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#42092 - 01/11/05 12:01 PM Permanent move?
lngarrison Offline
Member

Registered: 01/06/05
Posts: 72
Loc: Washington, DC
Would you follow your significant other, who you have a serious relationship with in the US and who is a Spaniard, to Spain when you do not have a job or are not enrolled in school before your permanent move to Spain? There is a possibility that there can be a future together, but that's not guaranteed.

Would you risk your financial and emotional security here in the US to move to Spain with your significant other?

Why? Or why not?

Your thoughts on this subject matter would be greatly appreciated!

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#42093 - 01/11/05 02:09 PM Re: Permanent move?
Meg Offline
Member

Registered: 04/08/02
Posts: 40
Loc: Madrid via Pennsylvania
Ingarrison,

Your decision will obviously be a very personal one, so I'm not going to suggest one thing or another but I will give you a few things to think about.

First of all, how serious is the relationship? Have you been together for a long time? Do you see yourself spending your life with this person? Personally, I think I would only consider a permanent move if there was a real commitment like engagment/marriage. But, other people may see it differently.

Another thing to think about is that if you aren't married and you move to Spain you'll be living here illegally (unless you have EU citizenship also). Living and working in Spain illegally is possible, but it may not be something that you want to do. Even if you are here legally the job market is tough in Spain, and you'll most certainly be making less money that you would be in the US--which is something else to think about.

Also, have you spent much time in Spain? Do you feel like you could live here? Before I moved here I had studied twice in Spain and visited several times. After these experiences I was totally in love with Spain and in my mind thought it was some kind of Utopia. Now that I'm living here I realize my ideas about Spain weren't all correct. It's one thing to study or visit Spain, but it's a totally different experience when you're actually living here. Living in a different country definitely has its ups and downs, and I think a lot of people just couldn't do it. You'll have to decide if you're one of the people who can adapt well to living abroad.

You can always give it a try for a few months and see how it goes because,of course, you'll never know what your experience in Spain could be like if you don't give it a try. Anyway, I don't know if this will help much, but these are some of the things that I would consider if I were in your shoes.

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#42094 - 01/11/05 03:26 PM Re: Permanent move?
Diana Offline
Member

Registered: 06/18/00
Posts: 516
Loc: Pennsylvania, USA
Meg's questions and comments are very wise. Think about them carefully!

I would not do it - based on my history of packing bags and changing countries of residence much too quickly, and also my marriage to a Spaniard. Instead of moving there, why not try visiting your significant other in Spain as much as possible? You can get an excellent idea of what life there would be like, what it's like to be with S.O.'s Spanish friends and family, if S.O. is somehow different when in Spain (it could happen). You yourself may be somehow different when in a foreign country, and you both would need to know it. It would be much less drastic than leaving everything and being a foreigner in a different country than your own. If things went sour in Spain and you lived there illegally and knew few others besides S.O. and company, it would be VERY difficult for you. After a few quality visits and some real heart-to-heart talks, you could consider it again.

Good luck!

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#42095 - 01/11/05 03:38 PM Re: Permanent move?
lngarrison Offline
Member

Registered: 01/06/05
Posts: 72
Loc: Washington, DC
Thanks for the comment! I lived in Cadiz for a few weeks then moved to Barcelona for a year. My SO and I meet out here in the US. We both live here in the US right now, my SO is thinking of moving back home permanently.

I've been back to Spain twice this year and my only hesitation to move permanently there is that although the Spaniards are lovely people in general, they are those who are still not use to extranjeros. (I am Asian-American and it was sometimes difficult to explain that 'yes, I am an American'...but then again I still have that experience living here in the US!)

You are right, we would be making less money, but the life style there is much more social, something we both agree is important in raising a family. We also both agree that it's not about the money we make, but how we live.

Are both of you Americans permanently living in Madrid? My neighbor from college coincidently married a Spaniard and is living and working in Barcelona, but got engaged before she moved and found a job while she was there, but she was almost guaranteed the job before moving to Spain. I think her case was a very special case!

