It hasn’t even been 2 weeks and I already got approved for my non-lucrative visa for Spain. I got an email from the same woman who did my interview with instructions as to what to do next.
Here is a brief timeline and related posts in this series from the future and the past:
- initial non-lucrative visa application
- getting documents together for non-lucrative visa
- non-lucrative visa interview
- non-lucrative visa approval
- getting NIE and TIE in Spain
- 1st renewal application of non-lucrative visa – online
- non-lucrative visa renewal approval
My application was very neat, thorough, and probably had more information than the consulate needed. I suspect that has something to do with the timely approval.
I am sure that being single makes it easier as well.
The email from the consulate has the following contingencies in order for me to get the visa:
- Please, provide via e-mail, your airline itinerary with the date and flight from the US to Spain.
- Please, include your visa reference number so we can locate your file.
- Please indicate the date when you will be coming to the Consulate to pick up your Passport so we can issue the visa.
- Once we have confirmed that we have received your e-mail with the airline itinerary, please allow 1 to 3 business days for the visa department to issue the visa.
Barriers to Visa Approval
The only thing I was worried about is whether they would accept my brokerage account as adequate assets to get approved for the non-lucrative visa.
I had some cash in my savings account as well but it wasn’t the $40,000 they needed at the time of applying for the non-lucrative visa.
My lawyer and I decided to not try to demonstrate adequate, regular income. Many applicants may not have $40k parked in their account but can easily show $3k of income per month from their business or online activities. My lawyer didn’t think it was necessary based on my assets.
The consulate was quite flexible with applicants demonstrating their financial self-reliance. This is something that I’ve heard a lot from other applicants.
You actually don’t get the 1-year visa stamped on your passport right off the bat – you get a 90-day visa and have 30 days to apply for your visa ID card (TIE) once you land in Spain.
Once the TIE is approved then you get the 1-year visa stamp and you are good to go. If you don’t get everything done within the 90 days then you have to leave the country and all the hard work was in vain.
This confused me a little because I also thought I need to still apply for a NIE. In fact, I already did. My visa is already pre-populated with a NIE number so I’m good to go.
I only have 30 days to pick up my passport from the SF consulate so I need to make travel arrangement to fly out there. I can’t have anyone go in my stead.
Before doing so I will need to purchase airline tickets to Spain which can be just one-way. This should cost me ~$500.
I will need to make housing arrangement as well. Most likely I will sign a 1-year lease for an apartment in Spain either straight from here or once I land there.
Flight to Spain
Iberia was great so I will try to fly with them again.
It’s easier to book a one-way ticket because it’s not that much more expensive to book each leg of the trip individually.
I don’t believe in points travel-hacking because it’s just another way to get the consumer to spend.
My initial idea was to move to Valencia but now that I have the visa approved I’m not so sure where I want to go – my alternative option is Asturias – specifically, Avilés.
It might be best for me to AirBnb in a smaller city because I will need to apply for my ID card and activate the visa. This process can sometimes take up to 6 weeks and I would need a mailing address to correspond while there.
In the smaller cities AirBnb can still be expensive but the hotels are cheaper. The downside is that you’ll pay more for your food since you can’t cook in the hotel room. But… food is cheap in Spain.
Long-term rent is affordable in the non-touristy cities. I can get a studio in the bigger cities for €400/month or a 2-3 bedroom flat for €300/month in smaller cities.
This is on the low-end of course. For €700 I would get a penthouse with a big balcony in the heart of the city-center. I don’t care to be in the city-center so that’s a plus for me.
Signing a Lease
It’s best to lease a flat directly from the owner because the realty companies charge a hefty premium for advertising and showing the units.
The lease process is simple. I signed a 3-month lease when I was in Spain last time and though there is a shit-ton of things in the fine-print, it’s not complicated.
In order to get water/gas/electricity and even internet you must have a NIE. Utilities aren’t too bad depending on the region. For €150 (high-end) I should be able to get everything.
I can still do telemedicine work from Spain and though I could teach remotely for the college, I am not sure how happy they would be with me doing it from Spain – not worth the headache.
Visa Timing & Airline Ticket
At first I thought that I would have to fly out of the country within the next 30 days – fortunately that’s not the case. I have a couple of months so my airline ticket will determine the timeline for when the visa will get stamped in my passport.
It’s April as I write this. I would get my airline ticket for June and that would still be okay as far as timing.
Leaving The US
I’ve gotten interesting feedback from family and friends in regards to leaving the US. Some are worried about the consequences and others see the opportunity.
As a US citizen I can live overseas without any worries as long as I maintain my US citizenship. It’s not the end of the world if I give up my US citizenship but there is no reason to do so.
Most countries allow you dual citizenship though I don’t have a reason to pursue a 3rd citizenship since I already have 2.
Income from our jobs is probably the biggest lost opportunity but I am young and have plenty of income potential. In fact, it’s a bit of an adventure to try to see how one can earn a living in another country.
The only other factor to consider is permanent residency. If I am no longer a resident of the US, or my state specifically, then I may run into some banking and legal issues but many expats have figured out ways around this.
I love living in the US. I enjoy Portland as a city. But there are always some benefits to living overseas for a while. These are hard to identify when you are mostly worried about the logistics of learning a new language, understanding a new culture, and figuring out the financial side of living in another country.
When you’re young and you decide to live overseas for a period of time you are also giving yourself an opportunity to make money.
As Americans we have certain skills and resources that someone in Spain doesn’t – and vice versa. If I have an entrepreneurial mindset then I can use that to my advantage.
Many early retirees have the option to live overseas during retirement. This could be a way to cut our financial overhead or just a way to have some adventure.
Being single and having a safety net of cash allows me the luxury to live overseas without a lot of financial stress.
Furthermore, I am trading a HCOL country for a country that has a weaker economy and thus a lower cost of living.
I can rent my condo in Portland and live off of the income from that or combine that with some work or income from investments.
As for living overseas – especially if it’s a new culture and a new language, it would be best to make some connection before you go. Finding some expats who have settled down there and are productive members of that society can be a huge asset.