Four days to go. Last weekend, we completed the final stage of our estate sale. Artwork that didn’t sell is going to an auction house and everything else that didn’t sell was picked up by a charity group Saturday afternoon. The sale was a huge success. The house is virtually empty and we are staying with friends until we leave for Spain next week. Six months of preparation is almost complete.
When we returned to Tampa from Alhaurin el Grande in October, we had already made the decision that we wanted to live there permanently. Next, we set about learning the process for actually achieving such a move. US citizens can travel to Spain and stay 90 days with just a valid passport. Retiring in Spain, however, requires a special visa and the process for getting it takes some time and effort. Furthermore, we would need to free ourselves from most of our property and possessions, since the cost of moving them would be prohibitive.
Our early research had indicated the visa process could take six to nine months, so we decided that we wouldn’t start selling things until we had secured the visa. In reality, the process was a lot less daunting than we expected, but, once approved, the visa holder has just 90 days to use it, or start the process over again. So, the window for liquidating everything would be tight.
The visa application must be made in person at any of the eight Spanish Consulates in the US, or at the Embassy in Washington. Since we live in Florida, we were directed to apply at the Consulate in Miami. Below is a list of the documentation required with the application. Note that these requirements may change from time-to-time, so check with Consulate to be sure.
We got our approved visas in just over three weeks.
When I glanced at the calendar this morning, I realized that, in just twenty-three days, Celia and I along with our beloved Scottish Terriers Duffy and Sammie, will begin a new life in another sunny part of the world. Having lived in Tampa, Florida, for the last fifteen years, we’re accustomed to sunshine, warm temperatures, and high humidity. But, on May 2, we leave the USA for retirement in the sunny south of Spain where we will continue to enjoy abundant sunshine, warm temperatures, and maybe a little less humidity.
Why are you moving to Spain? We’ve been asked this question dozens of times by friends, relatives, and people we’ve only just met. Sometimes the question is mere curiosity, but other times, it’s some combination of surprise, shock, and fear for our safety. Whatever the reason for the question, the answer is complicated, so I have decided to use these posts to bring everyone up to date.
The notion of retiring somewhere other than in the USA germinated from a tiny seed planted by a friend several years ago during an annual Thanksgiving gathering. The friend mentioned an acquaintance who had retired to Uruguay and found it to be quite pleasant and much less expensive than the USA. The idea appealed to me immediately. I knew our retirement resources were limited, especially after the financial crisis, but I also knew that neither Celia or I wanted to give up the things we most enjoyed. For me, that was: food, wine, travel, occasional golf, and time to write. For Celia, it meant having a horse and enjoying equestrian activities.
So, began a four-year odyssey of research, connecting with people, traveling, and soul searching; first to determine if it was something we really wanted to do, and then to figure out where we wanted to wind up. The last place we visited was the town of Alhaurin el Grande, in the province of Malaga in Spain. After three days there, Celia and I looked at each other and nodded. This would be home.
The list of places we considered is long: Uruguay, Mendoza Argentina, Cuenca Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, San Miguel de Allende Mexico, Ireland, Granada Spain, Murcia Spain. For one reason or another, each of these failed to check every box. But, Alhaurin el Grande came very close to checking all our boxes:
Within a few days of returning to Tampa, we began the process of getting ourselves from a home in Florida to a home on the Costa del Sol. Initially, we figured it would take about six months, and that turned out to be the case. In my next post, I’ll explain the paperwork and the logistics involved in making such a move.