We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.

What if your wanderlust wasn’t limited to a 10-day vacation? In our series My Life Abroad, we ask expats from around the world what it takes to resettle thousands of miles away from home, plus how their new city has influenced their style. 

Who I am: Devon Liedtke, creative director and founder of namesake homewares brand Devon Liedtke.

Where I used to live: Houston.

Where I moved: Barcelona.

How long my family and I have lived in our new city: A year and a half. 

Why we moved: We are definitely a COVID statistic. After being together as a family unit for so long, we realized we wanted more time together and a more flexible work-life balance. We found ourselves staying up late, scheming our next moves and envisioning a different life. 

How our research panned out: Long conversations ensued with hours of exploring what we wanted, the fear of changing jobs, and the anxieties of the unknown. Untethered for the first time in our marriage, my husband, Taylor, and I started planning what life could look like for us. I found a website of 15 international schools in Europe, and Taylor emailed every one of them describing our family and asking if they had any last-minute availability. 

Twenty-four hours into our search, we found a great school in Barcelona. Taylor had studied abroad in Seville and always spoke highly of his love of the Spanish language and culture. 

Forty-eight hours in, we found a furnished apartment that we were excited about. However, at that time, I had never even been to Barcelona. We cashed in our remaining flight miles and booked a quick four-day trip to visit schools and the apartment.

On our last afternoon, over glasses of Cava, we decided this was the move for us and we toasted to our new adventure. When we got back to Houston, we put our house on the market, sold our cars and the majority of our furniture, and put the rest of our belongings in a storage unit. We booked one-way tickets to Barcelona for the new school year.

The logistics we needed to line up before we moved: Figuring out how to get a visa in a short amount of time was the top priority. Spain offers a lot of visa options, but each varies on the time to acquire it and the amount of paperwork. We started with the non-lucrative visa, which required a lot of information. However, there was such a backlog, that this option fell away after three months of work. 

In the end, we obtained a golden visa in Barcelona. This was a faster option and the paperwork was less substantial. We needed copies (and translated versions) of our marriage certificate, children’s birth certificates, proof of financial independence (basically saying that you can support yourself without the Spanish government’s help), proof of health insurance, and a Spanish bank account. We also brought our two dogs with us, which required proof of vaccinations (in particular rabies) and that they were microchipped.

What we brought with us overseas: We knew we wanted a furnished apartment, so we did not bring any furniture with us. The main thing was our personal items. We were quite the sight at the airport with five large suitcases and seven big black duffle bags of clothing, toys, and medicine.

Rent or own: Rent

What our apartment search was like: We didn’t know much about the neighborhoods in Barcelona, but we knew we wanted a different experience than that of Houston (we were really looking for a walking-oriented life). In Barcelona, Eixample is basically the city center, so we started in that area for our search. We have three kids and two dogs, so we had some bedroom requirements for the apartment, but overall, we were looking for a space within walking distance of our children’s schools, bus stops, grocery stores, playgrounds, shops, and restaurants. 

The biggest challenge with moving abroad: We definitely miss our family and friends, but as Americans, and in particular Southerners, we miss the small talk. It just doesn’t feel like a thing in Barcelona. There is no standing in line waiting for a coffee and chitchatting away with a perfect stranger. 

The biggest joy of moving abroad: The travel! To be able to jump on an airplane and go almost anywhere in Europe in two hours is amazing. We bring our children on every trip we take, and we love watching them take in new cultures, sights, sounds, smells, and food. The ability to open their minds to the world has truly been our greatest joy.

The best decorating tip I’ve learned from living in my current city: One thing I love about Barcelona is how every building’s facade, lobby, and floor is unique. There is such an emphasis on tiles, mosaics, and nature. 

The thing I brought from home that brings me the most comfort: My pillow. I am that person who can only sleep with their own pillow. It goes everywhere with me. And quite literally, it brings me a lot of comfort. This summer we went on a road trip to France and I left it in the hotel room. Halfway home, I realized I left it, and I made Taylor turn around and get the pillow, which added about four hours to the drive. He still holds it over my head! 

The moment I felt like a local: The first time I walked into the grocery store and ran into friends and stayed and chatted. It made me feel like I was back home.