This is a story of How life in Spain Makes you Richer- Without Luxuries.
Everyone dreams of living the rich man’s life, but despite their effort, the dream is still far away. I am one of them who worked hard in 2 jobs for years while going to graduate school, but the rich man’s life seemed unattainable.
I asked myself why it is so hard to achieve it. I am doing everything by the book, moving to the best country to succeed-the USA, working hard, studying and getting good grades.
Barely passing by to pay my bills while my student debt was growing at a rapid pace. Actually, I was sinking into debt.
Where was my promised financial freedom, the rich man’s life on the top of the hill with the views, my daughter getting the best education, affording her hobbies and sport activities? Eating healthy, being a part of a community and vibrant social life?
Why am I not saving anything?
Will I ever afford to buy a house?
I was just surviving and being happy to afford the basics. After thorough self-reflection, observation of my life and others in the US, I realized it will be close to impossible to achieve it.
I will just end up broke and burnout. Actually, it happened. I was burned out after 16 years of relentless trying to succeed.
Umair Haque is right when he writes in his essays that basics in America are luxuries. Nobody can afford them. And the luxuries which are write here are only attainable in the US for only very rich people. I am talking about less than 1% of the American population.
I figured out that with mine and my husband’s nursing salary, we would never get to anything even close, doesn’t matter how much we would work. Not to mention, that I worked full time and my husband had 2 full time jobs. Our American dream disappeared. Instantly.
I decided together with my husband and my daughter to leave the US for good and try something new. A place where life is more simple, and far more affordable: Andalusia, Spain.
I have lived in Spain for almost four years and here is my rich man’s life without owning any luxuries or being rich:
By having a million dollar view from my apartment without spending $$$
I live in a small apartment around 700 sf, a lot of natural light, and amazing views. The apartment comes with the double space garage for less than 400 Euros a month.
My daughter was accepted to one of the best high schools in Granada without spending a penny
The school is smaller, academically stronger, accepting only A and B students. The university, even for a medical degree, is below 700 Euros for the entire school year if she goes one day. No need for 429 college funds or gaining student debt like I was in the US. I do not care how prestigous the university is, I am not paying 50k for one school year.
I rented a horse for my daughter without getting broke
I can afford to rent a horse with 8 private classes for my daughter. In the US, to rent a horse and have private classes would cost me close to $2000. The horse belongs to her now. She can ride and be with the horse anytime. The veterinarian, classes and care for the horse is included in the price for 300 euros.
We live 20 minutes away from the ski resort and have few free ski passes from our village
Everyone knows how ski passes are insanely expensive. Here they aren’t the cheapest, but you still can afford it. Also, if you are the resident of our village, you may get 2 free passes per person during winter. I know Flagstaff, Arizona, has some free ski passes for children 12 years and younger or if you are over 75 years old. The cheapest one day pass in the US comes down to $100.
This example isn’t about the $$$ but about the fact that if you are a resident and pay taxes, you get something for it: you live the rich man’s life.
By having universal and private health insurance costing less than 150 Euros a month for the family of three
We have lived in Spain for 4 years now and because we are EU citizens; we qualify for both universal and private health insurance. Children of EU citizens get it immediately, but I need to work ( the company pays 100%)or you can pay social security 60 euros a month for the first 24 months and then you pay a flat rate of 299 euros if you are self-employed. This fee includes your retirement, social security; therefore, it isn’t only healthcare insurance. For private insurance you pay 60 euros flat rate for many years. It may go up by a little after a few years.
My point is: I am not afraid to go to the hospital or a doctor, specialist. We have no copay and no deductible. ER is free. Nobody asks you to sign anything. You come in; they check you, treat you, and upon discharge, you just leave. No bills are coming from the hospital. Ever.
The best quality of fresh organic food for free or reasonably priced and restaurants are affordable
The food in Southern Spain is absolutely amazing and very affordable. The key to buying good quality food depends on local shops. They deliver the best quality food for the best price. Two pounds of organic local apples costs 1 Euro. In the village, you get most of the veggies and fruits free because everyone has so many in their garden.
In the States, I believe one apple at the local market was $5 because it was organic. Insane. Everywhere else in the world, local produce is cheaper, not the other way around. The restaurants are super affordable because with every drink you get tapas; it is like a small appetizer for free with each drink you order.
Actually, Spain spends the most per capita across the whole of Europe. Simple. It is delicious and affordable. Glass of wine was 3 Euros. In the States it was between $12-$15. I believe going to restaurants every day is a luxury, but not in Spain. Here it is an everyday thing to do.
Living in a safe, low crime area. The police aren’t armed because it is safe here
The village I live in is super safe and I have no problem walking anywhere by myself or my daughter anytime of the day or night. For a woman who has a daughter, this means a lot. I want to feel safe in the place I live and raise my child.
Also, the police don’t carry a weapon; most of the village is over 90 years old and the other half is a mix of Spanish and Expat families. For me that’s luxury because in the States only in the rich zip codes you can be safe. If you ever get lost in the ghetto zip code, you will be lucky nothing happens to you.
Once I remember, I went to Anacostia, in the DC metro area. I was so scared because of so many gangs staring me in the eyes. I was worried someone would just pull a gun on me for no reason at all.
We just bought the land with the million dollar view to build our first eco sustainable house, which cost us $40k, not millions of dollars
I feel blessed to live in the heart of Sierra Nevada National Park with the highest peak Mulhacen in the whole of Spain and still afford to buy land. By American standards, this is considered a luxury as well because in the US only rich people can afford beautiful views.
Just to compare, I picked Jackson Hole, WY, where the cheapest piece of condo is $685K, not even a lot. Then I tried listings for Aspen, CO and got zero results for price minimum $900k. That is insane. I would never afford a beautiful land with a view in the States close to a desirable city.
Everything I could only dream of in the US happened here in Spain without being filthy rich. Without owning luxuries, my life feels very luxurious.
As you noticed, I did not mention shopping, attaining a big house, a car, or other unnecessary luxuries but my life is very rich thanks to the environment, the simple lifestyle where anyone can live a life of the rich man without the funds or owning expensive toys.
I don’t own a car. I don’t have a dryer. I don’t have heating in the apartment only a wood stove. I don’t have a house yet, but I feel my life is as good as a rich man’s life.
My husband works 6 months a year and I only work if I need to. I know many people in the village that don’t work here full time but mostly freelance or do part-time jobs and their life is just like mine, including their quality of life.
The quality of life depends on several factors, such as affordability, food prices and its quality, public education, universal healthcare.
In the US, for all these basics, you need to pay top $$$, as
umair haque mentioned in his articles. Forget about the extras I mentioned above, those are only for the very rich. At least that is what I noticed. This was my observation while I lived for almost 2 decades.
But I still want to Live in the US what do I Do?
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Source Livia Dabs