The story of a married couple who first moved to Israel, and then to Spain, on a digital nomad visa

Analytics Manager from Avito and Career Coach Consultant - on Departing from Moscow, Emergency Departure from Tel Aviv, and Serene Life in Valencia
Our clients
5 min
Spain
April 12, 2024
24000

Since September 2022, Alexey and Ekaterina have changed three countries: they lived in Israel for a year, spent a month in Serbia, and finally arrived in Spain, where they obtained a digital nomad visa with the help of the MigRun service. We talked to them about their challenging journey, their case, and adaptation in the new country.

Saratov – Moscow – Israel

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– What do you do?

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Alexey: Katya and I are from Saratov, married for almost 10 years. My job has had a significant impact on us: in 2018, I joined Avito as an analyst, and we moved to Moscow. So, thanks to Avito, we've moved three times – to Moscow, Israel, and now Spain.

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Ekaterina: I work as a career coach, running my own business. I help people navigate career changes and self-discovery in their professions, particularly when individuals are unsure about their next steps. This has become increasingly common nowadays, as people relocate to new countries and find themselves grappling with questions about their future direction and how to adapt to new circumstances. My background is also in IT: I have a degree in Systems Programming and Mathematics, and later pursued Organizational Psychology, which eventually led me into coaching.

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We flew away in September 2022, two weeks before the mobilization - not knowing that we wouldn't return.

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– When exactly did you decide to move to Israel?

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Alexey: I have Jewish roots and relatives in Israel, so I had the right to repatriate. We wanted to do it back in 2020, even bought tickets, but then COVID started. The repatriation visa expired, we renewed it, and were only able to fly in 2021. We went to Israel: spent a week in isolation at a hotel (there were strict coronavirus restrictions at the time), arranged all the documents. We stayed for a bit, and we really liked it! But we thought that Moscow suited us better for living and we wanted to combine both: hypothetically, be in Moscow in the summer and in Israel in the winter. With this idea in mind, we returned. So, in 2022, when the war started, we were prepared. Of course, it seemed like we should leave immediately, but at that time we had just gotten a dog, and according to Israeli law, to take her with you, she had to live with you for several months. In the end, we didn't leave, but we started preparing systematically: finishing repairs to rent out the apartment, Katya quit her job at Sberbank. We flew away in September 2022, two weeks before the mobilization - not knowing that we wouldn't return. We thought we'd live for six months, see how it goes. And when we encountered the mobilization on the beach in Tel Aviv, we realized that we would stay here.

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‍– How long did you end up living in Israel?

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Alexey: A whole year. We liked it. Israel is a specific country, but the climate seemed very suitable to us. We wanted to live by the sea, in warmth, where the sun shines. There were pluses associated with a large Russian-speaking community. On one hand, the difficult language, which is hard to learn, on the other hand, many institutions speak Russian. There were many new repatriates there, and we felt comfortable. We went on vacation in September 2023, returned, and had no specific plans to move anywhere immediately. Yes, I googled about the nomad visa, because my colleagues were applying for it - with the idea of "maybe someday, maybe by the end of 2024..." In general, there was internal dialogue, trying it on for size, but without any serious steps. When the war started in Israel in October, we didn't immediately decide to leave. Yes, it became difficult to stay there - there was shooting, rockets flying, we ran to hide in shelters, while trying to work at the same time. It was very uncomfortable, difficult to remain calm. I kept thinking we needed to fly somewhere - but where? In general, we were tossed about like that. About a week after the start of the war, we bought tickets to Belgrade. At that time, our Israeli passport was being reissued, so we could only go where it was no problem with the Russian one. We chose Serbia as a transit point.

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One of the most challenging and emotional moments was our departure from Israel. We waited for takeoff for an hour and a half, but we couldn't get clearance due to a rocket alert. And there you are, unable to hide anywhere. You understand that the air defense system is working, but psychologically, it's very scary.

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Applying for the Digital Nomad visa, difficulties with documents

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– When did you decide to take action, apply for the Digital Nomad visa?

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Alexey: When the war in Israel began and we were still there, I had an hour-long consultation with your competitors, but they didn't really sell their services. They only offered a very expensive "turnkey" option. At the same time, I knew that I would still have to do a lot myself: no one would request certificates or gather documents for me. Plus, my case wasn't straightforward: I'm employed in Armenia, but I also needed a document from the Federal Migration Service in Russia. The girl who consulted me warned right away that it might be difficult. Overall, there wasn't much benefit from that consultation, and I started to have doubts. But fortunately, a colleague recommended your website to me as a source of guides and checklists. He used them to gather everything for Portugal and applied from Moscow. That's how I found out about MigRun - and it really helped me a lot!

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– But in the end, you went from Israel to Serbia - how did you then proceed towards the Spanish residency?

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Alexey: We stayed in Serbia for a month to catch our breath. It was generally okay there; we rented a relatively decent apartment. Literally within 5 days, we decided to apply for the nomad visa. I had a consultation with Irina from MigRun, she provided a checklist, explained everything about the documents that needed to be collected. I also calculated the dates when it would be best to enter Spain with an Israeli passport in order to have time to prepare the documents and apply before the New Year. In the end, we stayed in Serbia until mid-November, and then went to Spain. We gathered a significant portion of the documents in Belgrade after the consultation. But of course, when we arrived, there were difficulties with some documents, and we continued to prepare them in Valencia.

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‍– Tell us about how you collected documents and interacted with managers overall.

