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.
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.
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.