Hello! Welcome to my blog. I came up with the name of this blog when I started traveling a lot for work this past year and using the hashtag #wineandpassports on some of my Instagram posts. But the ultimate travel experience is yet to come.
(If you just want to get to the Visa requirements, scroll down)
Last December, I talked to a guy at Crossfit who was dropping into one of our classes. It turned out he was originally from Madrid. Talking to him reignited a dream I’ve had since my early 20’s to live in Spain for awhile and learn Spanish. I’ve toyed with the idea on and off (mostly off). I remember talking to my sister about the Crossfit guy a few days later (never saw him again, unfortunately) and telling her how I wanted move to Madrid and learn Spanish. Her response was “do it already, you’ve been talking about it forever”. A couple of months later I was on vacation in Singapore and met an Australian expat who had just moved to Singapore 2 weeks earlier on a 3 year contract. A friend of mine had moved to Europe a few months prior. Both of these things helped to fuel my inspiration. I started to realize my sister had a point. I should just do it. Even though I was about to turn 37 years old, I realized it is never too late to follow your dreams. Also, being where I am in life actually had some advantages such as accumulating a decent amount of work experience and skills and more importantly a savings account. Not to mention social media accounts for communicating with my family and friends!
I started seriously researching what it would take to move to Spain for awhile. I even asked my cousin who lives in Spain, who works at a university, if she could recommend any schools to study Spanish. At that point, once I started telling other people about my goal, it started becoming real. She convinced me to look at schools in Barcelona instead of Madrid, which made sense because I had her and other family there. Besides, I love the beach and being close to the ocean.
Now you may be thinking, what about working and money? Being a single working woman with no kids has allowed me to put some money aside. Taking a few months or a year off wasn’t going to kill me, but I’d for sure burn through that savings without a steady paycheck. I’ve read a lot of blogs on the subject of taking a sabbatical and traveling. It provided much needed inspiration. I read a story about a girl who took a one year sabbatical on about half the money I had saved. So if she could do it, there’s no reason I couldn’t as well. There was also the option of keeping my job and working remotely… that is if they agreed to it.
There are just a few other logistical pieces to sort out, which are not trivial tasks.
My current job is amazing. I have been there for 5 years and I love it. It’s been a phenomenal experience and I wouldn’t change it for anything. Working for a fast growing tech startup is fun, unpredictable, always changing and extremely rewarding. So taking some time off or trying to work part time/remote would be a big change.
I own my condo, so some choices would have to be made. I could sell it, rent it out, or leave it as is and let my roommate stay there which would be the easiest option, but not a smart move financially. I did give her a heads up several months ago that I was considering this move and would rent the place out. If I rented it out, I might not have a place to stay when I came back, depending on when that was.
All My S%$t
I’d have to decide and figure out what to take with me and what to leave behind/get rid of. As a sentimental Cancer with ever changing hobbies and slight hoarding tendencies this might prove to be difficult. My snowboard, my mountain bike, my yoga mat, my Vitamix…. all things that would most likely have to be put in storage or sold. I also have a cat but my sister has offered to take her for the time I am gone.
A visa is required for staying longer than 3 months and requires a lot of paperwork and planning. I’m lucky enough to live an hour from San Francisco which is where the local Spanish consulate is which I would be required to visit. I’ve read other blogs where whole families had to take a 2 hour flight to their nearest consulate so I consider myself lucky. I’m applying for the non-lucrative visa option which basically says that I’m going to Spain on my own dime and won’t be working for a Spanish company while I’m there. I could also apply for a student visa, but it would only be good for the dates that I was actually enrolled in a language school, and I wanted to have more flexibility than that.
This is a list of the documentation I will have to gather to submit with my application. I will also have to make an in-person appointment with the local consulate in SF at least 3 months in advance.
Updates highlighted below 1/13/17. Please also refer to the instructions from the SF consulate or from your local consulate.
- Application Form – The main application form for the Spanish residence visa, downloadable from consulate website.
- Notarized Document – I left this off the original post. I also needed a letter explaining why I am requesting this visa to go to Spain, the purpose, where I plan to stay, etc.
- Passport Photos – Two passport photos will need to be sent in with the application.
- Passport – I’ll need to provide my passport and I think they keep it during processing. Which means I won’t be able to travel internationally while my visa is getting approved.
- Residence Form – Separate application (EX-01), for Spain residence permit which is separate from the residence visa. Also downloadable from the consulate website.
- Medical Certificate – Medical certificate from a doctor stating I am in good health and don’t suffer any illnesses that would threaten public health. The certificate needs to be signed and on a doctor’s letterhead and needs to be issued in the current place of residence. It needs to specifically state “the patient has been examined and been found free of any contagious diseases according to the International Health Regulation 2005″. My doctor had no problem doing this.
- Criminal Record History – Criminal Record History from either my home state (California) or the FBI (if California didn’t issue background checks, but it looks like they do). This can take 30-60 days to process. Then, I will have to get the document legalized by something called the “Apostille of the Hague” stamp. This process can take another 1-2 weeks. And then, the final document has to be translated into Spanish. This was quicker than I thought, likely because I could go through the state and not the FBI. The next two blog posts cover this in more details.
- Health Insurance –Travel/health insurance which covers emergency medical expenses and repatriation services with minimum coverage of 30.000€. The blog I read used World Nomads so I will check them out. I did end up going with World Nomads which was accepted.
- Proof of Sufficient Funds – I will have to show my monthly income or savings account to prove I have enough money to live on in Spain. I showed the last 3 months of my savings account and my stock plan from work.
- Proof of Accommodation – A rental, lease or ownership agreement to prove I have a place to stay in Spain. Or a letter from my family saying I can stay with them. Oddly enough, this isn’t a requirement according to the San Francisco consulate, but is required at other consulates. However, I included it anyway just to be safe. Since I have family there, it was easy for me to ask for a letter from them inviting me to stay. My cousin also included a copy of her ID and a recent bill in her name. I have read on other blogs that an Airbnb or other type of reservation, even if not for the entire year, is acceptable as well.
- Visa Fee – Visa fee is $140, payable by cash or a money order.
- Authorization for residence M790 C052 – I also missed this the first time. This is another form downloadable from the consulate website. There is also an authorization fee associated with this. In my case it was $11, on top of the $140 visa fee. I brought $200 cash to my appointment (for both the visa and this fee) because I wasn’t sure how much this would be.
There were two additional steps that don’t apply to me:
- US Residency – If you’re a US resident but not a citizen, you have to prove your valid immigration into the US.
- Spouse/Family – If you have a spouse or family you will have to repeat the above steps for each of them.
My goal is to be in Spain by March 2017, so as you can see I have a lot to think about and get done in the coming months….