#ProjectExpat Episode 1: Make a Plan to Move
We’re super excited to finally release the very first episode of #ProjectExpat! As I’m sure you all can probably guess, our dream of moving abroad took a (spoiler alert) 180 degree twist and backflip in the air due to the global pandemic…
But we’re still going to show you not only the steps and logistics for moving abroad (plus all the drama), but what happens when you get stuck in quarantine in a foreign country. For four weeks. When it’s also your first time living together.
For now though, check out Episode 1: Make a Plan to Move, and you can also read some of the main topics and important information below!
We worked really hard on this and are bummed our adventures are currently confined to a (stunning terrace) apartment, so please help us out by sharing this post and leaving some feedback in the comments if you enjoyed it!
Making a Plan to Move
Obviously it was utter chaos being told you have to move out in three weeks, and deciding you would…but to another country, in the same day. My brain was like a tornado of concerns and questions.
So the first thing I did was make a check list of all the things that needed to be done. The long version was:
- Find an apartment (AKA “flat”)
- Book my mom’s flight to LA to get my dog and my valuables
- Book a flight to Barcelona
- Organize what to bring, keep in storage, donate, and throw away
- Book storage pick up (I’d HIGHLY recommend Clutter)
- Reserve car parking/storage
- Look into longer visas
- Plan Bon Voyage Parties
- Cancel rental insurance, wifi, utilities, etc.,
- Forward mail to mom’s house
- Somehow film it all and continue working at the same time.
Picking a Neighborhood to Live in Barcelona
A lot of people asked how I did this and were surprised when I said I had only gotten it for one month. This is actually an extremely smart move and one I’d highly recommend!
You don’t know what neighborhood and areas you’ll love until you’ve lived there for more than two weeks! There’s also no way I was going to commit to a year or more in a place I haven’t actually seen in person!
So what I did was research the best areas to live in in Barcelona. Most blogs and websites pointed me to the Gothic Quarter and El Borne for a cool, central area. Others said a less-touristy area like Pobleneau, and the trendy locally loved Gracia area.
There’s also L’Eixample which is the bustling hub of Barcelona, as well as the beach area called Barceloneta. Just to make a note about Barceloneta; it’s cute, but the beach isn’t the best and there’s A LOT of pick pocketers.
For us, we definitely wanted to be somewhere central and walking distance to everything. So I chose to narrow my search to Gothic Quarter, El Borne, and L’Eixample.
Finding a Temporary Apartment on Airbnb
Originally I was looking at long-term rentals which you can find for great prices on the local website here called Idealista.
But as I mentioned before, I didn’t want to make a commitment without experiencing the neighborhood and seeing the place first! So I did what I usually do, and looked for places on Airbnb, especially ones offering monthly discounts.
I was SUPER excited with what I found at first. Most of them were cute, chic, and had balconies. Most were also somewhat in my price range. BUT of course when you go to book it, you see airbnb adds on a couple hundred dollars in fees.
Now I can’t recommend doing what I’m about to tell you since it’s technically against airbnb’s rules, and there’s always a potential for a scam. But if I know I’m going to be staying somewhere for more than a week, I’ll usually try message the host and ask for either a discount, or to contact me off the platform to do a direct deal and avoid the fees.
Well, turns out all of the places I messaged about a discount were down! The one I wanted the most didn’t understand my sneaky request to contact me off the platform so even with the discount, the fees made it too much. But my second choice gave me a discount AND followed my instructions for getting my email address off Instagram to contact me directly! (You can’t type your email, number, or website in the messages on airbnb’s platform…)
So I directly booked a cute place in the Gothic Quarter, and wired a down-payment to reserve it!
I got extra excited when she sent me the address and I was able to google map it and see the street view! Not to mention AALLLLL the tapas bars nearby!
Booking a Flight to Barcelona
This of course was easy. I use Skyscanner to compare the cheapest flights, and was excited to see a one-way to Barcelona for $180 on Norwegian!
I booked it for March 5th, which was the day I had to hand in my keys to my apartment in LA.
Later I would find out that Norwegian totally fake-excited me! The $180 direct flight was one of those “base fares” that basically includes nothing. It only includes a personal bag that goes under your seat. You have to pay for a carry-on, checked bags, seat selection, and even your meal!
This is absurd to me since it always seemed like a law that international flights have to include two free checked bags and a meal! Ugh!
Anyway…I ended up spending over$300 on luggage, the last window seat, and a cup of noodles I bought on board. Super lame Norwegian. Super lame.
Working While Preparing to Move Abroad
As you can see, I’m just now posting the first episode of Project Expat, almost two months since I decided to move, and two weeks after moving here. That entire time I was not only filming everything for the web series, but also trying to maintain my regular work as a blogger/influencer as well.
So what I did to try and balance was: Pre-plan all of my posts for the month of February, set filters on my email, and paid my assistant extra to help manage my Group Trips.
OH. We also had already booked a ten day trip to Colombia for Valentines Day. So that was super fun to try to plan and enjoy, knowing we’d be down to less than two weeks to pack and move when we got back!
NEXT WEEK EPISODE 2: See what happens when I fly my mom to LA to get my dog and help me pack, plus her thoughts on the move…and moving in with my boyfriend. You’ll also see all of my friend’s reactions, Oscar’s going away party, and more logistics of checking off the moving check list!