expat stories

Evie

France

Riekje

Germany

Maud

The Netherlands

Justine

The Netherlands

Annick

The Netherlands

Wendy

The Netherlands

Mette

Denmark

Juul

The Netherlands

Anouk

The Netherlands

Jesse

The Netherlands

Nunu

United Kingdom

George

Russia

Leonid

Germany

Barcelona Expat Life - Stories of Expats - Samantha Rueckheim

Samantha

Germany

Tristan

Germany

Daniel

Hungary

Patricia

The Netherlands

Victor

USA and Mexico

Interview with Evie

Nationality:

French

Age range:

18-24 years old

Landed in:

2020

Languages:

French, English, Spanish, Russian and Catalan

Neighbourhood:

Barceloneta

Work:

Content Strategist | Digital marketer | MBA in International Business | Big Data & Business Analytics

Why did you choose to relocate to Barcelona?

I came to Barcelona to gain more working experience in a Spanish environment. I also did a Master International Business at EAE Business School and Polytechnic University of Catalonia, specialized in Big Data and Business Analytics.

Did you find the paperwork difficult to manage?

The paperwork and administrative steps are in essence easy to understand, but the hard part is to get your papers fast. Even though I am European and speak perfectly Spanish, I had to get help from my managers at work, and also from a lawyer once, to be able to get my papers fast (work permit, social security number, and civil registration). I would say that it is important to seek support (from your work, expats, or lawyers) in advance if you just arrived in Barcelona and starting to work right away, in order to avoid administrative or tax issues.

How did you find a place to live?

It is very important for me to live with roommates I get along well with in terms of lifestyle, so I first searched on the app Badi a person to live with. Turns out I started to chat with someone who had an amazing flat in Barceloneta close to the beach, and she was searching for a roommate. Now, we have been friends for years and we still live together as roommates. I also checked blogs and YouTube video experiences to know which quarters to live in according to my needs.

How does the cost of living in Barcelona compare to back home?

The cost of living is in overall way lower than Paris where I am from. For a grocery bag, in Barcelona, it would be worth half of the price. However, the cost of rent is a little bit more expensive. In general, I enjoy more going out and doing leisure activities here in Barcelona as the price is also way lower.

How does the work culture in Spain differ from your home country?

As I mainly work with startups, I would say the work culture, team bonding activities, processes, are the same in the majority of startups in France, because startups have their own “culture” worldwide. However, in France we tend to spend hours and hours in meetings and it’s not very well seen to do multiple breaks during the day. Whereas in Spain, from my own experience meetings are shorter and we usually do more breaks throughout the day, and we see it as perfectly normal.

How did you find the job seeking process?

The job-seeking process was very smooth for me. I decided to apply to internships and freelance jobs part-time (20/25h per week) to combine it with my studies. I applied mainly via LinkedIn Premium or the website « Welcome to the Jungle », which has a special focus on startups, as the tech startup sphere is very dynamic in Barcelona, and generally they search for interns who can speak several languages.

Did you experience any particular elements of culture shock?

The main cultural shock I had as a French person is how close Spanish people are to each other, how friendly people speak in restaurants, coffees, shops, supermarkets, in day-to-day life. The first time I was called "guapa" or "cariño" in a bakery, that was a shock for me! But perfectly normal for the Spanish culture, which is more friendly than the French one.

Interview with Annick van Bindsbergen

Nationality:

Dutch

Age range:

18-24 years old

Landed in:

2019

Languages:

Dutch, German, English, and Spanish

Neighbourhood:

Sant Antoni

Work:

I'm an international business student, with a passion for entrepreneurship, digital marketing and branding. Following my passion has led me to founding my own digital marketing agency DNAdvertising that I'm trying to grow now.

Why did you choose to relocate to Barcelona?

Initially I came to Barcelona to study at the University of Barcelona as an Erasmus exchange student. I fell in love with the city so I decided to stay.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced after your relocation?

The extreme level of bureaucracy that I have faced whenever I needed to arrange something that involves the local authorities or organisations.

What do you love the most about Barcelona?

