It seems like I blinked and suddenly summer was over. After a whirlwind few months of travel, I’m settling back into the rhythms of normal life, only to realize that my three-year Spaniversary is staring me in the face: September 16.
I can’t believe it’s been nearly three years since I moved here. Around this time of year, I always find myself reflecting on my transition to living abroad: both the pleasant surprises as well as things I would have done differently. As for the latter, there are quite a few. More specifically, there’s one book that I definitely wish I would have read before packing my life into a 50-pound suitcase and heading off to live in a country I’d never set foot in: Moving to Spain: A Comprehensive Guide to Your First Weeks Teaching English in Iberia.
American expats Cat Gaa and Hayley Salvo, who have each called Spain home for more than a decade, are the masterminds behind COMO Consulting, a relocation assistance service specializing in helping non-EU citizens navigate their move to Spain. They’ve since consolidated their knowledge into one handy 135-page eBook, Moving to Spain, that will walk you through every step of the move.
While geared towards potential participants in one of the many language assistant programs available in Spain, much of the advice offered in the book rings true for anyone looking to make the jump into living here. With relatable personal anecdotes and useful Spanish vocabulary sprinkled throughout, they explain everything from how to get a working phone, to setting up a bank account, to Spanish cultural nuances and everything in between. Some of the topics might sound quite technical (and they are), but Cat and Hayley describe everything in a straightforward, easy-to-understand manner that feels like your longtime expat friend is explaining the process to you over cañas.
The book is organized in chronological order, starting with packing tips and accompanying you through every step of the way on your journey to Spain: legal paperwork, the apartment hunt, phones and internet, banking, healthcare, getting around, Spanish schools, teaching private lessons, and Spanish culture. Their step-by-step instructions for some of the more intimidating processes even include screenshots from housing websites, phone companies and more that walk you through, say, finding a place to rent or ordering a prepaid SIM card. (Especially helpful for those of us visual people! *raises hand*)
I genuinely wish I would have read this book before moving to Spain. It would have answered so many questions I had early on, and made certain processes much less complicated than I made them. (Even after being here three years, I still learned some new things from the book!) I can’t imagine how much easier things would have been if I’d had this valuable information from the get go.
As the next group of language assistants, teachers and expats arrive in Spain over the next few weeks, it’s hard not to think about how I was in their shoes just a few short years ago. So much has changed in that time (as my mom will remind anyone, this Spain thing was only supposed to be for one school year!) and I wouldn’t change the experience I’ve had for anything. However, I would go back in time and download Moving to Spain onto fresh-out-of-college me’s phone. The expert advice from Cat and Hayley themselves, along with the other trustworthy sources they consulted, is well worth it.
Are you one of those aforementioned future expats about to arrive in Spain? What are you waiting for? Click here to get the book from COMO Spain!
Thanks to Cat and Hayley from COMO Consulting for providing me with a copy of Moving to Spain. All opinions expressed are my own.
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