Who Says Seven Is A Lucky Number?

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…

An American Family of 4 living in Spain for 7 years and has created their own travel lifestyle. Reflecting on the past 7 years. Read more on WagonersAbroad.com

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.

Officially unemployed - expats in Spain

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.

Living in Spain - how to apply for the Spanish Resident Visa

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.

Learning Spanish Language at School in Spain

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.

Paris-2019-Lars-and-Anya-Notre-Dame

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?

We have several ebooks and offer consulting to help you along the way.  In addition, we have bundled our services into relocation packages too.  Everything can be customized to suit your specific needs.

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

  1. Summer 2013 – Reflecting On Living In Spain for 1 Year! & What is next?
  2. Summer 2014 – On our travel anniversary, we were just getting settled into Chiang Mai Thailand. Our nomadic travel time in Europe and Asia
  3. Summer 2015 – 3 years Wagoners Abroad Is Back in Spain!
  4. Summer 2016Celebrating 4 Years of our new lifestyle!
  5. Summer 2017When Summer Plans Change!
  6. Summer 20186 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.

This entry was posted in Career Break, Expat Planning, Experiences, FAQ's and tagged , , by Alan Wagoner. Bookmark the permalink.

About Alan Wagoner

Alan digs on technology and travel and is definitely the comic in the family. He's traveled all over the globe in search of cultural experiences. He has a fantastic wife and two great children that put up with his "humor", and luckily they all love travel as well. In Aug 2012, they sold their house and all of their possessions and moved to Spain to soak up the culture. He has written a book titled Live In Spain to help those wanting to obtain a Spanish Resident Visa. He also loves to write about the funnier side of the family's adventures.

8 thoughts on “Who Says Seven Is A Lucky Number?

    • Oh that is amazing Janice. Where do you plan to move to in Spain? I am sure 1 year and 9 months seems so far away right now, but it will go by quickly!

  1. Rota, I’ll have the best of both worlds there 😉 visited this summer and didn’t want to leave. But I’m cheating, I’m half, half, mother from Spain and father American, so I have dual and know the language 😉

    • Oh that would be nice. I wonder if they sell dill pickles at Commissary? That is the one think I just miss! It isn’t cheating at all, it is in your blood. 🙂

  2. Hello! I am 52, single, and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’m a planner, and am already thinking about retirement. I’m content where I am, but not exactly happy. Something is missing. Life is hard here, not to mention expensive. I’ve kind of been wondering if I should look into retirement in Spain, sooner than later (though my cats and dogs would have to come with me). I’m a dog walker, but it looks that those careers don’t even exist in Spain. Not sure what I would do for a living since I don’t have tons of money saved up. I am a Citizen of Spain and fluent in Spanish. However, I really don’t know much about that country, since I’ve never lived there (I grew up in Germany, and then moved to the States), and the last time I visited was 22 years ago!
    Your website is inspiring and gives me hope that a better future in Spain may be possible for me. We’ll see 🙂

    • Hi Maribel, sounds like a scoping trip to Spain should be in your future. See if it suits you and how you envision your future. You never know if the bigger cities, they may very well need dog walkers. When I lived in San Francisco in the 90’s my boyfriend (at that time) was a dog walker. 🙂

      Anyway, take advantage of the low fare flight from oakland to europe/Spain on Norwegian Airlines and come over for a look around. Sometimes you can get a round trip for about $600, fantastic!

      You should have some money saved, as finding a job may be a bit difficult or at least something with decent pay. So start saving and planning, downsizing and simplifying your current life. One lunch out for $10 a week is $40 a month and nearly $500 a year, so look at your life and go with your prioriites.

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