The diversity of the city. Barcelona makes you feel like you're living a typical mediterranean lifestyle but with the benefits of a metropolitan city.

If you could give one piece of advice to future expats in Barcelona, what would it be?

Make sure you are well-informed about the steps to take in order to manage all the paperwork properly. This will save you a lot of stress!

What do you miss the most about home?

What I miss most are my family and friends. Also, I miss how organised my country is.

What were the biggest adjustments you had to make when settling into life in Barcelona?

I used to be a control freak trying to plan and structure everything in my life as much as possible, just to avoid uncertainty. During my first months in Barcelona I tried to do the same, things, but soon I realised that this doesn't work here. Often plans are made last minute and people seem to live day to day. Now, I am used to it and I see the bright side of it more than ever.

How did you find a place to live?

I have moved several times since I arrived. I found my first place via the online agency Badi, as I did not know any other way to find a place. My current apartment was shared in a Facebook community group.

Interview with Wendy Duchain-Gulamali

Nationality:

Dutch

Age range:

45-54 years old

Landed in:

2019

Languages:

Dutch, English and German

Municipality:

Montgat

Work:

content2click YOUR BRAND IN SPOTLIGHTS ⚡️Social Media Management ⚡️Power Hours ⚡️Social Media Check ⚡️Photography ⚡️(Animation) Video ⚡️Social Media Workshops www.content2click.com

Why did you choose to relocate to Barcelona?

Project life, that's what we call it. We wanted to leave the "rat-race" in the Netherlands. Our motto is "work hard, play harder". Working hard is something my husband and I both love, but so that we are able to live life to the full and not for work to become our life.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced after your relocation?

Definately the bureaucracy. Everything needs to be done in person. I've seen more paper in a little over a year here, than the last 5-10 years in the Netherlands. That, and the pandemic (as we moved end of December 2019). That's the same everywhere, but with both of us having our own companies it was a challenge. It brings out creativity and innovative spririt though, so it's all good.

What do you love the most about Barcelona?

The fact that you have everything on your doorstep or around the corner. Beach, city, mountains, nature, even snowboarding is only a 2 hour drive.

If you could give one piece of advice to future expats in Barcelona, what would it be?

Read up on what you need here, like: NIE, a Spanish bank account and health insurance. But also, keep in mind the cost of living for instance. As a tourist it's easy to think that everything is much cheaper here when it really isn't. Of course some things are, like going out for lunch or dinner.

What do you miss the most about home?

To be honest only my mom and friends. But I'm sure that when travel gets better they will visit us rather than the other way around.

How did you meet your main community of friends?

There are a lot of expats here and they easily connect or share tips. We meet on a terrace or the beach. Personally, I "meet" many people online because of my business as well. The locals are very kind and helpful, but the family culture is adamant. Which makes it challenging to get close.

Do you use your native language at work?

I do use my native language at work, because I still work for Dutch customers. I even have English, American and Spanish customers now. The advantage of working as a Social Media Manager is that you can work online. This pandemic actually sped up the process of customers acceptation of remote working and has given me the international clients I have now.

Did you find the paperwork difficult to manage?

No, there's a lot of it though. We hired a bureau to handle the NIE appointment and got some recommendations on a good honest gestor to become Autonomo.

How did you prepare your children to move abroad?

We came here for a couple of week in Fall and in Summer for him to get used to the surroundings. He just loves the beach in Montgat, where we live. Our son was accepted into an international school but, when we moved they didn't have a spot for him in his year so he now is attending a Catalan school.

Interview with Mette Aagaard Jakobsen

Nationality:

Danish

Age range:

35-44 years old

Landed in:

2003

Languages:

Danish, English, German and Spanish

Neighbourhood:

Sants

Work:

I am the founder of home on earth a beautiful, sustainable deco shop in the Gothic area. All the products in the shop have a story behind and we always work directly with the artesan/family around the world and with artesan from Barcelona. Many of the products are my design.

Why did you choose to relocate to Barcelona?

We wanted to move to a place that would be new for us both.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced after your relocation?

