Thursday, March 29th, 2012
This month, we have chosen Barcelona, Spain’s second largest and most cosmopolitan city as our city of the month. Barcelona is a popular destination among expats and tourists alike and is one the region’s most international, multicultural and exciting cities. If you are planning to move to Barcelona, you’ll have the chance to enjoy Barcelona’s vibrant cultural and business life and unique lifestyle.
Barcelona is located on the Mediterranean coast and is Spain’s most cosmopolitan and progressive city, with a population of over 1.5 million, with over 13% of its inhabitants being from other countries. Barcelona is an important business centre and boasts a vibrant and varied cultural life. Being the capital of Catalonia (an autonomous region in Spain), it combines Catalan, Spanish and international influences and is often described as a city in constant flux. This applies to the city’s economy, culture and nightlife as well.
Employment and Economy in Barcelona
Barcelona is one of Europe’s business and innovation centres and has a strong and varied economy, with many international corporations having headquarters in the city. Some of the important sectors include manufacturing, design, tourism, the financial sector and the city is also one of Europe’s fashion centres. That said, if you are moving to Barcelona, you should be aware of the negative effects of the economic recession that have also affected Barcelona’s economy.
As a result of the economic recession and Spain’s rather high unemployment rates, you might find it harder to find employment, though this will also depend on your skills, language knowledge and experience. It is also important to be aware that average salaries are lower than in the UK and in many other parts of Western Europe. Living costs, especially in Barcelona, are high, on par with UK standards.
If you manage to find employment and satisfactory salary, you’ll experience a relatively relaxed work culture and good work-life balance in Barcelona.
When moving to Barcelona, you should keep in mind that the city is not only part of Spain, but is the capital of Catalonia, an autonomous region in Spain. This means that Catalan and Spanish are both official languages, and once you arrive in Barcelona, you’ll realise the pervasiveness of the Catalan language that appears throughout the city on street and metro signs and is spoken in public offices. Catalan is also the main language of instruction in public schools for example. This doesn’t mean that you won’t get by if you only know Spanish or English. Spanish will still be spoken by pretty much everybody in the city, although some Catalans might occasionally be reluctant to use it. Due to the international nature of the city, many inhabitants of Barcelona speak good English as well.
If you are planning to settle down in Barcelona permanently, it is recommended to learn good Spanish and try to learn at least the basics of Catalan as well. This will help you better integrate, get friendlier with the locals and benefit from a wider range of employment opportunities too.
Culture and Lifestyle
With its stunning and unique architecture, thousands of cafes and bars, beautiful beaches, sunny weather, rich cultural life and relaxed lifestyle, Barcelona can offer a great quality of life. Whether you want to enjoy a cocktail or some tapas in one of the city’s cafes or bars at night after work, mingle with expats from all over the world, walk around endlessly, admiring Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, the Park Guell or Barcelona’s modernist architecture, visit a museum, go to a football match, do something outdoors, or enjoy the beach, Barcelona is a great place to be.
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