Wanderlust Living is a travel blog for those who love to journey the world and want to bring it home into their everyday lives. I'm just a girl trying to have a cup of coffee everywhere she can. Our family has moved to the bustling city of Barcelona, Spain, after living on the beach in Costa Rica for three years. Try to keep up!

Andrea Fellman of Wanderlust Living Travel Blog

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Moving to Spain, it’s not Rosé all day!

Moving to Spain, it’s not Rosé all day!

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Here I sit at my little bistro table on the balcony of my beautiful Barcelona apartment. I have my cute, aqua blue coffee mug next to me, I am enjoying the city sounds and the taxis and scooters whizzing by down Gran Via. Then the sun comes up over the buildings and hits me directly in the eyes and now I can’t see my damn computer screen.

The move to Spain has been a tough one, not going to lie. Which is odd, because we’ve already DONE THIS. We’ve moved abroad before, so moving to Spain should be no big deal. We’re clearly pros at this. Well here’s the thing, moving to Costa Rica was a walk in the park compared to moving to Spain. If you want to move abroad and have an easy transition, then I suggest heading down to Costa Rica, as I said before, it is literally expat family Summer camp over there. You’ll be having margarita’s and bonfires on the beach and one big happy family, instantly.

I knew that I should not compare our move to Spain with our move to Costa Rica. they are two completely different experiences. So why has the move to Spain been so difficult, I’ll explain, but I will have to compare it to Costa Rica, because that IS the context of where I am coming from and it’s important to note the differences of moving to two very different countries.

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The apartment hunt was ridiculous.

When we moved to Costa Rica we met with one friendly American realtor who showed us 9 houses in one week. We picked one and boom, three weeks later we were moving into a fully furnished house with a pool. The houses in Costa Rica are usually vacation rental homes, so they have everything you need from the spatulas to the bed sheets. We brought in our eight suitcases, unpacked and we were settled in our new home having cocktails by the pool by 3:00pm.

In Spain the realtors only show you their listings and you need to call all of them separately to be shown the apartments. We met 9 realtors and looked at 22 apartments and this took almost a month! We looked at both furnished and non-furnished apartments. We also did this apartment hunt in August, which was grueling because the entire country is on holiday and it was also painfully hot to be pounding the pavement.

I was not digging many of the furnished apartments. This time I wanted an unfurnished apartment and here is why: for the last three years we have been using other people’s stuff, and some of it not the greatest or most comfortable. Which is fine, but I felt like in order for Barcelona to feel like home, I’d like my own stuff again. I’d like my own comfortable pillow and bed sheets no one else has slept on. I also thought it would be fun to shop for some of these things and McKenna was also excited to decorate her new room!

Fast forward to furnishing an entire house from scratch in a foreign country. It is not that easy and not that fun. First of all, we have no idea how long we are staying, so buying expensive things might not be the best idea, but I also don’t want the house to look like the Ikea showroom. The big question is, the next place we move will we take all of this furniture and things with us or are we going to have to try to sell it all when we leave? (Lord help me)

Finding and deciding on furniture has become a full time job. I can’t just jump in my SUV and drive to all the stores and throw things in. This is the first time in my life I have lived without a car, so that is an adjustment as well. The delivery of quality items takes 6 -8 weeks but, um I need it yesterday. Then shopping for beds and buying ALL the bedding needed, plus all the pillows. I bought all the wrong size duvets because I got confused with the centimeters of the mattresses and had to schlep them back to the store to exchange them.

I must have made at least 30 trips to Zara Home, because I can’t seem to make a decision on what color to go with for our bedroom and I can only carry so much shit back to the apartment. I am sure the women working there think I’ve lost my mind, but really I think I am suffering from decision fatigue.

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Buying all the kitchen stuff was actually fun, I filled up two carts at El Corte Ingles (imagine if Target and Nordstrom had a baby – that is El Corte Ingles ladies and it is incredible!) I felt like I was a new bride picking out all her beautiful things for her wedding registry, except no one was gifting me my fancy blue toaster or my cute blue and white serving bowls, I had to pay for it all myself.

