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A family moves from the UK to Galicia

It's all about the family. And the sea, and the wine, and the food....

A family moving to start a new chapter, and a Spanish family reunited after many years apart. We are planning towards a move to Galica, to live with my wife's parents and aunts/uncles and to give ourselves a new life away from exorbitant UK property prices and council tax....

This blog is about our research and planning, and then about the move, and then about our new life as ex-pats/new residents.

Scilly Civil Servants and government processes!!
11 January 2017


From a previous post:


- residency/citizenship/foreigner etc - related to the above, then below : one major fail has been wife and kids registering.  My wife had a spanish passport until she was a teenager, and recalls choosing 'No I do not reject my spanish citizenship' on a UK passport form sometime later.  So she was able to 'register' at the local town police department, and was then instructed to go to the city police/DNI office where they said 'no you have lost citizenship rights, you will need to renew or be foreigner resident but need proof of income, private medical insurance'.

There was also this other aspect about needing a letter from me saying I give permission for my children to live there with my wife.  Then the city police DNI said this would need to be with me in person, or witnessed by a spanish solicotor.

Since then, further advice from the UK spanish embassy (who took months to respond) has pointed my wife to the Registro Civil office instead to follow up on her citizenship and she may have a way through via them.



So on arrival in spain for my 4 week period over the xmas and new year break, we aimed to try to progress things.  so we went as a mass party of 5 to the foreigners DNI type office in Coruna - My wife, Me, Two kids, and the Grandad Abuelo.  We believed we had all we needed, based on what we had been told.  You have to take a ticket on arrival and wait on a first-come-first-served basis and there is a fixed number of tickets/time to be available to see people then they cut it off each morning!! 

So we waited for about 40 mins, not too bad as I had cbbc iplayer items downloaded for the kids!  But once we got to talk to the desk person, she said actually they couldn't accept the birth certificates for the children as they were in English and need to be "officially translated".  They said we could do that at the local Justico/justice palace type place, but that we wouldn't fit back in to see them again IF we could even get the translation done very quickly there.  BUT they said they were willing to take a photo copy of my passport with a statement signed by me that I authorise the kids to stay in spain with their mother and maternal grandfather.  At least one step done it seems.

turns out that the translation can't be done at the Justico, who told us that it has to be done by an English authority like an embassy or consolut.  So we explore that but then after a few more weeks find out THAT isn't correct either, and if fact there is a list online (ask me if you need the link) of 'authorised translaters' (globally - IE by country/city) and there was one local here to us.  For just 20 euros per document page.

So we have that translation done and will go back tommorrow to see where/how far that gets us.


The wife also progressed her nationality somewhat, with some paperwork/photo copies sent off 'to madrid - the fiscalier' and waiting to see what is next (complicated/delayed by the xmas period).   

Her brother was able do it eventually after 4 years in spain - but we're not sure when he started the process and how many false turns he was given!!


so ho humm bloody annoying.


Meanwhile after the previous kids hospital visit for concussion - we wanted to get her seen for a different more longer term issue with her heart.  friends and contacts advised to just go to urgenxias /A&E and push it that way, but we felt a bit intimidated by trying that.  So we spoke to someone else go said we could have a pediatric appt, which we did - but then SHE said she was unable to book some of the analytica / tests because the system requires a DNI/health type number to be able to make appts.  EHIC not covering it.   So we could have an EKG/ECG and a pediatric follow up but no blood tests or specialst/consultant appointment.   Unless we went via A&E.  

So THEN we were referred to the Hospital Social credit/care type contact who said NO NO THAT:S WRONG, that the doctor can order everything needed but needs to do it more via old school paper not on the computer system, so she will advise the doc and try to help.

It seems we are inbetween:

- not covered at all (IE not accepted refugee or on-the-run criminals perhaps : adults)

- EHIC limited A&E cover

- refugee cover (for 6 months/two years or something?)

- guarneteed cover for children.   (but somehow in conflict with the EHIC limits)

- registered residencia (spanish mum/dependant kids, or just kids on their own perhaps under care of spanish registered abuelo)

- registered foreign national (IE If I were registered here and working in spain)


grrrrr arghhh1!!!!


Anyone help?


What about pay -in scheme?













