What was the turning point when you decided to move to Barcelona?
The turning point was when my husband had a significant birthday — the number was big enough that it made us really reflect on how we wanted to live, and the kinds of experiences we wanted to have in life. We had always talked about wanting to live abroad, and we realized that there was never going to be a perfect time to do it. If we wanted that experience, we would have to force it.
What do you do for a living?
I am a litigation partner at Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass. I have a fairly diverse practice – I specialize in land use litigation and employment law (yes, two fairly different fields!).
One of the hardest questions was how to handle my career. I felt like I had achieved the trifecta – I really like my clients, my work, and my colleagues. I knew that I wanted to keep working, but I didn’t know how my partners would react. Happily, the immediate and universal reaction was, “If you want to make it work, then we want to try too.” And so we’re making it work!
What are the most common challenges you face living abroad?
Professionally, the biggest challenge is the time difference. We are nine hours ahead of California, so that means very late nights for me, on a regular basis. But the trade-off is worth it.
Personally, it was hard leaving our friends and family, and launching ourselves into a new city. Fortunately, our daughter goes to a school where the parent community is like a ready-made group of cool, international friends.
What specific advice would you give to others who want to live abroad for a year or longer?
Plan, plan, plan. I’m a planner by nature, and it has paid off here. We did a lot of thinking about the kind of life that we wanted to have, access back to the US, and weather, and we visited several countries that we were considering before we decided on Barcelona.
How have your first 100 days been?
Absolutely exceeded our expectations. We’ve settled into our apartment and neighborhood, and met new friends from around the world – our daughter’s kindergarten class is like a mini-UN. Our Spanish language skills are also improving rapidly. It’s incredibly satisfying to be able to just carry out regular interactions – make an appointment for a haircut, little conversations with neighbors about the weather, etc. – in Spanish. I feel like we could really be conversationally fluent in a couple of years.