Answer 1: About 5 minutes.
Yes, the initial time it takes to think ‘Moving to Spain is the best thing I have ever done’ is about 5 minutes. This thought lasts a very long time 🙂
Answer 2: About 5 years
Actually, for the first 5 years I lived in Madrid I would often catch myself walking through the park thinking ‘Bloody hell, I live in Spain!’, a thought accompanied by a large grin and a feeling of great surprise.
But it really does take a long time to feel like Spain really is, 100%, home. No doubts. No going back. No regrets. And the first 5 years, until you reach that point, can at times be confusing. Why? Because you aren’t Spanish, because you don’t come from Spain, because where you came from was greener, quieter, cooler… whatever, just different to where you suddenly realise you are living full time.
And that can sometimes create a crisis of confidence. Is Spain really the place for me? Would I still be better off elsewhere? After about 5 years, you know for sure whether or not your are staying for good, or may still one day want to get up and go. I know which camp I fall into. If you live here, how about you?