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3.5 Months update
18 October 2016

Hi to Rosa that got in touch (will message you) and I thought I would offer an update.

We arrived in Galica on July 2nd, and I went back to the UK at the end of August to start my Mon-Fri UK working/weekends in Galica pattern whilst my wife stays there with her parents, the kids and cats, and begins life proper.  The plan was that we would run things that way for at least 6 months, to build up some £ and pay off some debts whilst beginning to plan more for the longer term.


Things have mostly worked out as per that plan.  I'm going back again this weekend, and have booked my flights well in advance all through Sept, Oct, Nov and then Dec to go out for a 4 weeks period for Solstice/Daughters bday/Xmas/NY/3 Kings day.   I take the Vueling flight from heathrow which is usually 5pm (a bit early) but in November they are moving it to 7pm (better, though of course slightly later arrival to see kids etc).  Easyjet have opend up their flight for next year up to end of June, so in theory I could consider their morning flights eg sat 6am.  But I think Vueling is ok for me.  I've joined the Vueling Pass scheme to get priority boarding and lounge access at heathrow (but it's a fairly crap lounge, free drinks and snacks but other than that not 'VIP').

Other pragmatics?

- bank account: we haven't progressed much really but instead deal a lot in Cash which I'm getting a good exchange rate on near Liverpool st each month.  Then using UK debit cards and accepting a hit on fees and rates (but in the grand scheme of things it's not that much per month/year).   I have been able to get a Euro bank account with HSBC now which was easy just took a few weeks for them to open, and we can make payments out to Spain bank accounts from that (at a cost of 6 euros each time), but there is no provision of debit cards which is annoying.  Hoping we will find another option in time.

- residency/citizenship/foreigner etc - related to the above, then below : one major fail has been wife and kids registering.  My wife had a spanish passport until she was a teenager, and recalls choosing 'No I do not reject my spanish citizenship' on a UK passport form sometime later.  So she was able to 'register' at the local town police department, and was then instructed to go to the city police/DNI office where they said 'no you have lost citizenship rights, you will need to renew or be foreigner resident but need proof of income, private medical insurance'.

There was also this other aspect about needing a letter from me saying I give permission for my children to live there with my wife.  Then the city police DNI said this would need to be with me in person, or witnessed by a spanish solicotor.

Since then, further advice from the UK spanish embassy (who took months to respond) has pointed my wife to the Registro Civil office instead to follow up on her citizenship and she may have a way through via them.

ho hum.

Mean while we've been progressing with changing UK accounts addresses, closing down utility accounts from our previous rented house etc etc.  Including a child benefit HRMC letter talking about her there vs me here.

All quite complex.


So the above of course affects access to health services, and my daughter had an accident at a friends house and got concussion which was really scary for a while so we took her to the local urgenxias, including when we didn't have her passport on EHIC on us and they at first said they wouldn't see her.  So we were visiably shocked and upset they wouldn't look at a 10 year old girl with a head injury and they relented and saw us, just to refer us to the city A&E for children.  they were better, and just said that we would need to get her passport and EHIC to show them but it could wait until she had first been assessed. Luckily she was all fine, just an overnight stay for observation and  no further hassle.

But it highlighted the issue for being on this 'in between' status, and we do have other health issues we want to work through and not sure quite when we'll be able to.

I've read about the 'pay in' scheme, and will also look at private cover.



Other happy updates: the kids have settled really well into a horse riding school, including picking up some spanish through that.  and we have all bonded well with another set of familes from around the nearby city.  

The summer weather seems to be finally over, with a final lovely sunny weekend at the start of october.  So on wth the rain, fog and coldness.  We also haven't yet progressed getting central heating quotes or install which is a shame, so I hope to have updates on that in the coming months.


So much to write! that will do for now.








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It's been a while - a calendar month really! settling in/starting up
07 August 2016

Hola todas.

It's been nigh on a calendar month since we left england and arrived in Galicia. It's defintly vacation season and feels mostly like the holidays we have taken here every year, but with subtle differences.


The projects particularly-  first here is my chicken coop as we (ironically but deliberatly/tactically) have got 5 sussex chickens that were a bargain 7 euros each (half price at least of back in the uk) at around 2 months old.