The most difficult thing has been to find out how to start up a company in a new country and at that moment we did not speak any Spanish.

What do you love the most about Barcelona?

I love the overall feeling and vibe of Barcelona. The lifestyle and the option of mountain and sea at the same time.

If you could give one piece of advice to future expats in Barcelona, what would it be?

Just jump into it with both feet. Everything is possible :-).

What are the top 3 things on your bucket list whilst living in Barcelona?

Don’t forget to jump in the sea in January, it’s fantastic.

What do you miss the most about home?

What I miss the most is my friends and family.

What was your greatest fear before moving to Barcelona?

I had already been on the road for 2 years so I was open to everything. I never had any fear.

What were the biggest adjustments you had to make when settling into life in Barcelona?

The biggest adjustment was to slow down.

Did you experience any particular elements of culture shock?

All kind of paperwork, to go to the goverment etc takes toooo long.

How did you meet your main community of friends?

We did live in a close community and it was there that we made our first friends. We were working a lot on different festivals and markets and there we got to know so many lovely people. We have 3 children too so we made a lot of friends with other parents.

How did you find the job seeking process?

We started our own company so I never had to search for work luckily!

Do you use your native language at work?

I use all my language knowledge when I am in my shop, 'Home on earth'. We have clients from all over the world and that makes each day a lot of fun.

How does the cost of living in Barcelona compare to back home?

In the past 17 years the prices have raised a lot. But still the cost of living is much cheaper than Denmark.

How did you find a place to live?

We found our first place to live on the internet.

Did you find the paperwork difficult to manage?

Yes, I'm not fan of paperwork.

How did you prepare your children to move abroad?

When we moved to Barcelona our 3 children were not born yet.

Do you have any tips for other expat parents with children in Barcelona?

It is a perfect place to meet other families because there are so many activities outside and in the nature.

Interview with Juul

Nationality:

Dutch

Age range:

25-34 years old

Landed in:

2018

Languages:

Dutch, English and Spanish

Neighbourhood:

Born

Work:

Interior shop owner Pachulí Interior & Lifestyle

Why did you choose to relocate to Barcelona?

I always knew that I wanted to live in Spain some day, it didn’t really matter where. It was easy to find a job in Barcelona so that's the main reason I came.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced after your relocation?

The Catalan language and online systems are a challenge!

What do you love the most about Barcelona?

The beautiful streets which are always so full of character. There are so many highlights, the beach and stunning nature around the city are also a personal favourite.

If you could give one piece of advice to future expats in Barcelona, what would it be?

Don’t limit yourself to only the city. Go and explore!

Did you experience any particular elements of culture shock?

The Catalan language and the fact that compared to other Spanish people I’ve met, Catalans are quite reserved and closed off.

How did you meet your main community of friends?

International Facebook groups, work and going out for drinks.

Do you use your native language at work?

Now I have my own shop, Pachulí Interior & Lifestyle, I at least speak in Spanish. I'll learn Catalan as well at some point which will be even better!

How does the work culture in Spain differ from your home country?

The “Mañana mañana” attitude towards the Spanish work-life culture is really true.

How did you find a place to live?

Idealista and Facebook groups are the best.

Interview with Jesse Bak

Nationality:

Dutch

Age range:

18-24 years old

Landed in:

2020

Languages:

Dutch, English, German and basic Spanish

Neighbourhood:

Barceloneta

Work:

Throughout the day I am a LinkedIn strategist. That means I am self employed and help people with their LinkedIn strategy and personal branding. My company TextJesse was founded in October 2020. In the evenings I am doing a master in Entrepreneurship.

Why did you choose to relocate to Barcelona?

In February 2020 I finished my Bachelors degree and I wanted to spice things up before starting my Masters. What better way to learn Spanish, than by going to the beach and partying in the sun right?

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced after your relocation?

Apart from the lockdown that started two weeks after my arrival, I had to learn the language from scratch. Additionally, we were dealing with a landlord that was not always as easy going. Lastly, due to the Covid situation it took me approximately six months to get my NIE!

