Monday, September 5, 2011

Good and bad reasons to move to Europe

I’ve got a fair number of Americans who ask me: “Hey, I’ve been thinking of moving to Barcelona because I really like European culture, watched that Woody Allen movie, love sangria etc”. Most likely these people, if they do move, will last about one or two years before moving back in disgust.


The reason is that Spain is designed for Spaniards (and Catalunya for Catalans), ie people with family and connections to where they live. Most people would not even consider moving to the next town in order to take a higher paying job (or a job at all). Friends tend to be for life and making new friends is a long and painful process…

In addition, if you have kids, it is almost impossible to juggle work and kids unless:

  1. You make a lot of money and can afford a full time nanny (or your partner doesn’t work)
  2. You have a lot of money and don’t need income
  3. You have family here (especially grandparents) that can take over

Remember that jobs here pay very little (I know doctors making 2500 euros a month), so most couples need to work full time.

Also, having a sick kids isn’t considered a valid excuse to miss work and working from home is not really done in Spain. (The perception is that most people would just goof off). Your kids will get sick here more often since parents will send their kids to school unless they are actually in need to emergency medical care.

One other thing to think about is that if you move here and the relationship doesn’t work out, you could be stuck in Spain for long time if you want to see you kids grow up. I know a person in that situation and it’s very sad to watch…

So basically: move to Europe if some is willing to pay you a lot of money or you have family you can rely on. Otherwise, stay in America. Or just come for vacation.



Pueblo girl said...

Do you regret your move?

santcugat said...

I regret it sometimes, but at this point we've paid most of the price of moving (which was much more than we thought).

ChrisP said...

Has it really been hard making friends? Do you know any families that are homeschooling? (Secular homeschoolers here, kid plays tennis) I've just started reading your blog, but now I'm thinking I'll just start at the beginning and work my forward. We live in Costa Rica at the moment and I lived in Barcelona in my twenties, my husband lived there as a kid. We are dying to leave CR and are thinking of a move to Barcelona.

santcugat said...

I met an American woman at the market the other day that homeschools. There seems to be a pretty devoted group of people here that are into that (and they don't strike me as religious).

The hard parts about making friends in this area are that 1) expats don't seem to last more than two years on average, so it's almost wasted effort 2) the locals are very private and have a lack of curiosity that makes it hard to keep a conversation going.

ChrisP said...

Yikes, that sounds a lot like here. We've just cycled out of the last group of friends and we're in a period of only New Age wackos.

santcugat said...

The good thing about Spanish families is that if you meet a foreigner who is married to a Spaniard and has kids, the odds of them ever leaving is zero.

This new strategy has worked pretty well for us.