Author Topic: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain  (Read 3642 times)

MrSnow

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Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« on: August 25, 2019, 03:15:53 AM »
Me and my family just moved abroad to the small Spanish island of Mallorca to start our new FIRE-based lives. We have already identified a large number of challenges and are interested in others with experiences from FIRE-based lives abroad, particularly in Spain. We have of course started a small blog to share our experiences as well, but we want to learn from other persons/familys experiences. We greatly appreciate any blogs, tips or experiences!
Cheers!

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2019, 03:26:53 AM »
PTF. This is my Dream.

terran

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2019, 12:14:58 PM »
Nice!

Would I be right that you're living there under the non-lucrative visa program? Anything about that process you'd like to tell us about?

Here's a writeup from another member of the community: https://frugalvagabond.com/get-non-lucrative-residence-visa-spain/

MrSnow

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2019, 12:39:01 PM »
PTF. This is my Dream.

It was ours as well for almost ten years... and now we are here! There are a lot of things to deal with, not the least Spanish bureaucracy which is something out of scary movie. Aside from that, its all that we could dream of so far... one month in. ;-)

What is your plan/dream exactly?

Ps. You can see our (so far) very thin blog at palmaonfire.com if you wish. Ds.

MrSnow

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2019, 12:43:25 PM »
Nice!

Would I be right that you're living there under the non-lucrative visa program? Anything about that process you'd like to tell us about?

Here's a writeup from another member of the community: https://frugalvagabond.com/get-non-lucrative-residence-visa-spain/

Sorry to disappoint you, we are actually Swedish so we are under the "freedom of movement" rights in the EU. We basically need to show that we can "take care of/fund ourselves". Then there are a huge bunch of messy things you need to do by the way of bureaucracy to get in place, but that's a different story than a VISA.

Thanks for the link though, I´ll read it through anyway!

Regards,
Mr Snow

terran

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2019, 12:56:37 PM »
Ah, lucky you!

I guess that link will have to suffice with us poor US citizens who are stuck with only one country to choose from. At least it's a big country with lots of options.

MrSnow

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2019, 01:06:46 PM »
Ah, lucky you!

I guess that link will have to suffice with us poor US citizens who are stuck with only one country to choose from. At least it's a big country with lots of options.

I realise after reading the link that you provided that it corresponds quite well to the necessary paper work we have to do as well! The only real difference is that we are more difficult to kick out of the country. ;-)
A typical spanish thing btw, the law is nice but its only something you follow when you feel like it. Ex. Spain is bound by EU legislation to accept documents without apostilles since Jan 2019 (they had 3 years to implement it before), but its not like the agencies here care. "Translate you docs or get lost" is one of the most common sentences i hear...

Thats what i love about the US, from a nature standpoint you pretty much have everything gathered on the same land mass! Not extremely necessary to travel that much away from that. Culture wise, its a different question though.

ItsALongStory

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2019, 02:13:58 PM »
Moving abroad when I quit my job is also our plan, it will probably be Portugal for us but a lot of the same stuff will apply. I'm a European citizen and my wife is an American so as the timeline draws nearer (max 3 years but i feel it'll be sooner) we will have to figure it out.

Excited to follow this thread as well as your blog!

FrugalZony

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2019, 07:43:07 PM »
We have been kicking around ideas about Spain and Portugal for further down the line as well. (Currently FIREd in North America)
We both have  the EU residency thing covered, so that's not an issue.

May I ask, how you are dealing with the tax side of living in Spain?
I know a lot depends on what kind of income classes you have, but last time I looked into this (and from what I heard from friends, who live in Spain most of the year, but try very hard to avoid becoming tax residents), it seemed the way typical Retiree income options are taxed makes Spain residency difficult.
I may not be up to date, it's been a while since I looked into it, but it sounded Portugal was a better choice for tax reasons.

We both speak Spanish though and if someone figured out a way to stay in Spain, I'd prefer that.
I'll go check your blog as well, but if you have any insight on that, I'd love to hear more.

imolina

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2019, 10:51:38 PM »
We are also contemplating the same idea. I am originally from Colombia so I speak Spanish and share many cultural aspects. However, I wonder if there are a lot of volunteer opportunities there or ways to spend your free time?

havregryn

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2019, 11:08:19 PM »
Hey Mr. Snow. Excited to follow your blog. Would you mind sharing your financials, i.e. expected spending, withdrawal rate etc, what is your stash made of, how you plan your taxes etc. Asking since there aren't that many European FIREees here and especially not with kids. So I am very curious to hear from someone who's already done it.
I often wonder how applicable the rules here are to us, as on the one hand, you most definitely need way less money in total, but it's also way harder to plan to pay little to no tax on anything that is remotely liveable.
We are also Swedish (well sorta, the rest of my family is, I wasn't born there but by now I qualify for a passport and the funny thing is that since we live in Luxembourg now, for us Sweden = cheap place to go retire to).