We found a nearby garden center to purchase stakes, a fence post basher, and a roll of excellent 2m high fencing as well as normal chicken wire.  And nice treated timber.  So over about 5 days (working mainly before 9am and after 9pm by the torch on my drill!) I built this.  I am quite proud, especially as I have only ever worked in IT!

My door frame and door was wonky but especially pleasing overall!



Then life-wise, aside from lots of Ikea trips and building - we have succeeding in finding our girls a horse riding school and they have had their first lesson today after a trial in the week and then helping with pony club yesterday.  They haven't ridden in about a year, and have lots of bad habits from a fairly poor teacher back in the UK but they loved it, the school and the other kids.

It sure is hot to ride here in the summer months though! :> bless them the poor kids!  It turns out to be quite a great way for them to enthuse over picking up some spanish terms and phrases!  los manos abaho!  arriba arriba (pointing to butts!)


The half way between holiday and normal life routine has included various beach and aqua park trips including evening dips in the nearby coastal lagoon (wetsuits optional but recommended in the evening/high tide)

 we tend to have it to ourselves!  it's ideallic!


that's probaly all for now. it's a bit late!  buenas noches.


One more week for me before I head back to the UK and leave the family in place.





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Seeing the rest of the country - 1) Cantabria : Potes : Picos de Europa
11 July 2016

A short diversion - around 45mins off the north coast motorway A8 whilst on my way from Galicia back to Santander to return our hire van to the UK - and I have ticked off an initial visit I wanted to do to the Picos de Europa.   I had a wonderful (harrowing!) drive to Potes, had lunch there by the river, then drove back to wait for the ferry in the burning heat and tarmac!


But it was / is lovely. A wonderful place right up my mountain path/street.  I am a mountain person/climber and have spent a lot of time in the UK mountains and hills, then spent a few seasons in the french and swiss alps and a few trips skiiing/boarding in the pyrnees and italian alps. I've also been to the mountains in the middle of Vancouver Island.

So having driven past the Picos many years, i've been itchy to try them and to plan some proper climbing/walking trips.  This was just a flying visit to have some lunch and just be near rock and peaks. But it was wonderful.

 (sorry - don't seem to be able to rotate the images once they are in EyeOnSpain).  The roads are like the alps with great drops down to the river, and some great zoomy parts and others where you wince as you pass the overhanging rocks with a bus coming the other way..... Good fun though. And wonderful glimpses with occasional laybys to pull over in to ogle.


Then the twn of Potes was as gorgeous as a google search suggested it would be.  I chose one of the many restaurants offering outdoor seating and a three course menu al dia for 12 euros inc wine or cider, and water.  bargain.

I had mountain stew (beans, black pudding, chorizo, cabbage) and then a lamb which was local and muy rico.




I only scratched the surface of this wonderful set of mountains and all the villages and towns and people within. But I hope to be back.  I'm gonna buy a walking and climbing guidebook and see what short and longer trips I can plan. I think Fuente De is the main peak and main town, further south.  Or the quicker to visit from the north is Cavadonga I believe.


I'll be back.





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Today : Day 1 : we have arrived. It starts.
03 July 2016

I started this post yesterday on the ferry for 'we are on our way, day zero....' but the signal was too erratic!   Today instead is day 1, we arrived just after midnight and we have been unpacking, seeing family, and enjoying the beach, bar and ice creams!


It's been a long slow build up, then a fast three weeks since I finished work. The final 48 hours were of course hectic but I got the van packed, cats in the car and we all made it to the ferry with plenty of time.   We had almost messed it up re the Cats, as the vets appointment for their passports gave us 20 days not the 21 days before we departed : but a quick call then email to the Spanish animal/immigration department (like defra) gave us a permission letter to show at portsmouth and all was well.

So the new life begins, although it will be a staggered start as first it feels like every other holiday but with much more unpacking.  Then we are decorating the kids bedroom at least, so they won't be in it properly to settle until the weekend or next week.  Then we are working through getting lots of new furniture and arranging/unpacking as well as holidaying in the july and august sun.  

Oh and we are supposed to be getting chickens and rabbits too......  Hope we can fit it all in.  Ah but we have all the time in the world technically.  :>  quite different to our typical 10 day or two week or possibly 1 month holidays here.

