Remote working in Barcelona

remote working in barcelona photo of the city

Listening to one of Joe Rogan’s podcasts the other day, he and his fellow Californians were excitedly chatting about Barcelona and their dreams of one day living in Spain’s second biggest city. Beyond the shared palm trees, sunny days and lively tech scene, Barcelona has a little something extra. A little something that makes it one of the coolest places to be a remote worker.

Here at Carousel Apps, we’re a completely remote team and this means we have the freedom to work wherever we want. Country hopping  jet-setters, city dwellers or village homebodies; the world, as they say, is our oyster. I personally made the move to Barcelona almost two years ago, leaving behind the hustle of the big smoke for a sunnier residence.  It’s a step that my family and I appreciate every single day. I mean, I literally open my eyes to a big blue sky and think “this place is bloody amazing” …maybe I’m just really easy to please. But more than blue skies and a toasty hot sun, Barcelona also has the following which I think make it an awesome place to be a remote worker:

Bursting with Culture

Every Christmas, the Catalans gather around a wooden log wearing a barettina and beat it till it ‘poops’ out nibbles and presents. This is done whilst singing songs about said log which is lovingly called the ‘Caga Tio’. English translation: the shitting uncle. They also have a ‘caganero’ in the nativity scene and create rather unappealing poop-shaped desserts around this time. But hey, let’s move on. There’s so much more than poop culture around here.

Image of Catalan Caga Tio at Christmas
There are also human towers, firework-throwing dragon parties, parades of giants and ridiculously delicious cuisine; it’s like the locals went for a stroll through the woods, gathering the freshest and most flavourful beings from snails and mushrooms to boar and giant onions, to throw onto a bbq. Yum!

Fact is, there is never a dull day with the year packed full of traditions and events, not to mention you’ll get a head start joining in with the locals. Just brush up on your Catalan first – and never ever call it a dialect.

Incredible Nature

If you’re into fresh air, gorgeous mountains, hiking, skiing, the beach – surely that list must include all of you by now? -then Barcelona is the place to be.

With the world’s biggest metropolitan park sitting side-by-side with the city, facing a stretch of sandy shores on the other side, Barcelona offers a million ways to get outside. And if you’re an adventurous type, rent a car to drive north and get to know the Pyrenees, wild-flower fields, and quietness of the rest of Catalunya.

If your remote work is also flexible with its hours, it’s easy to take advantage of everything the area has to offer. Set up your laptop in a local ski chalet and alternate between sending emails and tearing down the slopes, or pop out of your co-working space for a lunchtime swim at the beach. Or hey, here’s an idea: do both in one day.

Co-Working Spaces

Speak to expats here, and you’ll quickly realise that most run their own businesses or are freelancers. And that, of course along with local freelancers or small businesses, has led to the emergence of a variety of co-working spaces. The below are among these and not only are they ideal places to network and make friends, but to top it off they are modern, bright spaces where you can gather a group for a spot of post-work, beach volleyball.

Co-Working Cloud: a naturally sunny space in central Barcelona with parking for cars and bicycles, kitchen space, screens for rent, and free coffee, tea, and fruit. Located centrally, not far from the iconic Sagrada Familia.

Betahaus: much more than just a remote working site, Betahaus welcomes you to work in their space, enjoy workshops, or host an event. It’s all about a family environment, hence the need for an interview to become a member. Alternatively, head over to spend the day in the working space zone for 20 Euros.

Raval Co: if you want to be working in the midst of the Barcelona buzz, Raval Co just might be the place for you. As stated in its name, they’re located in El Raval, an old part of town which is seeing funky boutiques pop up by the minute adding to its layers of character.

Valkiria Hub Space: aiming to create a community of  innovative entrepreneurs, Vakliria does this by offering a co-working space, mentoring and event organisation. Go in and grab a desk, have a chat at the in-house cafe, then stroll over to the beach just a few minutes’ walk away.

There are many more places available; check out the full list from Metropolitan magazine.

Earn in a Foreign Currency

Every time the Euro drops, I do a little dance. Though I’m fiscally resident here, earning in a foreign currency translates into slightly higher wages by the time I’ve transferred my funds over. And since the cost of living is relative to local wages (where the minimum is a tight 756 Euros/month), life suddenly becomes more affordable. Paying almost half of what I did in London, I can now live in an apartment twice the size with a beautiful beach a 10 minute walk away. Fresh produce sourced locally now graces our dinner plates, rather than being the luxury item that it used to be.

All in all, you’ll still be spending here, but not to the extent of other major cities combined with the fact that earning foreign currency may lessen the burden even more.

Family Friendly

Remote workers are often portrayed as 20-something adventurers who set up office on a different beach every week. And that may be somewhat true. But for those of us who are perhaps 30-something, no-longer-country-hopping, family-rearing adventurers, Barcelona provides a brilliant place to raise a family and still be young at heart. Apart from getting stuck into everything already mentioned, there is a thriving scene of friendly folk with a few kids in tow. Discussing business at the local playground, or having a networking bbq whilst bouncing your kid on one knee is pretty commonplace. Not to mention that the locals themselves are centred around family. Take your kids out to restaurants till midnight and no one will bat an eye. Spend your spare time in one of the plentiful parks, or just enjoy all the cooing grannies. Sure beats trying to ram a pushchair onto the London tube during rush hour.