What do you love the most about Barcelona?

Although I understand it is not really Barcelona specific, I am hooked on the easy going lifestyle that people have here. A city where you can have stressful days in the office but still be able to chill out , relax and switch off from work.

If you could give one piece of advice to future expats in Barcelona, what would it be?

DON'T expect beach weather in January and DO bring your winter jacket.

What are the top 3 things on your bucket list whilst living in Barcelona?

1. Visit the festival: Brunch in the Park 2. Eat at the restaurant: Tickets 3. Eat the infamous 'Calçots'!

What do you miss the most about home?

Friends & family and the fireplace!

What were the biggest adjustments you had to make when settling into life in Barcelona?

The biggest adjustment I had to make was to slow down and take a breather. In the first few weeks I felt like a kid in a candy store, absolutely spoilt for choice!

How did you find the job seeking process?

I was very lucky to secure a job in Barcelona before I stepped on the plane. After half a year, when I decided it was time for something new, I had a hard time finding a new job. That's when I created my own company.

Do you use your native language at work?

At my previous job I was working for the Flemish market. Therefore, Dutch and English sufficed. Right now the majority of my clients are Dutch + a few internationals. I might want to acquire a Spanish client before my learnings fade away!

Interview with Anouk Grootjans

Nationality:

Dutch

age range:

25-34 years old

landed in:

2014

languages:

Dutch, English, Spanish and German

Neighbourhood:

Sants

work:

Graphic designer

Why did you choose to relocate to Barcelona?

I came to Barcelona because of an internship. At first it was a temporary situation, but then I stayed here and started my own graphic design company: www.designbyanouk.com.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced after your relocation?

Often saying goodbye to new friends and probably also the language.

What do you love the most about Barcelona?

The sun and the relaxed atmosphere!

If you could give one piece of advice to future expats in Barcelona, what would it be?

Learn the language before you arrive. It will save you a lot of awkward moments and things will go easier when you know the language.

What do you miss the most about home?

My family and old friends from home! Also the fact that some things are better organised in the Netherlands.

How did you meet your main community of friends?

Probably via my old internship and a bar we always went to - We mixed with another group of friends there. If you have a job you will probably make a lot of friends at work. I also rented out a room in a shared apartment for some years so that's another way you can get to know people as well.

Do you use your native language at work?

Yes, I have started my own business now, but before I worked at an office with only Dutch speaking colleagues.

How did you find a place to live?

I found my current apartment via friends of friends. They had to move out quickly and I got to know about this.

Did you find the paperwork difficult to manage?

YES!

Interview with Nunu Roney

Nationality:

British/Swedish

age range:

45-54 years old

landed in:

2006

languages:

English, Swedish and Spanish

Neighbourhood:

Sant Antoni

work:

Director of The Vital Touch Barcelona, Wellness Company

Why did you choose to relocate to Barcelona?

I wanted a change from living in London for 16 years, and I wanted a better climate and knew a few friends living in Barcelona.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced after your relocation?

I arrived in an economic crisis in Barcelona and to begin with it wasn't easy to find enough work. The language and culture differences were also difficult in the beginning.

What do you love the most about Barcelona?

The street life! The mix of people from around the world. The wine and food and Mediterranean life style, also how easy it is to get out and enjoy the Catalan nature.

If you could give one piece of advice to future expats in Barcelona, what would it be?

Read up on the Spanish/Catalan history, I wasn't aware when I moved here that half of the Catalan population want independence. Be patient with bureaucracy, paperwork takes time.

What are the top 3 things on your bucket list whilst living in Barcelona?

1. Explore Montjuic and all its gardens and museums. 2. Wander in Raval and Gotico trying different wines and tapas. 3. Walk around Eixample seeing all the Modernista and Gaudi buildings.

What do you miss the most about home?

I miss the English humour and eccentric people!

What were the biggest adjustments you had to make when settling into life in Barcelona?

With working in the Wellness Industry I had to accept that Spain is at least 10 years behind in regards to education about self care and wellness/massage etc.

How did you meet your main community of friends?