If you married a Spanaird but decided to stay in the US, why did you?

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#42096 - 01/12/05 09:39 AM Re: Permanent move?
Diana Offline
Member

Registered: 06/18/00
Posts: 516
Loc: Pennsylvania, USA

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#42097 - 03/25/05 10:34 AM Re: Permanent move?
llewilli Offline
Member

Registered: 12/01/04
Posts: 46
Loc: Washington DC
I am so glad you posted this topic, as I am in the very same situation. It is more than difficult. I met my S.O. in Madrid in October of 2003. I was just there for a week vacation and had no prior history with Spain. We've done the long distance thing ever since -- I went there for 6 weeks and studied Spanish 6 hours a day, he came here for 3 months and "hung out." We make bi-monthly trips to see each other. I don't love Spain, he doesn't love the U.S. But we love each other. So what to do? I really struggle with the "can I give up my life and identity and move to another country" question all the time. I have a good, stable job - an attorney - I own my apartment, I have a good group of friends, and speak spanish like a 10 year old. He doesn't have a great job, doesn't own his apartment, has a great group of friends, and is fluent in english. So practically speaking, it seems more logical for him to move here. Except that I feel it kills a little part of him when he's here -- it takes away that part of him that is so Spanish, which is part of what I love about him. I know he'd move here for a few years, but he's got "spain on the brain," meaning we'd be moving back there at some point. And I worry about the isolation. I didn't see that many Americans when I was there (other than college students) and I can completely understand that even after learning the language you'd still feel like an outsider. But then I can see positives about life in spain as well -- all I have to do is pick up today's Washington Post and I am ready to flee the U.S. borders. Anyway, I've nothing constructive to say except that I share your situation and love to hear others experiences as well. I want to so badly to believe true love wins out -- but, maybe I'm a little old for such naivete! ;-) I will say that I had a friend who had lived all over the world and found living in Madrid difficult because she was Asian. She told me people really had a different and difficult reaction to her because of it.

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#42098 - 03/25/05 03:48 PM Re: Permanent move?
Chica Offline
Executive Member

Registered: 12/19/01
Posts: 821
Loc: Madrid
I am going to throw my two cents in here for what it's worth as I think my situation applies to both the concerns expressed by llewilli and lngarrison.

I am an American married to a Spaniard and moved here to Spain the day after our wedding (going on 4 years next month). I am also Asian-American (maybe Amerasian is the better term since I come from a mixed background) and have established my own business. At 37, I am no "spring chicken". I also left a very good paying job in the States to move here. So, you can see how I identify with each of you.

I never feel that I have to justify that "yes, I am American, despite the fact that I am not a blue-eyed blond. I also think that most Spaniards are cultured enough to understand that not all Americans are.

Was it easy? Is it easy? Life isn't easy, whether you are living in the States or in a foreign country. I have dealt with everything possible here...suing a former employer, health issues, starting a business... Would I have dealt with these things living in the States? Who knows?... Maybe yes, maybe no... that's what life is all about. What has been important for me is having a partner who has been with me every step of the way.

You both write that you have a S.O., as both Meg and Diana asked, how significant is your S.O.? Do you see yourselves sticking out through thick and thin? More than where you are living, what's important is the quality of your relationships.

That said, Meg wrote some wise words. Think long and hard about your decision to move here. Like her, I had spent a year studying here while I was in college. College life and vacationing here is nothing like living here on a day to day basis.

My spanish is fluent which has made my transition that much easier here. However, I know plenty of ex-pats here (American and otherwise) who are carving out a life for themselves and do not control the language (yet)... that comes with time. My husband was open to living in the States, but my level of Spanish and his non-level of English pretty much made the decision for us. We knew we loved each other and wanted to be together, regardless of where it would be.

