Relocation story

Real Relocation to Spain Story of Patti

Published on 25 Aug 2023

Patricia (Patti) Addington moved to Spain from USA in November 2021. She kindly agreed to share with us her experience by answering our questions:

Where are you from and why did you decide to move to Spain?

I am from the U.S.A. I came from Florida and was born in Pennsylvania, I also lived in Virginia, Washington D.C., Texas, Kentucky and California. 

When did you move & where in Spain did you settle? Did you move on your own or as a family? Describe in a few words

I came to Spain after walking the Camino Frances in 2018. During the walk I enjoyed the company of the Spanish people. These people advised me that Andalucia was a great place to settle in Spain due to both the weather and economy. After researching Spain/Andalucia I settled on Malaga and then moved here on my own and live in the Torremolinos area of Malaga.

Did you use professional help for the immigration procedures (visas, permits, any admin paperwork) and/or any relocation services (property search, schools, etc)? Tell us your experience

In the USA, I did all the preliminary Visa paperwork on my own using a list provided by the Miami Consulate. When I arrived in Spain, I was assisted by Irina Saltmarsh from Malaga Expats. Irina was extremely knowledgeable about the process on this side of the pond.  She helped me navigate getting an apartment, Padron, bank account and NIE. She encouraged me to tackle the process but when I was hindered by my lack of Spanish, she stepped in and spoke in my behalf. She prepared all necessary paperwork. Irina did all this for a very reasonable fee.

How difficult was it to find your first home and do you still live in the same place? If you moved – tell us why

Irina assisted me in locating a home.  She had me list what it was I needed in a home, and she prepared a video of both the interior and exterior of the apartments.  She was able to find an apartment with everything on my list, which was within my price range. Irina did an excellent job of finding me everything I needed and two years later I live in the same place. 

What is your occupation in Spain – tell us a few words. Has it changed compared to what you did in your home country?

In Spain I am a “pensionista”.  I am not permitted to work in Spain as I have come on a non-lucrative Visa and must live on my pension and not take a job from a Spanish person. In the USA I was a teacher, Mental Health Counsellor and Behaviour Analyst.

How integrated do you feel into the local community and lifestyle? 

I enjoy Spain very much. I feel very integrated into the community. I am able to volunteer teaching English to Spanish Professionals, continue my workouts at the Torremolinos Municiple Sports Center, continue to walk different Caminos and travel as I can afford. I have more fun in Spain than I have had in my entire lifetime.  I have gone from being the most responsible person in the world to living a lifestyle of exploring different areas, meeting people from different cultures and eating food that is much healthier

Do you have any regrets about your move to Spain and/or miss anything from your home country? If yes – tell us what

The regrets I have are valid.  I should have made this move sooner and I should have been more serious about learning the Spanish Language prior to coming to Spain. Duo Lingo is not enough!

What was the main advantage and the main challenge you experienced with moving to Spain?

The main advantage of coming to Spain is the feeling of safety and meeting other like-minded loaners to travel and have fun with. I have had three Challenges.  The first was Private Health Insurance, because of my age and having actually used the Private Spanish Insurance. I was kicked off the private plan after one year. I spent 6 months contacting private health insurance companies to replace the insurance.  It took me 6 months to find a replacement. The second challenge was not knowing enough Spanish to accomplish what I wanted to do. The third challenge is learning how to avoid the pick pockets because I am little and have white hair, I am the targeted person. 

Any advice you would like to give to those considering or in the process of moving to Spain?

My advice is making the move as young as possible.  There is so much to see and you do cheat yourself by not moving as early as possible.  Also, be aware of what type of purse or backpack you choose.  The pickpockets in the larger cities are very sneaky and know how to get what they want. Use a body wrap purse or a front body purse, no backpacks, put nothing in back pockets.  No matter whether the backpacks are zipped, buckled or tied the pick pockets find a way.   Also, learn Spanish, it will make the transition easier. Also, if you choose the Malaga area of Spain, use the Service of Malaga Expats.  They are a people centered, kind, helpful, reasonable and knowledgeable about what it takes to make this transition.

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