It already feels very different to me, having lots of our own possessions and decor like our own bedcovers, and pictures above the bed.    Then of course the cats have always previously been left at home, and having them wander around is really nice.  The boy cat (usually spooked more easily) is really at ease immediatly - as he was in the ferry cabin.  The girl cat is more staying just under one of the beds.

We also have our two gerbils too  - so again, it makes it feel more homely and permanent like a real house move.  


The reality of actual emigration is still to come, probaly some weeks off when we start to tackle bank accounts and govmt processes!







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6 weeks to go - Galicia here we come
12 May 2016

I meant to blog more in the last few months, but things had somewhat paused and are now starting up again.

1st July moving date is now about 6/7 weeks away I think - I keep getting confused between weeks remaining of work vs before we move!


We had a 10 day recce trip recently, wife and kids out to see the oldies that we are moving in with - I joined for a weekend.  So that was good and helped to crystalise some thoughts.

Money in the bank (literally) to support the move includes : £7k moving out & in budget, and £7.2k to cover me not working in July and August.  Hurrah, I'm very glad my plan for money worked out all ok.

I am planning on getting Magentic faux-spanish-company signs to go on the UK hire van to try to reduce the visibility of us as a UK self drive road user : for bandits and for the police!  UK number plate, but hopefully a 'Rodriguez, A Coruna' type plan sign should look spanish enough!! 

We have started to declutter and organise at home ready to pack.

I have quite a detailed plan for the core few weeks.

New passports have arrived for the two kids that had them expiring

Cats appointment with the vets is booked for their passports paperwork and alike

Cats travel cage thing has been purchased and they have tried it out briefly.  We have bought cats harnesses too but not tried them


Leaving party is booked, with around 100 adults coming with almost the same number again of kids!! An afternoon tea party in a lovely sussex countryside location with marquee and shelters in case of rain!


I'm just trying to figure out what to do about Euros cash (how much to take) or TCheques/other, versus UK debit/credit cards use eg in Ikea and take the hit of fees/rates, versus making moves towards a local spanish bank account for me or the wife or joint..... 


Wife is trying to contact UK Spanish embassy / consultate to get her passport/DNI type stuff to help ease things.


what else?  That's probaly a good insight for now.  Oh, I've done a to-scale schematic of my LWB transit hire van and main furniture items to play with how to stack it & pack it!!! Men and their love of logistical car packing challenges?  (Ladies too I'm sure..)








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Learning Spanish - inc Gallego : and Portuguese?
20 January 2016

Partly a post, partly a question out to the community,


I need to improve my Spanish - Castillien (spelling?) as well as learn the local Gallego.

I already speak a level of tourist spanish, but aspire to manage both family dialogue and business.  Gallego is very ingrained and a part of the area now - tv channels, government/business as well as the local community and culture (maybe it has been for ages : sorry - I learnt/heard that Franco had banned it, and since has made a comeback : quite like Welsh).

It is an appalling statement, that in being together for 10+ years, my wife and I have not managed to teach me and the kids much at all.  Hey ho.  Life priorities.


So anyway, 6 months before we move : then a period of time when I'm still mostly in the UK working.  So stages of being increasingly fluent please...


I'm starting at the moment with Duolingo on my iPhone which feels accessible and feasible to do for circa 15mins most days.  BUT it had a 'placing test' which I got mostly correct but then it said I was an utter failure and I'm stuck covering the absolute basics and I will soon lose my motivation!  Does anyone know of a better app to try or how to manage Duolingo better?

Then how about Gallego : doesn't seem to be generally an available option with the typical iphone apps.  One suggestion was to learn Portuguese to then ease the transition to Gallego later? Any thoughts out there?


I have a couple of spanish contacts in London, so I hope to use them occasionally over the next few months to develop some business/IT spanish vocab, phrases and overall fluency.



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Oh, another quick update FYI : Progress following the 14th Nov post
13 January 2016

Oh, just to offer a piece of good news progress.

14th November I offered a blog post about our current debt, and the intention to go freelance/contracting.


Well hurrah - fate/universe did provide and a month after that I did start at a new workplace, having set my own limited company up and sealed the deal on a contract at over £500pd yay!  I'm working very near where I have been for the last 3 years, so the London commute is still relatively ok : just a long train ride in from Sussex, but no tube.

