Since my last update, we’ve made remarkable progress planning for our adventure. Our family will be moving to Spain next summer where we’ll become proficient in Spanish and take in and learn about all things española.
In less than one month’s time, I’ve determined the city, found a school for our boys, and have started negotiations to lease a house in one of the coolest neighborhoods in town.
I’m super jazzed to say that we’ll be spending the 2014-2015 school year in Granada, Spain.
- We wanted our final destination to be in Andalucía for mostly language and weather reasons.
- Being a university town with a population of about 300,000, it feels like the Goldilocks option – not too big, not too small. Plus, on the surface it matches the demographic of our current hometown – Madison, Wisconsin.
- While Sevilla was high on my list at the start, I just couldn’t find the needed information or gain any leads to help sort out the details. Being less than a 3-hour car ride away, I imagine we’ll visit a time or two.
Granada Fast Facts
- Granada means “pomegranate” in Spanish.
- Located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada, it is about 13 miles (21 km) to the mountains and about 45 miles (70 km) to the Mediterranean coast.
- More than 2.5 million tourists visit annually, primarily to visit one of Spain’s key tourist attractions – The Alhambra.
- Passports – All have been applied for or renewed. When the newly minted passports arrived for our boys, they gave me a knowing and excited smile after I told them they were now free to leave the country.
- Schooling – While I haven’t yet been in contact with the administration of the local public school that we’re targeting, I’ve made many contacts in the area that assure me that there should be little concern getting our boys in. The application process starts in March so I’ve got some time to sort this out further.
- Long-Term Visas – My wife’s latest visit to the consulate in nearby Chicago was fruitful. They were able to provide a checklist of sorts for applying for the needed visa. While it will take quite a bit of work to get all the documentation together, it doesn’t seem insurmountable at this point. They informed us that November and December were very busy for them dealing with student visas and that we’d be best applying after the new year.
I must say the one thing that excites me most is where we likely will be living. You see, the Alhambra is THE thing to see in Granada. Down a valley and up a hill to the north from the Alhambra is the Albayzin district (El Albaicín).
Along with the Alhambra fortress, this area is also an UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a medieval Moorish neighborhood whose oldest parts date back to the 11th century. The area is filled with narrow, walkable streets (alleyways) impassable by cars. I’ve been told everything we’ll need is within walking distance (groceries, banks, school, restaurants and bars).
Check out the photo below of the view from the rooftop terrace of the house I’m trying to rent.
As my wife says, “stuff’s gettin’ real.” (except she didn’t say ‘stuff’)
Now that we know where we’re going to be, all focus needs to be on getting there legally and timely with the needed long-term visa. Below is a checklist of those items needed to be included with the application.
- Criminal Background Checks – no one wants a bunch of hoodlums in their country.
- Medical Certificates – proving we’re all of sound physical and mental health.
- Health Insurance – We need to prove sufficient health insurance coverage during our time in Spain.
- Proof of sufficient financial resources – the latest rules suggest an amount of €45,000 ($61,000) which is considerably less than $120,000 estimate I’ve seen in other documentation. Either way, I think we’re good.
- Proof of accommodation – signed lease.
- Birth Certificates – for minors.
- Marriage Certificate
- Fees – Looks like this may be more than $600 for the application alone ($150 per person).
I’m adding a cost tracker to the bottom of these posts. It will be a running total of the expenses associated with our family’s move. Up to this point, I haven’t spent a dime other than countless hours of my time doing online research.
- Passport Photos: $44.27 for entire family
- Passport renewal for 2 adults: $225.60 = Renewal fee ($110) times two + Shipping ($5.60)
- New passports for 2 minors: $210 = Application fee ($80) + Execution fee ($25) times two
Running Total: $479.87
As a quick aside, I was appalled when I learned of the price of passport photos taken at the local Walgreen’s. This would have been $8 more if we didn’t have a coupon. Yes, it was quick and convenient, but $44 is a ridiculous amount for eight 2×2 inch photos on a white background. To help offset this cost, I’ve decided to shave my head myself all winter and save on a couple $16 haircuts. (Edit: Since this complete waste of money, I’ve figured out a way to get super cheap passport photos of any size.)
Does anyone have any Grenadine suggestions for us?
(Edit: To read about the latest in this adventure, click here).