All I have to say is, we never have enough time in the day.  Our lives aren’t full of stress and the activities we do are because we want to and not have to.  That said, we rarely want to do chores around the house, but you get what I mean.

500 Days of Living Abroad

I will share a little of our first 500 days of living abroad and our life in Spain with you.  We will cover some lessons we have learned, where we have traveled and even a few things that were unexpected.  We want to share with you what the life choice has brought us so you can see for yourself what following our passion has done for us.  You can also get a glimpse of what keeps us busy and why we don’t miss work at all.

This is how we roll without working and the things we can get up to.

Living Abroad – The Raw Numbers

  • 330 Blog posts published, 11 Interviews, 14 Guest Posts or Featured and 3 Awards
  • Blog readers from all over the world! The darker the blue, the more readers.  We never expected to touch so many lives around the globe.
    500 Days Living Abroad and our readers of Wagoners Abroad
  • People are watching our videos!  We have published 52 YouTube Videos, with over 8,875 views and counting.
  • Our top 10 Reader locations
    Top 10 Reader Locations while we are living abroad
  • Our Top 10 Blog posts for 2013  – It seems people like Nudity and Money. 😉

Lessons Learned

  1. We learned how to live with less and have a fuller and richer life!  We moved to Spain with very little and that is what we have lived with for the past 16 months.  We live a simple basic life that is rich with culture, traditions, bonding, relationships, love, adventure and curiosity.  We don’t need “things” to make us happy.  We don’t need souvenirs to remember where we have been.  We create experiences and make memories that will last.  We capture the moment and record them digitally.

    Living Abroad in Spain and going to Carnaval in Cádiz

    Living Abroad in Spain and going to Carnaval in Cádiz. We kind of got into the spirit with masks.

  2. We all learned how to step out of our comfort zone and learn new things, while living abroad.  Alan and I created the Naturist Experiment, learned about blogging, internet marketing, social media, Android programming and photography (the last 2 are all Alan).  Anya performed Flamenco in front of an audience, Lars played fútbol with kids that have been playing their entire lives.   We spoke to strangers in Spanish doing our Purple Chicken.  Too much to list it all, but you get the idea.
    We're going to like it in Austria!
  3. We have all adjusted quite well to change and “go with the flow“.  This has been part of how I live for 20+ years, but it feels so good to see the rest of the Wagoner Family embracing change and even instigating it. The proof is in the pudding with our 6 week European Summer Road Trip.  Oh, and boy can we quickly pack and unpack.  We are now packing pros!  Living abroad or anywhere is no biggie anymore.

    Wagoners Abroad Venice Italy

    Wagoners Abroad Venice Italy

  4. We have learned a few lessons from the lawDriving in Portugal has rules, Parking tickets in Spain, Speeding tickets and being pulled over for adjusting sunglasses while driving (they accused me of using a cell phone while driving). Not to mention that Spain love Red Tape and the Rubber Stamp.
  5. By living abroad we have learned we easily fall in love with places, people and animalsDogs are everywhere in Rome, there are plenty of free things to do in Porto and we absolutely fell in love with Austria!  There are very kind strangers in Merida.  Fun and festivities are contagious in Cadiz.  People live under a rock near Ronda.  We actually didn’t mind being dirty in the Mud Baths of Lo Pagan.
    Wagoners Abroad at Mar Menor - Lo Pagan Mud Bath
  6. We learned how to use basic manners in 10 Countries by saying “Thank You, Please, Hello and Good bye in Spain, Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Portugal, England, Italy, Gibraltar and Andorra – not sure if Gibraltar and Andorra count, but we are counting them.
    Interlaken Switzerland
  7. When you follow your passion the impossible some how comes easily or makes you feel you are Lucky!  Living abroad and travel is our passion and we just can’t get enough of it.
    Wagoners Abroad Christmas in Paris
  8. We never expected to help influence others to move to Spain, Costa Tropical and even Almuñécar, but it has happened and keep happening!  We have consulted and answered numerous emails and have even had several Skype calls and met families here on their scoping visits.  That is just amazing!  How our new digital world works and how “real people” can share their experiences and help others.
  9. We learned how to celebrate and party like Spaniards.  Kicking off a water fight at midnight in Lanjarón, throwing tomatoes at La Tomatina and Running with the bulls in Castril.
    Lanjarón Water Fight
  10. We miss family and friends and were thrilled to have several visitors in Spain, (family, fellow travelers and even some of our blog readers), but who knew we would make so many new friends?
    Fellow Travelers and Readers.

    Fellow Travelers and Readers.

    I am really amazed and touched by all of the new friends we have made, both locally and on-line. This was a bit unexpected and we are so thankful for our blog and for all of the people who we have connected with and grown to love because of it.  As well as all of the people that follow our adventures.  You help keep us going and we love hearing from you, communicating with you and sometimes meeting you.  This life has opened up a whole new world of like-minded people for us and we cherish our new friendships as much as our old friends.  Keeping in touch while living abroad is so much easier with social media and the internet!

