Spain Preparation – The Green Light

Only in Granada.  Photos taken on April 6, 2014.  Both scenes about 30 miles apart  Source
Only in Granada. Photos taken on April 6, 2014. Both scenes about 30 miles apart. Source

I thought it’s as good a time as any for the 6th update in this series as our family plans for our move to Granada, Spain.

If you’d like more background, you can see the evolution of our decision in these previous posts:

Part 1 – The Motivation

Part 2 – The Considerations

Part 3 – The Decision

Part 4 – The Commitment

Part 5 – The Application


What a difference a couple of months make.  It seems our planning and effort has paid off handsomely.  All major hurdles have been cleared at this point.

CIA pose with long-term visas in passports
CIA pose with long-term visas in passports
  • School Reservation (March) – We had the month of March to submit a “reservation” for our boys to attend public school in Granada, Spain.  It entailed completing a form that identified the student, upcoming grade based on birth year, any special needs, and a listing of preferred schools.

I submitted the paperwork to our primary school’s secretary who informed me everything looked good and that our boys had a very good chance of ending up in our #1 choice (which will be about a 6-minute walk from our rental house).

I was relieved to hear this because there were rumblings that the grade year before ours is full and not accepting new students.

  • Renting our Current House – The last couple of weeks have been busy vetting out property management companies to essentially be “on call” to our future tenants.  We’ve also been prepping and listing our home on free rental listing sites.

I really didn’t want to use the management company to help secure a tenant since that would cost us about one month’s rent as a finder’s fee.  So I was happy when I got an email a couple of hours after having listed our home on sites like Craigslist, Zillow, and Trulia requesting a showing the next day.

An out-of-town couple was coming in for the weekend and needed to secure a place before they left.  Turns out they liked our house best and have submitted an application to sign a lease starting July 1.  Yes!

Next Steps

  • School Enrollment (first week in June) – some more paperwork that solidifies a spot for our boys in the local public school
  • Sell car (early June)
  • Spanish language self-guided crash course (month of June – primarily for the adults)
  • Move out (end of June) – We’ll continue to purge and pack up our house.  We plan to store those things that we envision needing when we return in 1-2 years time.
  • Take off (June 30) – We’ll drive to my parent’s place that is near our departure airport, leave our remaining car with them and spend a week or so with all the grandkids on my side hanging out with their grandparents.  Our flight departs June 30.

Biggest Fears

If you remember my post from February before we had applied for the visa, I ranked the top 3 concerns I had at the top of my mind.  Luckily, 2 of the 3 have been pretty muVisa Letterch eliminated.

  • Declined Visa.  Moot point now that we have approved non-lucrative visas in hand.
  • Utility Costs.  Electricity costs in Spain are notoriously high and when it is the primary energy source to heat uninsulated, centuries old homes, the monthly bills can easily reach several hundred Euros per month.

The good news is I heard from the landlord that he will be installing a “biomass heater amongst other things” to help alleviate this.  I’m not exactly sure what this is but if it means lower electric bills, we’re on board.

  • Milk.  My concern for lack of fresh milk remains, but I figure if this is the highest thing on my list, I’ll be OK.  I think I’ll just have to quench my thirst with Riojas.

Preparation Costs

The bad news is we’re down about $6,500 invested in this trans-Atlantic adventure.  The good news is this total includes one-way flights to Spain as well as a deposit and first month’s rent on our home there.

We seem to be beyond the biggest sunk costs associated with the needed paperwork and logistics of getting to our new destination.  Once we arrive, we should be back to incurring “normal” living expenses.

Below is a quick table that shows the ‘bare-bones’ costs incurred by our family of 4 in applying and obtaining non-lucrative visas to Spain.  You can find additional cost breakdowns in past preparation posts.

Passport photos and renewals$479.87
State Background Checks with Apostille$44.00
Translation Services (DIY style)Free
Visa application submission fees$616.00

Fun Tidbits

The last time the wife and I were in Spain was over 10 years ago and we happened to spend quite a bit of time in Andalucía (southern Spain) including a few days in Granada.

Below is a snippet from my journal of that trip (dated September 9, 2003) when I was talking about our walk through the Albayzin (Albaicín) neighborhood where we ultimately will be living come July.

“We hiked back down to our hostel from atop the Alhambra hill, refreshed, grabbed a quick bocadillo and headed across town to the “church with the view“… It was difficult to surmise where we were in relation to the church because the streets were narrow and steep and there were tall houses all along the switchback cobbled streets.  If I were to live in Granada, this is where I’d have my house.

