January 15

After 6 years

22  comments

An experience living in another country can be life-changing, and I know it was that way for me. I was lucky to have visited Spain in 2010, and moved to Valencia in 2013. Eight-ish years ago, I didn't know what to expect, how to plan for such a big move, or what changes would occur in me as a Spanish resident.

Now I know. Those two years between 2013 and 2015 secured Spain as a force in my life, in many of the strangest ways. In those two years, I learned so much about myself, others, and my own future trajectory. Part of the reason my experience was so high-quality was the cultural setting of Valencia. While every culture has its "rough spots," Spain's positive quality of life far exceeds the challenges that come with being a foreigner for me.

In October 2021, I moved back to Valencia with my husband. For those of you wondering why it took six months for me to post another blog entry, here's an overview of what has happened since June last year:

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  • April, May, and June 2021. Collected visa paperwork and related documents. I knew that this would be a challenge, but now we had to get everything done for two people, not one.
  • Mid-June 2021. After a visit from my dear friend Deb, we started packing our house in Atlanta in earnest. We began cleaning out every cabinet, closet, and bookcase. We ordered the box we used for our move (for those wondering, I have now made two incredibly successful moves with https://upakweship.com/)
  • July 2021. We made the final decisions on what we were taking. Our box was the width and depth of a shipping pallet (about 4'x4' or 1.5m squared) and was six feet (2m) tall. Everything else was donated, gifted, or discarded. Everything in the box was inventoried and packaged securely. We also mailed our visa applications to Miami, where our applications would be processed. (We applied for a student visa for me.)
  • July 12, 2021. Our goal was to get our home ready to sell and move temporarily to Minnesota. Our box was picked up to head to the port for overseas shipping. We still had two days left in Atlanta, but realized that there was no reason to stay. So we packed our bags and hit the road. Our trip from Atlanta to Valencia had begun.
  • July 13-18, 2021. We traveled to Lexington, KY, and Rockford, IL, on our way to stay with family in Minnesota. We planned to be in Minnesota for about three months, and spend some of that time traveling to see family and friends.
  • July and August, 2021. It was fantastic spending time with our Minnesota family! I also started a new job as a (very) part-time online science teacher.
  • September 2021. We knew this would be a busy month. We had planned trips to West Virginia, California, and Florida. While in Florida, we had to go to Miami to pick up our visas, as well as complete a bunch of other tasks. We also sold our home in Atlanta.
  • October 2021. In early October, we flew to Valencia and stayed for two weeks in a rental apartment. In that two weeks, we rented a new apartment and began the paperwork required for our visa. We also set up internet service, a new bank account, and spent time with friends that we hadn't seen since our last trip to Spain in 2019. I also started school learning Spanish.
  • November and December 2021. Our box of home goods arrived and we started setting up our new apartment in earnest. We continued to see friends and explored our neighborhood. We both worked on our Spanish skills with varying levels of success. We have made some new friends, both expats and Spaniards, and the holiday season was filled with some great memories. These months were also very intense with the paperwork required for our visa.
  • January 2022. Now that the holiday season is over (it ends here on January 6), we are starting the new year by moving into a new rhythm, a new home, and a new social landscape. Spanish language continues to be a high educational goal for both of us.

What's next? Well, gentle reader, I hope to resume a regular posting cycle soon, so stay tuned as we explore expat experiences, Spain, and especially Valencia, together!

If you've made it this far in the post, thanks for reading!


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  1. You have been on my mind so much lately…& now o know why! I’m so excited for you both & can’t wait to hear about your adventures.

    Dianne

    1. Well, the adventures seem pretty tame right now, but hopefully I’ll have plenty to write about!

  2. I'm so happy you both are in Valencia and I'm also thrilled to see more blog posts. Gracias!

  3. Hi guys, it is great to hear from you again! I am so glad you’ve made this a permanent move. I can’t believe it’s been 11 years since this journey began. I look forward to living (again, vicariously) through you. Oh – I guess I can’t resist being your editor. I think you need to change your last date from January 2021 to January 2022, right?

    Lots of love from Atlanta (where we await possibly 3+ inches of snow overnight).

    Bambi

  4. I can't wait to read your future posts and follow your adventure! I'm glad you're getting settled in your happy place. 🙂

  5. So happy for y’all! Dreams really can become a reality! Have fun, stay safe, and please keep writing…dearly LOVE your posts!!

  6. Bienvenido de nuevo Christopher y Nathan!
    I think I passed you today while cycling around beautiful Valencia.
    You've probably settled-in now that we're practically into July.
    Let's have a beer and catch up!

    1. Hi, Wendy! Great to hear from you! I hope all is well… I look forward to developing some new posts soon!

  7. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I am 98% sure that at some point within the next four years I will become an expat. My destination is still to be decided, it could be Valencia. Málaga, Lisbon, Porto, or the Algarve. I look forward to hearing more about your life in Valencia.

    1. Hi, Joseph, and thanks for your comments. Becoming an expat is definitely a big decision, and it took me three years to finally leave the US the first time I did it. However, with enough planning and forethought, your expat experience can be much smoother. I strongly suggest you do a “preview” trip specifically to evaluate living in the city, not just visiting it. There are lots of folks who have moved to Portugal and love it, and Valencia keeps popping up as a great American destination. With that said, I also run an expat meetup group (https://www.meetup.com/future-expats/) that regularly discusses expat topics. I’d like to hear what some of your deciding factors will be for the place that you choose!

      Happy Travels!

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