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.
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.
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.
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.
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?