Zamboni

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2019, 02:53:14 AM »
Posting mostly to follow, and also because we have also talked about retiring to Spain.

Right now we both have US passports, but my other half is eligible for Italian citizenship, so we are working on that route towards EU passports. We both like Italy  and can imagine ourselves settling in northern Italy for a few years, but Spain or Portugal are the ultimate goal for us. We may end up slow traveling.

Thank you for starting this thread!

Rdy2Fire

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #12 on: August 26, 2019, 06:57:50 AM »
I'd be interested to learn more about Spain costs as well.. I haven't done much research yet; as an American I think the process is much more difficult to go anywhere in Europe.

Stashing Swiss-style

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #13 on: August 26, 2019, 07:02:26 AM »
PTF - thinking about Northern Spain (not quite as hot, and lots of water!)

MrSnow

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2019, 09:32:13 AM »
We have been kicking around ideas about Spain and Portugal for further down the line as well. (Currently FIREd in North America)
We both have  the EU residency thing covered, so that's not an issue.

May I ask, how you are dealing with the tax side of living in Spain?
I know a lot depends on what kind of income classes you have, but last time I looked into this (and from what I heard from friends, who live in Spain most of the year, but try very hard to avoid becoming tax residents), it seemed the way typical Retiree income options are taxed makes Spain residency difficult.
I may not be up to date, it's been a while since I looked into it, but it sounded Portugal was a better choice for tax reasons.

We both speak Spanish though and if someone figured out a way to stay in Spain, I'd prefer that.
I'll go check your blog as well, but if you have any insight on that, I'd love to hear more.

Short answer is, we haven't taxplanned fully yet. We entered spain in July and if we leave before the end of June next year we are not "resident" and applicable for taxes here. To avoid being taxed you need to stay less than 184 days per calendar year. This is our "trial year" and if everyone in the family wants to, we will stay.
Another important thing is that we are coming from Sweden, the black belt country of ridiculous taxes, so whatever happens it can only become better. ;-)

Yes, Portugal is as far as I know a lot better from a tax point of view. Spain has average taxes in the EU. I´d guess your pension would be taxed with 20-something percent, but i am no expert.

From an investment perspective there are several options that i know of, where one is that you open an "managed investment account(endowment insurance?)" in for example Luxemburg. These are excepted from tax in Spain. I´d recommend to talk to a financial advisor when planning how to handle your investments.

As your friends mentioned that avoid becoming "residents" is very very(!) common, but that entails a lot of "cheating" and is illegal. Its basically keeping yourself under the radar of the government and it works as the Spanish government is somewhat incapable of control. ;-) I know of a lot of Swedes who has been living here more than 10+ years without being "residents"...

I have planned (and to some extent started) to write some posts in the future on these subjects when i get a little more time. Its been quite hectic this first month! :-D

MrSnow

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #15 on: August 26, 2019, 09:37:03 AM »
We are also contemplating the same idea. I am originally from Colombia so I speak Spanish and share many cultural aspects. However, I wonder if there are a lot of volunteer opportunities there or ways to spend your free time?

Yes, there are lots of volunteering opportunities here! And spending time in Mallorca is sort of what the entire island is about. Or where you thinking about Spain in general?

A volunteering post on the blog is also planned but that we be sometime before christmas when we learned more. Got a friend here who is already involved in charity and volunteering.
 

MrSnow

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #16 on: August 26, 2019, 09:47:03 AM »
Hey Mr. Snow. Excited to follow your blog. Would you mind sharing your financials, i.e. expected spending, withdrawal rate etc, what is your stash made of, how you plan your taxes etc. Asking since there aren't that many European FIREees here and especially not with kids. So I am very curious to hear from someone who's already done it.
I often wonder how applicable the rules here are to us, as on the one hand, you most definitely need way less money in total, but it's also way harder to plan to pay little to no tax on anything that is remotely liveable.
We are also Swedish (well sorta, the rest of my family is, I wasn't born there but by now I qualify for a passport and the funny thing is that since we live in Luxembourg now, for us Sweden = cheap place to go retire to).

