Who came up with the idea that seven is a lucky number? It’s tough to imagine that 7 years ago, we made the leap to move to Spain. What was the genesis of this crazy idea? Read on…
Step 1: Identify The Problem
Eight years ago we had what most people would think of as a perfect life. Heidi and I were working at great companies, we had a nice house, and two beautiful kids excelling in school. We had all of the trappings of success, so why the move?
As nice as things were, there was something small that was missing. And it turns out that small thing wasn’t so small. It was a void that kept getting larger and larger, but it was tough to put a finger on, but after a lot of conversations and soul-searching, we determined that the missing piece was fulfillment.
From the outside looking in, I would bet that most people think we had tons of fulfillment. But fact of the matter, we were missing out on being connected to each other; being connected as a family. Once we figured it out, it was easy to articulate: The Hamster Wheel.
Over the years, Heidi and I have been asked hundreds (if not thousands) of times why we moved. As soon as we say those three words, people instantly get it. The daily grind of waking up the kids, getting them shuttled off to school, going into work, doing the job, picking up the kids, getting dinner ready, helping with the homework, and maybe getting in some TV time, it was a bit of a grind.
The amount of quality time of really connecting with each other was small. Too small, and hence the move.
Step 2: How To Fix The Problem?
Now there’s a myriad of ways to solve our particular problem. But one of the things that Heidi and I have always been passionate about is travel. One of the great benefits of travel is being exposed to different people, and cultures. So combining our love of travel into a true family adventure was the way for us. Could we have chosen something a bit more simple? Sure, but, “Go big or go home!” was our mantra.
And I’ll be completely honest in that Heidi was the one who was driving this idea. At first I thought she had totally lost her mind. The initial plan started out as one idea, and after a bunch of research and planning, we ended up on something completely different, but at the end of the day, it was a plan that sounded fun.
The kids and I bought into it, and we gave ourselves a “time-limit” of one year or 18 months. So it was determined: The Wagoners would move to Spain for a year or so, and then move back to the U.S.
Step 3: Monitoring Our Results
It would be nice to say that everything went according to plan, but that would be a disservice to you our faithful reader. It was difficult…at times very difficult. Think of all those synonyms, words like stressful, aggravating, taxing. It was all of that, and more. But here’s the thing, we all came together to solve the problems. We helped each other. Since it was just the four of us, we became more attuned to how each other was handling things.
The kids were troopers! We had just thrown them in the proverbial deep end, and there were definitely moments where I really wondered if we were doing the right thing for the kids. Seeing how they handle what I would consider “adult-level” problems was inspiring. Remember, this isn’t just about moving to a different neighborhood or school. The kids didn’t know Spanish! See their video interviews here.
It was really a shock to us all. I wasn’t exactly prepared for how different things would be for us. So it took us a while to get to a steady-state where we kind of know what we don’t know. And it took us about a year to really find our groove, and at the end of that year, the prospect of moving back to the U.S. was not something any of us wanted.
Step 4: The Results Are In
So here I am, seven years later ruminating on the current state of affairs. Our kids are no longer kids, but are well-traveled young adults who have a broad range of cultural experience. Both are happy and well-rounded. Lars has recently returned from a European Adventure where he visited 5 countries traveling and volunteering all summer. Had we stayed in the U.S., I don’t think such a trip would have even been thinkable, and I’m sure we wouldn’t have allowed him to do such a crazy thing.
Both kids are fluent in Spanish, and it’s really a joy to hear them speak the language so fluently. They have built a support system outside of their parents, and it reinforces the choice we made to move to Spain.
So who says that 7 is a lucky number? I do! We’ve been lucky, fortunate, and thankful that we’ve been able to live in Spain for seven years, and we still love it!
Note from Heidi:
I still have to pinch myself to make sure it is all real. Never in a million years did I imagine we would be sitting here, 7 years later. We feel such a part of the community and this is home. Anya has almost spent more of her life out of the USA than in. We all still have the travel bug and have so much more of Europe to explore. Lars is looking at European universities for fall 2020 and we will just continue to see how our life unfolds.
Alan and I have been able to build 2 businesses with our blogs. write ebooks, do freelance work, and we’ve helped hundredes of people move to Spain! We have a rich life on a budget, but it works for us.
Thinking of moving to Spain?
Note from Lars:
I can’t believe it’s been 7 years. It feels like it was just yesterday when we were walking through our airport terminal in search for our gate, en route to Barcelona! I distinctly remember feeling so confident in my dominance of the Spanish language, I also distinctly remember said confidence crumbling to the ground the moment I stepped into my 5th grade classroom.
Ever since we moved, I was so intensely focused on adapting to the local culture, making friends, learning the language and doing well in school, that I didn’t even realize I was growing up in the process. I have the honor of having grown up in many countries, Spain being one of the most impactful.
Now that I’m going into my senior year of highschool and a new stage of life is rapidly approaching, I can appreciate all of the effort, struggle, and success my family and I have experienced since making the decision to move to Spain.
Read more about our “Spainiversaries” (Spain Anniversaries)
We are calling it 7 years in Spain, but we did do a bit of nomadic travel for 10 months, so it is really 7 years away from the USA! We didn’t keep track each year, but we will share what we have below.
65 Reasons Why We Love Costa Tropical Spain
- Summer 2013 – Reflecting On Living In Spain for 1 Year! & What is next?
- Summer 2014 – On our travel anniversary, we were just getting settled into Chiang Mai Thailand. Our nomadic travel time in Europe and Asia
- Summer 2015 – 3 years Wagoners Abroad Is Back in Spain!
- Summer 2016 – Celebrating 4 Years of our new lifestyle!
- Summer 2017– When Summer Plans Change!
- Summer 2018 – 6 Years Ago We Left The USA And Moved To Spain!
Did you move to Spain or are you planning to? Tell us about it in the comments.