We get it, relocating to another country can be a difficult decision to make, but there is a chance that A) you’re just overthinking it, or B) you give too much credit to all the negative opinions you’ve heard about the place in mind. Let us debunk a few popular myths about Barcelona that may be keeping your from finally admitting to yourself that it is in fact just the right place for you!
1. Barcelona is a city known for its rich art and architecture, but its technology scene is a lot less significant.
Now this is where you could not be more wrong. Barcelona is all medieval churches, art museums and Gaudí, but it is also the fifth hottest startup hub in Europe, a major location for global technology events as well as something that we call a “smart city”. It’s like there is an enormous robotic dinosaur asleep underground below the city, and every time it snorts or hiccups or yawns, something incredible happens in the technology scene on the surface. If Barcelona’s history is all about its invaluable achievements in art, its future will be all about its successes in the tech field.
2. Due to the brutal rise in unemployment rates after the economic crisis is Spain, it is extremely difficult to find a job in Barcelona.
It’s safe to say that as a young, aspiring, unbelievably talented job seeker with little experience and high salary expectations, job offers will not start falling from the sky for you to pick and choose from – unless you work in the fields of technology and engineering. Like we’ve said before, Barcelona is an up-and-coming startup hub that is currently absorbing local and international tech talent like a sponge. If you’re good at what you do, and if by debunking these myths about Barcelona we manage to convince you to make the move, all you need to do is start looking and let yourself get snatched up!
3. Barcelona is a gigantic metropolis and it’s easy to get swallowed up by it and feel like an ant lost in intergalactic space.
If you’ve never lived in a large capital city before, all it takes is a glance at the map of Barcelona for the city to suddenly feel truly intimidating. If you get so confused that the buildings look like they’re about to go full Inception on you, just remind yourself that Barcelona has one of the best and most easy-to-use public transport systems in Europe, as well as a bunch of great mobile apps to help you navigate! And, in case you’re on foot, there is no dead end suddenly appearing out of nowhere in the middle of the Barri Gòtic that Google Maps can’t save you from. Take long walks, enjoy discovering the narrow streets and hidden alleyways of the inner city! Once you’ve found a place to live, established your daily routine and mapped up the lovely triangle between your home, your workplace and the closest grocery store, you’ll see that creating your own little world within the city and getting around in it is not so challenging after all.
4. Rent prices are so ridiculously high that once you’ve rented an apartment, you might as well say goodbye to any luxuries such as having dinner every day.
Here’s the deal. Barcelona may not be the infamously expensive city that London or Paris are, but it is true that lately, rent prices have skyrocketed and are higher than in any other city in Spain, including Madrid. But do not despair just yet. Fortunately, there are ways that you can live in Barcelona without having to half-heartedly give up your entire month’s pay. You can rent a single room starting from around €350, or share an apartment with your friends and/or strangers to split the costs. Also, you’d better get your Don Quijote game on and find yourself a lady, because lucky couples may be able to find a decent studio apartment in a good location for as low as €800 a month.
5. English is not widely spoken…
OK, maybe the lady selling vegetables at your local marketplace won’t have a clue what you’re talking about if you politely ask her for half a pound of sweet potatoes in English, but most shop assistants and restaurant staff working in the city center will definitely cater to your unilingual needs. As for your co-workers, there are innumerable startups and tech companies in Barcelona that work with international people, so you will definitely find a team where you’ll fit in, and you can guess your way through restaurant menus together. Young, local tech talent have a decent affinity for English, so you won’t have trouble making friends even if your command of Catalan is below zero.
6. … and Catalan is impossible to learn.
Actually, the government is so deeply invested in encouraging foreigners to learn the Catalan language that you can take classes for free. It’s crucial that you know that Catalan is a language of its own that developed from Latin, not a dialect of Spanish (a false belief that will undoubtedly start you off on the wrong foot with Catalan people), and definitely not a mixture of Spanish and French. It isn’t any easier or harder to learn than other Neo-Latin languages, and it is spoken by around 10 million people, most of whom live in Catalonia. That being said, you may want to start with learning Spanish. You know, it being the third most widely spoken language in the world and all.
7. There is a constant sense of political unrest and instability in Catalonia.
You may have heard that in recent years, similarly to other European communities that are attempting to gain control over their own affairs, the Catalan desire for independence has also intensified. However, this does not mean that you’ll be bombarded with political slogans and shouts of Independencia! every time you walk the streets of Barcelona. It’s true that Catalan people, especially those in favor of Catalonia’s independence, would never miss an opportunity to flaunt their nationalist sentiments – just take the lively red-yellow-and-blue parades of September 11th (the National Day of Catalonia). However, the demonstrations are always peaceful and you won’t find them bothersome as a foreigner living here, unless you consider a crowded metro and a few locked down streets an unforgivable annoyance. No one knows if independence will ever actually become an option, and even though some see it as a threat, others see it as a solution, the dispute has not evolved into a constantly tangible division that would kill the mood at every party or interfere with the flow of everyday life.
8. The heat in the summer is just insufferable.
While tourists may appreciate the unwavering heat rays, summer in Barcelona does get a bad rap for being too hot to bear when you have to spend most of those 9-10 sunny hours confined within the city limits. The truth of the matter is that even on the hottest day, thermometers don’t actually hit scandalous numbers: summer temperatures barely ever exceed 37-38°C, unlike in the Southern, non-coastal regions of Spain. In fact, average temperatures hover around 25°C, with regular heatwaves bringing 30°C and over now and again. True, nights can get a little sweaty if you don’t have an air conditioner, but all in all, Barcelona’s Mediterranean climate can be considered quite moderate, with no extremes on either end of the scale and a refreshing breeze from the sea that you can always count on. Also, there is this marvelous invention called sunscreen, use it!
9. The city is full of tourists and unbearably crowded all year round.
The heavy influx of tourists is probably another reason why summer may not be the locals’ favorite time of year, but claiming that Barcelona has become nothing more than a giant zoo or a Disneyland for inconsiderate sightseers would be an exaggeration. If you fancy holding onto your sanity, maybe try avoiding the craziest shopping streets of the city center, like Las Ramblas and El Portal de l’Àngel during the summer tourist avalanche, and schedule your visit to the Sagrada Familia to a later date. We promise, you’ll see the meandering, open-mouthed crowds thinning by the beginning of September.
Photo Credit: Anton Watman/Shutterstock, Inc.