Expat networks like BWN and through my Argentinian husband.

Interview with George

Nationality:

Russian

age range:

35-44 years old

landed in:

2014

languages:

Russian, English and Spanish

Neighbourhood:

Sant Gervasi

work:

I am working in IT education

Why did you choose to relocate to Barcelona?

I like the city's scale which is much smaller than Moscow, where I am originally from. The climate, which has seasons, changes but is usually very mild. I enjoy the sea and mountains around the city and the fact that it's still not a typical tiny town by the sea which only comes alive during the summer season. Come to think of it, there's not many cities by the sea in Europe with this combination and a warm sea.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced after your relocation?

Finding my way on what to do next in terms of work activity (e.g. which direction to go).

What do you love the most about Barcelona?

Calamity, slow pace of life, the weather, amazing scenery if you go on a road trip.

If you could give one piece of advice to future expats in Barcelona, what would it be?

Understand the difference between being a tourist and living here, explore Barcelona a bit more before deciding where to settle. There are several neighbourhoods in the city and they are very different from each other in terms of atmosphere, quality of life and the people living there.

Did you experience any particular elements of culture shock?

Not really, I've travelled a lot before moving and spend a lot of time in Spain as well. I enjoy immersion into different cultures and lifestyles so this part wasn't an issue at all. Although I know a lot of people who had a bit of a rough time adjusting and dealing with cultural shock.

How did you meet your main community of friends?

With people moving around and some coming to Barcelona for a limited period of time because of a job or some other reason, there is a constant feeling of them coming and going. Honestly, it's pretty hard to meet new people for me since I'm either at work or spending time with my kids, so socialising is not working as well as it could for me.

Do you use your native language at work?

Nope, we speak English all the time and it's actually an issue. My Spanish is deteriorating fast without practicing.

How did you prepare your children to move abroad?

My son was born here and my daughter was only 3 at the time of the move, so for her the biggest challenge was starting school immediately for the first time. The language though was a minor issue, since I was already talking in English with her at home.

Do you have any tips for other expat parents with children in Barcelona?

Find a school and medical insurance in advance so it's all prepared before the move.

Interview with Leonid Burghaus

Nationality:

German

age range:

18-24 years old

landed in:

2017

languages:

German, Spanish, English, Catalan and Italian

Neighbourhood:

Glories

work:

Trainer and Quality analyst

Why did you choose to relocate to Barcelona?

Since the first time I visited Barcelona, it was always a goal for me to live there. The city has an amazing atmosphere which I love, so when I had to decide where to study, Barcelona was my top choice.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced after your relocation?

Finding a good place to live has not been easy so far.

What do you love the most about Barcelona?

Probably the amount of good restaurants and nice food.

What do you miss the most about home?

Growing up in Mallorca I was always spoilt for choice for beaches and having nice beaches that are close to home is something you don't get in Barcelona.

If you could give one piece of advice to future expats in Barcelona, what would it be?

There are many opportunities to do sports, and trying new sports out; use them! Not only because you're going to get to know a lot of new people, but you'll see the city and the spanish culture with different eyes.

How did you meet your main community of friends?

At work I've met the most amazing people.

How did you find the job seeking process?

I wasn't looking for a specific job, so I don't know how the job seeking process is if you already have a defined career path. For me as a student, I've come across some interesting job offers and didn't find it particularly difficult, but of course it's not the easiest process.

Do you use your native language at work?

Yes, but I speak other languages too.

How does the cost of living in Barcelona compare to back home?

It is more expensive, which I was expecting because I come from a town where everything is usually very cheap. Rent is getting more and more expensive every year in Barcelona (but I suppose it does in most places to be fair).

Interview with Samantha Rückheim

Barcelona Expat Life - Stories of Expats - Samantha Rueckheim

Nationality:

German

age range:

25-34 years old

landed in:

2018

languages:

German, Spanish, English, French and Italian

Neighbourhood:

Gracia Nova

work:

Hospitality & Tourism

Why did you choose to relocate to Barcelona?

