expat stories

Expat stories

Nunu

United Kingdom

Expat stories

George

Russia

Expat stories

Leonid

Germany

Barcelona Expat Life - Stories of Expats - Samantha Rueckheim

Samantha

Germany

Expat stories

Tristan

Germany

Expat stories

Daniel

Hungary

Expat stories

Patricia

The Netherlands

Expat stories

Victor

USA, Mexico, Spain

Interview with nunu Roney

Expat stories

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?

Wanted a change from living in London for 16 years, 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. And the language and culture differences were difficult in the beginning.

What do you love the most about Barcelona?

The street life! The mix of people from around the world. All the different types of tomatoes, the wine and food and Meditarranian life style and how easy it is to get out into 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 of when i moved here that half of the Catalan population want independence. Be patient with burocracy, 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 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

Expat stories

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 change but is very mild, sea and mountains around it and at the same time it's not a typical tiny town by the sea which only is alive during the summer season. 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 -- 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 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 being moving around and some coming to Barcelona for a limited period of time because of a job or some other reasons there is a constant feeling of them come and go, that's true. 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 here the biggest challenge was starting the school immediately for the first time. The language though was a miner 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 for a move.

Interview with Leonid Burghaus

Expat stories

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

Expat stories

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

Expat stories

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

Expat stories

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 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, not often 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

Expat stories

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

Expat stories

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. Mich better to start own companies and create my 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 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 cost of living is much cheaper and more reasonable, except for housing and rental prices in Barcelona. It is important to note that if you earn a Spanish salary quite often the 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. 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