|One year ago today…
||[ Tuesday, 20 Dec 05 | 18:32 ]
One year ago today I arrived in Barcelona with three suitcases, sports bag, and laptop computer. I was late having missed my connecting flight at Gatwick and was greeted by a thunderstorm in the middle of December. I thought that was an auspicious sign!
The past year saw a number of major changes in my life, but not quite as many as 2003. Here is a quick recap of the past year:
- After four frustrating months, I finally sold my house in Richmond in January.
- In six short days I was able to purchase my piso in El Masnou.
- Within a week I had bought most of my furniture and the electrodomesticos had been delivered.
- It took two weeks to get gas and a phone line installed.
- While in the US for two weeks in February, I sent 14 boxes of possessions via USPS and all of them arrived unopened and without customs fees, albeit much later than expected.
- My much anticipated bed was delivered a month late in early March. On the other hand, I think it is the best bed that I have owned.
- At the end of March Stephen and Carlos dismantled the shed that was on the terraza in just a couple of hours, revealing a great view of the marina and the Mediterranean.
- Most of my piso was painted in April, again with the help of Stephen and Carlos. I finally finished the trim in the salón-comedor in September.
- Furniture slowly arrived during March, April, and May. But it wasn’t until September that my armario was delivered and I no longer had to use a resin chair to pile a bunch of my clothes.
- In June I secured Spanish health insurance from Adeslas at about one-third the cost of my COBRA. And with better coverage and lower co-pay as well.
- Back in the US for a month in June and July I submitted my application for a permanent resident visa as a retired person on July 12th at the Consulado General de España en San Francisco. Five months later and I am still waiting for the visa to be approved.
- ADSL was installed in August and it has been very reliable.
- In September I was elated to find that my Canadian oil stocks had done very well over the past 18 months. Also determined that I could probably subsist on 24.000 € a year, much less than in the Bay Area.
- During November I returned to the Bay Area and visited with my children.
Recently I have been coasting waiting for my residency visa to be approved and for the post-holidays rebajas to start. So what do I have left to do?
- After securing my visa, I will obtain my tarjeta de residencia and NIF, which will make things a little easier here and allow me to travel without any worries.
- Select and install lighting fixtures in the salón-comedor. I already have decided on two of the three that I need.
- Turn my terraza into a rooftop garden with lots of citrus and other sub-tropical plants.
So I have my work cut out for me the next few months and then I can start traveling more here in Europe. There are a lot places here in Spain that I still haven’t been too. Even here in Catalunya.
I just finished reading your entire LiveJournal about moving to Spain.
I found it very interesting and enjoyed it very much.
Hugs from Denver.
Wednesday, 21 Dec 05 | 05:21 (UTC)
Glad you enjoyed it!
I am glad you enjoyed it. Let me know when you are coming out for a visit! I would be happy to show you around town and you will have a place to stay.
You have accomplished much in the course of a year. Congratulations!
And thank you once again for your wonderful hospitality and care during my visit.
Wednesday, 21 Dec 05 | 05:19 (UTC)
You're welcome double_ohsteven
! See if you can't drag fuzzygruff
along with you the next time you come back. You're both welcome to stay here.
Wednesday, 21 Dec 05 | 14:28 (UTC)
Re: You're welcome!
You don't know me but I've been reading you for a while. Mainly because I am a curious person, and like to see what the people living near Barcelona does! :p
I always wondered something? Why did you move from the us to spain? I think right now most of the people would preffer to do the other way around (spain to the us!).
Thursday, 22 Dec 05 | 15:29 (UTC)
Why did you move from the US to Spain?
Almost all the Spanish people that I meet ask me that question. So I will give you my reasons.
First, I want to say that the only reason that I can see why a person would want to move to the US es para ganar mucho dinero.
In my case, I am retired. So one of my goals is to conserve my retirement savings. And it is cheaper to live here in Catalunya than it is in California. You can read my blog entries for cost comparisons between Barcelona and San Francisco and see how much cheaper it is here. One example is that I don’t need a car here since public transit is affordable and convenient.
Another reason for moving to Spain is for my social life. When you retire you no longer have daily contact with fellow workers (compañeros). And you also have much more leisure time (tiempo libre). I found that in San Francisco I had become “invisible” and it was very difficult to meet new people and to make friends. I had talked to a number of other “maduros” there and they experience the same thing.
I find it much easier here to meet people even though I am an extranjero. When I go out, there are always people that I know and can “hang out” (socializar) with.
Another reason that I chose Spain is el ritmo de la vida española. When you retire, life slows down. The pace of life here is more suitable than the US, which is all go, go, go!
I first traveled to Spain in the spring of 2001 and fell in love with the country and its people. After that first trip I decided that I wanted to retire here. For four years I traveled to Spain twice a year, each time visiting different parts of the country, looking for a place to retire. I decided on Barcelona because of the weather and because of its social and cultural offerings. I also like to live next to water, and here in El Masnou I live by the Mediterranean Sea.
Nice to read you've accomplished that much. I'm just sorry that some things take so much time but as someday we spoke, services are the only real bad thing in Catalonia.
What I'm puzzled is that you get more money with retirement than I do working even with my expenses abroad... My salary is 23k (and then I get the taxes substracted)...
BTW, remember that I'm home during the weekends and if you need me for anything just ask... I might be a bit fuzzy but there's nothing like a good phonecall to make me go straight
Wednesday, 21 Dec 05 | 17:51 (UTC)
In the past the decision for my visa would have been made in Madrid, but now it is the C. A. that decides. And apparently Catalunya takes a long time.
My pension from Social Security hasn't started yet and I am living off money that I have saved for retirement. Social Security will be about $17,304 USD (14.600 €) a year if I start to collect it when I turn 62 next year. So I would need to supplement that with another 10.000 € of my own savings in order to meet that 24.000 € budget. There is no way I could live on that amount of money where I did in the Bay Area, the expenses are too high there. My personal investments have increased recently at a rate greater than what I need in order to live here.
You might only be a bit fuzzy (mareado?), but I think that it would take a lot more than a good phone-call to make you go straight!
Wednesday, 21 Dec 05 | 18:51 (UTC)
I translated "liado" (occupied, random) as fuzzy
Thursday, 22 Dec 05 | 05:28 (UTC)
For Americans fuzzy means "unclear" or "out of focus" (like a photo). For me liado means "busy" or "tied up".
Thursday, 22 Dec 05 | 10:08 (UTC)
Hum... But in the end my busy-ness (pardon the pun) is more fuzzy than a real business