Life In Spain Was Too Irresistible For This Expat

How This Midwestern Lady Found The Support She Needed To Reinvent Her Life In Spain

I found myself single at a later age. One of the things that gave me something to look forward to was knowing I could now do the international travel I had planned so many times before but never realized.

I know myself well enough to realize that I needed to make it as easy as possible on myself traveling as a single female. I decided to start somewhere First World, like Western Europe. I began to travel to places like Germany, Portugal, Luxembourg, Spain, and France. Usually I had a friend with me, but I was always the only one beginning to consider a permanent move.

I kept feeling pulled back to Spain. I really started to admire the laid-back attitude in this country. I visited along the coast and inland, at different times of the year and for various lengths of time. I tried smaller cities and other areas in Spain, but I loved the larger cities like Madrid and Barcelona. I appreciated the architecture, the food, the shopping, and the overall vibe of these exciting cities.

At this stage in my life, I had come to value a “work to live” attitude instead of the “live to work” attitude of my younger years. I wanted to change my priorities, to slow down and appreciate life, family, and friends more. I wanted to start accumulating experiences instead of things.

A big life change helps you take stock of where you are and where you’d like to be and can be a chance to set off in a new direction. I’m not getting any younger, I figured. Worst case, if I made a move to a new country and it didn’t seem to be working out, I could always turn around and move back to the United States.

That is the thinking that has kept me going at this, pushing ahead to establish a new type of lifestyle based on what I’d like to do rather than on what I’m supposed to do, according to someone else’s definition.

I am a planner by nature. I enjoy the process of preparing for an experience as much as the experience itself. I started looking into any resources I could find on moving out of the country. That’s how I came to find Live and Invest Overseas. I signed up for every free resource they offered at the time.

I found sites that had forums with expats from around the world and started reading their comments and suggestions. It was exciting and motivating to hear other peoples’ stories and experiences, both good and bad, about their journeys. Through expat sites, I began corresponding with others who were living in Europe, both those born there and expats who’d moved there.

As my excitement grew, I signed up for Live and Invest Overseas’ annual Retire Overseas Conference in Orlando in September 2015, as a birthday present to myself. I wanted to connect with real people who had firsthand knowledge of Spain and who could be potential resources for me when I moved.

I have to say, the conference was a double-edged sword. None of the other attendees could have come in the door with a more specific idea for where they wanted to move. But, as I heard about other places, I began to think about alternatives to Spain. At first I thought it may have just been the overflow of excitement… being in a huge room full of hundreds of other people excited about the possibilities new adventures in new countries could bring. Finally, I’d found my people!

It was overwhelming, but in a great way, to finally talk with others who didn’t look at me like I had a third eye when discussing a move out of the States. I took a ton of notes, went to every meeting I could, spoke to almost every speaker and vendor, and talked to as many people as possible, everyone interested in my potential part of the world.

One by one, I began to rule out other places, not because they weren’t great alternatives, but because they didn’t seem like better alternatives to Spain for me.

I did, though, also come to the realization that Spain would not necessarily be my end game. It would become my jumping-off point for a great adventure and a chance to begin discovering the rest of the world. I left the conference with a few potential contacts, lots of investment ideas, and more confidence that I was doing the right thing for my situation.

I went home and started working immediately on my visa. I looked into the steps I needed to take to be ready to move four months later. I had waited years to make this move, I didn’t want to wait any longer or give myself a chance to talk myself out of it!

I have been selling things and giving things away. I took a writing job to brush up on my skills and start a freelance career I could continue in Spain. I’m getting back into photography to include with my writing. And I’m planning to take a CELTA course to get my certificate to teach English in Spain.

I am holding on to my home for now. I downsized to save money for my move, so the cost isn’t prohibitive. A couple of months in, if all goes well, I will come back and sell the house and car. I will take that final step and embrace my new life fully. I will continue to come back to the States to visit family and current friends, of course. Several are excited to come visit me in my first full year abroad.

I am grateful that I found Live and Invest Overseas as a resource for my move. I feel good about my destination decision and ready for whatever may come. I think the checklist I received at the conference for picking a destination was great information and confirmed what would work for me. I believe I’ve done my due diligence and appreciate the honest information about both the good and challenging parts of destinations outside the United States.

It’s certainly not the norm for a single Midwestern female to pick up and leave everything familiar, but that’s what I’m doing. I’m confident, though, that with preparation and a mantra of “Be Flexible,” one can get through most anything.

Besides, all those surprises that are bound to happen will make for some great stories later… stay tuned!

Melanie Veah