For what it's worth, Asians aren't unknown here in Spain. There is quite a large and industrious Chinese community in my neighborhood (in Madrid). I wouldn't let your racial/cultural background hold you back. I would be more concerned about the stability of your relationships before whether or not you "look different". Be yourselves, be friendly and integrate and you will see how the community will welcome you with open arms. wink

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#42099 - 03/25/05 04:36 PM Re: Permanent move?
llewilli Offline
Member

Registered: 12/01/04
Posts: 46
Loc: Washington DC
Wow, very helpful and uplifting Chica. Really appreciate your two cents. Believe me I've thought long and hard about my S.O. and our relationship. I was married before to my college sweetheart and that ended in divorce - an amicable parting, but divorce nonetheless. Thus, I take no long term relationship decision lightly. That is partly the reason why I am analyzing the hell out of this decision before I make it....A few questions for you: where did you grow up/live in the states; were you fluent in spanish before you moved; how did you meet others in the american expat community; what neighborhood are you in, chamberi?; how did you come to have your own business -- did you have a background in business or did your husband; what did you do when you first arrived in Madrid: how often do you make it back to the states? Madrid would be my new home. And I actually really like Madrid and miss it sometimes. I've moved all over the U.S. so I don't feel necessarily tied to one place. But I am a social person, so good friends are a must. I was able to make friends easily - one scottish girl and one asian/american -- while studying at International House. But what I found is the people are only there for a while and they inevitably move. Anyway, I'm rambling and there is no structure to my post at this point. So I'll end for now. But I'd like to hear more, perhaps everything you have to tell, about your experience. Thanks.

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#42100 - 03/26/05 04:09 PM Re: Permanent move?
Chica Offline
Executive Member

Registered: 12/19/01
Posts: 821
Loc: Madrid
Hi llewilli. Glad to know you found my post helpful.

Without getting heavily personal, I was born and raised in the Philadelphia area. I had a fairly fluent level of Spanish when I moved here. I had a double major in college one of which was Spanish. I have met expats through many different activities, including a monthly women's dining group which I organize here in Madrid. I decided to start my own business because was frustrated by the very tight and difficult job market and the subtle discrimiation towards married women of child bearing age. wink In the States I had worked in sales/marketing/fundraising/event planning. I travel back to the States about once a year. Sometimes more, sometimes less.

I totally understand and respect your thoughts regarding a second marriage. And would never encourage anyone to rush into anything whether that be a marriage or an overseas move.

Meg brought up a really good point in her post and one that I fully agree with. Unless you have EU citizenship, living here with your S.O. will not make you a legal resident of Spain. So, while yes, it is possible to find a job, your employment opportunities will be very limited and you will always run the risk of being taken advantage of. Right now, Spain is going through a legalization process of the current illegal immigrants that have been here for the past year and can demonstrate employment and an employer willing to sponsor them. I think once this legalization period is over, things will become more difficult for the individuals residing in the country without the legal status. It's something that you should think about.

Just a few other suggestions to anyone else thinking about moving here. Don't do it without sufficient planning and saved funds. I recommend at least $8,000-10,000 saved that you can access while establishing yourself here. You don't know what roadblocks you will come up against, or how long it will take you to find gainful employment. Don't make the move here if you have excess personal debt whether that debt is a credit card or student loans. It's very very difficult to make enough money to support your life here independently as well as pay off your debts in the States.

Good luck with your decision!

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#42101 - 03/26/05 08:50 PM Re: Permanent move?
kelar419 Offline
Executive Member

Registered: 03/22/02
Posts: 542
Loc: Texas
Wow this has been an interesting thread for me to read. I see myself being in your shoes 2 years from now. Like many of you I studied in Spain twice and fell in love with the country. But my situation becomes all the more complicated because my current boyfriend of 2 years is from Mexico. We met when he was studying abroad at my home/usa university, and have been together ever since. Doing the long distance thing has been hard, but we both feel its worth it. We will be together again this coming year as we will both begin graduate school at the same University (USA) this fall. We got lucky it worked out! However, deep down I know that come 2 years from now, we will have a big decision to make. Deal with it when the time comes I suppose.
Good luck to everybody, its a tough situation!
kelly
_________________________
"Ojos que no ven, corazón que no siente."

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