In 2015, I had an overnight stay in Barcelona with a cruise ship I was working on at the time. I was mesmerized by the ambience of this city and I had only seen the area around the port, La Rambla and Placa Catalunya (probably around 1% of Barcelona I would say). I just knew that I would come back to live here one day.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced after your relocation?

For me it was finding a place that I can call "home". Flat hunting has been my biggest challenge since my relocation. I have learned so much about idealista.es, fotocasa.es, Badi and other real estate webpages. Overall, I had to move about 6 times in just over 2 years.

What do you love the most about Barcelona?

The overall ambience and its architecture is unique. There is nothing better than enjoying a Vermouth and some tapas in Barcelona. I do also love the proximity to some beautiful places along the Costa Brava and the Baleares.

If you could give one piece of advice to future expats in Barcelona, what would it be?

Never give up! Things work differently in every country. Never underestimate cultural differences (both at work and in your personal life). Embrace the change and you will find your happiness wherever you may be.

What was your greatest fear before moving to Barcelona?

Before relocating to Barcelona I had the following questions on my mind: Will I ever feel at home in this new city? How long will it take until this feeling kicks in? Will I be able to connect with the locals? Will I find a rewarding job and a fulfilling personal life? Will I be lucky and find some really good friends who support you in the good and bad times?

Do you use your native language at work?

Yes, I do. German is a highly demanded language in Barcelona.

Interview with Tristan Szesik

Nationality:

German

age range:

18-24 years old

landed in:

2019

languages:

German, English and Spanish

Neighbourhood:

Poble Sec

work:

Student

Why did you choose to relocate to Barcelona?

I started my Master's degree in Sustainable Business and Innovation at EADA Business School in 2019 and I have recently completed it. I have loved Barcelona since my first visit in 2012 and from that moment, one of my goals was to live and work here.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced after your relocation?

Finding a job after I finished my studies.

What do you love the most about Barcelona?

I love the diversity! The people, the different areas and the possibility to climb Montjuic and having the beach on your door step at the same time.

If you could give one piece of advice to future expats in Barcelona, what would it be?

Prepare everything for your NIE from home before you arrive in Barcelona.

What are the top 2 things on your bucket list whilst living in Barcelona?

Hike to Tibidabo and surf in front of the W Hotel.

What do you miss the most about home?

Structure and reliability.

How did you find the job seeking process?

Hard but I'm not giving up.

How does the work culture in Spain differ from your home country?

Everything is more "tranquillo".

How does the cost of living in Barcelona compare to back home?

I think it is more or less the same, however I feel that BCN is expensive in terms of rent.

How did you find a place to live?

Friends and online platforms such as Idealista and Badi.

Did you find the paperwork difficult to manage?

Yes definitely, and it is always such a long process.

Interview with Daniel Nagy

Nationality:

Hungarian

age range:

25-34 years old

landed in:

2020

languages:

Hungarian and English

Neighbourhood:

Poblenou

work:

HR & Recruitment Specialist

Why did you choose to relocate to Barcelona?

I have always dreamt about living in Barcelona. The vibrant culture of the city as well as the diversity that Barcelona represents are just a few reasons that made me decide to continue my life here.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced after your relocation?

There are two things: renting an entire apartment is quite difficult - the deposit and agency fees require a lot of savings to do so. However rooms are quite easy to get. Also, paperwork and official immigration procedures for non-EU citizens are super slow! EU citizens have a slightly easier pathway to document their stay legally!

What do you love the most about Barcelona?

The beach, the food, the people, the dogs, the architecture and the diversity.

If you could give one piece of advice to future expats in Barcelona, what would it be?

Don’t be afraid to make the big move. Barcelona has a lot to offer!

What do you miss the most about home?

Budapest is an amazing city - I grew up there and miss most of my family and friends!

How did you find the job seeking process?

Job seeking is quite easy in Barcelona. It is a very multicultural city with tonnes of international companies and shared service centers. If you speak any major European languages, you will find a job in a matter of days or weeks. Unfortunately, the pandemic has affected the whole job market and many people, including myself.