I did no shopping in Costa Rica for three years, so I feel a bit out of practice and it’s all starting to just get annoying. I just want it to be over. I want our house to be a home so we can move on and start enjoying Barcelona instead of hunting down chairs and rugs.

Our dryer was beeping at me for a week and would not dry the clothes. I had no idea that there is a large container on the side that fills up with water that you have to dump! The delivery man that installed our washer and dryer  told me something about emptying this, but I thought he said every 6 months! Clearly he must have said 6 washes.

Apparently my Spanish is not as good as I thought it was and there is a much bigger language barrier here than in Costa Rica. Which is why I am back at Spanish class twice a week.

I am on my third dining room table. This is a bit embarrassing, but not completely all my fault. The first one we ordered a custom size and they made the wrong size, and the style did not go with the house at all so he let me swap it out for a coffee table. The second table was suppose to be wood, but literally felt like plastic. The third one was finally delivered today and whether I love it or not, it’s staying. (I do like it)

I realize this turned into a rant about furnishing my beautiful Barcelona apartment (oh poor me) and these are clearly FIRST WORLD problems, but I want to start sharing some of these things with people because it’s important to know that moving abroad is not “Rosé all day!” I also think I need to start writing again, for my own sanity, getting out what is in my head could probably help me with this transition.

And hey, if I can help anyone with their dream of moving abroad by either warning or advising, then at least I’ve been helpful, but careful I might make you re-think it! There are obviously more reasons why this move has been more difficult than just finding and furnishing the apartment, but this post has been long enough!

I’ll dive into some other adjustments next time…but right now I have to go return some rugs. For real.

11 Comments

  • I LOVE that you’re sharing all of this and I will be following along. What an experience – albeit it at times super icky and stressful!! I’m sure you’ll hang in there and your house will be a home in not time!!

    • Thank you Jen! Things are starting to turn around and our house is becoming a home! We all sat around the table the other night and it felt good! We don’t have chairs for the dining table yet so two of us were on stools – but we’ll get there!

  • I really enjoyed this piece! I love your blog and have been following your adventures for about two months now. I found it while researching our own move to CR (lots of helpful info). Your fascination for your newly adopted city shines through and once these inconveniences are taken care of I’m sure there will be more rosé to come!

    • Thanks Debra! I love Barcelona, it is a fantastic city so I won’t let any of this take that away! Good luck on your move to Costa Rica, let me know if I can help at all. It is a magical place 🙂

    • Thanks! I actually would love the contact info for your CR realtor. We are heading down in Jan for a little recon – visiting schools and trying to decide where exactly in the Tamarindo area we want to be. We know the area a little from previous trips but have never had the need to consider housing before. Excited for the move but so much to do!

    • Randy Toltz is our realtor in Costa Rica 🙂 I believe he is with Coldwell Banker now. http://www.adjustyourlatitude.com/ Good luck with the move!

    • Muchas gracias!

  • […] HELLO. I just moved my entire family to another country, do you have any idea how crazy and stressful that is?  The kids do nothing to plan and prepare or pack for that matter. They just get to wake up in a beautiful new city, well rested and gleefully Snapchatting with all their friends. They don’t have to figure out how to get a bank account, a washer and dryer delivered or the internet installed. They get to sleep in, watch movies, go to brunch and eat pastries all day. (Moving to Spain it’s not Rosé all day!) […]

  • […] reading: Inma’s post: Reasons why it might be time to pack up and move. Andrea’s post: Moving to Spain – it’s not Rosé all day! My posts from last year: Nomadic lifestyle gone wrong: we went after global adventures and ended up […]

  • It’s the same in France about realtors only showing you their listings. There’s no centralized MLS or similar like there is in the US where you can work with one agent who then gets access to all the properties. And don’t even get me started with the bedding. I bought some weird long thing once by accident (like a double pillow roll) when all I wanted was a pillow case. Learned that vocab real quick hahah. I enjoyed reading about your experience and hope you’ve gotten settled!

    • Thanks Diane! We are a lot more settled now! Barcelona is really starting o feel like home now 🙂 I guess with any major move there is always some bumps in the road and a learning curve too. I hope life in France is treating you well!

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