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Insight #4 A Relocation Journey – From the US to Galicia

Posted by Annika Daseking on 16/04/2024

In the age of abundant and sometimes overwhelming online resources, there’s no shortage of information on moving to Northern Spain. However, finding the answers to all your questions can be challenging and quickly become a very time-consuming task. What is the best area to live? What type of house and location fits my lifestyle and budget? What about visas and all the other paperwork?

At Galicia & Green Spain Property & Relocation, we understand that the decision to move to a new country is not only about finding the right property—it’s about embracing a new way of life! Our approach is tailored to meet your individual needs, ensuring that you find not just any home, but the right home for you. We are here to offer you the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your property purchase & relocation journey is in expert hands.

In this edition, we sit down with one of our esteemed clients to uncover the joys, challenges, and surprises of their relocation journey. From navigating Spanish bureaucracy and learning the language to discovering hidden gems in their new neighbourhood and making new friends, our interviewees share honest insights that can’t be found in guidebooks or online forums.

Join us as we explore the authentic experiences and invaluable wisdom of those who have walked the path before you. Whether you’re considering a move to Galicia, Asturias, or anywhere in Northern Spain, let their stories inspire and inform your own adventure!

Meet Beth and Larry Keenan: From Living in Dallas, Texas to City Life in Vigo in Galicia.

Join us for a personal chat with a couple from the U.S., about their personal journey from living in Dallas, Texas to becoming city-dwellers in Vigo in Galicia.

  • Can you describe your former life in Texas? What did a normal day look like? And how does your day-to-day life look now?

Pre-retirement, Larry was in an unfulfilling corporate job in Dallas and I worked remotely for a non-profit in upstate New York. We were aware that as soon as Larry was able to retire, we’d make some big changes, and the Covid Pandemic allowed us to be home together and plan it out over many months.

Our day to day now – Study Spanish, cook, walk somewhere we haven’t been yet. Travel, talk to friends, do Wordle, watch Apple TV or Netflix, read a book, nap.

  • Can you share with us what motivated your decision to leave the US and move to Spain?

There are many reasons that go into a change this big, and not all of them can even be put into words. What allows you to go? Why you would need to go?

We were allowed to leave by being retired, with no children, most of our friends either online or constant travellers, brother in Paris, parents gone.

Why we would want and need to go

It was obvious we could grow as people and be happier elsewhere… had travelled and were attracted by the opportunity to learn a new language, learn a new culture, experience Europe and be citizens of the world. In matters of health, Larry is allergic to the preservatives put on most food in the US; we observed that he never got sick when we were in Europe.

A further factor: We had much less saved for retirement than needed to stay in the US with the life we would like. But this is a more-than-sufficient amount for much of the rest of the world.

We hit the books; we joined many Facebook groups. Could Larry get EU citizenship through his mother? (No). We looked at entry requirements and Visas for most of Europe, and we used the brilliant numbeo to compare the cost of living in the interesting cities. Highly recommend numbeo!

  • Why did you choose Galicia and in particular Vigo?

We made a reconnaissance trip the year before we moved, checking out cities in Spain (and Portugal) that had potential – in Spain, mainly Barcelona, Valencia, and Pontevedra.

Pontevedra won hands-down, in terrible wet November weather. It was not a contest. Galicia was already on the radar because of the Caminos, Pontevedra is known for banning cars from the historic area of the city, and general progressiveness.


Galicia is a world centre for pilgrimage, something we appreciate.
Galicia is cool and rainy in an ever-more-heated and dry world.

Galicia is Celtic, with bagpipes and accordion and a million t-shirts proclaiming it – and live music galore.

Galicia is more than just green; because of the relative lack of development for millennia it has pre-ice age virgin forests of oak and ash, something that has survived more here than anywhere in the world.

  • It has the Atlantic climate, with both sea and mountain.
  • Portugal is NEXT DOOR, with all its excellent qualities, a short drive.
  • It is not overpopulated. Celtic ruins, Roman ruins, and Visigoth arches.
  • Camellia gardens blooming in the winter. In the mild winter where it never freezes.

The character of Galicians, (which I am not qualified to address, but here it is), is reserved but very kind, with a sadness akin to Irish sadness. Straightforward, good humoured. Not in your face, not smiley, not inclined to make friends with a stranger but very much live and let live. We find this very comfortable.