I've been there for 4 weeks now, so already billed and received payment for some (which shows the company in profit already, what a great type of business to run!!) and by this point today, I have now earnt roughly enough to guarentee the family income for the next two months at least.

The contract is a 6 month, to mid June which could be perfect.

If all goes well, the plan would be:

- keep same family budget/income through all this year per month

- the above includes having £7k saved to cover not working through July and August, starting back in Sept

- save £5k towards the moving out/moving in costs

- possibly making a start in paying off the debts.

I also have a potential offer of a loan from a sibling to help towards clearing the debt (against family estate/will in the future)


Continuing to work from Sept onwards for a period of time eg 6, 9 or 12 months further should then:

- Allow to continue a circa £3k a month family budget : for Spain life and for UK/Spain split life and travel for me

- Clearing debt within hopefully a few months

- Saving to be able to invest in the home and land in Galicia : getting Pigs, cultivating the land, fixing up and improving the family home, maybe then in the future investing in building our own Yurt type ecohome.

- Affording trips back to see family, participate in things, come back for festivals.


fingers crossed.  It's a big ask for it to all go smoothly



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we're coming...... booked and ready... well, booked
13 January 2016

1st of July 2016.  We are coming/going/leaving/arriving.


We booked our ferries last night so it's real and really happening.  On the 1st of July: one self-drive van (see below, advice/tips needed), one normal family car with roofbox, two adults, two children, two cats, and three gerbils - with a temporary travelling teenager : will all be getting the ferry at portsmouth to move their lives to Galicia.  24 hours, then a 6 hour drive from Santander to near La Coruna/A Coruna and we'll arrive at the family home to get a nights sleep, then awake to unpack and start our new life.

The complex logistics start slightly beforehand with finishing work (a freelance/contract role by mid/end june), packing our things, hiring a van, filling the van.

Then the continue after we arrive.  we'll keep the van for 10 days, then I -solo- will travel back to Santander, back on the ferry (on my own on my 3xth birthday! 11th July), back to portsmouth and home.  Then drop the hire van back.  Then have a day to relax in the UK, then on the 13th fly back from LHR to La Coruna/A Coruna.

This should be the start of an x weeks holiday/settling into the house and land prep - although in the heat of July/Aug hopefully not too much.

Then sometime in August (flights not booked yet) I will return, sell or freecycle our remaining things, put some into storage, and clean/handback our rented house.  Help our teenager (by then, 20) move into a houseshare probaly in Brighton, start back at work in london (new or extended previous contract), and then start a period of weekend travelling to/from Galicia.   [already looking at booking the flights now : around 150 gbp return Fri 5pm / Sunday 3pm.


wow.  so it's real.


Advice particularly needed with regard to Self Drive van hire.  I am NOT taking a Luton which I think is the root of the problems I've read about to do with laden weight and Spanish police pulling and fining UK Drivers.  I am assuming a LWB transit, although may reconsider to a SWB.

We're not taking a whitegoods although quite some stock of books etc which of course are heavy.  and some plants.  But hopefully should be under 3,500kg  (european breakdown cover max: LWB are 3300 KG unladen I think).

Any advice, horror stories or reassurance anyone?


Next planning update to come soon.






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Slow progress/stalls :<
14 November 2015

Planning was going to be slow and steady anyway, but the plan was to have already changed work approach to be a freelancer, so that we could start paying off existing debts and building up a saving pot ASAP.  Unfortunatly that hasn't occurred yet despite three close calls where I only just narrowly missed out apparently.

So my mind is into back-up plans already like staying where I am (work is likely fine until March) and then either taking long leave in the summer like a month paid, a month unpaid before returning to continue.  Or hoping for a redundancy package in Q2.  Or just resigning to either be more available immediate for freelance, or heading out for the move and coming back in the autumn to again be able to start contracts immediatly.

Either way, one of the barriers we have is my existing level of debt circa £15k.  Either finding a way to keep up the repayments, or obviously otherwise paying them off wholly or partly before we go.  Any angel investors out there in internet land? :>  Going out to a new life - although admittedly with the house and support of parents and family - without incoming money is one thing, going out with debt is another.

ho hum,  I'm hopeful that the universe/fate will provide.


Then we can focus a bit more on the main logistics and life planning.



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