How a Mexican marketer moved to Spain for a new job by the sea
From Guadalajara to Malaga
by Loni Klara
Sometimes in life, you find yourself stuck in a situation that is no longer nourishing your soul in any sense, but are not quite sure how to escape. So it comes as a surprise when something new comes your way and changes the course of your life in one fell swoop.
Alfonso Banuelos wasn’t looking to move to another country, but he felt unchallenged in his job and was concerned about the decreasing options in his native Mexico. So when a colleague posted about Jobbatical, a platform that helps people find jobs abroad, he couldn’t help but jump at an opportunity he hadn’t considered before.
Here’s how the whole process went for him, from preparing for the move to exploring his new home in Malaga.
Living abroad is scary, but also exciting
“5 years ago I lived in London for a couple of months to improve my English, so I wasn’t afraid of moving and getting involved in a new culture with a different mindset.
But as the date got closer [for me to move to Spain], I was pretty nervous about leaving everything behind and starting from zero in a new country. At the end it wasn’t easy but when I arrived, got settled and met the team, everything got better.
Naturally having an opportunity to work abroad is a huge challenge and a good boost. Of course, there’s also the adventure, being on your own, meeting new places and people. I couldn’t let go of this opportunity.”
How Alfonso got a visa for Spain
Once he got an offer from Microapps, a company based in Malaga, he started the paperwork while working remotely from Mexico.
“Microapps made sure that I had everything I needed. Getting the visa definitely was the most difficult. The company explained the process since the beginning, and they did their part on the Spain side by getting all the documents I needed. However, I had to deal with the Spanish consulate in Mexico and the process was extremely slow with a lot of requirements.”
It ended up taking a few months — including a 3-month trial period — before he finally moved to Spain, where he met up with his colleagues for the first time face-to-face.
Working with the team in person
Though he had worked with his colleagues for months, he had never met them before moving to Spain. At times, this meant that the time difference was a challenge as well, an inconvenience Alfonso was glad to be rid of.
“When you work remotely and you are 7 hours behind the team, it feels like you are in outsourcing. You miss all the conversations (and the jokes) and you have to catch up always with almost a day of delay. Now that I’m here we can share a laugh or two, the workflow is faster, I’m getting to know the team better and it feels great!”
Getting to know the team was great, but so was getting to know Spain — a country separated by a common language.
“Even though we speak the same language, sometimes I feel like the people are speaking a different language. They use SO many slang words that I have no idea what they mean. However the people are very welcoming and eager to exchange words.
I could also notice that people are more relaxed, in their personality and also their business culture. I made the mistake in my first week of trying to get groceries on Sunday, and I realized then that almost everything is closed on Sundays. Same for some restaurants, they close for some hours in the afternoon during the week and reopen later on. Unlike in Mexico where everything is open at all times and specially on Sundays since it’s the ‘family day out’.”
Before moving to Malaga, Alfonso did some research to make sure he would like living in his new locale. For him, the place checked all the boxes with beautiful nature and a thriving tech scene. (Here’s more on why Malaga is a great place to live.)
“One of the most attractive features was that Malaga is right on the coast, sun and sea, my favorite things. I also found out that the government of Malaga is working to make the city the “Silicon Valley” of Spain, which is really good if you’re working in the software industry.”
Nothing to lose
When asked for advice on whether others should follow in his footsteps and move to another country, Alfonso had one thing to say:
If you want real change, then walk differently.
“I would share Shia LaBeouf’s video of “Just Do It” screaming like crazy, because he’s right. It often happens that sometimes we come across opportunities likes this and we just think about how nice that would be and that’s it, just wondering. And yes, it’s scary to leave everything and start from zero but in the end you have nothing to lose.”