Jobs Abroad in Barcelona

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A Guide to Working Abroad in Barcelona

Working abroad in Barcelona means earning valuable professional experience while enjoying life in a coastal Spanish city. Filled with fabled architecture and art works, by the likes of Gaudí and Picasso, you’ll never be bored with your surroundings. International workers seeking jobs in Barcelona are both welcomed and readily employed. Individuals can boost their resume while dancing ‘til dawn, feasting on tapas, and basking in the Iberian sun. Barcelona is known as the “City of Dreams,” so take your chance to live out your dreams by working abroad in this mesmerizing Spanish city.

Jobs Abroad in Barcelona

As the second-largest city in Spain, Barcelona’s range of industries and job opportunities is extensive. Working as an au pair in Barcelona is an ideal way to experience Spanish culture authentically, as you will be living, eating, and going about your day to day activities along with a local host family. Au pairs are required to provide child care, light housework, and sometimes English lessons for a local family for around 25 hours per week, in return for accommodation (and sometimes additional benefits such as meals or a small stipend).

As a popular European tourist destination, the hospitality industry in Barcelona is thriving. Since certain seasons mean more tourists, tourism job opportunities in Barcelona may be temporary or short term, but very open to international workers. It is possible for foreigners to work in Barcelona as hotel front desk attendants, housekeepers, waiters, bartenders, and cooks. Hospitality jobs in Barcelona may require a commitment to night and/or weekend work, but this offers flexibility that rigid desk jobs do not.

Marketing and public relations jobs in Barcelona are also offered for the business savvy! Foreign workers can build their professional portfolio by engaging in an international marketplace and developing communication skills that are highly-valued in any location. Newly developed skills will be transferable, so when you return from working abroad employees will find your exposure to other cultures attractive, especially if they have ambitions to expand internationally or offices in multiple countries.

Many jobs in Barcelona accept sole English-speakers, but speaking Spanish or Catalán (especially fluently!) is a huge way to stand out among other international applicants. Unemployment rates are on the rise, which increases competition for jobs in Barcelona, since there are a larger number of local candidates. Do your best to use any bilingual skills. professional experience, and simply your status as an international worker as an attractive selling point when applying for jobs in Barcelona.

Life in Barcelona

Foreign workers may need some time to adjust to the laid-back nature of Barcelona, and Spain in general. It is not rare for shops and stores to take a siesta, which means staying closed from one to four o’clock. Additionally, dinnertime may not be until nine or ten o’clock. Local people then take time to enjoy the nightlife, only returning in the early hours of the morning. 

While siesta may become a normal part of your routine, don’t sleep all your time away! Enjoy the many sights, events, and experiences while working abroad in Barcelona. Those interested in architecture will revel in the beauty of Gaudi’s structures across the city. Looking for a more restful activity? Spend a day off work at the beach sipping Cava (a.k.a. Spanish Champagne), the national drink of Catalonia. Sports fanatics must catch a FC Barcelona game at world Camp Nou. 

Day to day, workers will find that walking or public transportation are the best options for getting to work or out and about around the city. The reliable metro system is easy to navigate if you wish to stay off your feet though, or have a longer commute.

Foreigners should be aware that Barcelona is the capital of the autonomous community of Catalonia. Catalán is its own language, and Catalans take their national identity quite seriously. Be respectful of this cultural heritage while working in Barcelona, and you will not run into any issues! 

Salary & Affordability

Salaries for jobs in Barcelona are lower than much of Northern Europe. Americans will also find that there are comparable job opportunities in the U.S., but may pay more than what they’re accustomed to. For this reason, individuals may find that au pair jobs actually have quite significant benefits, such as free room and board, including three meals a day, and a stipend. 

Locals estimate that living on $1,000 is roughly what it takes to get by. Greater than this and you will be more than comfortable financially. Most positions for foreign workers in Barcelona, however, will pay around $300.

To keep costs down, most international employees share housing and attempt to live frugally. Some international workers may choose to walk instead of paying for transportation, for example. It is also always a good idea to eat and live as the locals do as much as possible. Typically, foreign products must be imported at a heavy cost, so this is reflected in the prices of imported goods. Locally produced food, clothing, and other goods will be much more cheap, and buying them will contribute to a more authentic experience of Barcelona and Spanish life.

Accommodation & Visas

Homestays are a very popular option for international workers in Barcelona. Those who are learning or who would like to learn Spanish should especially opt for living with a homestay, since this type of organic immersion is an incredible way to improve language skills.

Apartments are an even more common accommodation arrangement in Barcelona, and will be more comfortable for individuals who prefer more independence and down-time. However, this option can also be quite expensive, so consider living with at least one roommate.

Citizens of EU countries are free to travel and work in Barcelona the same as any Spanish citizen. Applying for visas to work in Spain as a non-EU citizen can be difficult though. A visa is required for these individuals to enter Spain, and an additional permit is required if you plan to obtain employment and work in Spain. When a job contract is confirmed, the employer is responsible for securing necessary paperwork for the work permit, however. Then, the employee is accountable for procuring the entry visa. Visa restrictions and guidelines are constantly changing, so be sure to do your research and plan early to avoid last-minute crises.

Benefits & Challenges

Laid-back Living. There’s not much room to complain when your schedule is comprised of an afternoon siesta and weekends lying on the beach. Foreigners should embrace the relaxed lifestyle and they will come to find the perfect balance between work and free time. While your employment should be your main priority, enjoy every opportunity to experience Barcelona as the locals do.

High Unemployment. Barcelona was hit hard by the global economic crisis. As a result, the unemployment rate is high, and the supply of local employees outweighs the demand. This makes for a competitive job market for international job seekers. However, there are certain positions that are geared specifically toward international workers, and if you are willing to accept lower wages, you may find that the cultural experience you gain in exchange for less pay is more valuable than any paycheck.

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