how did we get here
And suddenly you know; it's time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings (Eckhart)
As perhaps with all major life changes, a chance set of unexpected circumstances landed me and my partner, Jay, in Spain. At some point I might figure out how to make an N with a tilde accent in Blogger, but for how ... the first taste of life espanol (you'll just have to imagine the tilde over the N) came with annual holidays to one or other of the Canary Islands. We tried a few different countries, but kept coming back to the beautiful language, wonderful people, exquisite villages and, of course, superb climate.
In the mid-2000s, in a difficult period in my life, I was lucky enough to spend a week in Las Alpujarras, the Sierra Nevada National Park in the Andalucia region of southern Spain, with a very good friend. I promptly fell in love with the mountains and came away feeling healed. I also came away with a longing to live among mountains, and south west England just couldn't scratch that itch. It could have been worse - I might have been living in Somerset instead of within spitting distance of Dartmoor. But it didn't compare to the breathtaking majesty and permanence of towering rugged peaks. And of course, then there was the weather. Jay & I returned to Las Alpujarras several years later and while I still felt a strong connection to the area, we agreed it was just a bit too remote for us for more than a holiday. But this photo shows an average view from the roadside in Las Alpujarras. I think we can agree it's a degree or two better than the average roadside view.
And this one is the blissed-out happy faces of people enjoying lots of great weather. And possibly wine. Did I mention the Spanish wine is second to none? It turns out I am partial to a glass or two of vino tinto.
Like many sun-starved middle-aged Brits, we had a vague notion that one day we might retire to mainland Spain and join the legions of expats living it up on the Costa del something-or-other. Don't get me wrong, we had no desire to actually be one of those particular legions, but we did crave the good weather that was only a 2-hours-and-a-bit-flight from Exeter airport. And we figured there must surely be some Spanish people somewhere who wouldn't object to us slipping unobtrusively into their midst, right?
A chance stay at an Air BnB apartment with a property magazine on its table opened our eyes to the possibilities of living in France. We pored over and over that magazine, amazed at what we could buy there for the value of our fairly poky 3-bed semi-detached house in Devon. At that moment we started to consider what life might be like outside of the UK and so my new obsession hobby was born; rarely an evening passed that didn't see me up to the gills in Spanish property websites. That's right, once I got online it didn't take me long to make that little leap southwards over the Pyrenees from France to Spain and the warmer, dryer, more affordable weather.
At this point, living in Spain was still very much a one-day-when-we're-old-and-grey (ok, grey-er) plan. But then, to our eternal shock (and horror), on 23 June 2016 the UK voted to leave the EU. With that, we could see our plans of easy and regular transfers between Devon & southern Spain disappearing overnight. Through the 2-year exit period and the various extensions thereafter, we patiently hoped and waited for Brexit to somehow go away. Finally, in 2020 it became clear it wasn't going to go away; there was only one thing to do - we had to do the going. So we kicked our plans into high gear with a view to making the move before the final Brexit guillotine fell at the end of December.
Cue a crazy year of saving money, figuring out how we would make a living once we were in Spain, trying to learn the language, researching property and visiting areas we might like to live, and planning how to make life in the sun palatable for our snow-loving dogs. As if that wasn't bad enough, we then had Covid-19 to contend with at the same time (but that's a whole different story). Suffice to say I spent much of my time in the UK in 2020 in self-imposed self-isolation, having just returned from one of many trips to Spain to sort out the bureaucracy of relocating.
The Spanish bureaucracy deserves a blog post all its own - at least. So for now, I will just say that by August 2020 we were renting a flat in Spain, getting our Devon house ready to put on the market, and not getting much sleep while we muddled our way through the endless pages of to-do lists.
If you would like to follow along on our moving adventures, bienvenido!