On June 23, 2009, I officially became the 74th American living in Torrevieja, Spain – assuming the latest census records on file are accurate. In a town of just over 100,000, I am certainly a minority here and the whole fact of me even being here is so unlikely really that it makes me wonder how it all came to be. After all, I don’t even speak Spanish. Nevermind that it’s practically the first language in California where I’m from. Romanced by the melody of French from the age of 12, I chose to learn francais instead. But that’s immaterial. I speak English and French, yet, as of nearly a week ago, I now live in Spain.
So why Spain? It was a combination of things that pushed my husband and me out of our 2 bedroom rent stabilized apartment in New York City’s Spanish Harlem for a more authentic experience across the pond. It was pretty much a perfect storm of incidences that led to our departure. It was David being drained from the 12-15 hour work days that working as a private chef for a couple of NYC socialites entails. It was our questioning whether the city lifestyle was sustainable and whether NYC could be our home in the years ahead. It was David’s undying entrepreneurial spirit. And, above and beyond perhaps everything else, it was our double whammy of layoffs – within a week of each other – that jump started us into action. When the choice is pretty much made for you, it’s much easier to make the choice. After a year and a half for him and nearly 6 years for me, being an employee was proving to be not the secure path that I had always carved it out to be. Our layoffs served as a good dose of reality – and we joined the increasing numbers of unemployed and wondered how we were going to be able to afford living on unemployment benefits when even our two salaries combined had seemed to barely cover our basic necessities.
And miraculously, just at the same time, David’s dad was opening a tapas bar/restaurant in Torrevieja, Spain along the Mediterranean coast. Perhaps it could be an opportunity to combine forces, talents and ambition. Perhaps it was an opportunity just not to miss.
So we sought refuge in Spain. The economy isn’t much better here. It’s facing the same housing crisis as the US, foreclosures are rampant, unemployment high. But rent is cheap. We’re in a 2 bedroom with a balcony paying 350 euros per month (though with limited closet space and a smaller space from our NYC apartment, I’m dreading already the 22 boxes coming from NYC and destined to arrive soon at our doorstep. We really should have given more to goodwill! Though the foldable bikes in 2 of the boxes will be a very welcome addition once they arrive!). We have a community pool and even a washing machine. Goodbye laundromat! This is a luxury that we would have killed for in New York and we don’t take it for granted. With such a luxury in a very affordably priced apartment, everything seems more feasible.