Let’s do some basic counting. I want you to count along with me. Heck…you can even choose the language.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. What’s the significance of counting to 8? Well, we’ve lived in Spain for 8 years!
How long have we lived in Spain?
That’s ocho, huit, acht, otto, οκτώ, แปด!
It wasn’t supposed to be like this…
When we discussed our plans, we framed it as a 1-year in Spain or maybe an 18-month adventure. In my mind, I figured the kids would do a year of school, and maybe we would travel throughout Europe for six months, and then come back to the U.S., pick up with our old lives, and life would continue on.
As we’ve mentioned before, at the end of our first year in Spain, we’d gotten into a nice groove. Heidi and I knew the area, knew the myriad of holidays and festivities that occur, and even made some great friends along the way. The kids were fully active in school, fluent in Spanish, and had many friends. It was an amazing transformation to watch, considering out how rocky things started. Not only was the language an adjustment for us, we also downsized our living space by about 75%, and had to get used to new appliances!
So we decided to stay a bit longer.
Taking advantage of Europe
We made the most of every moment and time off of school We traveled all over Europe and embraced so many cultures! The kids were racking up new countries on their passports and being exposed to so many languages, foods, people, and more. We did a 6-week European road trip our first summer. We also found crazy cheap flights to Morocco, visited Portugal, Gibraltar, and even hopped over to visit London.
And then we made (yet) another change…
After 2 years we decided to make another huge change to the whole Wagoner Plan. Revision 2.0.48 was duly ratified by unanimous vote, and it was decided that we were going to travel throughout Southeast Asia…for about a year!
To outsiders looking in, they must have thought we were completely bonkers. (It seems a bit crazy to me thinking about it, and I was there!)
And that trip was amazing! Truly life-changing in so many ways. I think about the trials and tribulations we encountered and conquered as a family, and how it helped us to relate to each other.
Luckily both kids were old enough to remember most of what occurred, and we still talk about all of the places we visited. Read more about our adventures in Southeast Asia.
It was actually during this trip that the thought occurred to me that maybe the kids would attend high school in Spain, and not in the U.S. Before that, I had just assumed we would move back to the U.S.
Coming back home
After such an amazing experience traveling throughout Southeast Asia, we knew it was time to come home. With the kids actually wanting to go back to school and see their friends, it was apparent that home was not in the U.S., but was right back in our town of Almuñécar.
And come home we did. We slotted right back into our lives as if nothing changed. We even rented the same apartment that we initially had. It was perfect!
So now we’ve been in Spain for a long time, and have crossed many milestones. Let me rattle off a few in no particular order:
- We’ve helped a few hundred people relocate to Spain (mostly from the U.S., but we’ve also helped Brits, Aussies, Canadians, Europeans, and inspired others to follow their travel dreams). Those are just the ones we know of.
- We’ve helped 80+ people relocate to our small town. This includes singles, couples, and a surprising number of families; all looking to take advantage of Spanish culture and hospitality. Some of them have even had friends or family move here for a year or longer too. Again, these are just those we are aware of. Sometimes we hear through the rumor meal some of our readers moved here, but we had no idea. Once in a while, they will reach out to meet with us or have a coffee.
- We’ve even had 2 sets of friends from North Carolina recently make the move to Spain!
- Oh, and we can’t forget all of the friends and family who have come to visit us!
- We’ve had our kids in public schools, and Lars has graduated high school (with honors), and is now off to college…in Amsterdam!
- Anya has now spent more time in Spain than she has in the U.S. She’s coming up on 16 years old soon, and that’s just kind of wild to me.
- We have built two amazing businesses (Wagoners Abroad and Almunecar Info). Both are very well received by foreigners and locals alike. They are still growing and require a great deal of love and attention, but they are ours!
- We’re all now permanent residents, with renewals every 5 years!
- The Birthday hat has been all over the world!
Pretty amazing how what was supposed to be 18 months turned into 8 years.
Who knows what the next big change is?
Since Anya has two more years in secondary school, we’re staying put, but after that, who knows? But stay tuned. We’ll be here, reporting on our experiences and sharing them with you.
Thanks for all of the well-wishes over the years!