Standing near the Iwo Jima Memorial and Arlington National Cemeter, the Netherlands Carillon has one of the best views in the area, overlooking the Potomac River towards Washington, D.C..

Dwight Lissenden

Portrait of Dwight

Retiring to "La Buena Vida" in Barcelona

Barcelona is magic! Urban against a backdrop of magnificent mountains. On the seacoast. Filled with fantastic restaurants. And warmer than D.C.! No, this isn’t a travel ad. But if it were, recent retiree Dwight Lissenden would be the perfect spokesperson for living in Spain. He made the move in 2019 and hasn’t looked back.

Dwight began his FCPS career in 1993 teaching a fifth and sixth grade combination class at Westbriar Elementary School. A trained architect, he switched to teaching art and did a one-year stint at Glasgow Middle School before landing at Mountain View Alternative High School. There he taught a largely Spanish-speaking student body, which spurred him to learn Spanish. Little did he know where that one decision would lead!

After 25 years with FCPS, he’s living la buena vida (translation: the good life) in Poblenou, one of Barcelona’s hippest (and family friendly) neighborhoods. He always knew he wanted to retire to Europe. And when he visited Barcelona to learn Spanish one summer over a decade ago, it was love at first sight. He returned for three more summers. By the second one, he knew Barcelona was where he wanted to live out his next chapter.

But the move took a little time. After retiring in 2018, he had to wait on the necessary visas and paperwork to go through before crossing the pond. Not one to sit still, Dwight continued honing his Spanish on a four-month Latin American experience with Remote Year—spending a month each in Lima, Peru; Medellín and Bogotá, Colombia; and Mexico City.

After finally arriving in Barcelona, he bought a lovely flat with a rooftop terrace that’s within walking distance of the sea, the city center, the mountains, and several of the parks the city boasts. His VRS and ERFC pensions help cover the mortgage on the home he still owns and rents out in D.C., freeing him to thoroughly enjoy all that life in Barcelona has to offer. And enjoy it he does!

Dwight rises early each morning, easing into the day with coffee and a stroll along the Mediterranean before joining his high-intensity interval training (HITT) group, Rockstar Lifestyle Barcelona, to sling some kettle bells. That, and his yoga group, helps him “fight old age as best as I can.”

Photos of Dwight

Be open to new things. That’s part of the fun, part of the adventure.

Dwight Lissenden

Hiking in the mountains; poker nights; a serious board gaming hobby; jaunts to other parts of Europe, including Andorra for skiing or snowboarding; and surfing trips help fill his time—along with a strong group of friends, diverse in both age and nationality. He’s also taken up Padel—a cross between squash and tennis with a little ping pong thrown on top. And he dabbles in graphic design and writing.

His advice to those who haven’t yet retired? “Go after your dreams but hold them loosely. Be open to new things. That’s part of the fun, part of the adventure.”

Taking his own advice to heart, Dwight will soon embark on one of life’s greatest adventures—fatherhood. His baby girl, Irene Alice (pronounced the Spanish way “ihraynay ahleeseea”), is due via surrogate in May. Retirement’s about to get REALLY interesting!