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2004, Year of Changes - Chuck Fisher's LiveJournal [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
From Bay Area to Barcelona

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2004, Year of Changes [ Thursday, 01 Jan 04 | 00:00 ]
[My Mood |awakeawake]

The year started out smoothly enough and in April I took a two-week vacation in Spain, visiting Mallorca, Valencia, and Barcelona. While I was on vacation, Sun announced a layoff. And a month later on May 18th, I was “RIF’ed”. This came as somewhat of a surprise.

Ever since the “dot com bubble” burst in 2000, I had been on a plan to pay off my mortgage and save for retirement. I was planning on working until I turned 62, but truthfully I had thought many times recently “I wish I could retire now.” I wanted to be able to enjoy life for a few years, before I was too old to do so. Finding out that I have enough money to retire has brought me a sense of relief. Since May, I have talked to many other retirees and they all advised me to retire, if I could. So, I’m doing it!

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 there. For the past four years I have traveled to Spain twice a year, each time visiting different parts of the country, looking for a place to retire.

I had been leaning towards the north coast because it is much than the rest of Spain. Cooler and wetter. But after researching the climate of a number of Spanish cities, I decided on Barcelona. The summer is about as warm as San José, but the rest of the year it is more like Richmond. Rainfall is about 24” (600mm) a year, the same as Richmond.

The Mediterranean is much warmer than the Pacific and this makes for warmer evenings than California. And it’s humid during the summer, but I think I can cope. And I’ve already checked out swimming in the Sea, it’s about 80° F (26° C) in the summer.

Another reason for choosing Barcelona is because, well, it’s Barcelona! The city itself is about 2 million inhabitants and the greater metropolitan area is about 4.5 million. There are a great many cultural activities, an important factor to consider when you’re retired.

I don’t really like the hustle and bustle of a large city, but prefer to be close by where it is a little more tranquilo. The coastal area just northeast of Barcelona reminds me a lot of California: a long sandy beach leading up to 1500-foot high hills. This zone is called El Maresme and it is well connected with Barcelona with commuter trains and a freeway. I decided on the town of El Masnou, about 12 miles (18 km) from the center of Barcelona. I have already checked out the real estate and plan to buy a piso (flat) within a few weeks of arriving.