Want to live in Spain for FREE?
Spain is the 5th country I have ever lived in so far. And so many times people ask me how I manage to pack all my possessions, get a one-way ticket and just leave. Even without language fluency, without work permits, and any friends or family members in those countries. I do find courage deeply down and just get up and move. I believe that once I end up in a new country I will figure the ways out as we are all survivors and we can handle all these challenges. But it doesn’t mean I never prepare for my big immigration process. From the idea popping up in a head while walking, talking, or reading to its realization, sometimes I need even 5 months. But this way I can assure that the costs will be as low as possible.
The easiest and funniest way to start your new life in another country is to offer your set of skills to the local people.
It might be legal work (the best and most sustainable lifestyle), studying (the funniest and the craziest way), volunteering (the kindest, and the most self-developing way), or just living the adventures (backpacking, hitchhiking, Couchsurfing).
Let me share with you the way I have made it to Spain and dropped my living costs in Barcelona to almost 0.
After volunteering in Brazil, I knew I wanted to impact new countries for free every year for at least 1 month. And apparently, Spain is an only 2h flight from Poland where I used to work, so no logistic planning is required.
1. I volunteered in a Catalan family
The most important part of your moving is to choose the core activity that will give you the roof. I gotta chose properly as if it is something you are not keen on, you will be stressed and depressed. I love education kids, so to teach two twins English was a pretty good deal for me.
This time I used the Workaway portal in order to find the family that would like to host me for my first 2 months in Spain. On my 7th Podcast Episode, I read my request message to this family that turned out to be a winning one as I was accepted 1 week after sending it.
I had to work 30 min in the morning bring kids to the kindergarten and 5 hours in the evening (16.00-21.00) playing and walking with them.
I had my own room and a bathroom in the same apartment where the whole family lived. I was located literally 3 min from the Mar Bella beach which is in El Poblenou district.
90% of volunteering programs provide you with free accommodations. It might be either in a local family which is awesome to practice the language and simply to meet the local culture. Or you might live in a hostel with some other volunteers or travelers. This case is more common when you work for an organization or a small company.
If for any reasons, you don’t want to volunteer with Workaway or AIESEC, you can always contact local hostels or hotels or sports schools directly offering your skills in exchange for accommodations or/and food.
In my case, I have a fridge full of food 24/7. The host mother asks me for a list of products I would like to have for a week and later I just prepare breakfast, lunch, and snack for myself. The dinner is cooked by a host mom, however, in reality, I rarely eat it as I prefer to go out once I am done with the work. During the weekends, I am also out of the home so I prepare lunch boxes with salads, tune, mussels or bocadillos with jamon and avocado.
If you opt for staying and working in a hostel/hotel, most probably you will be provided only with breakfast, but in most of the cases, there is a kitchen ready for your use.
I suggest you go grocery shopping smartly. Remember you are a backpacker and a traveler – you need good food full of proteins and vitamins. So even if cooking is not your thing, make sure your ‘fast food’ is still healthy.
Mercados (markets) o fruterias (fruit stores) are the way to go for you. Here you have a variety of fruits and vegetables together with meat/ fish and nuts. You can easily compare the prices and create your own healthy salad or a sandwich for less than 2€.
Mercadona and Alcampo (Auchan) are the supermarkets with tons of products on the discount. Go to the cheese or meat section and research for these shelves were you will find Spanish or French cheese with -30%.
It is safe to drink tap water in Barcelona. Moreover, you will find drinking fountains on almost every street and in every park. Along the beach line, you will find the water springs every 30-50 m.
- Here is the app Fonts Bcn to locate the closest fountain to you.
Ask restaurants or cafes for refilling your water bottle. I haven’t witnessed a situation when such a place will deny it. All people understand how hot the city is and are always eager to help you even if you are an annoying tourist.
I have even seen the situations when strangers were sharing one water bottle right on a street because one of them had none.
If you love sports, there is no better place in Europe for you than Barcelona. People do sports 24/7. Literally. I have seen guys jogging at 3 am!
People never rest! The beaches are full of volleyball nets. Every district has a basketball or football pitch. Open gyms along the beach.
What you need to do is to connect to people! Simply come and ask them if you can join them. 9 out of 10 will say ‘Yes!’ and here you go. You can arrange a meeting whenever you want and just practice sports.
Also, there is a fun app called Meetup where local young entrepreneurs or sports lovers announce sports meeting. This way I have found an international volley team and classes of boxing. In my case, I have to pay 2-5€ for one-time participation as those guys bring and set the nets for all of us.
But you can easily find smaller sports events that are FREE. My friend is organizing her FREE yoga and stretching classes by the sea. All you need to do is just COME!
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6. Night Life
Yes, Barcelona and Madrid are ranked as one of the most expensive cities to go out. One drink in a club costs at least 10-15€. Club entry 8-15€. In-club 0,5 l water 3-4€ while a sandwich is 6-8€. Here clubs and pubs know how to take the last cents from tourists’ pockets.
You can always get for free!
- Plan it. I am all for spontaneous decisions but make sure you sign up for FB club events beforehand. Then start your pre-party around 10 pm and get to the club for free around 1 am.
- Discobars. That is the way to party for FREE as well. You are not obliged to buy tons of drinks there but just get in and enjoy Latin music, salsa or bachata vibes. Barrio Gotico is full of these small bars where you can enter for FREE till 3 am. Later they close 🙁
- Meetup App is also a way to find an international party with free entries and free shots. I have run into a group Open Mind Barcelona that cooperates with top clubs and bars all over Barcelona and once you sign up to their list you can get to the club by naming this group.
- Beach chiringuitos turn on good electro and deep house music during the weekend or holidays. You can easily party on a beach enjoying these vibes.
The only note: it is illegal to drink alcohol on the public in Spain. It doesn’t mean no one does it. On the contrary. But be cautious, pleaaase!
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And here you go! It might not be easy to save the money and limit your expenses but what it teaches to be aware of what money really are and how to use them effectively. Remember, as long as you are impacting the people and not abusing the kindness, it is totally okay to drop your costs even to 0.