How We Keep the Spain Dream Alive from Afar

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In the (long) lead up into our move to Spain, we’ve been doing a few things to keep the dream of life in Spain alive.

It’s hard not to get bogged down by all the bureaucracy required to make this a reality, so we’ve made a few changes to help the process feel fun.

A big part of this is getting the kids engaged.

We’re also hyper-aware that we don’t want to wish today away in favour of tomorrow.

We have a lovely, simple life here in New Zealand and escape is not the reason we’re moving to Spain.

Lots of expats dream of moving to New Zealand and I have to say, it’s the best place in the world to call home. But it’s far away from everywhere (especially with half of our extended family in Ireland) and Spain has our hearts. This is not a blog about New Zealand, so we’ll move on.

5 Ways We Keep The Moving to Spain Dream Alive

1. Saving Money for Spain

Money makes everything in life easier. I’m not naive about this fact (heck, I even make my money from writing about money on the internet).

We need a certain amount in the bank to qualify for residencia. As far as we can tell – (the info available online is murky at best), it is 7000/euros per person – so 28,000 euros. We’ve been saving for this amount for what feels like forever. (currently at $43,000NZD which is around 24,000EUR).

As exchange rates go up and down, we figure it’s best to save as much as possible so every spare dollar goes into a dedicated Spain savings account.

Our goal is $60,000NZD, to allow for travel on the way to Spain and fluctuations in exchange rates. This should easily cover living costs in our first year.

We aim to save this by the end of March 2020.

That might seem like a lofty goal, but it’s high season for my husband, so he can work a lot of overtime, and it’s going into summer here in New Zealand so lower electric bills and the veggie garden will be producing soon.  We live very frugally.

We transfer small amounts over regularly if the grocery budget has some fat for example, and anything we earn over our core expenses is transferred over as we come across it. We’ve also put a wee Spanish flag as the icon for our internet banking. Corny, I know, but it totally helps.

2. Reading books about Spain


Learning about the history of Spain is probably not something that’ll appeal to everyone, but I am a bit of a history nerd so a close reading on the topic is what I’ve committed to. I’m also interested in real-life experiences of expats or other novels and literature on the topic.

I’ll update this post once I’ve compiled a good list to share.

3. Watching Netflix series en Espanol

This is more to brush up our language skills than immerse ourselves in the culture.

We still have English subtitles on but active listening is helping to bring us up to speed with slang and nuances of language that you just can’t get from books.

4. Attending a Spanish language club

My eldest goes to Spanish club each Saturday. It’s 2 hours of immersion, once per week with teachers from Argentina and Chile.

He sometimes attends the school holiday program too. We know it’s not enough exposure, so we try to reinforce at home.

It’s something we’ve done since returning to New Zealand in 2015. I think his success in the class is helped immensely by his experience at a 100% Spanish language preschool in Spain. He has no accent when he speaks Spanish. We hope this will make the transition into a local school easier when we arrive.

5. Setting ourselves up for departure

We’ve started stripping wallpaper in preparation for renovating. It’s highly addictive.

Realistically, we’re at least 7 months away from departure right now. So we’re not in a rush. But we have a lot to do.

Our house needs a basic renovation to be up to scratch for renting out. This will need to happen shortly before we depart so my kids don’t mess up our pretty new walls. For now, we’re doing easy things like stripping back old loose wallpaper (so satisfying) and updating curtains, replacing broken panes of glass etc.

We also need to get international drivers licences, marriage and birth certificates apostilled, sell some stuff, declutter, find storage.

That’s before we even begin to think about flights and stopovers and when is the best time to arrive in Spain.

We’ve been through this process before when we spent 15 months travelling around the world with our toddler, so we know how stressful it can be. We’ve got a long list of things to do, and we’re crossing as many of them off as we can now.

The current focus is reducing the amount of stuff we need to store. We live in a small home anyway and have a minimalist life, but the kids have so many clothes. I’m sorting them out and will be selling or donating what we don’t need. We’re not bringing new things into our house and Christmas will be an ultra-practical, want need wear read situation.

Getting moving on these things help us move towards making life in Spain a reality. It’s not all enjoyable, but we know it’ll be worth it in the end.

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