Hej Havregryn! I definitely will, i have drafts for posts on those subjects but haven't had the time to complete them because of administrative work and entertaining the children at the same time! I agree, we tend to need less money, but i think the Swedish "Kapitalförsäkring" is a really neat thing. There are international versions of those that you can use which are exempted from tax in Spain. Not the Swedish "Kapitalförsäkring" though bear in mind.

Luxemburg - high salaries, low taxes, good banking options. Sounds like a great place to build your stash. :-)

MrSnow

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #17 on: August 26, 2019, 09:55:34 AM »
PTF - thinking about Northern Spain (not quite as hot, and lots of water!)

Awesome place! We love northern Spain as well! The food is great and quite different from the south coast paella and tapas. Visiting crowded bars and eating Pintxos and drinking Txakoli all night works for me. Amazing hiking in "Picos de Europa", nice and friendly locals. Only got superlatives for that part of Spain. :-)

FIREing in San Sabastian is not a really frugal choice though, most expensive area in Spain.

Pennycounter

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #18 on: August 26, 2019, 11:11:24 AM »
Congrats on the move @MrSnow . We join the hordes who have also contemplated this move.  You mention children (I think), will they attend local schools?

MrSnow

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #19 on: August 26, 2019, 11:55:47 AM »
Congrats on the move @MrSnow . We join the hordes who have also contemplated this move.  You mention children (I think), will they attend local schools?

Thanks Pennycounter, so far all good!

We have planned this with a "backup" both from a family and financial point of view. The children will not attend spanish school during our "trial year". This was one of the things that we have been discussing for years, so it wasn't an easy choice. If we choose to stay after our "trial year" they will attend spanish school though. It felt a little rough (we are weak by heart) to force them into a new language and culture IF we only do this for one year.
From a frugal standpoint its also not advisable to continue this road, private schools cost approx 500€(600$)/child and month here . There are some interesting middle choices as well, but those are hard to get in too. I´ll develop that further in a planned blog post, as soon as i get some more time (basically when school starts in a week). :-)

BrightFIRE

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #20 on: August 30, 2019, 11:06:48 AM »
I occasionally check in on this blog https://wagonersabroad.com/blog/. They're an American family who moved to southern Spain for a year to give their children a chance to learn Spanish really well. They ended up loving it so much they stayed. Their most recent post is about passing their 7 year anniversary in Spain.

They aren't exactly FIREd, but they seem to have come up with hustles to pay the bills while living frugally. They make some money helping Americans go through all the paperwork and red tape to become residents, and they sometimes get sponsors to cover the costs of their vacations. I think they also set up a website for their town. They have shared their annual budget before to show people how to become expats. https://wagonersabroad.com/destinations/get-started-expat-living/

wbarnett

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #21 on: August 30, 2019, 02:04:39 PM »
Sounds fun. My impression is that Mallorca is expensive. How are you doing it cheaply? Or is it just less expensive than the place you currently live?

MrSnow

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #22 on: August 30, 2019, 03:26:01 PM »
I occasionally check in on this blog https://wagonersabroad.com/blog/. They're an American family who moved to southern Spain for a year to give their children a chance to learn Spanish really well. They ended up loving it so much they stayed. Their most recent post is about passing their 7 year anniversary in Spain.

They aren't exactly FIREd, but they seem to have come up with hustles to pay the bills while living frugally. They make some money helping Americans go through all the paperwork and red tape to become residents, and they sometimes get sponsors to cover the costs of their vacations. I think they also set up a website for their town. They have shared their annual budget before to show people how to become expats. https://wagonersabroad.com/destinations/get-started-expat-living/

Awesome, i am already on it! We're hoping for the "ended up staying" as well! Thank you so much for the tip! :-)

MrSnow

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #23 on: August 30, 2019, 03:39:50 PM »
Sounds fun. My impression is that Mallorca is expensive. How are you doing it cheaply? Or is it just less expensive than the place you currently live?

So far, extremely fun! "Normal" life starts next week after a long, but intensive, vacation here in Palma. Lets see in a month or two if we still are equally happy with our move. ;-)

Thats a really good question, and the best answer to that is both yes and no! For foreigners/tourists its ridiculously expensive (see https://palmaonfire.com/blog/2019/08/mi-casa-es-su-casa/) but there is a whole different story to living in Palma and Mallorca. Just consider the fact that the average salary here is, depending a little on the source, between 800-1200€/month after taxes. If you can survive and live on 800€/month then there is obviously a "hidden" world for the rest of us outsiders who can easily spend 4000€/month. This is something that we have the intention to investigate throughly, is it possible to live here on those types of local incomes and still live the life that we want? I believe so and that would make a frugal FIRE very comfortable here. I will document our experiences and progress on the blog. In less than a year we will know! :-D

Doubleh

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #24 on: August 30, 2019, 03:48:46 PM »
Hi MrSnow

We’re on a pretty similar path to you as we moved out to a Spanish island just over a year ago with our two girls and have recently started to feel settled. We’re in a slightly different place from you as we’re in the Canaries, but much of the cultural and legal situation will I”m sure be very similar.

