2023 is slowly coming to an end and we are planning ahead for the year 2024. For me this year was the year to create a foundation for a new business or income stream. At the moment I am an online contractor for four days per week for a British company – fixed days and fixed times. As the work is remote I can work anywhere as long as the time zone is relatively compatible with British office hours. I have worked in several different countries and it is close to an ideal situation.
I said close, as I am not keen on the fixed hours and because I work from France, my day ends rather late. My goal is to create side hustles that over time can replace my current income. You know that passive income that keeps on coming while we sleep. Hey, but a girl can dream and have goals, can’t she?
I have been self employed for over 20 years and most of those years were spent in Australia. It is very easy to be self employed in Australia and several of my business ventures have had moderate success. I have been a remedial massage therapist, a counsellor, an interior designer and had a garden business which was by far the most successful gig.
At the moment I am also self employed – sole trader or auto-entrepreneur as they call it in France, where we have lived since 2017. Being self employed in France is a bit harder to set up but once you are in the French system, it runs quite smoothly. France has changed the rules around being a sole trader during the last 10 years but unfortunately they still hit sole traders hard with social contributions.
We may be considering leaving France…..
The big disadvantage of being in France is not being able to access our Australian pension. The countries do not seem to like each other enough to facilitate that exchange. For that reason – and a few more in fact, we are thinking of moving to Spain as Spain is one of the countries where you can receive an Australian pension. Actually you would be able to receive it in most countries in western Europe except the UK and France.
As a result we have started to research Spain and do a bit of planning ahead. Another reason we want to leave our home town Limoux, is the climate during the winter. It may be in the South of France but we find the winter too long and too cold. One of the main reasons we moved to Australia was the weather and good weather we have had. We spent 17 years in Brisbane and 9 months of the year the climate is close to perfect there. The three other months, summer, are the problem!
So researching Spain means thinking about the weather and in contrary to France, we have to be aware of areas that are too hot. Andalusia for instance, sounds fabulous in the winter, but the summers seem just too much of the good thing. Climate change is making many areas uncomfortably hot. On the other hand we would like the winter to be mild.
Limoux drops to similar temperatures as the winters in The Netherlands, where I am from. And, that, is the country I left because of the weather. I feel I have gone full circle and I am back in what I left. Twenty years ago this part of France may have been true to the claim of having over 300 sunny days per year. At the moment it is far from the truth as the amount of grey days is quite astonishing.
Could a move to Spain be the answer?
We have spent a fair amount of time in different parts of Spain. Mostly visiting my sister who used to own a house near Roses and doing housesits. We have done several housesits in Cataluña and in Denia, both very nice destinations. Unfortunately both are not our cup of tea to settle. Cataluña has the wind we like to avoid – the Tramontana and Denia is comfortable but has too much of everything in a negative way.
Following the climate, reading blogs and talking to people, we have found that Castellón might be an area of interest. Castellón sits in between Valencia and Cataluña. It is quite pretty, is not overly touristy and the climate seems to tick the boxes. So we have decided to check it out.
So here is our planning ahead itinerary
It started with a housesit in the centre of Valencia over the Christmas period. Usually we find housesits during specific housesit sites but this was organised via friends. Thus our Christmas was be in Spain, in Valencia with my husband, myself, one of our daughters and two cute cats. To be honest I was quite excited to say the least. I seem to hear more and more interesting things about this city. In fact it has become the latest ‘in’ destination for people to retire. And I am not sure if this is a good thing, by the way.
After the Christmas period, we will start our research and the first target area will be the area in between Castellón and Valencia. When we search for a destination in France, we created a list with criteria that were important to us. We simply dismissed everything that did not have some of those criteria. It is not easy to create a list like that as you have to anticipate and imagine through planning ahead. You can’t let yourself be blinded by pretty villages that seem perfect. If they don’t have the criteria, they are not perfect nor suitable.
Our list of criteria
Our list of criteria for Spain is different than the list we had for France. After all, we are almost 10 years older and now proximity to hospitals is high up the list. We experienced how important this is when we did an off-the-grid housesit in rural Cataluña. Our car broke down and the French road service could not find our coordinates and we had to meet the Catalan mechanic in a nearby town. Imagine having to do that when you need an ambulance.
I mentioned the weather being one of the criteria, health facilities is surely amongst them and proximity to the sea and hiking areas. Although we will be expats ourselves, we don’t like too many of them and we want the town to be alive all year ’round. Many pretty towns are only alive in the summer and in the winter they turn into ghosts towns. The target is a normal Spanish town where Spanish people live and work with facilities that are open all year.
Limoux is one of those towns and we can conclude that we stayed faithful to our criteria list. It ticked many of the boxes and it still does apart from a few things that I mentioned before. Climate was actually never on the list and we knew about the pension but were not ready to start planning ahead for our pension at the time.
To sum this up, we are preparing and planning ahead our next move abroad. Our oldest daughter reckons that we will never settle as we like to move and explore new places. Fortunately our current lifestyle supports that kind of attitude and lifestyle.
Are you good at planning ahead or does this totally not resonate with you?
Let me know in the comments below.