Living Abroad for a Year as a Family: How We Moved to Spain

My husband and I had always dreamed of living abroad for a year as a family. In fact, we’d talked about it before our first child was even born. And yet, this notion to move our kids to a foreign country had never really coalesced beyond the idea stage. Notably, we hadn’t even thought about what country to stage our dream of living abroad for a year. And even when we did hone in on Spain, we still had no idea where within that beautiful nation we should make our home for the year.

Life had us on the go with two active boys. As such, it wasn’t until they were 8 and 12 that we finally got them to Europe. All of sudden, it hit us. We’d all but forgotten that dream of living abroad for a year as a family. One afternoon, as the boys kicked a soccer ball around a plaza in Barcelona’s El Born, we realized we needed to act now, or our dream of living together as a family in a foreign country might never happen.

My husband turned to me and said, “Let’s do it. Let’s move to Spain for a year. As soon as possible.” We raised our glasses together with a little clink, and the deal was sealed.

Then came the questions. Lots of them.

Living Abroad for a Year How to Move to Spain

Living Abroad for a Year — Exactly How Do We Go About That?

That initial “Whew-hoo!!! We’re moving to Spain for a year!!!” quickly segued to “Hmmmm… there’s a lot of stuff we need to figure out to move to Spain for a year…” to “OH. MY. GOD. Will someone please just tell me WHAT we need to do to go live in Spain for a year???!!!”

Several months of googling every keyword combination I could think of had yielded little in terms of actionable results.

Living abroad for a Year. How to move to Spain for a Year. How to move your family to another country. Where can I buy Spanish health insurance. What is education like in Spain. Best places to live in Spain as a family.

I wanted tangible, step by step directions. Even better, an all in one instruction manual. Certainly, there must be some road map to tell us how to move to Spain for a year?

After several weeks of random searching, I’d finally learned that we would be facing a formidable and somewhat costly undertaking to even apply for what we now knew was called the Spanish Non Lucrative Visa. Further, we had no clear sense of whether we’d be granted one.  

In this expat story, I share our journey as we researched how to move to Spain as an American family. To begin with, I talk about our difficulties figuring out how to apply for the Spain Non Lucrative Visa. I then share our rather circuitous path to find the best place for us to live in Spain, where to send our children to school, and finally, some unexpected discoveries about languages spoken in Spain.

Advice for Expats Moving to Spain

In the end, our struggles to move to Spain for a year became the inspiration for this website. As a result, I now apply that same determination to move my own family to Spain to help other people find their way to living abroad for a year. After all, sometimes the best wins are gained from other people’s mistakes.

Read more of our move to Spain story here.