One thing we have done the same as you is to start our girls in an English speaking school for the first year, which I think was the right decision. I guess this is always very individual, but certainly for our eldest I think the additional complication of a new language from the outset would have been a lot to deal with. We’re now just getting ready to start at our new school which is a Spanish language concertado (state supported but with more autonomy, and we pay a top up fee albeit much less than for a private school; maybe a little like a charter school for the American readers) very close to our house.

We were pretty wary about the disruption of changing schools again after just a year but so far touch wood it feels like the right move. The girls have picked up enough Spanish at the private school  to be able to at least get by - at ours pretty much all of the kids were Spanish whose parents want them to grow up bilingual, so there is still a lot of Spanish spoken in the playground. We just had a month of summer school at their new school, all in Spanish, and they had a great time. Of course starting full on school will be more difficult than that but fingers crossed they will adapt quickly. I guess age also plays a factor; our eldest is 6, while friends who moved with a 9 year old have found learning the language more of an adjustment.

I look forward to following your adventures and feel free to PM if you have any questions about how we have got on so far!

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #25 on: August 30, 2019, 04:12:06 PM »
Just consider the fact that the average salary here is, depending a little on the source, between 800-1200€/month after taxes. If you can survive and live on 800€/month then there is obviously a "hidden" world for the rest of us outsiders who can easily spend 4000€/month. This is something that we have the intention to investigate throughly, is it possible to live here on those types of local incomes and still live the life that we want? I believe so and that would make a frugal FIRE very comfortable here. I will document our experiences and progress on the blog. In less than a year we will know! :-D

The salary figures are similar here in Italy and the way most people make it work is by relying on family.  Family provides a free place to live (either living with parents or an inherited apartment), family provides vacation accommodation (a house in the ancestral village or a communal apartment near the beach), family looks after your kids, family provides food to some extent like olive oil or wine from the ancestral village.  Life is much more expensive when you don't get family help as in our case.

Telecaster

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #26 on: August 30, 2019, 04:38:32 PM »
I will document our experiences and progress on the blog. In less than a year we will know! :-D

Please do.  Looking forward to reading about it.   

Doubleh

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #27 on: August 30, 2019, 05:46:31 PM »
To the Americans who are daydreaming about this I think it is actually very doable. As British citizens we were able to move here under EU freedom of movement, but don’t know what terms we will be under post brexit. To get a feel for the worst case I researched what we would have to do to be able to live here as a non EU citizen such as an American, and there are few routes to look at. For example I’m currently resident as an autonomo, effectively self employed, and there are visas available to self employed as well as entrepreneurs, either of which could suit someone with a side hustle.

There is also a non lucrative visa which doesn’t allow you to do paid work, but for which you basically have to prove that you have the resources to support yourself, and that you have private health insurance - but as this is Europe think in the region of EUR100-200 a month for insurance for a family of 4. The level of support seems deliberately vague but shouldn’t be a stretch for most mustachians, and as far as I can tell they are usually happy to see enough cash in a bank account to cover 12 months of expected expenditure.

Taxes wise Spain is certainly not as low tax as the US, but also far from the highest in Europe. Generally speaking the income tax brackets are pretty similar to the UK, although the higher rates kick in at lower levels of income than the Uk and there are less generous exemptions.

Another factor that we thought would be a deal breaker for Spain is that there is a wealth tax on assets above EUR 700k per adult, with a separate exemption for a family home. However there are a lot of exemptions to this, for example pension accounts dont seem to be counted, and investment property is counted at the original purchase price rather than current valuation. Overall this means that the wealth tax seems to be less of a concern for even a moderately mustachian stache. 

All of that said if you are looking for somewhere nice in Europe to set up home and are otherwise undecided between Spain & Portugal, it might be well worth taking a look at Portugal. As I understand it they have a pretty advantageous tax treatment for newcomers whose assets are mostly outside of Portugal. But for us there were a number of specific factors such as location, and for kids to learn a more internationally useful language that made the trade off for Spain worthwhile for now.

