Our Gap Year in Madrid: Moving to Spain

Time has been flying! Sometimes I sit back and let all of the change that we’ve been through in the last three weeks flood over me as we settle here in Madrid. In three weeks, our family of four has prepped to rent out our home, completed the visa process, enrolled in an international school online, moved to a different country, stepped away from a career, left our family and friends, recovered from unexpected trauma with our dog and began a new job. It’s a whirlwind!

Prepping to move to Spain was actually quite easy and natural for us. Over the past six years or so of intense international travel, our crew has been able to learn to pack minimally, wake early for flights and travel well. We spent the short time that we had between our summer stay in Tenerife and the end of September preparing our home to be rented and also our hearts for the big move. We were commissioned by our church and had amazing friends rallying behind us. Grammy and Pop spent a long week with us as we enjoyed some of the last sites of South Carolina for now including a visit to the gorgeous nearby lake. We were so grateful to find the sweetest renters and that part of the story has been seamless! They are a great fit for moving into our home, so we’re so glad to have found them. We enjoyed spending time with school friends in South Carolina before the move and even attending some home football games. Our sweet next door farm neighbors had us over the night before our move to pray over us prior and it was such gift. Other parts of the story, though, were a little more rocky than we would have expected.

The visa process was tough. For three straight weeks, it was emotionally and physically draining and I learned quickly how hard it was going to be to complete paperwork via a different country’s standards. We were told it could take six months to receive our visas, so we were shocked when our phones texted that they were available for pickup in Miami – just three weeks after paper collection for them began and only ten days after submission of the documents!

In the meantime, we made a quick trip back to Florida for Logan to close his fifteen-year IT career. We could go on for hours about this decision and why it was the right time, but it still carried lots of emotions to say goodbye to what he knew for so long. We are so grateful that Logan specifically had the last three years of remote work with his company which helped us all realize that a digital nomad life was what we desired for our family vs. being tied to an actual building. We were able to squeeze in some online learning, a visit to our besties the Wesleys and a family dinner in Florida, too.

When we heard visas were ready for pickup, we quickly packed up our items to move to Madrid and left to head to NJ with our dog in tow earlier than expected. We were able to fit all of our family’s items into 4 large suitcases along with our backpacks, so we were really excited by that. It was absolute chaos closing up our house and hitting the road with our dog, but before we knew it we were spending the night in the suburbs of Baltimore, Maryland preparing to rehome our dog with my sister in NJ for our gap year.

We had a great time with our family, having early Christmas with Grammy and Pop and getting quality time with siblings and cousins. The day before we were set to head on a one-way plane trip to Madrid, everything changed. Our dog, who is aggressive with other dogs because he plays too hard and has other silly traits like pulling us when he is walked did something he has never done before: bit my sister’s dog. It was absolutely crazy getting their dog to an emergency vet on a Sunday and ensuring she was okay and realizing we needed a last-minute plan for our dog as he could not be in a home with another dog.

After a tumultuous and emotional twenty-four hours, we found a match for our dog back in Greenville, South Carolina: a mom with a young child looking to earn extra income through dog-sitting who attends our church. The mutual friend of a friend there shared our urgent need and we were so blessed to meet her! We keep in contact through the week and she and her young daughter are enjoying having Warrior there. She is the biggest blessing to us!

Logan and I joke that the two things we said we’d never do are work together (because I’m too intense – ha) and work with kids. So it was ironic to begin our first day serving in our gap year at the boys’ Christian school in Madrid, together. Logan is setting up their IT program and I am running their social media and helping with marketing. It’s been such a dream to me to live abroad with my family and a desire of Logan’s to work in ministry, so it’s so sweet how the Lord orchestrated this together for this season for us. In addition, in the craziest of timing, I was given an unexpected paid job contract to be a ghostwriter for a popular online travel blog resource in Spain where I write articles under a different pseudonym about Spain. This extra income helps us in an off-season for Logan and it’s something that I really enjoy. I keep joking that I went from no jobs for over a decade to two!

Our flights to Madrid went smoothly and we were greeted by the staff at our new sweet international Christian school. The boys really enjoy the school and we love learning more about it while serving there. It was the hardest thing to land housing from afar for long-term for Madrid, so we chose to spend our first week in an Airbnb a bit away from the city in Manzanares El Real. This mountain town was gorgeous and we squeezed into a tiny apartment in the center of the square there. We also in our first week joined an American baseball team, got acquainted in their new apartment in Valdebebas and did their best to practice a new language.

My intention is to wrap-up each month of our gap year in Madrid with an overview like this sharing our favorites (and maybe least favorites!) in the month. We had four days well-spent in Madrid in September, getting thrown into our new culture and settling in our new country that we now call home.

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