So to sum it up with a few photos, here are some snaps that have summed up my time remote working in Barcelona:

Of course, there are struggles here as well. Spanish paperwork has left me lost for words at times, not to mention the extremely high costs of being self-employed which is multiplied if you’re a part-timer. But beyond these couple of factors, I’d say Barcelona is a remote-working oasis, ideal for the grownup who doesn’t quite want to grow up. So what do you think, could remote working in Barcelona be next on your list?

Feature Photo by Bastien Deceuninck

Photo by Joan Cuevas

Comments 11

  1. Thanks for hopping over to our blog! I loved living in BCN and am envious. I hope to get back there for another upcoming winter soon! Do me a favor and take your family out for pizza at Bella Napoli. It’s still the best pizza I’ve ever had in my life!

  2. What a lovely post, and so glad to see a positive article about living in Barcelona. All I ever seem to find are pieces talking about unemployment rates, needing languages and that the cost of living is high. I am a nutritionist and plan to freelance in Barcelona so thanks for the info on the co-working spaces. If you have any more info on the health scene and whether a nutritionist will go down well so send it over. Thanks again and if anyone is interested have a look at my website http://www.you-ition.com

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      Thanks for your input! Yes there is a bad rep for Barcelona and it delayed us moving here by a year or so as well. Now, my only regret is that we didn’t come earlier! There is unemployment of course, but there are also jobs for those looking and willing to put in the effort.

      I have plenty of information to share about moving over, settling in, how much Spanish you’ll need etc – plus my husband is a nutritionit (though he works as an interior designer at the moment) so I’ll give what insight I can. Feel free to drop me a line directly amanda at watuapp.com

  3. Hi! This is a great article – so positive and really makes me want to move over! I’m a teacher currently working in Hong Kong but looking to move back to Europe to be closer to home (England) in August. Barcelona is high up on my list of places I’m considering. I’m just a bit worried about how easy it is to make new friends in Barcelona with the language barrier. Hong Kong has a huge expat scene and I found it so easy to fit in and find a new ‘Hong Kong family’ which I realise has been such a huge part of making me feel at home here. How did you find this when you moved over? Did you make new friends quickly or do you think I need to learn the language (I currently speak very little Spanish and no Catalan!) Any help would be great! Many thanks again for a great article!

    1. Post

      Thanks for your comment! How cool you’ve spent some time in Hong Kong – my mum is from there so I visit every now and then to see family and eat all the incredibe food 🙂

      I wouldn’t worry about making friends if you’re open to socialising with an expat crowd. There are so many foreigners here and English is always the common language. Personally, it was very easy for me to make friends as I have kids, so that helps to connect people. In general though, there are loads of meet up groups, sports groups like volleyball or yoga on the beach, bars and restaurants where you’ll meet everyone. You just have to go for it, and you’ll find plenty of people.

      In terms of making local friends, that would be much harder. Not just because you’d have to speak Spanish (Catalan can come later!) but because the Catalan are quite a closed people. There’s a saying that it’s very hard to become friends with a Catalan but once you do, they’re a friend for life.

      If you’d like any detailed info on moving over, I’m happy to share just drop me a line directly amanda at watuapp.com

    1. Post

      Woops >_< Thanks for the correction, Roger! Clearly I still have a lot to learn about the Catalan culture. I'll fix this up in the text...

  4. Out of interest, why is there “extremely high costs of being self-employed which is multiplied if you’re a part-timer”?

    1. Post

      Hi Sean – it was recently published that Spain is the most expensive country (in Europe I believe it was) to be self-employed. Autonomo’s, as we’re known here, pay 270 euros a month for social security. On top of this, we also have to pay tax which I believe is somewhere around 20%. It’s also very hard to claim expenses, as they must be 100% a business expense (i.e. if you work from home and want to claim internet, you can ONLY use it for work).

      Furthermore, you do not receive any governmental help if you lose your job which is not the case if you’re an employee.

      And I mention that the costs are higher for part-timers as it’s relative – normally part-timers make less per month, yet the 270/month fee remains the same. That’s to say, it’s fixed and not dependent on the amount you make.

      It’s not an ideal situation, though the benefits of living here still heavily outweigh the cost!

  5. Hello, Nice article about work places in Barcelona, very interesting!
    There is this new place in Sant Antoni area in Carrer de Manso 17 – Coco Coffice which is a coworking café very cosy, relax, perfect for us freelancers, digital nomads, students, remote workers to work and study with a great Wifi. You pay for the time spent (per hour,day or week) and a free buffet of hot drinks, cookies, snacks and fruits is included in the prices! Enjoy!

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