A new start in Spain
I mentioned it in our 2022 Year End Recap: both Lissette and I have felt unhappy in Nerja and where we were in our lives.
If haven’t read it: Looking back at 2022…and forward to 2023 (a year to make changes…)
I mentioned the question I posed Lissette at the end of the post: “if you could do anything you want in 2023, what would it be?”.
Her answer “get rid of everything and travel as we did”.
We’re not going that far. But almost.
When I first wrote about Nerja I had mentioned that it was “perfect for the times”. We had just arrived in Spain with our non-lucrative visas and needed to find a base. It was late 2020, Covid was in full swing, and travel between provinces was restricted.
We liked Nerja. It’s pretty, it’s laid back, it has some beautiful nature and the people are friendly. But it wasn’t Split, Lviv or Prague. It wasn’t a place that we fell in love with.
And nothing against Nerja, but it was never our vision of Spain.
But it wasn’t just Nerja. As I’ve alluded to in the post, it was also about lifestyle. After 6 years of full-time travel, having a big apartment and living a sedentary (that’s the best word I can come up with) lifestyle has been an adjustment. The truth is that we’ve been bored.
So that was the story leading up to that year-end recap post.
Just yesterday we moved to Antequera.
There are many reasons.
We wanted to be in a larger city, a place that was authentically Spanish, a place that has good transport options, a place that is more cultural…but also close to nature.
Antequera has all the above.
- It is one of very few cities in Spain that, since January, has 2 high speed train stations. From Antequera’s AV station you can now be in downtown Malaga in 25 minutes. You can take the train to Granada, Seville, Madrid, Cordoba…Antequera is on the major train lines and within reach of any major city.
- Antequera has a lot of culture with a UNESCO World Heritage Site (the Antequera Dolmens), a large Moorish fortress overlooking the city and many churches.
- Antequera is a beautiful city that is very authentically Spanish.
- Antequera is right next to Torcal de Antequera Nature Park. It is surrounded by mountains and I’m looking forward to meeting some people and doing some hiking.
Weather. Antequera has very hot summers and cold winters. Unlike Nerja which gets quite humid (and oppressively humid in summer), Antequera is dry. I’m sure the heat will at times be difficult to take – but having previously spent 3 months in Seville during the summer, we tolerate dry heat better than humidity. We also don’t mind the more distinct seasons we’ll get inland.
We wanted to downsize: have a smaller apartment and pay less rent. I’ve mentioned it before: over the last 2 ½ years we’ve been slaves to our large apartment and yard. In the old days we had a condo in Montreal that we would lock up a month at a time when travelling. We wanted something like that.
It took us 2 months to find it. We almost gave up. But we got lucky: we found a brand new 2-bedroom apartment. We have a rooftop terrace overlooking the Alcazaba. And we’re paying 650 Euros – that’s 200 Euros less than what we paid in Nerja. The apartment is furnished – we’ve spent the last month getting rid of our furniture (keeping some essentials: our dining room/work table, Spin bike, some paintings and other travel souvenirs, our clothes/linens etc).
Note: I wrote a few years ago I wrote this post Every Nomad’s dilemma – Sell or Store your belongings? In the case of Spain, it is much easier finding a furnished apartment than an unfurnished one. Bringing your furniture to Spain just complicates your life.
It’s a beautiful apartment that’s clean and modern. And we feel a huge amount of relief having gotten rid of all our furniture. We feel light.
Bringing back the travel. The bigger picture is that we want to do more travel. Having a modern apartment in Antequera that we can just lock up gives us more flexibility. We plan on doing more travel in both Spain and beyond in the short term (the next 2 years). Antequera is a great base for that.
In 2025 we’ll have our permanent residency in Spain. Once we have that, we have no minimum requirements on time that we have to spend in Spain.
*As temporary residents, you can’t leave the country for more than 6 months consecutively OR for more than a total of 10 months over the 5 years you’re working towards permanent residency. Once you have permanent residency there are no minimum requirements on how much time you have to be in Spain.
We’re thinking of getting back to full-time travel once we have permanent residency.
That’s still a few years away. But over the last few years we’ve realized that as long as we can (we’re in our late 50’s) we want to travel. The last few years have proven to us that being in one place – at this point in our lives – isn’t what we want.
Summing it up
In a way, this move to Antequera is a step towards getting back into full-time travel. We’ve gotten rid of 90% of our belongings (everything we’ve kept fits into a small minivan), we’ve moved into a smaller apartment where we can easily lock up and go, we’ve reduced our costs, and we’ve moved to a city with better transport links.
But it’s more than that. We needed a change of scenery and we wanted to live in a ‘real’ Spanish city. We tired of living among expats and tourists (Ironic because it was something we had wanted to avoid when moving to Spain…and we had ended up in Nerja).
In fact, looking back on my post a few years back “Where to live in Spain as Retiring Expats”, I wish we had known of Antequera. It was exactly what we were looking for at the time.
We don’t have the illusion that Antequera will be our forever home; I think our last few years of having a base has taught us more about ourselves. But we’re excited and we hope it will be our home for at least the next 2 years. We’re excited to being stimulated by a new city, new surroundings and new challenges.
As I say, it’s a new start in Spain as well as a new chapter in our lives 🙂
Related: What’s it like living in Nerja? The Pros and the Cons
Related: 30 Photos that will make you want to visit Antequera (Spain)
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Guys. Sounds like a well thought out move. Glad you are getting back on the road.
