Thursday, November 18, 2010
Expat Experiences: Spain - Jennifer Lo Prete, Catalunya
Who are you?
Jennifer Lo Prete.
Where, when and why did you move abroad?
I moved from California to Barcelona, Spain in 2009 with my husband and two young children. My husband was offered an interesting position at a Catalan company. We couldn't refuse the opportunity to live in Europe, to experience life in a foreign country and to have our children learn Spanish. Little did we know at the time, that Catalan is the more dominant language in Catalunya! A year and a half later, my children are trilingual!
What challenges did you face during the move?
The list was long! We moved several times across the United States without a hitch. Moving ourselves, children and most of our household goods to another country was a big challenge. Dealing with bureaucracy and bureaucrats in the United States can be frustrating, but it is usually a clear process. In Spain, the process is extremely frustrating and not at all clear. My biggest frustration was finding reliable information on the various steps of the process and the long length of time it takes to get anything bureaucratic done in Spain. I relied heavily on information from other expats in online expat forums and moving-related forums.
How did you find somewhere to live?
At first, I thought we could handle our home search on our own. We rented a furnished apartment in the center of Barcelona while we looked for a house. We searched housing listings online and contacted properties on our own. We were surprised when people failed to return our calls or emails asking about renting their house. We were even more surprised when we had appointments with owners to see their property, but they failed to call us back with the property address so we could meet them!
After a couple weeks of frustration, we turned to a real estate broker who spoke English and works with expat families. In two days, she booked a full weekend of property showings. We rented the first house she showed us. Unfortunately, we had to pay her, plus ...
Read more about Jennifer's life in Spain