Living in Barcelona was totally awesome, cheap, and fulfilling
Mar 13, 2009
I sold off my belongings, stored what I kept, took all my meager savings, and moved myself to Barcelona in June 2008. I lived there for four months before leaving to travel through Europe.
I chose Barcelona for a few reasons:
I wanted to learn Spanish, but didn't want to live in Latin America by myself.
I'd always wanted to go to Europe.
I'd heard that Barcelona was pretty cheap and full of young, international kids (a friend of mine who lived in and traveled through Spain said that it felt the most cosmopolitan and European and the least Spanish of all the cities he'd lived in).
Learning Spanish in Barcelona wasn't the best idea, but I didn't come away with nothing. Despite Catalan and Spanish battling it out as the city and region's (Catalunya) official language, I came back to the States with a Castillian accent and a decent, working knowledge of Spanish. I probably would have learned more Spanish in another part of the world, but living in Barcelona was totally worth my language deficiency.
Coming back from living in Europe for months, I'm more aware of how wasteful America is with our food, utilities, space. The food in Europe is usually locally grown and infinitely better, cheaper, and fresher than the food here in Chicago. You have to turn on most lights in building hallways so as not to waste electricity. There are no parking lots and megastores that take up miles of space.
I lived in Barcelona four months and was able to get by on about $3,000, but that was living frugally, really frugally. I spent the same amount in four months in Barcelona as I did in one month in Paris. Barcelona is a city made of non-Barcelonans; most of the people who live there either come from another part of Spain, but usually from another part of the world. (This was another reason why I didn't learn as much Spanish as I should have--it was easy to speak to other internationals in English.) The diversity there gives the city an international feel, much more than the other Spanish cities I visited.
If you're thinking of living in or visiting Barcelona, you should do it. Living there will give you more time to learn about the culture, which is far more valuable than spending a few days to visit all the Gaudi stuff and Parc Guell.
Barcelona is the capital, most populous city of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia and the second largest city in Spain, with a population of 1,615,908 in 2008. It is the eleventh-most populous municipality in the European Union and sixth-most populous urban area in the European Union after Paris, London, Ruhr Area, Madrid and Milan with the population 4,185,000. 4,9 million people live in Barcelona metropolitan area. The main part of a union of adjacent cities and municipalities named Área Metropolitana de Barcelona (AMB) with a population of 3,186,461 in area of 636 km² (density 5.010 hab/km²). Barcelona is Europe's largest city on the Mediterranean coast.
It is located on the Mediterranean coast (41°23′N 2°11′E / 41.383°N 2.183°E / 41.383; 2.183) between the mouths of the rivers Llobregat and Besòs and is bounded to the west by the Serra de Collserola ridge (512 m/1,680 ft).
Barcelona is recognised as a global city because of its importance in finance, commerce, media, entertainment, arts and international trade. Barcelona is a major economic centre with one of Europe's principal Mediterranean ports, and Barcelona International Airport is the second largest in Spain after the Madrid-Barajas Airport (handles about 30 million passengers per year). Founded as a Roman city, Barcelona became the capital of the Counts of Barcelona. After merging with the Kingdom of Aragon, it became one of the most important cities of ...