Congratulations on your move! Antequera sounds great for your needs, at least for the next few years. Modern apartments are easy to maintain and the rent for yours is fantastic! Looking forward to lots of new travel content soon and I hope Spain does reduce the NLV constraints to 3 years to help with that 🙂
Thank you very much Claudine! So far we’re loving it 🙂
Congrats! When you mention the places you love, they often seem to be larger cities (800k+ inhabitants) – have you considered moving to such a place? I’m retired myself – while being young – and I think I would be bored to death if I didn’t live in a fairly large city with lots of things going on. Two things I’ve noticed become way more important once you’ve stopped working is: 1. living in a large city or close to one, with lots of culture, cafés, restaurants etc, 2. living in a place with decent weather year round (or leaving it during the bleakest winter months as I do, since i live in northern Europe).
All good points! Actually we’ve loved smaller cities like Split and Lviv. We’ve both lived in Montreal and New York 25+ years and as we got older we got tired of big cities…but medium sized cities that aren’t too crowded are just about right for us.
Antequera is beautiful. A bit small but it is well connected to bigger cities and has the advantage of being surrounded by nature. I’m not saying that it’s the perfect place but it appeals to us more than a seaside community.
Thanks for the comment RJA.
good on you guys for making the move and hopefully you’ll be happier in your new town. I definitely agree that dry heat is way better than humidity. and it’s 200 euro a month lesser which is not peanuts. But only 10 months in five years – that’s not a lot really considering your situation, is it???
Thanks Andy. We just found out that they may be changing the rule from 5 years to 3. Change may be effective as of Feb 2024.
Well that’s exciting news! I always say, embrace the change. We’ve never been to Nerja or Antequera, but we have been to Malaga and really enjoyed ourselves, and the region. We are looking forward to a future return to Spain to explore the unknown. We’re about to have another major shift in our lives (all good) and although we won’t be traveling like we did before the world came to a screeching stop, we are planning to cross that big pond again. Who knows, maybe our paths will finally cross. My best to you and Lissette. Cheers ~ Patti
Thanks Patti! I’m curious about your plans. But it’s good to know you’ll be back in Europe. Hope you’re both well 🙂
Life changes, and people with it. Don’t be so sure that if you had known Antequera before you decided on Nerja, that you would have or should have picked Antequera. Nerja is a coastal town, which is probably better for your health during a pandemic. Also, a city apartment would have been jail cell during the pandemic. Considering that you had garden area in Nerja.
Either way, Antequera seems nice. On your travelling while you’re in your 50s, I totally agree. Just turned 65, we did an intensive touring trip in Japan. Trains for 1-2 hours each way, so 2-4 hours of trains each day. It was absolutely exhausting. Our trip was to see all things that we did not see on our first Japan trip in 2019. What a difference being 4 years older did to us. I wish we could go to Japan for a month, and have a base, so we don’t have to rush.
Can’t wait to see your posts on your new adventures!
Good points John. And don’t get me wrong, we appreciated Nerja for getting us through a difficult period. But we always knew really that it’s wasn’t a place where we could see ourselves long term.
You are right, travelling is exhausting and like you we’ve found it gets harder to keep to a schedule as we’re getting older. I think we’ll always have to travel “slow”, can’t do the Rick Steves-type travel (10 cities in 14 days) anymore either.
Thank you for the insightful (as usual) comment John.
The views from your terrace are amazing!! Congratulations on your new home, I can totally understand the reasons behind this move.
We visited Antequera back in 2019 and we really enjoyed it, the surrounding countryside is also gorgeous, and having all the easy transport links is definitely a bonus.
Enjoy this new chapter of your lives and I will be looking forward to following along…might see you on the road.
Thank you Gilda. It’s a crappy photo on a crappy phone but we’ll take some good ones in the future. Have a pretty terrace with cool breezes and great views. We’re going to enjoy it. And if you come back to Spain (and Antequera) we’ll invite you over 🙂
Wishing both of you the best in your new chosen city, have never been to Antequera but is in the list, the apartment looks very nice and having access to fast trains gives you freedom and flexibility to go anywhere. This year short one week trips to the Caribbean and to celebrate 10 more years of high school graduation. For next April planning for Sicily, Calabria and Puglia that we haven’t been there. Say hello to Lissette
Hi Carlos! Well, only 25 minutes to Antequera from Malaga now. Easy day trip. They added the new high speed train station in town right after we decided that our new base would be Antequera, so it worked out perfectly.
Always like hearing about your travels Carlos. We’ve been to Puglia but not to Sicily – it’s on our list as well.
Lissette says hello back 🙂
I love Andalusia Its history,Culture etc; I like the Islamic history of Andalusia and the Mudejar Architecture in Andalusia My Favourite City is Cordoba, followed by Granada because of the Alhambra etc and Sevilla, because of their Islamic history and buildings.
Mark D Miller
Good luck with the move, and keep the letters coming!
Well, good for you, Frank! I like the enthusiasm you’re showing for your decision. Sounds like you’re moving on to a better, more suitable place. It’s not 2020 anymore, time to move on.
We’ll be looking forward to reading about your travels now, because you really haven’t been traveling! We all kinda got out of the habit, out of the travel groove. We’re ready to hear more of your adventures.
Best of luck. It sounds fabulous.
Thank you Victoria!