“At the end of this summer, we’re moving to Barcelona, Spain, for a year.”
I got to say these words into the microphone during the last episode of the season of Tumble, the science podcast for kids I co-host with my husband. It’s a surprisingly simple sentence, considering what it means. It’s a sentence I’d love to hear more podcasters say.
Because even though packing up your lives and your recording equipment and moving to Spain sounds crazy, it actually makes a lot of sense. That is, if you want to make the leap into doing your podcast full-time.
Here’s why we’re doing it.
Not long after we got married, we made a list of all the things we wanted to do together. Having a family was on there, and so was living abroad. We went to southern Spain for our honeymoon, and after ten days of tapas, we thought, “We could live here.” Barcelona landed on our map when a mutual friend introduced us to a family from Barcelona who wanted to live in our city for a year. It was a golden proposition. Although the housing swap has since fallen through, it started us down the path from “wanting to move to Spain” to “actually moving to Spain.”
One of the things we’ve discovered since we‘ve started to plan our move: Roughly 50 percent of our friends and family want to move to Spain. The dream we have is a common dream. I’m here to tell you to follow your dreams. Because if you have a podcast and a family, Spain can give you things that the US can’t (besides siesta and Gaudí).
2) HEALTH CARE
We’ve always gotten health care through my husband’s teaching job. Like most American health care plans, it’s expensive and not great. With even greater uncertainty looming, it’s a bad time to take the risk of being a podcast entrepreneur. But that’s what we want to do. Tumble’s listenership is growing by leaps and bounds, and so is our ad revenue and crowdfunding campaign. We slowly realized that in order to build Tumble into a sustainable business, we needed a lot more time to work on all of our ideas. In the US, healthcare would essentially prevent us from being able to work together.
Spain has a national healthcare system. The kind where you show up to a hospital with a broken arm, they fix you up, and send you on your way without a bill…. and there’s no collection agency to track you down later. (Imagine!) We had to buy private insurance for the type of visa we applied for. When we got an estimate, I could hardly believe it. 127 euros a month for a family of three. We’ve been paying $800 a month.
3) CHILD CARE
In Spain, public school starts when you’re three. That’s right, free school starting at three. Actually, Spain has a lot of options. You can go full public school, or concertadas, which are private but hugely subsidized. The tuition will set you back between 100–200 euros a month. And those bilingual schools parents are clamoring to get their kids into? By sending our three year old to school in Barcelona, he will be trilingual by the end of the year. (School is taught in Catalan.) If we were to stay in the US while both trying to work full time, child care would sink us right after healthcare. In general, the cost of living in Spain is cheaper than American cities.
Our podcast is built around the idea of experimentation — in science, and in business. When we started a podcast for kids, we had the hypothesis that families were eager for high-quality, screen-free entertainment. It turns out we were right. Kids Listen’s survey of parents who listen to podcasts with their kids found that 70% found kids’ podcasts because they were seeking screen-free alternatives. And when kids start listening, they’re hooked. 80% of parents said their kids listen to favorite episodes more than once — with 20% listening ten or more times.
Now that we know kids are listening, and the numbers are there to prove it, it’s time to find out how to make our podcast sustainable. Our hypothesis is that Spain is an inspiring and safe place to take that risk. Sure, our sample size is 1, but it’s a start. Maybe you’ll add to it?