Did you find the paperwork difficult to manage?

Absolutely! I am very critical towards the existing system for both EU and non-EU persons. Especially my non-EU family members who suffered a lot with the 6-10 months waiting time to legalize their stay in Spain. I do think the system needs to be readjusted and I hope that the possibility of online procedures will remain indefinitely.

Interview with Patricia Zeegers

Nationality:

Dutch

age range:

45-54 years old

landed in:

2006

languages:

English, Dutch and Spanish

Neighbourhood:

I live 40 km north of Barcelona in El Vallès Oriental.

work:

I am a business strategy consultant.

Why did you choose to relocate to Barcelona?

Having lived abroad as a child with my parents and sister I wanted to replicate the experience. I was curious if I would be able to learn a new language and build up my life in another culture. The location was not important at the time, the Mediterranean climate and lifestyle felt attractive. Spanish would be a good language to add to my existing skillset long term. For professional reasons being in or near a big city was important and the final choice was made for Barcelona.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced after your relocation?

The completely unregulated housing market. Sky high prices especially for expats, often not matching the quality of the property.

What do you love the most about Barcelona?

The incredible mix of people living here and the laid back atmosphere. International city yet compact and easily navigated.

If you could give one piece of advice to future expats in Barcelona, what would it be?

Learn the language and connect with the locals in your barrio.

What do you miss the most about home?

The bicycle infrastructure. I have seen Barcelona transform itself in the past 15 years from a city with a handful of bicycles to a city where bicycles are everywhere. There is much room for improvement in infrastructure as well as bicycle parking and storing solutions.

What was your greatest fear before moving to Barcelona?

I had absolutely no fears, I was ready for the adventure.

Did you experience any particular elements of culture shock?

Yes and I expected it. Culture shock is normal, I've had it before, including reversed culture shock when I moved back "home". The part that took me longest to get to terms with here in Barcelona was the low quality and expensive housing in combination with low wages.

How did you meet your main community of friends?

I was determined not to live in the expat bubble so I learned the language and surrounded myself only with local people in the first year. Only after I settled in did I start to connect with the international community.

Do you use your native language at work?

I work with women entrepreneurs around the Mediterranean. I mainly use English at work.

Interview with Andrew Funk

Nationality:

American

age range:

35-44 years old

landed in:

2003

languages:

English, Spanish & Catalan

work:

Social Impact Activist & President of #HomelessEntrepreneur

Why did you choose to relocate to Barcelona?

I just graduated from Arizona State University and I wanted to get to know the world.

What do you love the most about Barcelona?

Being around my family.

If you could give one piece of advice to future expats in Barcelona, what would it be?

Integrate and make the city yours.

What do you miss the most about home?

My friends.

What was your greatest fear before moving to Barcelona?

I didn't have any fears before moving to Barcelona.

What were the biggest adjustments you had to make when settling into life in Barcelona?

Learning the language and understanding the culture.

Did you experience any particular elements of culture shock?

I had to invite everyone for dinner for my birthday when it's the other way around in the States.

How did you meet your main community of friends?

The gym.

How did you find the job seeking process?

Against all odds.

Do you use your native language at work?

Yes.

How does the work culture in Spain differ from your home country?

Life and work priorities seem inverse in my opinion.

How does the cost of living in Barcelona compare to back home?

It's cheaper, but the opportunity to make more money is very limited.

How did you find a place to live?

Friends.

Did you find the paperwork difficult to manage?

Paperwork was a huge pain.

How did you prepare your children to move abroad?

All of my children were born in Barcelona.

Do you have any tips for other expat parents with children in Barcelona

Look for schools that have parents you get along with.

What are the top 3 things on your bucket list whilst living in Barcelona?

End homelessness in Barcelona, become mayor and ensure my kids get an excellent education.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced after your relocation?

Overcoming homelessness.

