Why do people choose to move to Barcelona? Most do so, I suspect, because they want ‘the good life’. Or rather, they want to ‘live’ more. The good climate means life lived outside. Add to this the diverse and vibrant mixture of culture, art, music, sea, mountains and festivals which Barcelona provides and there you have the big pull of Barcelona. For me, at least. It’s all too easy to get caught up in our hectic 9-long after 5 lifestyles and work pressures. It does no harm sometimes to take a step back and ask ourselves what we truly want from life. Are we earning to live, or living to earn?
The answer to this depends on the personal value and satisfaction each of us places on work and life. Some people prefer to live a work-focussed lifestyle. Indeed, some have the great fortune of making a living doing what they love. The problem, however, is for those who find themselves caught up in an all-consuming cycle of work harder to earn more, without experiencing the expected satisfaction. As described by this TED talk speakers, the question those people should be asking is: ‘is this what I want to do for the rest of my life?’
Personally speaking, my question was more ‘is this where I want to be for the rest of my life?’ I wasn’t keen on giving up what I was doing; I just wished I could be doing it somewhere else. I also wanted a break from the continuity and routine. For the chance to see what living abroad had to offer, I decided that taking a leap of faith was worth it. Besides, as I saw it, travel could be an opportunity to increase rather than diminish future career opportunities, be it overseas or back on home turf. The key, I felt, was to throw myself into it and get as much out of it!
It hasn’t all been plain sailing and it’s a continuous journey. As is life’s want, there are always going to be ups and downs. But my overall conclusion is that moving to Barcelona has been entirely worth it, even if in the end I don’t choose to stay. As already mentioned, quality of life is high in Barcelona, even if you’re not raking in the money. But let’s not underestimate the importance of work and money. As well as allowing you to meet those basic needs and pay the bills, there is the sense of purpose, contribution and gratification that work can bring. Moving abroad, especially when you don’t speak the language fluently, adds an extra challenge to the job search. That’s where patience and proactivity counts for so much. In Barcelona, there do exist various possibilities to earn a living, to gain skills, and maybe ultimately even finding something you enjoy, with decent prospects, and the possibility to strike ideal work-life balance for you.
So, what’s on offer in Barcelona? Well, I would say firstly that if making lots of money is your top priority you may want to think carefully before moving! That said, it is very possible to make enough to live comfortably (just how comfortably will depend on your individual lifestyle!).
Adding strings to your bow is going to give you a huge advantage when searching for your ideal job. So sign up for Spanish and/or Catalan classes (the latter being on offer for free!). Perhaps you may consider doing a course, either a distance or online course, or applying to one of the universities. You can also build your network by attending events or meetups related to your interests and ambitions. Making connections can be a great way for opening up doors.
If your language skills are lacking, TEFL-ing is a very viable option, particularly for native English teachers for whom there is great demand. There are several TEFL courses running every month in Barcelona in order to get certified and there is an extensive and supportive TEFL teacher community. The more experienced you get at teaching, the more you can make it work for you. There are possibilities to work in academies and/or companies (make sure they pay enough!). Doing private classes has the benefit of giving you greater control and flexibility over the price, timetable and travel. Many teachers combine classes in academies with private classes. For me the beauty in this work is the autonomy to choose how much or little you work.
Another option is to find work in a call centre, with many companies looking specifically for English and/or other European language speakers. This could at least be a good option to get some steady hours and pay while you work on your spanish. There may also be opportunities to develop and progress within the company. See this guide for information about where you can look for jobs in Barcelona.
If you are an ambitious, inspired, creative person, Barcelona may be the perfect place to set up your own business. This guide will give you information about the opportunities, community and events on offer in Barcelona.