Doubleh

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #28 on: August 30, 2019, 05:54:40 PM »
Just consider the fact that the average salary here is, depending a little on the source, between 800-1200€/month after taxes. If you can survive and live on 800€/month then there is obviously a "hidden" world for the rest of us outsiders who can easily spend 4000€/month. This is something that we have the intention to investigate throughly, is it possible to live here on those types of local incomes and still live the life that we want? I believe so and that would make a frugal FIRE very comfortable here. I will document our experiences and progress on the blog. In less than a year we will know! :-D

The salary figures are similar here in Italy and the way most people make it work is by relying on family.  Family provides a free place to live (either living with parents or an inherited apartment), family provides vacation accommodation (a house in the ancestral village or a communal apartment near the beach), family looks after your kids, family provides food to some extent like olive oil or wine from the ancestral village.  Life is much more expensive when you don't get family help as in our case.

MrSnow that was exactly our thinking coming to Spain also. I think what Hula Hoop says is certainly part of the story, also that many of the ordinary working people here simply have less material goods, international travel etc than we in more wealthy countries have become used to. But if a simpler style of life is part of what you are looking for I think that goes a way to bridging the gap; as would being FIRE so having time to deal with things, and having a paid off home.

So far we are still working to get our expenses down to quite the level we want them to be, thanks to a combination of costs related to setting ourselves up, and limited time since we are both still working at the moment.

One of the big areas for cost savings we have seen so far is that buying groceries from the smaller stores in areas with tourists are always expensive, while larger out of town supermarkets are much more reasonable. We’re trying to use a combination of weekly bulk shops via car or even online delivery, with top ups from local stores to reduce the cost of our groceries.

spartana

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #29 on: August 30, 2019, 08:30:02 PM »
I'm surprised Palma is "relatively" inexpensive. I spent some time there years ago when I lived in L' Estartit (near Girona) and it definitely seemed expensive then. I'm glad it's working out so well and I find most of Spain to he amazing and would love to live there again someday. I was only there for about a year after I quit my job to travel full time for 2 years (was 36 and FI then) but came back to the US for a relationship. I love the lifestyle in Spain.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2019, 10:14:03 PM by spartana »

smoghat

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #30 on: August 31, 2019, 12:30:44 AM »
We just spent a week in Spain, not the same as moving there of course, but both our kids wound up in urgent care for one reason or the other. I’m an anti-Trump moderate, but the hours we spent in the waiting room for a life-threatening situation made me question socialized health care...Maybe it’s just because Spain is still a bit of an economic basket case, but I’m glad that we made it out of there alive.   

havregryn

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #31 on: August 31, 2019, 02:47:36 AM »
Just consider the fact that the average salary here is, depending a little on the source, between 800-1200€/month after taxes. If you can survive and live on 800€/month then there is obviously a "hidden" world for the rest of us outsiders who can easily spend 4000€/month. This is something that we have the intention to investigate throughly, is it possible to live here on those types of local incomes and still live the life that we want? I believe so and that would make a frugal FIRE very comfortable here. I will document our experiences and progress on the blog. In less than a year we will know! :-D

The salary figures are similar here in Italy and the way most people make it work is by relying on family.  Family provides a free place to live (either living with parents or an inherited apartment), family provides vacation accommodation (a house in the ancestral village or a communal apartment near the beach), family looks after your kids, family provides food to some extent like olive oil or wine from the ancestral village.  Life is much more expensive when you don't get family help as in our case.

I often wonder about this too.
I am from Croatia, so similar setting to Italy and Spain, just even poorer.
But my impression too is that people who are living something that remotely resembles what we consider normal life in the developed world either have a significant advantage in form of inherited real estate (not only to live in but also to rent out to tourists for a lot of money) or have two above average salaries for the region, landing their total income at 2-3000€ per month. Because that is what normal lifestyle would seem to cost around there.
But we could manage to live off of this in Sweden too (or probably any European country other than Switzerland, Norway and Luxembourg), so I don't really get these "cheaper" places.
Living in a poorer neighborhood in Split in Croatia means living in some major misery. Living in a cheaper arrangement in Stockholm is just living with more non-white people around you or commuting 40 min on a high speed train. So to me in Croatia you are actually more vulnerable to not having "enough" money than in Stockholm. Things you're gonna miss out on in Stockholm are just snobbery. In Croatia, you will be risking your health and wellbeing.

Most people on local incomes simply don't live what is considered remotely "normal" in the West.
We're not even talking amount of international travel or organic food, people have radically different expectations of everything. This pops up a lot on housing topics. We live in a 2 bedroom 90m2 apartment with what is soon going to become three kids because Luxembourg is inhumanely expensive and I am not willing to exchange our long term FIRE potential for more comfortable living arrangements while the kids are so small they prefer to co-sleep with us anyway, but most people here think this is horrible (and we wouldn't be able to rent a similar property, but we own this little gold nugget of Lux real estate so we can sleep on the couch if we want to) whereas most people from Croatia think we live in luxury.
There 50-60m2 is much more of a norm for a family with two kids and often you will have 3 generations living in the same apartment (so parents kids + at least one grandparent).

