The Path to Spain (Part 1)

“Why did you come back?” a friend asked when I called to say I was back in Asheville after just 6 weeks in Barbados. “I thought you guys were going to stay for 6 months!”

“Well, we were. But then we realized we could get a year-long visa to live in Spain. But we have to be in the US to file the paperwork.”

And that, my friends, is the reason Michael and I returned from Barbados on April 3.

What, exactly, is required to move to Spain? A few key things. . .

  1. Private health insurance. Through a Spanish company. With no co-pays. Nor deductibles. Thankfully, these days, there’s a Facebook group for everything. We joined the Spanish NLV (non-lucrative visa) group and got recommendations. Michael and I are now fully covered for all our medical and dental needs in Spain. For the grand price of $1900. For the year. For both of us.
  2. Some money. Specifically, we have to show the Spanish government that we have enough money to live in Spain without working for a year. The powers that be in Spain have said $33,000 will be sufficient for one person; $41,000 for two of us. So we printed out a few months of bank statements to show that we’ve got that.
  3. A background check. We got fingerprinted at our county Bureau of Identification, sent those to our state Bureau of Investigation, and two weeks later we had proof that we were not criminals.
  4. A few apostilles. An apostille is an authentication that shows foreign countries that our US document is legitimate. In this case, we needed to get apostilles on our background checks and marriage certificate.
  5. A few other things. Valid passports. Passport photos. Application forms. Copies of all of the above.

Once we had everything, we had to email it all to our consulate. (Since we live in North Carolina, our consulate is in Washington, DC.) After reviewing our documentation, the consulate would tell us when to come to DC to deliver it all in person. We had read (on the aforementioned Facebook group) that the consulate could come back and tell us our appointment wasn’t for a couple months. So a week ago Tuesday Michael emailed our information. On Wednesday morning the consulate replied, “All the documents are right. We can offer you an appointment on Friday at 9:15 am.” Friday? As in two days from now?!

We called my parents who were due to visit us (for the first time in a year-and-a-half) on Thursday. “Can you postpone your trip by a day?” Thank God for flexible parents.

I rescheduled or canceled some of my tutoring students. Michael moved meetings and booked us a hotel. There was no gas to be had in Asheville (remember that whole Colonial pipeline hacking thing when everyone rushed out to fill their gas tanks?) but thankfully Michael had filled up both of our cars the day before. I downloaded the GasBuddy app to help us find places to fill up along the way.

And so it was that on Thursday afternoon, May 13, we drove 7.5 hours to Georegtown, Washington, DC. (And had no problem finding gas once we got out of North Carolina.)

The next morning, Michael checked and rechecked our documents. We arrived at the consulate at 8:45. There were a few people hanging out on the steps leading into the building. It could have been a line. Maybe this was how the Spanish do lines? And then Micheal spotted a sign on the door: “No visa appointments on Fridays.”

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