I go to the grocery store and the food is more than twice as good for half the price. The seafood is justly famous, but the cabbage and onions are also unbelievable, and a big bag of lemons cost one euro. This is a wine producing area (which impresses visiting friends from the states) and the prices for these wines are hard to believe.



The expats who live here praise Vigo on Facebook groups again and again.
A real city that is not as windy as A Coruna,
Bigger and more diverse than Pontevedra,
and not thronged with tourists like Santiago de Compostela.
The Mayor is a real booster and quirky things are always happening.

  • How did you find the process of transitioning from city life in Texas to living in an apartment in the city of Vigo?

City life in Dallas, even in a beautiful historic area home, was expensive, guns all around, rift with political divisions and hot as blazes. The traffic and the crazy worsened over time.  A side benefit: What I used to think of as a short car trip in Texas gets me all the way to Lisbon now.

Our first apartment was an off-season rental on Playa América, in the centre of that gorgeous beach, stunning in all weather and circumstances. A complete jewel!

The place we bought in Vigo, where we are in the process of moving, is a small apartment on the 5th floor of a building next to the Corte Inglés department store and within blocks of the Vialia Train and Bus Station with its lovely new mall. It is perfect for us now, even has a balcony that looks good to grow herbs. We plan to move to a seaside house in a few years, after our Spanish is better and we have our drivers licences.

  • What were some of the biggest challenges you encountered while moving to Galicia, and how did you overcome them?

Nothing approaches the challenge of the NLV (Non-Lucrative) Visa Application pledging you will not work for money in Spain. The process is quite involved and many of the parts expire – the marriage certificate and the doctor’s attestation could not be more than three months old. We had to do several items twice. It takes a long time to finish, and you spend a constant dribble of money with no real idea whether the application will work or not. The Houston Consulate is famously picky, with requests to resubmit information etc. We read many horror stories posted in real time on Facebook. When ours came through in two weeks we were amazed. We’re STILL amazed.

  • We understand you’ve just purchased a beautiful apartment in the heart of this amazing city and are now fully emerging into the Galician lifestyle! Please could you tell us how easy or difficult this initial stage was for you?

The apartment on Playa America was wonderfully located for view but we needed to lease a car to get groceries and get around – the buses run on the hour, take an hour to get to Vigo and are often late. Also, it’s the lodging problem – this is a seasonal rental. Putting down roots requires a rental we could have all year, or a purchase. What we saw more and more was that purchase was the way to go, especially as much attention as Vigo has been getting lately; we didn’t buy expecting to see appreciation on the property, but by all the signs that is likely to be the case.

  • What role did Galicia & Green Spain Property & Relocation Services play in helping you with your relocation journey? Can you tell us about your experience working with them?

Caroline Harris’ name came up over and over in our reading, in glowing terms – checked out her website and that was who I could find for help with a relocation to Galicia. So we emailed, and set up to talk to Caroline one evening – and the rest was history.

We had no way of making it happen other than Caroline. Unlike more sensible people, we did not speak Spanish, or have a Galician relative or friend. Caroline found the beachside apartment for us. The landlord lived in the US and was very helpful with the visa paperwork required at that time. Caroline was also very good at answering the questions we had to get set up.

On the day of our arrival in Galicia, she met us at the airport, was able to get all our bags into her car, and took us immediately to the grocery store to have food and toiletries. Which laundry detergent. We did not know what a lot of things were, so just grabbed… and then we got to the apartment. Wow! On the water. At the beach.

She let us settle in for a few days and then helped us with the bureaucratic interactions we had heard would be difficult – and Caroline picked us up, took us, and handled it, talking to the people at the Concello (the local townhall) – and we had our Padron. Even more amazing, in a few months, after another expedition with lots of signing papers and then a pick-up of cards, we had our residency, and the treasured card with our NIE number.

Equally important was our bank account, another potentially very problematic interaction – Caroline helped us and sorted that for us nicely, and we now have a debit card.

When you are so new in foreign country, the first people you know are your neighbours, the people who sell you food, your Spanish teachers, and the relocation expert helping you. All these people give tips and introduce other people, and every interaction helps to fill in a bit of the puzzle. There are, again, Facebook and WhatsApp groups – and gathering in different areas, with everyone welcomed. We’ve been to a few.

