I moved to Denver and regretted it because it was freezing, expensive, and hard to make friends. I’m much happier now living in Spain. – DIGIWIZ CENTRAL

I moved to Denver and regretted it because it was freezing, expensive, and hard to make friends. I’m much happier now living in Spain.

Eric Michiels in Spain.

Eric Michiels.

Eric Michiels moved from Atlanta to Denver in 2021. 
He was excited about more opportunities to be in nature, but hated the unpredictable weather in Denver. 
Michiels then moved to Spain and finds it easier to make friends. 

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Eric Michiels, a 51-year-old a former resident of Denver, Colorado, about his experience living in Denver. It’s been edited for length and clarity.

I moved to Denver, Colorado in May 2021 from Atlanta, Georgia because of a job decision. I have a wife and two kids in their 20s and we all moved together.

I was excited about moving to a place with more outdoor activities and more opportunities to be in nature. In Denver you can hike, run in the mountains, snowboard, and mountain bike. We had high expectations of Colorado, and while I can’t deny that the scenery in Colorado is truly beautiful, I guess I was naive and didn’t properly do enough research.

The first and biggest issue we found was the weather 

The weather is truly unpredictable in Colorado. It might be super cold in the early morning, but by 10 a.m. it’s extremely hot. 

The winters were especially terrible for us. I remember being informed by our apartment complex that the temperature would drop below negative 5 degrees for three days in a row and to be prepared if the power went out. 

We have two dogs that are 11 and 12 years old, and having to walk them three times a day was a problem — they didn’t want to be outside.

During our first snowstorm, our dog was at the vet and they kept us waiting all day to pick him up. By the time they finally said to come, it was snowing extremely hard. I had a Toyota Prius, and because Denver is extremely hilly, the car couldn’t make it; it was too slippery. We ended up having to call a friend who had a pickup truck, and even his all-terrain vehicle had issues getting to the vet.

Making friends was also a challenge in Colorado

Although people in general are friendly, it’s a difficult place to make true friends. 

From all the relationships I tried to build in Denver, no one was asking for my phone number or inviting me to meet up; it was always me communicating to see if we could sit down and talk. In Atlanta, I’d been able to meet and talk to people who would share their struggles and life with me —  as much as I shared with them.

Even attending churches, people in Denver seemed less engaged and didn’t really invite us into their lives. I remember after I left one church I visited, no one ever spoke to me or followed up. After I emailed the pastor and inquired about a men’s bible group, I was connected with a guy who ran it and we met for coffee. We had what I thought was a great conversation, and he said he would invite me to multiple men’s activities. But he never did — he never reached out again, and neither did I.  

We tried to invite people over every three to four weeks, but people were always busy or tired. While I always believe that churches should be the most welcoming places to generate community and friendships, I also tried joining a hiking group, to see if being part of a group that does weekly activities would generate deeper relationships. 

For the two years we lived in Denver, only four couples ever invited us to their homes, which felt like a very low ratio. In Atlanta, people practice Southern hospitality — friendliness and inclusiveness, inviting us to barbecues or church events — and it makes you feel a lot more welcome.

Cost of living is another big problem in Colorado 

Denver is extremely expensive and has one of the highest average rents in the US. I lived in Lakewood, which is about a 20-minute drive from Denver. The housing prices are ridiculous, and rents there are rising faster than in other cities.

Many houses and apartments are old in Denver and because there’s a high demand for them, it felt like no one cared about renovating them. We rented an old two-bedroom, two-bath apartment in a decent area and it went for $2,300 — but as of May 2023, the price went up to $2,800. 

Another way I saw the expense of living in Denver: During the winter, I volunteered at a severe weather shelter where the homeless could spend the night in a warm place. I talked with many homeless people and found out that many of them simply had lost their jobs or struggled financially and couldn’t pay rent or save up a deposit to move into a place. 

We have since moved out of Colorado to live in Malaga, Spain

I’m in my early 50s, and I think the US is a place where you live to work — and I don’t want that for the rest of my life. I want to have more free time and be in much better weather. 

We had a consensus in our family that we should move to another country.  

Moving to Spain wasn’t easy — we sold all of our furniture and our car. Traveling with 10 bags between us and three pets was definitely a challenge with the airline. 

I was able to get a Digital Nomad Visa, which you can apply for within 90 days of arriving in Spain. 

Spain is a way more relaxed country and money goes a long way 

I live seven minutes from the beach here, and the weather is great. It’s dry like Colorado but there’s always a breeze from the ocean that makes the hot weather bearable. 

We rent a two-story apartment with four bedrooms and two bathrooms for $1,400. Internet is about $60 a month. Some things are more expensive here — for example cars and technology — but the day to day is a lot cheaper. 

Healthcare is also better here. In Spain we pay $50 a month each for insurance, and that gives us pretty much access to free health and dental care. That’s very comforting. 

In the tech sector, during the summer, many people here only work six hours a day. They can go home at 3 p.m., be with their families, and even enjoy time by the beach or the pool. They make up for those hours during the fall, spring, and winter by working over 40 hours a week the rest of the year.

People also take siestas seriously — many businesses close at 1 p.m. and open up again at 3 p.m. or 4 p.m. I take a siesta every day and unplug for at least an hour. 

In Spain, people engage with you at a deeper level 

Another really great thing we’ve noticed here is when we go out to eat, no one’s looking at their phone. Everyone is engaged with each other at the table enjoying a meal together. 

People care to know about you — where you come from, how you’re adapting, your family, and your situation. We’re fluent in Spanish and English, which helps. You can freely knock on a neighbor’s door and ask for butter or wine, and it happens both ways — they come to your door wanting help if they need it.

If you moved to another country and want to share your story, email Jenna Gyimesi at [email protected].

Read the original article on Business Insider
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