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #32 on: August 31, 2019, 02:50:34 AM »
We just spent a week in Spain, not the same as moving there of course, but both our kids wound up in urgent care for one reason or the other. I’m an anti-Trump moderate, but the hours we spent in the waiting room for a life-threatening situation made me question socialized health care...Maybe it’s just because Spain is still a bit of an economic basket case, but I’m glad that we made it out of there alive.
Emergency rooms are always a shitshow in July/August. Everyone is on vacation, doing things outside, getting injured. Including medical staff.

You were likely prioritized like everyone else, and whatever your life-threatening injury was, someone had it worse that day.

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #33 on: August 31, 2019, 06:24:45 AM »

There 50-60m2 is much more of a norm for a family with two kids and often you will have 3 generations living in the same apartment (so parents kids + at least one grandparent).

I think that's the difference between Northern Europe and Southern Europe.  50-60 sq meters would be a normal family apartment here in Italy too.  Maybe slightly on the snug side for a family of 4.  People's ideas about privacy and family are completely different here from in the US and I assume in Northern European countries like Luxembourg.  It's also completely normal to live with your parents and siblings in your tiny apartment well into your 30s or 40s.

@smoghat I've waited hours and hours in the ER in the US too and then got charged $$$$ for it on top of that.  This is nothing to do with "socialized medicine".


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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #34 on: August 31, 2019, 07:15:33 AM »
But to me this is really just a natural consequence of being relatively poor, because no one is doing this in Croatia because they love it. Rich people get larger residences. Anything newly built in a rural area (so cheapish) will have the same size standards as what gets built in Northern Europe. People in the cities simply can't afford anything else (because property prices are ridiculously high compared to salaries) and it is considered perfectly normal.
I grew up rural so we never had this issue and I have to admit I don't feel the "cultural preference" vibe. Housing is minuscule only in areas where property is highly valued (i.e. where there are tourists and potential tenants). In areas where it has more or less no resale or rental value (like where I grew up, even though it is in the commuting distance to the capital city) it's very rare that people would live in very small spaces. It's just that it is so wide-spread because so many people in cities can't afford better that it becomes much more normalized than here where most people can afford more (I mean, by any traditional metric we can also afford a much larger property, but I hate Luxembourg and I will REALLY rather sleep on the couch than take out a million euro mortgage for a moldy house in this place lol).

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #35 on: August 31, 2019, 11:25:35 AM »
We just spent a week in Spain, not the same as moving there of course, but both our kids wound up in urgent care for one reason or the other. I’m an anti-Trump moderate, but the hours we spent in the waiting room for a life-threatening situation made me question socialized health care...Maybe it’s just because Spain is still a bit of an economic basket case, but I’m glad that we made it out of there alive.

I am not asking you disclose the nature of the issues, but "urgent care" by definition is not the place to go for a life threatening situation.  Urgent care can often lead to wait times because the types of issues treated there are definitionally not going to be life threatening.  The emergency room is where you should go, or be directed, if the situation was life threatening. 

On the topic of anecdotes, I also had a serious health situation arise when I was in Spain a few years ago, and other than the language barrier, things were just fine.  I was immediately admitted in spite of them not recognizing my insurance, and I received the necessary treatment to get better. 

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #36 on: August 31, 2019, 01:15:48 PM »
We just spent a week in Spain, not the same as moving there of course, but both our kids wound up in urgent care for one reason or the other. I’m an anti-Trump moderate, but the hours we spent in the waiting room for a life-threatening situation made me question socialized health care...Maybe it’s just because Spain is still a bit of an economic basket case, but I’m glad that we made it out of there alive.

I’m sorry you had an unpleasant experience. This has the potential to be a very useful thread and I would hate to see it derailed into a healthcare discussion so I’ll just re-iterate that as I said earlier, an American retiree FIRE or otherwise would most likely be looking at a non lucrative visa or similar, one condition of which is that you need to maintain private health insurance. So socialised medicine isn’t something you even need to worry about if you want to come and live in Europe! Again, the cost of this health insurance will likely be a fraction of what you would pay in the USA - we were quoted EUR 120 per month for full cover for our family of four, with a very small co-pay.