After some months, Caroline took us to see a few more apartments, which helped us understand more about what is available at what price and what to expect. After talking to people and hearing stories about extreme efforts to find a good long term rental in Vigo, we realized we were in a position to benefit from a purchase instead – and so Caroline helped us look for a house, first in Moaña just across the estuary from Vigo, and then at apartments in town. Every property we saw taught us a bit more about the prices, the circumstances and what to expect.

  • What do you enjoy most about living in Northern Spain, particularly in Galicia? Are there any aspects of the lifestyle that surprised you?

The green, the water, the ever-changing weather, fishermen, para-skiers, surfers, camino pilgrims, the right VPN means you WILL be able to watch Netflix – cooking the excellent food – cafes – we are very happy here, body and soul.

I was surprized by the Starbucks and malls, the chic of Cortes Ingles, that people in the US and the people in Vigo don’t dress all that differently (athleisure mostly).

Never in my life will I live somewhere with more varieties of white asparagus in glass jars available to me. Never!

  • Is there anything that you don’t like or find challenging about living in Galicia?

The water is too cold for open water swimming without neoprene – ah, well. It’s great for splashing in the waves.

What we have to do to get a Spanish Driver’s License is quite involved – no agreements like the UK.

The bread is too good and your clothes get very tight if too much of it is eaten. Same for the wine, and pastries.

Español is challenging but we are improving! (Our Amazon delivery people want to emigrate to the United States)

  • A new life in a new country is exciting but is there anything you miss from the US and Texas in particular?

We miss knowing how to do everything. We miss a latte with friends in person – now I text them and send a photo of the place.

  • Have you had the opportunity to make friends within the local community or among other international residents?

People here are always working to connect us with other groups, a person they think we’d like, an apartment coming up – they are very kind and we hope to pay this kindness forward.

  • How are you adapting to the Spanish language? Are you taking any language courses, and if so, how is the learning process going?

Yes, at first we studied with Jock’s English in Nigrán – he was an invaluable resource for language and life in Galicia. Jock gave us a lot of political and other background, and local stories. Some Gallego language, too – important.

Also Vanessa at This Way language school in Vigo – usually taking one conversation class and one individual instruction class. We are painfully slow but improving. I’m very embarrassed, but for the most part enjoy it, while Larry is actually on his way to competence if not fluency.

  • With the knowledge and experience you have gained from your move to Galicia, what would you do differently if you were to move now?

After we moved to Galicia, we flew to Paris at Thanksgiving, to London for Christmas, and drove to Porto for New Years. That was proof of concept that it is easy to get around in Europe, and it connected us to friends and relatives, but we got sick after every trip. Better to go one place at the holidays, or better yet, make them come here!

  • Do you have any tips and advice for all those who are thinking of moving to Northern Spain?

Do the homework – visit where you are interested and see how you like it beforehand. Visit at an off time of year. Join lots of Facebook groups in the area and observe what they like, and what they complain about.

See an accountant to gauge taxes in this double-income tax situation. Have a Spanish accountant and a US accountant that work together well.

Figure out how to run your financial life as someone living in another country.

Learn how to use Wise to your advantage. Excellent way to get money back and forth.

Work on your Spanish before you move to Spain!

Thank you for taking the time to chat with us about your relocation journey. We hope you will keep us updated about your future adventures as you are settling into your new life in this beautiful corner of the world!

Just wanted to close by emphasizing the role that Caroline Harris played in getting us here and settled in, helping us through the initial bureaucratic necessities with great patience and charm. We learned to pay very close attention to anything she would tell us; likely it would come up later. We feel our move was very successful and she was crucial to this.


Ready to embark on your adventure and start a new life in Galicia or Asturias? Get in touch with us!

Your Galicia & Green Spain Property & Relocation Team:

Caroline Harris – Southern Galicia

Estefanía Rúa – Northern Galicia

Donna Gonzalez-Linnitt – Asturias

How we can help you move to Northern Spain:

Get expert advice from our trusted partners @ Currencies Direct and @ Smart Currency Exchange on all things payment-related in foreign currency.

Secure your well-being with personalized health insurance advice from our trusted partners @ Adeslas, tailored to your unique needs as you transition to your new life abroad.


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