This will be our view in about a year (Source: @alhambraonline)
I thought it’s as good a time as any for another update. As most of you know, our family will be moving to Granada, Spain this summer.
If you’d like more background, you can see the evolution of our decision in these previous posts:
Part 1 – The Motivation (guest post at Pretired.org)
Part 2 – The Considerations
Part 3 – The Decision
- Long-Term Visas – We have an appointment with the Spanish Consulate in Chicago next week to apply for our long-term visa. I’ve been gathering (and translating) documents like a mad man the last several weeks. I really hope the hard work and reams of paper will prove enough to grant us permission to spend the 2014 school year in Spain.
After successfully submitting, I’ll dedicate a future post to the application process. Online it says processing of non-lucrative residence visas “may take up to 4 months”. It’s going to be a long spring waiting for those results.
- Schooling – I’ve been in contact with the administration of the local primary school and know that I need to reserve a place for our boys (in the 4th grade) in March. This appears to be a straight-forward process of completing some lengthy forms.
Then, in the first week of June, I need to complete some additional paperwork to actually enroll our boys. This timing should work out fine since I expect to hear back on our visa application by this time.
- Housing – The lease has been signed and I’ve wired €2000 to the landlord. €1000 for a deposit and €1000 ($1350) for the first month’s rent. While this may seem a little steep for Granada, it is a single family house in a prime area with a view of the Alhambra not all that unlike the photo at the top of this post. It also helps that it is fully furnished.
If we were more budget conscious, we could have easily found other, nice 3 bedroom apartments for €700-800/month.
I’ve found this site particularly useful for getting a feel for rents in different cities around Spain.
- Flights – We’ve purchased one-way tickets to arrive in Madrid on July 1. I thought this was a bit bold considering all the hoops we still need to jump through, but the wife found a decent “deal” and says we’ll go for the summer regardless. (Dang! Flights to Europe are ridiculous in the summer – see details below.)
We considered using our sign-up bonus miles (thanks Chase Sapphire Preferred) but thought we’d keep those in our back pocket in case of an emergency return flight.
- Visa Application (next week)
- School Reservation and Enrollment (March and June)
Reconnaissance Mission– Originally I was planning a solo trip to Spain this spring so I could scope things out in person. I don’t feel this is needed any longer as I’ve made enough contacts in Granada that are able to help me. I’m astonished with how far I’ve been able to get by sitting in my living room and reaching out to other blogs, expat forums, etc. I figure we’ll save a couple thousand dollars by staying home.
- Prep our current house for rental (to start July 1)
- Quit job (June 1)
- Sell car (early June)
- Spanish language self-guided crash course (month of June)
Here are the top 3 things at the top of my mind right now (in priority order).
- Declined Visa. Having our long-term residency visa be declined would be the worst case scenario. Because we already have flights and a place to stay starting in July, we’ve decided that if this happens, we’ll still go but would limit our adventure to only the summer.
- Milk. Twenty years ago, I lived in Spain as part of an exchange. I remember being thirsty all of the time. Not only is it a warmer climate than I’m accustomed to, but their servings for liquids are tiny. Waters, Cokes, juices – all of them come in these little containers. I found this to be the case across most of Europe.
Another drink that is hard to come by in Europe is fresh skim milk. When I’m thirsty, my refreshment of choice is a nice, tall glass of ice-cold milk. I live in ‘America’s Dairyland’ and I’m the grandson of a dairy owner for crying out loud! Our family goes through 5-6 gallons of milk per week. I’m not joking when I say milk is near the top of my list of concerns.
- Utility Costs. We’re on the hook for paying all utilities associated with the house. They are limited to electricity, water, TV cable, and Internet access. I have averages for all of these costs but the one that stands out is electricity. The current tenants in the house are reporting bills up to €300 ($400) per month for electricity in the winter. It’s a double-whammy because not only are electricity rates in Spain really high, it is also the primary energy source to heat these centuries old houses in the area that lack proper insulation.
The other option to heat the house includes a little wood-burning stove on the main floor. Apparently we can get wood delivered to our door for around €100 per bundle (not sure the size).
While it is southern Spain, Granada is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains and does drop down around freezing in December and January.
Here is the running total of the expenses incurred to-date associated with our family’s move. We will be paying significant visa application fees next week (~$600) that are not yet included in these numbers.
- State Background Checks and Hague Apostille: $44.00 (Background checks = $12/adult, Apostille = $10/background check)
- Rental House (security deposit and first month’s rent): $2,811.60 (includes $45 of wire transfer fees)
- One-way flights (MSP -> MAD): $2,542.54 (2 adult and 2 kid tickets)
- Carryover from last post (passport photos and renewals for the entire family): $479.87
Running Total: $5,878.01
(Edit: To read about our visa application process, click here).