Linda Rubright is an expat living outside of Barcelona in Catalonia, Spain. She is currently working on a book profiling people who figured out how to move to, live in and work in other countries. Linda interviewed us over Skype. We’ve never met Linda in person, she interviewed us and we found out during the interview where we were both were living at that moment. After our interview we asked Linda to share her own expat story with us.
Where is/was “back home” for you?
The United States. I was born outside of Detroit and lived for the last 12 years in Denver and Vail, Colorado.
How long have you been an expat?
In total, about two and a half years with most recent experience being 14+ months.
Outside of your “home” country, where else have you lived/worked?
Puerto Rico (US Commonwealth), Amsterdam and Catalonia, Spain in a town north of Barcelona.
Why and how did you choose these places?
They chose me. I went to Puerto Rico and Amsterdam for work and Spain for love.
How long did you stay in each place and what is your opinion of each?
10 months, 6 months and 14+ months respectively.
All are incredible and I would highly recommend each of them. Puerto Rico is extremely laid back. The perfect place to be in the Caribbean but not have to deal with any visa / immigration issues (if you are from the US).
Amsterdam is nothing short of magical. It is an amazing international city powered by bicycle and truly is there anything, better?
And there are very few places in the world like Catalonia – home of amazing mountains, wonderfully kind and gentle people, delicious food (served via 3 hour bottomless wine lunches for 10 – 15 Euros a pop, total), former home of some of the most well known artists in the world, fascinating history, a first class major world city and what National Geographic calls one of the 2012 must go to places – Costa Brava.
What motivated you to “leave home” and 1. Travel 2. Become an expat in these places? Did your primary concerns include:
For the adventure of being alive and in love.
Exactly what do you do to earn a living?
I am a writer. I have a website thedeliciousday.com and I recently wrote a book ’14 People Who Cured Asthma’. I am working on my second book profiling people who figured out how to move to, live in and work in other countries, without the aid of marriage, job transfer or similar situation which would facilitate getting a visa easily. My husband and I also do SEO and web development.
Describe your current lifestyle
How do you see the move to Barcelona impacting your life?
I think living in another country is an extension of who I have always wanted to be, but not necessarily what I have always done. In that regard, now that I am here I feel very much at peace. I have found my cadence, my rhythm.
Describe the local folks in Catalonia from your perspective.
Small town Catalonia is like small town anywhere as far as way and pace of life. It and the people are very tranquilo. I find Catalan people to be extremely humble, kind and accepting. I do not know if there is a place I have been where the men are more genuinely polite to women as they are in Catalonia. It is a very community oriented culture. When you go out with your friends it is always with a group of 6 – 12. They are, as they should be, very protective of their culture and language and are extremely proud of Catalans of notoriety in the world.
Were the locals friendly and tolerant? How were you treated as a foreigner?
They are very polite. As an outsider, especially one who does not speak Spanish and/or Catalan fluently, it is far more challenging to integrate in the community. I would very much recommend if someone is moving to Spain that they move to a larger city or a more international place to start. There are enormous joys in living abroad but there are also frustrations and those frustrations can be easily exacerbated in a place that is not as accustomed to foreigners. I, of course, have it a bit easier as I came here with family and friends built in but I think it would be incredibly difficult for others without that structure in place.
How did you find a place to buy or rent?
My husband found it. As a note, if you go through a rental agency you are expected to pay the rental agency one month rent as a finders fee. Read the lease VERY closely. As they put things in there, which at least by US standards are ludicrous such as ‘if the furnace breaks you pay for it, if the roof needs repair you need to do it’ etc.
Please give us some highlights of your Book that you writing?
The first is 14 People Who Cured Asthma which I published in August of this year. Writing about people who have cured themselves of diseases Western medicine claims are not curable is something I have done extensively on thedeliciousday.com. I start researching this when my husband David’s lifelong asthma was going from bad to worse. I was tired of seeing Western medicine pump him full of drugs and laugh (literally) when he suggested there could be alternatives.
I set out to find people who had cured themselves of asthma to help him and to help the almost 10% of the world’s population that suffers needlessly as David was. What I found is not only natural and healthy ways to eliminate David’s asthma symptoms but incredible stories of people from all over the world who decided to stop listening to the doctors who said there was no cure for asthma and through their own research and healthy lifestyle changes now live a life completely asthma (and asthma medication) free.
The other is on people who have managed to live and work in another country without the help of marriage, job transfer or similar to assist in facilitating the process. I think many people around the world are realizing the dream they were told as children they should want not only doesn’t exist but is actually spiritually unfulfilling. I think they crave living a life in another country but have no idea how to do it or think such things are for ‘other people’. This book will break down how people, just like them, figured out how to work within the system and live a life – outside of the physical and mental borders of their home country.
Have you had any need of healthcare services while traveling? How did that work out? Are you satisfied with your access to health care?
Before I got state healthcare here I had to go to the local health center once because I was bitten by some freak insect and got an infection. The visit was in total about 60 minutes, 80 Euros and 15 Euros in antibiotics. I felt better in a few days.
How is your expat life better? Can you give some specific examples? Draw a contrast between the home life and the new one.
It is calmer.
While in the US I was, to the point of being frequently made fun of by my friends, ‘anti-rat race’. I did not buy into the insane work schedules or the disproportionate value people put on their jobs. I was not much of a consumer. I did not have credit card debt. I mostly ate at home. But being here even further illuminates the utter insanity of the money I was still spending and the unfortunate culture many in the US buy into of “spend, spend, more, more, bigger, bigger, new bathroom, new couch, new house, NOW.” I hope to someday have the words to explain that the US culture although it tells us that having things is what brings you solace, the truth is that not having things is where true peace is to be found.
Conversely, I have also realized there are a lot of amazing things about the US. I have grown tired of listening to people bash it. I vehemently disagree with US imperialism and nation building. I also think there are truly amazing things about the US that are not recognized or understood beyond our borders. As the US has much to learn from the world, the world could can learn much from the US. The media unfortunately does not do any country or any peoples any favors.
What are your future plans? Will you move somewhere else, travel extensively? Do you see yourself settling down somewhere else? Do you see yourself travelling in another 5 years?
Keep living, loving, traveling, writing, enjoying. I am not sure I know what settling down is. It would be fabulous to find a long term housesit somewhere fabulous in the world.
What sort of advice would you offer somebody interested in doing what you did?
- Luck has nothing to do with being able to do this
- A lot of money has nothing to do with being able to do this
- No matter what you are doing now, if you are open and interested in experiencing life in another country the experience you have elsewhere will be more enlightening, more memorable and more ‘you’ than anything a paycheck or a bathroom remodel will ever be able to give you.
Final thoughts you want to share?
‘Someday’ is today.
To contact Linda Rubright please visit her website thedeliciousday.com.