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Alexey: There were many benefits to working with your company! The main one, of course, was that they told me what explanatory notes should be like, paid attention to how the official's impression of the document preparation would affect the decision. At first, I may not have appreciated this very much, I thought I was constantly redoing everything, I was irritated. But at some point, I read the chats and realized that people themselves come up with a lot of things, and I don't need to think at all - I was told what to do, and I do it. I decided that this role suits me: just guide me! I wasn't ready to figure everything out on my own. So in the end, everything met expectations and was very productive. We felt a special benefit when we received additional requests, and we had to fantasize, improvise. It was clear that Irina was involved in this, she came up with ideas on how to respond correctly. There were two difficulties: a certificate from the FMS and a police clearance certificate from Israel.

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– How did you figure it out with them?

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Alexey: They told me how to get a certificate from the FMS, gave several recommendations, Irina provided examples. There were also loopholes in the chat of colleagues who had gone through this process. But when we started doing it, we realized that all of them were closed. It's difficult to do everything remotely. The power of attorney was only Israeli notarized, which also complicated matters. Officials were reluctant to issue it just like that, which was a problem, but in the end, everything was resolved.

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When we were waiting for approval, we checked messages every hour

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Alexey: Irina gave us very clear guidance on the police clearance certificate from Israel. We ordered it online, waited for a long time, and then it turned out that no one even sent it. I called the police, and somehow miraculously, someone spoke English and explained that with our type of passport, we couldn't request the certificate online. I asked my grandfather, who lives in Israel, to go to the police - he went for free (laughs). The employee skeptically looked at the printed power of attorney, but couldn't refuse the elderly respected person, and eventually they issued the certificate. Parallel to this, Irina and I were coming up with an alternative plan. We decided to write to the Spanish official asking to extend the deadline for the additional request until the certificate arrives - or to approve it without it. Irina drafted this letter in Spanish, and I signed it. At this stage, I was worried if my case was bothering them because of one request after another. I thought: what if their work is already finished, and they are not obliged to help further. But Irina and Alena, on the contrary, stepped in and helped with absolutely everything!

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– You received approval after the second document upload.

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Alexey: Yes, it was very satisfying!

Ekaterina: Alexey checked messages constantly, every hour.

Alexey: I would message Alena, and she would say, "I understand, I'm checking." Seriously, I had tabs open in my browser, on my phone – if I had a minute, I refreshed the chat.

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Post-Relocation: How to Settle into Your Life After Moving

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– Did you immediately arrive in Valencia and not consider other cities?

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Alexey: Yes, we simply came to Valencia and stayed! A funny detail: the guy who rented us the apartment in Belgrade had a pen with the inscription "Valencia". That's how I started seeing signs. I had a prejudice against Barcelona: my parents and I were robbed there many years ago. Plus, prices are significantly higher - I compared on Airbnb. So, I started selling Katya on the idea of Valencia, watched various reviews, and we agreed to try it. When we arrived and walked out onto the central street, we really liked it!

Ekaterina: Plus, we were in such a state that we really didn't want a big city, noisy, bustling, with a huge number of tourists. On the contrary, we breathed a sigh of relief because it's calm, warm, sunny here, and there's the sea. Probably, we definitely want to spend a year here, just to live peacefully.

Alexey: By the way, about the apartment: everyone scared us that it's very difficult to rent. But in the end, on the third attempt, we found a good apartment on Airbnb close to the park, to the center, and we agreed with the owner to rent it long-term. We didn't have any cards or bank accounts yet, so we agreed for six months, and I pay in cash. Then we'll see - maybe we'll just find another apartment in Valencia, maybe we'll try something else.

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‍– It feels like you found a balance in Valencia.

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Alexey: Yes, between the city and a peaceful place. For example, Tel Aviv is a city where everything is oriented towards the beach. There's no central avenue as such - all life revolves around the waterfront. It's long and big. Here in Valencia, it's completely different. The entire beach is a huge plain. But the city is developed, and there's an awesome park!

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– How do you organize your life and work now?

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Ekaterina: Right now, we're still adapting to life in the new country - learning about the culture, peculiarities, and traditions. It's very important for us to be part of the community. We're settling in to feel at home here. And of course, we're continuing our work - which is a very important part, considering my specialty in coaching. About 80% of my clients are immigrants in various stages. Some moved five years ago and have adapted well socially and domestically but haven't found their professional path in the new country and are now considering their career options. Others moved in 2022 and are also in the process of finding themselves in these circumstances.I try to help them more with self-identification than with job placement. Based on their professional background, skills, qualities, interests, and ideas they want to pursue - we explore where they can fit in, in what role. We develop a series of hypotheses about possible career paths, choose the main one, and develop an action plan: whether it's professional training or starting their own business, for example.

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Moving is like a booster, an opportunity to reassess your life, think about your values, what's important, your desires

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– From your experience, do people who move often drastically change their jobs or continue doing what they did before?

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Ekaterina: I probably have a biased view because I only encounter those who want to change something. But if you look at my surroundings - both in Israel and here - the impression is that it's about 50/50. Some people try to develop in the same role in the new country, while others continue working for a Russian company, like Alexey. I think moving is a real booster, an opportunity to reconsider your life, to think: 'What do I want, what are my values, what's important to me, what are my needs?' You start to rethink everything as a whole because your lifestyle, social environment, and language have changed. And you also reconsider your work: does what I do fit into this new reality at all?

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– Alexey, what do you think?

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Alexey: Right now, I have a job that allowed me to move, and it enables me to settle in. I really like my team - I don't want to leave. But if we just think logically: the longer you assimilate and realize that you've left Russia, the clearer it becomes that working for a Russian company involves risks, like currency fluctuations. So, perhaps in the future, I'll want to minimize these risks. When you become more rooted in the idea that you don't want to return, you have to start thinking about it now. It's also about feeling secure

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Ekaterina in Instagram and Alexey in Telegram
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