Since moving to Spain three years ago, the two questions we receive more than any other are: “How did you do it?” and “How do you continue to make it work?”
The short answer: We winged it. In reality, we probably should’ve planned a little more than we did. But instead we bought two plane tickets to Valencia, rented an apartment for a few weeks, and packed as much of our stuff as possible into four massive suitcases. That being said, we did have one, super helpful advantage that most people don’t… citizenship within the EU (Megan did, at least). But getting a visa and residency in Spain is completely its own blog, which we’ll save for another day. (However, we do know a big handful of other American expats who are happily and legally living in Spain without citizenship, so it's absolutely possible!).
The long answer: After traveling for 9 months in 2015, we were (and continue to be) dedicated to the goal of living a different kind of life. We moved to Spain to create a life focused on having more time together, the opportunity to explore new places, experience new cultures, and to grow our business to the point where we would become completely independent, working only for ourselves. Over the last few years, we've made a number of calculated decisions in support of this goal (one that could not have been achieved had we stayed in the U.S.), but ultimately, Spain's low cost of living and social benefits have been invaluable for us in creating the kind of life that we ultimately want to live.
It probably goes without saying that the cost of living in Spain is less than in the U.S., (and it’s really a lot less than in San Francisco and Maui!). That being said, job opportunities are pretty limited as well, especially without fluent Spanish skills. We knew this going in, and originally moved to Valencia with the plan to teach English for a year or two as we continued to grow Cohica (which thankfully, is pretty much how everything has worked out). Once we established residency and had permission to work, we both easily found teaching gigs, which are generally quite prevalent in decent sized cities like Valencia. These jobs don’t pay a lot, and for a few long months Megan found herself corralling kiddos and dreaming of the salary left behind. But being on the payroll of an English Academy (even part-time), allowed us to pay into Social Security and take advantage of healthcare and other benefits us Americans often only expect to receive with a full-time, salaried gig.
As Cohica continued to grow, we quickly found that the best way to live here, in our opinion, is to simultaneously earn an income in the U.S. while supplementing our earnings with super part-time local work to take advantage of social benefits. This combo has worked well for us over the past three years, but with the growth of Cohica, we’ve recently made the decision to both work on our business full time - one more step in the direction of achieving our goal.
Our life in Valencia isn’t extravagant, but it’s also pretty amazing in a lot of ways. We do our shopping at a century-old market just blocks from our flat, meet our friends at street-side cafes for a beer or glass of wine, explore one of the many nearby museums and cultural centers on the weekends, and head to the beach all the time during the summer. We travel a lot, but utilize our flexible schedule to score inexpensive airfare, manage our credit card points, and take advantage of shoulder season pricing in popular destinations. All in all, we do almost all of the things we want while also being smart about our money.
So what does it really cost to live in Spain?
While the answer is certainly different for everyone, here is the breakdown of our monthly costs, along with some typical prices for everyday goods, costs to travel, and other common items:
Overall, we estimate that as a couple, we spend approximately half of what we spent when we lived and worked in the U.S. (per month, not including travel).
Moving to Spain was a bit of a leap. But the truth is, that the low cost of living and the social benefits have been key to our success in growing our business. Ultimately, lower costs equal less pressure and less stress, which for us, has resulted in the kind of fulfilling, fun and happy life we want to live.
If there are any specific items you'd like to know the cost of here in Spain or if you have any other questions about living here, just drop us a line in the comments section below and we'll get back to you as soon as we can!
If you’re interested in what it’s like to live in Spain, come and see for yourself! Check out our Live Like an Expat in Valencia Designed Trip.
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