It’s been two years since we got off the plane, lugged our three giant suitcases to the curb of Valencia’s little airport and butchered the pronunciation of our AirBnB address to the cab driver. Two years since we searched for part time jobs, only to land a 4-week gig at an English summer camp earning less money than we did when we were 16, and yearning for the security that came with the salaries we left behind. Two years since we searched for an apartment and had three legitimately fall through before emptying our savings account to pay the entire year’s rent up-front because we didn’t have a Spanish job contract. Two years since we walked through the park every day making up songs to memorize basic Spanish verb conjugations in present tense, only to freeze in terror the moment someone spoke to us. And two years since we relished in the everyday excitement of life abroad - fully embracing the Spanish siesta, afternoons at the beach, warm late nights spent on streetside patios, and the beautiful and unapologetic focus on family and time together over money, status and things.
Our first year in Spain was a year of a thousand firsts, each day ending with a well deserved glass of Spanish wine after learning/experiencing/doing/trying something new. We had our first Spanish class, our first paella lunch, our first fallas, ran our first Spanish race, survived our first August shutdown, met our first (non-Spanish, but still) friends, and landed our first paying travel client, leading us to think “maybe we can actually do this long-term?”
We constantly evaluated the ups and downs of expat living, the many, many things we missed about the U.S., and the many, many things we loved about our new life in Spain. We both started part-time jobs, Ryan teaching English to business professionals at offices around the city and Megan working in PR for a short-lived Danish startup, giving us a bit of financial security until Cohica settled into a full time business. And we figured more things out - how to navigate the city outside of our little barrio, how to get residency for Ryan, how to score the cheapest RyanAir tickets so we could travel without debt, and how to throw Cinco De Mayo parties and Friendsgiving dinners. There were everyday frustrations and moments that were flat out infuriating, but we ended year 1 feeling less like we were on some bizarre 30-something study abroad program and more like we actually lived here.
Now, two years in and we still don’t have it all figured out. We (Megan moreso) get weirdly sweaty during Spanish conversations that include more than one tense. Just the other day, we accidently bought two different bottles of conditioner and no shampoo. But the major difference is that now, after two long years, we really feel at home in Spain. We love our apartment (the “winner” in our House Hunters International episode, which does have a rooftop terrace, btw). We have a somewhat steady income from a combination of Ryan teaching and a solid stream of Cohica clients. We have a group of awesome friends from all over the globe to hang out with and a sweet little 8-month old puppy to keep us on our toes.
Now that we’re no longer treading water, we can actually look forward into the future and we’re carefully considering what kind of life, work and balance we want long-term. Our dream is to be 100% supported by our own business(es), and eventually, have the freedom to live in a different country or travel for a portion of each year. We’re determining what we need to do to get there and are strongly considering starting a second business based in Spain to integrate into the community, improve our Spanish skills and (hopefully) solely support ourselves. More on that coming soon, but it may involve a little smoothie and health food cafe in a centuries old building. We shall see….
In the meantime, we’re happily celebrating our second anniversary living in Spain and are very excited to see what year three will bring!
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