Barcelona Tourist and Expat Guide – I'mMovingToBarcelona



After reading about the pros of working in Spain, you may be wondering: are there possibly any cons of living and working in Barcelona?

Each labor market has its own peculiarities. Depending on where you come from you will find the Spanish one more or less disturbing. For us, it wasn’t painful but there were some strange surprises or astounding facts which we learned only after we started working here 😉

1. Salary is no wonder

Let’s face it, comparing with the western EU countries, generally your salary will be lower here. Unless, of course, you have some special talents of special “connections”. Anyway, I can’t say it means that the standard of living is much lower. Depends on what you expect. The rent is lower than in London, dining out as well. And it is sunny and there’s a lot of kilometers of beach and mountains if you like to hike. All this kind of make up for those few dozen or hundreds of euros more you’d earn, say, in Hamburg.

2. Crisis keeps on haunting

Although the word “crisis” is pronounced less and less, you can still hear it while talking to the Spaniards. The unemployment rate continues as one of the highest in EU and people are starting going out of Spain in search for work. It’s not Greece but it is advisable to study a bit the job possibilities within your industry before coming here. Some industries like technology and engineering are doing surprisingly well here!

3. It’s not always you to plan your holidays

They say the hottest week of the year in Barcelona is the last week of July. But it’s in August when the Spaniards go on vacation. Did you hear any rumors on what Barcelona is like in August? It is empty at least from the residents, at that time you will encounter mostly tourists here. Many small local businesses close as their owners go away for holidays. Therefore, some bigger companies figured there is no sense doing business in BCN during the first 2 weeks of August and close as well. What does it mean for you?

That your holidays had been planned even before you started your job. Besides, they don’t even mention it to you on your job interview or during sign up of the contract. You wouldn’t ask because how can you know something so evil might be happening…

On top of that, it’s not necessarily only about the holidays in August. In many cases, not always, but in many, you may have 2 weeks off in August, possibly few days during Christmas period and some for Easter. Forget about your free will. You’ll get from 3 to 10 days to administer by yourself. From my experience, which might be exclusively mine, only if you are very lucky all 22 free days you are legally entitled to will be free for you to manage.

4. Bureaucracy, taxes and over complicated system

When receiving a job offer they give you annual gross salary. So you’d ask how much is there for me? I’d like to know the monthly, net amount that will be transferred onto my bank account. They would never know that. It depends on so many factors, you’d get lost yourself. Better figure those things out, search the Internet. Are you married or single? With kids or without? Are you a resident in Spain or non-resident? The last one depends basically, (there are exceptions, of course) on the number of days spent in Spain, to be resident you need to spend at least 183 days here a year, each year. But there are some more other facts you need to know in order to make good assumptions. Better double check it for yourself.
It will all come down to your annual declaration which is due by June, 30th, the following year. Check well if you are obliged to do it and on what conditions.

5. Why rush? Do not hurry. If not today, mañana

Do you ever have this feeling you’d like to go to work, do what has to be done and go home as early as possible? Not here. We haven’t had much experience in working in Spain yet but from what we’ve seen and heard, they are, basically, in no rush.

Second breakfast for coffee break

Meals and coffee are sacred. In many offices people come in the morning, turn on their computer and go to grab not only coffee but also something to eat. For their second breakfast. Often they go to a corner bar to get it. So, if your work depends on others, be prepared to start it after 11:00. Finally, you’ll end up having two breakfasts.

– 2-hours siesta

Recently, I’ve heard that 80% of Spanish companies do have a 2-hour siesta in the afternoon. From 2pm to 4pm. This also means that instead of going home at 6:30pm you will be leaving your work at 7:30-8:00pm. Yep, we didn’t know anything about it before coming here. The good news is that this percentage is much smaller in big cities like Barcelona or Madrid. But it won’t hurt to make sure.

Also interesting read on BBC  about 2 hours siesta in Spain.


It may be that nothing of these will have anything to do with your work. Or all of it. Personally, we love living in Spain and our intention is not to scare you off. Take this article as a head’s up and just be prepared to ask as many questions as you can during your job interview. Good luck!

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7 Discussions on
  • Great list but I have to disagree on the siestas. I wish we napped as much as the whole world thinks we do. 2-4pm is our lunch break, not free time to nap! Most people just have 1h (13-14h or 14-15h) and they don’t have enough time to go home, so they just eat their “tupper” at work (mostly, outside though). It’s the same for the shops.. They close to have time to cook/eat their lunch, sit down and relax for a while, have their coffee and go back to work!

    • Hey Carla, thanks for your comment. I think it depends on how we define “siesta”. For me it´s a rest time/pause or a nap. Or both at the same time 🙂 Maybe as foreigners we have a bit different understanding of this word. And yes, I agree not everybody takes a nap during their siesta or has time to even reach home. Still, it´s good to ask during a job interview about “siesta policy” at your potential new job, not to be surprised later on 🙂

      • If in a job interview you ask for your “siesta” policy you will not be hired to begin with. Really… siesta is taking a nap, is not rest or idle time as you suggest.

        I don’t know from where do you get your information but, at least in Barcelona, lunch time is about one hour. So regular schedule is from 9AM to 6PM, having one hour for lunch (for which you can decide to go to a restaurant or take your lunch to work, because as Carla pointed out you don’t have time to go home).

        You have to have very bad luck to have a 2-hour lunch time. These type of long breaks in lunch time usually happen in family-owned businesses (for which schedule is approximately from 9AM to 8PM – being “lunch” time from 1PM to 5PM -), not in regular offices.

        Please, update your post because you are giving a complete wrong impression about how it is to work in Barcelona. You should be more responsible about the information you publish.

      • I currently work in US, I am originally from Spain and I worked in BCN few years before I moved. I can definitely say that in BCN people work harder (at least what I can see in my current US company) without siestas in between. In BCN I usually worked for 12 hours. Is true that we had more vacation days in Spain, but I think your body needs some rest to be more productive. In the US we only have two weeks but there are weeks that people just make up sick days or other ways to skip coming to work.

  • Hola Albert! Thank you very much for your comment. It’s always good to know a different perspective and experience. You are wondering where do I take my information? Only from my own experience and experience of the people that I know very, very well.

    You mentioned that the long lunch time happens in family-owned businesses and does not apply to office work? Well… You’ll be surprised when I tell you that this is happening in one of the largest digital marketing companies in the world, that has a branch in Barcelona and it’s completely office work. The company is very well known and works with the biggest brands on the market. How do I know that? I worked there and it was really pain in the ass to leave – if you were lucky – at 8 p.m. every single day just because of 2hrs lunch.

    As mentioned in article, maybe it’s not common in big cities, but it’s still happening and I know that from personal experience.

  • Hello,

    Honestly, I got an offer to work in BCN, but still hesitate to accept or decline the offer.

    as you mentioned, it’s very complicated for calculating your net salary.

    My question is: what is difference of being single or married, with or without kids?!
    Is there is any additional fees you should pay?!

    • Hi Ahmed,
      There is some small difference depending on whether you have kids or not but all in all it doesn’t really matter. I think there is no difference if you are married or not.

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