Expert Expats: Part VII
Alan and Heidi and their two children, Lars and Anya, chronicle their life as expats in Spain as well as their European travels and more. They made the decision to declutter and uproot themselves by selling their house and car and quit their jobs to experience the world and allow the kids to think of the world as a smaller place and connect with others on so many levels.
Follow Heidi on Twitter: @WagonersAbroad and read her fascinating expert expat interview:
Why did you decide to move to Spain?
To live a simpler life and cultured life. We like to travel as much as we can.
What do you like most about your new home?
Life is simple, basic and full of life. It is all about the lifestyle, weather and people.
What did you find to be the most difficult thing about moving to a new country?
Of course the most difficult thing initially was missing family and friends, but that is quickly fixed with social media and email. We didn’t know many of the customs and it was a bit difficult to get used to things being closed during siesta time or on Sunday..
Do you speak Spanish?
Alan and I spoke enough Spanish to get by as tourists and the kids only knew the very basics, like counting and colors. I picked up Spanish from my travels in Mexico and Alan took a couple of years of Spanish in school. It is always an adjustment moving to a new location and having a basic understanding of the language is helpful, but at a minimum know your manners.
What do you miss most about your country of origin?
Where have you noticed stark cultural differences?
Dress, Punctuality, Traditions, Work Ethics, Social Situations, Just about everything is slightly different, but not in a bad way. People in Spain really work enough to live and enjoy life and family time. They dress ever so slightly differently, mainly tighter clothing.
Do you have a favorite website or blog about your country?
Of course our own blog is our favorite, Wagoners Abroad (http://wagonersabroad.com). We also like Spain Buddy.
What is your best tip for people moving to or visiting your country?
Just go with the flow and don’t try and bring your home and traditions here, instead embrace what you experience and return home with that.
Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
It is actually much lower here in Spain compared to our life outside of Raleigh North Carolina. Who knew it could be less expensive to live in Europe. Of course there are expensive options and we have paired down our life a bit, but it is all a matter of choices.
Have you run into any bureaucratic, insurance, tax or medical issues as an expat?
We haven’t had any problems in this area at all. Yes, things are bureaucratic and take longer, but being patient goes a long way.
What advice would you give expats to help them fit into their new community?
Try to establish your life in the new country by embracing new things. If you try and make your old life fit into a new place, you will be disappointed and unhappy. Allow the new habits, traditions and culture to infiltrate your new life. After a while you won’t miss the comfort foods from home as much, but they sure are a nice treat when you find them.
When and why did you start your blog?
We actually started blogging in 1997, when we were first married and started an expat life in London, England. In August 2012, we started our family expat life in Spain and began our Wagoners Abroad blog, to keep in touch with family and friends. It was also meant to be a journal for our family and help others jump through the expat hoops.
Thank you so much, Heidi for sharing your expat experiences with us!
Read all of our Expert Expat Interviews!