Interview with Victor Horcasitas

Nationality:

USA, MEXICO, SPAIN

landed in:

1996

work:

Editor, Publisher & Growth Marketing Ninja. - Inform expats about key issues and stories. - Help companies sell to Barcelona's international community - Professional eater of Mexican tacos and Spanish tapas

languages:

English, Spanish, Catalan

age range:

45-54 years old

Neighbourhood:

Sant Gervasi

Why did you choose to relocate to Barcelona?

Combination of weather, food, lifestyle and proximity to EU capitals.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced after your relocation?

Professional development, immigration / visa hassles, unreliable legal frameworks, terrible customer service and difficult access to capital markets.

What do you love the most about Barcelona?

Excellent friendships with intl community, easy access to mountains, beaches, rivers, urban comforts and weather is awesome.

If you could give one piece of advice to future expats in Barcelona, what would it be?

Join events hosted by both - Barcelona Metropolitan and The American Society of Barcelona.

What are the top 3 things on your bucket list whilst living in Barcelona?

1. Purchase a home. 2. Get a Spanish Drivers License. 3. Visit every EU capital from Barcelona.

What do you miss the most about home?

Great customer service, much better professional opportunities and family.

What was your greatest fear before moving to Barcelona?

Having to earn a Spanish salary, never being accepted by locals as a true Barcelonian and something bad happening to family members across Atlantic.

What were the biggest adjustments you had to make when settling into life in Barcelona?

Getting divorced, losing custody of my children and loss of my former in-laws, with whom I had a great relationship. Having to recreate a network of friends and professional contacts was very difficult. Expats who are married to a local are at an enormous disadvantage with respect to divorces. Get professional advice if this is a risk!!!

Did you experience any particular elements of culture shock?

Absolutely. Everything from: rampant and accepted cheating in schools; late morning start times for work; eating styles; constantly being surprised about local/national holidays; a culture that is highly suspicious of foreigners; coffee with liquor in the mornings; a shocking inculcation of distrust of Madrid (independence movement) at children's schools.

How did you meet your main community of friends?

American Society of Barcelona is packed with kind, smart and helpful members.

How did you find the job seeking process?

Horrible. Between terrible salaries and constant immigration issues seeking a job was a futile effort. It is much better to start your own company and create your own opportunities.

Do you use your native language at work?

Daily.

How does the work culture in Spain differ from your home country?

In my experience, back home there is a much more open culture, much higher dedication to both professional and academic excellence, less bureaucracy, better technology, easier access to financial sponsors and significantly better fiscal treatment. Trying to run your own company in Spain is much more complicated, given the lack of transparency, interference from fiscal authorities, onerous statutory filings and very poor levels of English.

How does the cost of living in Barcelona compare to back home?

In Barcelona the cost of living is much cheaper and more reasonable, except for housing and rental prices. It is important to note that if you earn a Spanish salary, quite often the lower cost of living is hard to appreciate since your share of living expenses is very similar to back home.

How did you find a place to live?

Scouring all the online agency opportunities that offered a flat with the right sizes, location and acceptable conditions. It was a very frustrating process: many agents failed to show up to appointments; descriptions that significantly varied from reality; unreasonable requirements to rent to an expat.

Did you find the paperwork difficult to manage?

Yes. Spanish bureaucracy is a nightmare. Rules are constantly changing. Ask the same question to 5 different attorneys and you will often get very different answers. Document authentication, sworn translations and mis-information from official websites is difficult to navigate. Also, civil servants have a well earned reputation to AVOID doing their job and making it difficult to accomplish simple tasks if it is your first time doing so. Much better (and ultimately cheaper) to get an expert.

How did you prepare your children to move abroad?

They were so young, they didn't care. For them it was adventure and although we lived in Washington DC, they were very close to family members in Barcelona, making the transition easy for my kids.

Do you have any tips for other expat parents with children in Barcelona?

Far too many anecdotes and insightful tips to mention here. After 25 years of experience helping people integrate into Barcelona, multiple personal relocations across the Atlantic and the English Channel, I now run a magazine to help expats transition successfully to Barcelona. Join me for some wine and tapas... and register for our magazine... and I'd be delighted to share insights and heard-earned lessons for FREE! Register here www.Barcelona-Metropolitan.com