    Geraldine, Tony, Mom, Alan, Heidi, Lars, Anya

    Feria de Seville – Family and Friends

  11. We can easily live and travel in Europe for about $3000- $3100 a month or $100/day.  Our Summer Road Trip was about double that, but it was planned.
  12. The entire family has learned how to adjust to a new culture and school with different means of discipline. Remember the things we didn’t tell you about schools and the general comparison of Schools in Spain to USA.
    Learning Spanish Language at School in Spain


  • The kids are fluent in Spanish!  It is like a dream come true and now they are teaching and correcting us.  It pleases me beyond words and even as I write this I have tears of joy and pride in my eyes.  They are so confident and charismatic when they speak in Spanish.  Now they have a thirst for learning languages and have a long list that they would like to learn. (French,Chinese, Italian, German and Portuguese). Alan and I are trailing behind, but the main reason we moved to Spain was for the kids to be fluent in Spanish and it has been a huge SUCCESS!
    Merida - Roman Ruins-018 Kids deciding what weapons and protection they will use for their battle
  • Family bonding – we are such a close family and actually love being around each other.  Alan has learned it is fun cooking with the kids.  Experiences make lasting memories and you don’t even need to travel to have an experience. Just Do things together!  We have learned how to more efficiently communicate and compromise via arguing, negotiating and making up.
    Nerja Caves
  • Creative Juices are flowing,  Lars has taken up videography, has his own Youtube channel and is now teaching us video tips and tricks, Anya loves to make crafts and who knew we were capable of writing a book?  Actually, we authored and published 2 eBooks! – Live in Spain and Let the Kids Cook. I have also published an article in an iPad subscription magazine Real Family Travel Magazine.
    Castril Spain - Running of the Bulls
  • We think we are pretty damn good Parents and an Awesome Family!

    Estepona Spain - Playa del Cristo

    Estepona Spain – Playa del Cristo

So has 500 days of living in Spain changed us?

You bet it has and we love it!

That said we have also deviated from our original plan.  We love our new lifestyle and will do our best to keep it going as long as we can.  Our new plan is exciting and full of more experiences!  Thank you for being here right along side us.  Thank you for commenting and letting us know you are there and letting us get to know you.

What is your passion?

What are your dreams?

What are you doing today to make them come true?

See, Tyrol, Austria

33 thoughts on “Living Abroad 500 Days – Lessons And The Unexpected

  1. New to your blog, but congrats! I love that your kids have become fluent in Spanish—what an accomplishment, and what a blessing it will be for them in the future!

    • Hey Kaley! Welcome and so glad you found us. Thanks so much for stopping by and especially for taking the time to comment. We just love to know who is reading and what you think. We are pretty proud parents for sure. Let us know if you have any questions. It looks like you are in Spain with a blog as well. Can’t wait to check it out.

  2. Thanks Elena. Yes, it isn’t for everyone. Many times one person loves travel and could do it full time, while the partner just likes the brief vacation. We are pretty fortunate that we all love to travel. That said, I could go go go all of the time and the rest of the family keeps me a little more grounded and slower moving. We all have to be happy too! It is tough leaving family and friends behind, but with the internet it is easy to keep in touch.

  3. Love this for so many reasons. I know that my husband is too structured and would never be able to do this- emotionally, but I would love to.

  4. I have loved reading about your family’s adventures! We’re recently returned from one year on the road, and I keep thinking we should have kept going! Thanks for being an inspiration.

    • Thanks so much Paige. I bet it was tough to return. I am not looking forward to that day. That said, perhaps when it is time to return, we will be looking forward to it.

    • Hey Jessie, yes it was a change. We absolutely love it and can’t even begin to imagine what it will be like to ever go back. I suppose we will see one day.

  5. This is really inspiring! And as someone who’s learning Spanish, I really wish I had started as a child now. That’s really the best time to learn languages, right? 🙂 It’s awesome what following your passion can lead to.

    • Thanks Deia. Let’s hope it sticks! It has been great for us all, but the kids are sponges. They picked up the language so rapidly, it makes me feel like a slow learner. Thanks for stopping by and for the comment.

  6. Happy New Year Wagoners.
    Great to see all your travels in one post. I think you have seen more of Europe than I have (and I´m from the UK ; )

    Mucha suerte con todo

    • Gracias Molly! You know it seems more interesting to travel when it isn’t your “home”. When it is close by you often think “I can go whenever I like”. We know our time is limited in Europe, so we need to see what we can.

  7. You bet Christine. People can make that choice no matter where they are. Travel isn’t required, but it helps us make it fun!

  8. Hey Guys, nice to see you’re all still “living the dream” in Spain. Some of the temperatures we’ve been seeing this winter have us wondering what the heck are we doing back in Canada right now. Would love a little of that southern Spain sunshine at the moment. 😉

    Glad you guys are still going strong and it’s nice to hear the kids are fluent in Spanish. Amazing how fast they picked it up. Submersion is definitely the key to learning a language and you’ve inspired us to do the same with ours somewhere down the line as well.

    Hope you guys are thriving and hope we get to meet up again the next time we cross paths.

    P.S. Tell Anya she takes awesome pictures. Just too bad she wasn’t in that one with all of us. 🙂

    • Thanks Charles. We are still loving it here. In fact we met a very nice couple from Portland today, passing through on their scoping trip to move to Spain. It was warm and sunny (well warm to us, about 65’F). Just to let you know it has been just about a year since we met you and you made such a positive impact on us. We have shared some of your “streaming” secrets as well as referring several people to your air fare hacking post about Skyscanner. It is easier than me typing it all up and you have all the tips and tricks there. We wish you all well! Happy New Year.

  9. From the aptly-titled “(500) Days of Summer”…

    Most days of the year are unremarkable. They begin and they end with no lasting memory made in between. Most days have no impact on the course of a life.

    I’m happy to see that you are building remarkable days, with lasting memories made in between… thanks for sharing them with us 🙂

  10. Love reading about your adventures, seeing pics of Linda with you during her sojurns to Spain, and wish you all the very best.

    Feliz Ano Nuevo y Buenos suerta……..


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