Interview with Alexandre Brunet
CEO of Cantoo
French, English, enough Spanish to order at the restaurant
25-34 years old
Introducing Alexandre Brunet, a French expat in Barcelona.
Why did you choose to relocate to Barcelona?
I was looking to relocate from Singapore to Europe and my co-founder was in Barcelona it made sense business-wise. It was also an easy choice since Barcelona combines, quality of life, great outdoor activities, and a lively start-up environment.
What are the top 3 things on your bucket list whilst living in Barcelona?
Go sailing during the weekend, go hiking in the mountains, go skiing via train.
What do you miss the most about home?
Not much to be honest, maybe being closer to friends back home and family. And therefore not always being around when they get together. But they often come to visit so that's fine.
What was your greatest fear before moving to Barcelona?
The language barrier and Spanish administration, but I have to say that in both aspects my fears were not justified.
What were the biggest adjustments you had to make when settling into life in Barcelona?
Finding a good flat is kind of a challenge especially when you use to live in a modern one before. Some agents in Barcelona show you what they call a "good flat" that has no heating systems, no air conditioning and so noisy. The local offering makes you recalibrate your criteria.
Did you experience any particular elements of culture shock?
I use to believe el "jamon Iberico" was like any other decent ham... Boy was I wrong... Best gastronomical shock.
How did you meet your main community of friends?
I knew a few people from before here and met other ones through them. Also there are so many expats and French in particular in Barcelona that it has been pretty easy.
Do you use your native language at work?
Yep and English
How does the work culture in Spain differ from your home country?
Professional/personal balance managable in France but in Spain, it is even more important. The working environment is less stressful also and working hours are shorter, especially during the summer. So all together you have more free time in Spain.
How does the cost of living in Barcelona compare to back home?
Well, compared to Paris everything is cheaper obviously. But the wages are lower too so I was surprised to see that despite F&B, everything else in Barcelona is not so cheap.
How did you find a place to live?
Idealista, that's the place no?
Did you find the paperwork difficult to manage?
It is difficult to be clear on what you have to do and there are those processes to get your "empadronamiento' and your "NIE" which are quite painful. On the other hand, I found the administration here very kind and helpful.
How did you prepare your children to move abroad?
I didn't have children before moving abroad.
Do you have any tips for other expat parents with children in Barcelona?
Barcelona is a great place to raise children in my opinion, it is easy to find good schools trust worthy nannies. It is a great city for outdoor activities since the weather is great most of the year and you have the sea, the countryside and the mountains at your disposal. Also, they will learn Spanish (and Catalan)!
What is your favourite coffee spot in Barcelona?
The terrazza of Virreina Square, always so lively and in the heart of Gracia