Why this Kansas couple says their life in Spain is better than back in the US

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‘I don’t have to choose’: Why this Kansas couple says their life in Spain is better than back in the US

‘I don’t have to choose’: Why this Kansas couple says their life in Spain is better than back in the US

Eric and Jessica Smith were living the American dream in Lawrence, Kansas. They owned a home and two cars. He worked as a sous chef at a country club; she owned her own pet- and house-sitting business.

“I thought that was my dream … I was completely unfulfilled,” Jessica told CNBC Make It.

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After COVID hit, the millennial couple decided to move to Logroño, Spain to get out of their rut, and have lived there since September 2021 — with no plans to come back.

“Living in Spain, we are making less money,” Jessica said in a CNBC Make It video. “But our quality of life that we have here is so much more important than any dollar amount that you can add to my wallet.”

Here’s why they say Spain may be a better option than the U.S. — even with a salary decrease.

Cheaper cost of living

When the Smiths moved to Spain, Eric took a job teaching English. He made about $753 per month. But their 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom apartment only cost them $915 per month. They didn’t have to take too much out of their $45,000 in savings to cover their rent.

“In the United States, we thought about money all the time,” Jessica says. With their $2,095 in monthly expenses — which includes food, daycare for their son and health care for their whole family — they didn’t have to worry as much.

Just compare their $915 rent to the U.S., where the median rent currently sits at $1,987 per month, according to Rent.com’s most recent numbers. They save over $1,000 per month on their spacious apartment, which also has a terrace.

But while costs are much lower in Spain, wages tend to be too. OECD reports the country’s average annual household net adjusted disposable income (earnings after taxes and transfers) is $27,155 (in USD). This is significantly lower than the average disposable income in the U.S., which OECD puts at $51,147.

The U.S. has the highest disposable income of all the countries OECD analyzed, but with that comes a significant wealth gap than Spain, according to OECD data. The U.S. comes in third for the most social inequality (33 out of 35), whereas Spain comes in at 26.

But if you can leverage the U.S. dollar on Spanish soil, you can do quite well for yourself. Eric and Jessica run a TikTok account where they share what it’s like to move from the U.S. to Spain, which earns them $1,000 to $4,000 USD per month from brand deals and other social media initiatives.

Read more: Car insurance rates have spiked in the US to a stunning $2,150/year — but you can be smarter than that. Here’s how you can save yourself as much as $820 annually in minutes (it’s 100% free)

Child care costs are low

When Jessica discovered she was pregnant, she and Eric had already planned their move to Spain. Their families assumed they’d call it off and stay in Kansas to remain near family. But they decided to go anyway, moving there when Jessica was seven months pregnant.

While the Smiths miss their families, they don’t regret moving to Spain — particularly because of the affordable and accessible life it offers their family.

Child care costs around $3,000 a year for them in Spain, compared to the average of $11,582 a year in the U.S., according to Child Care Aware. Health care also only costs around $2,000 a year for all three members of their family, rather than the huge co-pays required in the U.S.

The Smiths particularly like how walkable Logroño is — from groceries to restaurants to friends, everything is just a short stroll from home.

“In the United States, we lived our lives inside,” Jessica told CNBC. She added that they spent their money mainly on expensive things for the home, such as a big TV and a PlayStation for Eric.

But in Spain, the couple say they spend most of their time outside the home because everything is so close and affordable. They often walk over to friends’ homes, many of whom also have children, making it easy and affordable to stay social and provide activities for their son.

“I can be a mother and also be myself,” Jessica told CNBC. “I don’t have to choose.”

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This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.

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