Cat and Hayley
Brought together by the Internet, Cat Gaa and Hayley Salvo met one afternoon in the Alameda de Hércules in 2010 to put their heads together about how to get around Spanish red tape and make España a long-term plan for them both. Over beers and many Skype conversations, they’ve both found ways to stay in Spain legally for nine and a half years, and have since become close friends.
By sharing a mutual love of traveling, tapas and Andalucía, they became trusted travel buddies, coworkers and now business partners through shared experiences: traveling together around Spain (including a now-hilarious run-in with the Guardia Civil on a little-used highway in Soria), working at a summer camp in Galicia for two consecutive summers, racking up travel miles by jetting off to Croatia, Montenegro and India, and even walking more than 200 miles on the Camino de Santiago together in the summer of 2013.
COMO Consulting was just an idea in March 2013 when they sat, beers in hand, at the Onofrio Fountain in Dubrovnik, Croatia brainstorming ways to move out of teaching and use their knowledge of Spain for good. After years of living in Spain and fighting bureaucracy and naysayers, they decided they wanted to help fellow expats make the move to Spain successfully and lay down roots. If they’ve learned anything since, it’s that information and persistence can take one far in Spain.
COMO Consulting became an official website in early 2014 after helping dozens of other aspiring expats with their Spanish hurdles.
Says Cat: My love affair with Spain came from studying abroad in Valladolid in 2005. I knew I wanted to return to Iberia for a year after finishing college, so I applied to the auxiliar program and worked for three years in a high school near Seville. When it came time to decide whether or not to stay in Spain, my choice was clear: fight tooth and nail to make a life here. Through countless trips to the foreigner’s office, meetings with lawyers and sending out more than 100 job applications, I won my battle with bureaucracy and now have semi-permanent EU residency status.
I now feel afincada in Spain – I have a life, a job, a car and even a kid here! People have called me the hada madrina, or fairy godmother, of the other North Americans who want to live and work in Spain, and I believe I get just as much out of helping them as they do from my knowledge and connections.
Says Hayley: It was never my intention to make a permanent move abroad, but after a year of fun and sun in El Puerto de Santa María my mind was made up. Since then I’ve lived in four different cities in Andalucía.
Learning all about the Spanish immigration system became my hobby over the four years it took to achieve EU residency and a work permit (que se dice pronto). Along the way I also learned all about life’s other little details as an expat such as figuring out Spanish health care, paying taxes, and even buying a secondhand car and paying its insurance. After nearly a decade in Spain I’m now a Spanish citizen – shiny burgundy passport and all! – and hold a Master in Spanish Immigration Law from the Instituto Superior de Derecho y Economía. It’s been an up hill battle, but I wouldn’t change it for the world, and I’m ready to share my experience and expertise with others who are looking to make Spain their home.
Let COMO Consulting help make your transition to Spain a smooth one by offering you relocation services like residency and visa application assistance, advice on permanent or semi-permanent residency, how to access higher studies, or even just a contact in the country. Our testimonials speak for themselves – our experience and knowledge is trusted by dozens who have already used our services and made the decision to live and work in Spain.
We aim to make your life in Spain as painless as possible and, with our network of professionals, we’re confident we can provide the most accurate information with a friendly and personal touch.
Hailing from Chicago, Cat is a die-hard Real Betis fan who has lived in Seville since 2007. She runs the content mill and social media for COMO Consulting. She also publishes the expat-friendly website about living in Seville, Sunshine and Siestas, when not drinking beers with Hayley.
A born and bred Texan, Hayley has called El Puerto de Santa María, Olvera, Antequera and Sevilla all home since moving to Andalucía in 2007. In 2017 she finished her studies at the ISDE and holds a Master in Derecho de Extranjería. She’s the resident legal expert, provides website content and drinks beers with Cat. Follow her on Instagram.