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Interview with Chase – an American expat living in Barcelona

Updated 4 Mar 2024

Chase is a business guru, adventurist and coffee enthusiast from California. He's on a mission to discover the ideal balance between work, life, success and happiness. After early career success as a business director, he decided that complacency was holding him back from experiencing the rest of the world. So, Chase hopped on a plane to Spain!

He is currently exploring Barcelona, studying Spanish and doing part-time consulting work. Hopefully, he can inspire others to 'chase' their own adventures. If your adventures lead you to Barcelona, reach out to him and grab a coffee! You can find him on Instagram or LinkedIn, and make sure to check out his writing on his blog, Up For The Chase.

About Chase

Q: Where are you originally from?
A: California, USA

Q: What country and city did you move to?
A: Barcelona, Spain

Q: When did you move?
A: October 2023

Q: Is this your first expat experience?
A: Yes

Q: Did you move here alone or with a spouse/partner or family?
A: Alone

Q: Reason for moving?
A: I wanted to challenge myself, go outside my comfort zone, learn a new language, take a break from work, escape complacency, explore Spain and embark on a new adventure!

Living in Barcelona

Q: What do you enjoy most about your host city and your new country of residence in general?
A: The culture. The culture in Barcelona is relaxed, inclusive and judgement-free. People are generally happy. There is a high regard for quality of life.

Q: Have you had any low points? What do you miss most about home?
A: Of course, it's a big step to move halfway across the globe! My first few days were filled with jet lag, homesickness and the recurring thought, 'What the heck am I doing here?' The hardest part about being away from home is that I have young nephews who miss their Uncle Chase.

Q: What misconceptions about Spain, if any, have you learned were not true?
A: The stereotype that Spain is much more 'relaxed' is definitely true; however, it doesn’t mean lazy. The vast majority of people work…they just don’t necessarily live to work. They work to live.

Q: What are your favourite things to do on the weekend? Any particular places or experiences you’d recommend to fellow expats?
A: Explore! There are many cool places to check out inside and outside the city. Here are a few spots with killer views of the city: Montjuic, Bunkers del Carmel and Parc Güell.

Q: What's the cost of living in Spain compared to home? Are there specific things that are especially expensive or cheap there?
A: Despite being the most expensive city in Spain, Barcelona is still cheaper than Southern California. Coffee, beer and wine are all significantly less. Restaurants are similar in price, except the price you see is the price you pay! No extra taxes or 'mandatory' tipping culture like in the US. Most expenses are less as well, including transportation, phone service and healthcare.

Q: What’s public transport like in Barcelona and across the country?
A: Excellent. I am a huge fan of the subway system (aka the 'metro'). Like when people ask what my favourite part of Barcelona is, I tell them the metro (is that weird?). It’s like an underground labyrinth of secret passageways that take you wherever you want to go! And sometimes where you don’t want to go… I need to pay better attention.

Q: What do you think of the healthcare available in your current country of residence? What should expats expect from local doctors and hospitals?
A: The healthcare system in Spain has a high reputation. There is free health insurance for inhabitants (that's right, I said free) and even private insurance is a fraction of what you would pay in the US.

Q: What’s the standard of housing like in Barcelona? What different options are available?
A: The majority of residents live in shared apartments, although there are other options as you venture further from the city centre.

Q: Any areas or suburbs you’d recommend for expats to live in?
A: My favourites are Eixample, Gracia and Sant Antoni. I would recommend avoiding the louder tourist areas: Gotic, Born and Raval.

Meeting people and making friends in Barcelona

Q: Was meeting people and making friends easy? How did you go about meeting new people?
A: Making new friends is always a bit of a challenge. You just have to put yourself out there. I am using a popular platform called MeetUp to find local activities such as hiking, sports and language exchange meetups. I have met a ton of people so far and am open to meeting more.

Q: Have you made friends with locals, or do you mix mainly with other expats? What advice would you give to new expats looking to make friends with the locals?
A: I have found that it is much easier to make friends with fellow expats because you immediately have things in common: you come from another country, you probably don't speak the local language super great, and your stay is likely temporary. Making friends with locals is a bit more of a challenge, but it's something I am determined to succeed at!

Working in Barcelona

Q: How easy or difficult was getting a work permit and/or visa? Did you tackle the visa process yourself, or did you enlist the services of an immigration consultant?
A: I entered the country on a study visa to learn Spanish. I completed the visa process on my own. The process is a complete nightmare, but it's doable if you have the time to research everything. You must start the process EARLY.

Final thoughts

Q: Any advice you'd like to offer to new arrivals in your current country of residence?
A: Start the visa process early; it will take way longer than you expect! Also, pack light. Things are relatively inexpensive in Barcelona, and the extra luggage is not worth it. Here's an article I wrote with a bunch of advice for moving to Barcelona: Moving to Spain Checklist – Up For The Chase.

►Interviewed in January 2024

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