Maybe after living there for a few years you would start to wonder why all the locals seem pretty happy with their socialised treatment, and why not a single person you will ever meet seems to wish they were under the US system of healthcare instead.

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #37 on: August 31, 2019, 10:21:08 PM »
We are also considering retiring in Spain. It seems the culture for kids is so much better in comparison to the US. I have also followed the Wagoners blog and their kids seemed to do very well. We will be going in May to check it out more to see if it’s a fit.

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #38 on: September 01, 2019, 04:28:32 AM »
Recently I read that parents in Spain don't really have the time to do voluntary work at sports clubs and such, because they have such long working days. Long because of the long lunch break. I guess this could have some effects on kids in general. Maybe not for retirees.

Hula Hoop

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #39 on: September 01, 2019, 09:36:29 AM »
Recently I read that parents in Spain don't really have the time to do voluntary work at sports clubs and such, because they have such long working days. Long because of the long lunch break. I guess this could have some effects on kids in general. Maybe not for retirees.

Same here.  A standard work day is 9-8 with a three hour lunch break 1-4.  This is changing a bit in larger cities but working hours still tend to be long.

@Linea_Norway most people here pay for kids to teach their kids at sports clubs.  Why should parents have to volunteer for these things?  Us working parents have enough pressure on us without having to also do volunteer work.

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #40 on: September 01, 2019, 12:04:25 PM »
Just consider the fact that the average salary here is, depending a little on the source, between 800-1200€/month after taxes. If you can survive and live on 800€/month then there is obviously a "hidden" world for the rest of us outsiders who can easily spend 4000€/month. This is something that we have the intention to investigate throughly, is it possible to live here on those types of local incomes and still live the life that we want? I believe so and that would make a frugal FIRE very comfortable here. I will document our experiences and progress on the blog. In less than a year we will know! :-D

The salary figures are similar here in Italy and the way most people make it work is by relying on family.  Family provides a free place to live (either living with parents or an inherited apartment), family provides vacation accommodation (a house in the ancestral village or a communal apartment near the beach), family looks after your kids, family provides food to some extent like olive oil or wine from the ancestral village.  Life is much more expensive when you don't get family help as in our case.

MrSnow that was exactly our thinking coming to Spain also. I think what Hula Hoop says is certainly part of the story, also that many of the ordinary working people here simply have less material goods, international travel etc than we in more wealthy countries have become used to. But if a simpler style of life is part of what you are looking for I think that goes a way to bridging the gap; as would being FIRE so having time to deal with things, and having a paid off home.

So far we are still working to get our expenses down to quite the level we want them to be, thanks to a combination of costs related to setting ourselves up, and limited time since we are both still working at the moment.

One of the big areas for cost savings we have seen so far is that buying groceries from the smaller stores in areas with tourists are always expensive, while larger out of town supermarkets are much more reasonable. We’re trying to use a combination of weekly bulk shops via car or even online delivery, with top ups from local stores to reduce the cost of our groceries.
@Doubleh - We are thinking quite alike and make the exact same conclusions/assumptions. We are a lean FIRE family. We don't have, or have had the last 10 years, any aspirations for the material things most people crave for which we find a little "shallow". We like hanging with friends, hiking, bicycling, swimming, running and so on. Quite alike MMM as well. We had a frugal life in Sweden and our FIRE-plan was covering our expenses there. By moving to Spain we just increased those marginals quite a lot and will be able to afford more activities etc when the children gets older. Side note - i still work part time just because i like it and will probably continue "work" for as long as i physically can so our margins are quite large now. :-)

Thanks for all your great input into this thread! I´ll reach out over e-mail as well!

MrSnow

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #41 on: September 01, 2019, 01:54:18 PM »
Recently I read that parents in Spain don't really have the time to do voluntary work at sports clubs and such, because they have such long working days. Long because of the long lunch break. I guess this could have some effects on kids in general. Maybe not for retirees.

Same here.  A standard work day is 9-8 with a three hour lunch break 1-4.  This is changing a bit in larger cities but working hours still tend to be long.

@Linea_Norway most people here pay for kids to teach their kids at sports clubs.  Why should parents have to volunteer for these things?  Us working parents have enough pressure on us without having to also do volunteer work.