Granada journal entry from 2003
Granada journal entry from 2003

Lastly, I thought I’d include a little video interview I did with our boys so you can hear their thoughts on our upcoming adventure in their own words.


15 thoughts on “Spain Preparation – The Green Light”

  1. Buck,

    It’s been pretty awesome watching your journey to Spain coalesce over the last six months or so. Everything is falling nicely into place (as it usually does when you put some effort into planning!).

    I love the video – great way to share your kids’ perspective on the trip and what they are thinking.

    And congrats on scoring a tenant for your house – hopefully they follow through and work out. We just landed a “tenant” for our house while we will be out of town for five weeks this summer. Unfortunately it’s not a paying tenant in our case. In our case, my wife’s brother and his family agreed to live in our house as house sitters. They will water the plants, feed the cat, and take care of the house this summer. One less thing to worry about while you’re abroad having fun, right?

    1. Gracias por la inspiración para hacer el video, Justin.

      Yes, finding tenants is the last huge hurdle in my mind. We should have a signed lease by the end of this week if things progress as they should. Paying or not, I do think it is a relief to have someone in your home while away for an extended period of time. Both sets of our parents had pipes freeze this past winter while they were out of town (and one set out of the country). Leaking water is my worst nightmare. With people in the house they can at least shut it down or call someone when trouble arises before too much damage is done.

  2. Congratulations!!!! It is ON.. Your kids are so precious y usted es espaniol e mui buono (sp?) . I’m sure it is such a big relief. I wish you the best of luck with the tenants. Ours bought a house in the neighborhood and are moving out, so we are probably going to sell that one as we know for sure we like it here, unless it rents first. I can’t wait to read the new adventures of ” Buck and kin”. Your handwriting is very good btw.

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Kemkem. As my boys have picked up: It is definitely ON like DONKEY KONG! I’m surprised you can read my chicken scratch handwriting. Unfortunately it has only gotten worse.

      So you envision staying in Malta permanently for the foreseeable future?

      1. At least for another year or more. We would hold on to the other rented house instead of the can see us going back if we get tired of Europe and want to do Latin America or Asia..but l highly doubt it. I don’t have the same passion for that side like l do this one. Apart from Thailand, l could skip everything.. I think.. ;o)

  3. Hey Buck, just got around to checking in, so this may be a ‘stranded comment’. Great job getting the kids on board! When we visited Spain, our kids were really young and they thought we were going to ‘Space’. Incidentally, we were on our way to a West Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona (with Norwegian) which was phenomenal (Malta, Naples (Pompeii), Rome, Florence/Pisa, and a quaint French Riviera city) – a good vacation because our kids wanted to stay on board whenever we would let them, so my wife and I could really enjoy the history and tour guide info, and long brisk walks – it all went too quickly.

    Look forward to checking in over the summer and fall. Glad to hear it is falling into place!

    1. Nothing beats a built-in babysitter! Sounds like a great trip.

      I’ll have to ask the boys if they’d rather go to ‘Space’ or ‘Spain’ – haha! I’m not sure I’d know their answer – they’d be excited for either.

      Even with all the major hurdles out of the way, this is by far the busiest time in this whole planning phase. We’re ready to just be there by now. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

  4. This interview is awesome. A is quite the talker and both have a real grasp of the language. What an adventure. Great idea to interview them, Buck aka Jed. They seem to be at the perfect age for this. And with R’ s and your organizational skills things should go swimmingly.

  5. Buck:

    I’m just reading this on 3/8/2016 as my own family with 2 boys is planning the same trip for the same reasons. I’m just curious – how has your family’s experience been so far? Do you have any regrets about moving to Spain? From what I hear, families who move to Spain have a difficult time leaving. We’re moving to Barcelona in August and looking forward to it.

    1. Hi Shawn. We’re coming up on 2 years here and the experience has been unbelievable. Definitely no regrets whatsoever. This post I wrote last Sept may key you in further as to how we felt after one year. I’m sure you’ll have a great time in Barcelona.

  6. Thanks for sharing your story. Very interesting and informative! What are the requirements with respect to paying taxes in Spain while you are there? Are you required to file a tax return? Are you subject to income tax and wealth tax on any funds that you may have invested outside of Spain (e.g., in accounts in the US). We are a retired couple thinking of spending a year or two in Spain, and I have been confused by what I have read online regarding Spanish taxes. Thanks.

Your Thoughts?