I believe most countries have different setups, culture, structure, etc... its sort of self explanatory *duh*. I also believe this is one of the most exiting things of visiting and learning how other countries works. Always looking at it with a straight comparison to you home country x is misleading, you have to get the broad picture. If you compare with taxes in Sweden, you will get horrified as its more or less state robbery from an US point of view. But we get a lot back in the form of free childcare, free schools, free university (even a state allowance), free hospital care, 480 days of paid childcare, long vacations, small social gaps, etc (god i sound like a socialist now). I am not trying to push for any system, i am just thinking that its nescessery to see the whole picture which we unfortunately seldom do.
Spain has extremely much "against it on paper" compared to Sweden or the US, but i´ve met so many people over the years who moved to Spain telling me that their move might not have given them career or money or "living standard" and they can't afford as much as it used to. But it had given them what we call "livskvalité" roughly translated as "quality of life". This is hard to measure with numbers, but they are basically more happy with their life and feel less stressed with everything.

MrSnow

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #42 on: September 01, 2019, 01:59:06 PM »
A friend of mine is living in Almeriá in Spain since a couple of years back. His total(!) monthly expenses is approx. 500€/month. He earns a fragment (7-800€) of what he did and he does not have large savings as for example us FIRE-entusiasts, but he has never been happier and have no thoughts of going back to Sweden. Thatis what i would call a lean FIRE looking at it from a budget perspective! :-D

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #43 on: September 01, 2019, 02:14:46 PM »
Following

Hula Hoop

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #44 on: September 01, 2019, 02:24:44 PM »
A friend of mine is living in Almeriá in Spain since a couple of years back. His total(!) monthly expenses is approx. 500€/month. He earns a fragment (7-800€) of what he did and he does not have large savings as for example us FIRE-entusiasts, but he has never been happier and have no thoughts of going back to Sweden. Thatis what i would call a lean FIRE looking at it from a budget perspective! :-D

IMO just getting away from the Scandinavian winter darkness/cold would lead to a huge increase in happiness.  I find that weather really effects my mood.

MrSnow

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #45 on: September 11, 2019, 04:42:27 AM »
Hey Mr. Snow. Excited to follow your blog. Would you mind sharing your financials, i.e. expected spending, withdrawal rate etc, what is your stash made of, how you plan your taxes etc. Asking since there aren't that many European FIREees here and especially not with kids. So I am very curious to hear from someone who's already done it.
I often wonder how applicable the rules here are to us, as on the one hand, you most definitely need way less money in total, but it's also way harder to plan to pay little to no tax on anything that is remotely liveable.
We are also Swedish (well sorta, the rest of my family is, I wasn't born there but by now I qualify for a passport and the funny thing is that since we live in Luxembourg now, for us Sweden = cheap place to go retire to).
Hey @havregryn, i´ve updated the blog with at least some of your questions above regarding financials, SWR, stash composition, some background, etc. I´ll come back to more budget details (need more local data) and taxes (complicated as hell) later on!
Enjoy! (https://PalmaOnFIRE.com)
/ Snow 

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #46 on: September 11, 2019, 08:25:59 AM »
We just spent a week in Spain, not the same as moving there of course, but both our kids wound up in urgent care for one reason or the other. I’m an anti-Trump moderate, but the hours we spent in the waiting room for a life-threatening situation made me question socialized health care...Maybe it’s just because Spain is still a bit of an economic basket case, but I’m glad that we made it out of there alive.
Emergency rooms are always a shitshow in July/August. Everyone is on vacation, doing things outside, getting injured. Including medical staff.

You were likely prioritized like everyone else, and whatever your life-threatening injury was, someone had it worse that day.

Yep, the guy with the cut on his foot and the kid with a black eye. My daughter meanwhile had food stuck in her throat and couldn’t swallow water. Look up esophageal bolus. They both came after us and left before us. Shitshow is right.

Just to be clear, it was the emergency room. The urgent care facility in town had an opening a day later.

In all fairness though, Spain is barely cheaper than the US, if at all. From Sweden, I suppose it would be a lot cheaper, but if you really want to save money move elsewhere.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2019, 08:30:08 AM by smoghat »

MrSnow

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #47 on: September 17, 2019, 08:31:25 AM »
We are also considering retiring in Spain. It seems the culture for kids is so much better in comparison to the US. I have also followed the Wagoners blog and their kids seemed to do very well. We will be going in May to check it out more to see if it’s a fit.
Where are you heading? Lots of different cultures, languages, food, etc depending on location. :-)

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Re: Moving abroad to live that frugal FIRE life in Spain
« Reply #48 on: September 17, 2019, 04:04:39 PM »
Spain is my ancestral home, so any talk of it interests me. Posting here solely to learn more in case I ever decide to move there.

Coincidentally, an ex-coworker of mine that I went to college with just texted me that he quit his job and had moved to Spain. He's FIRE but he doesn't know the acronym or the community. I thought you might be him, but he is not Swedish so I guess not.

¡Felicidades!