We love to feature some of the expatriates in Barcelona who are members of EuroCircle. This month you meet Katja Rusanen, a Finnish/European entrepreneur in Barcelona, Spain. Do you know other Finnish people in Barcelona?
Where are you originally from?
I’m originally from Eno, Finland.
Where are you living now (city + suburb)?
I’m living in Barcelona, Spain. The neighbourhood, where I live, is called Les Corts and it’s located in the western part of the city. This neighbourhood’s must-see for visitors is the Barcelona Football Club’s home arena Camp Nou.
When did you move here and from where?
I moved here from London in September 2004.
Why did you move?
I moved because I was looking for warmer weather – there are plenty of sunny days here. I had also fallen in love with the beauty and the cosmopolitan feel of Barcelona during my visit.
What do you do?
I’m a fully qualified Spiritual Life Coach ( www.katjarusanen.com). I help people to make minor or major positive transformations in their lives. My coaching program will inspire and empower people to move from fear to courage, from insecurity to confidence and from confusion to clarity. The coaching sessions include specific information about how people can overcome different aspects of their challenges, access to their innate wisdom, and tangible action steps to help them take the steps to release the past and move forward in their lives.
I’m also a published author of a novel entitled “And You Must Love Me” ( www.amzn.to/10kBaZX). It’s the first part of a transformational trilogy.
What do you enjoy most about Barcelona, how’s the quality of life?
I enjoy most the sunny days on the beach. I find that the quality of life in Barcelona is very high. We have the beach, the mountains, the mild climate, the rich culture, and the beautiful architecture. Of course some things could be better, the financial crisis are affecting heavily many people.
What do you miss most about home?
I miss most my family and Finnish rye bread.
Is the city safe? Are there any areas expats should avoid?
I find the city quite safe but unfortunately there are pickpockets especially near the tourist attractions and in the metro.
How would you rate the public transport? What are the different options? Do you need to own a car?
I’d say that Barcelona has a very good public transport (metro/bus/tram/taxi/train). It’s not necessary to own a car if you live in the centre.
How would you rate the healthcare?
As with any business or service, there are good and bad tales about Spanish medicine. Personally I have received good healthcare while in Barcelona. It’s good to note though that not all doctors speak English. When it comes to dental care, I was lucky to find a Nordic dentist in Barcelona who saved my tooth with a root canal treatment while his Spanish colleague wanted to take it out.
Which are the best places/suburbs to live in the city as an expat? How do you rate the standard of housing in the city?
It’s hard to say as this really depends on your needs and wants. There are many short-term housing options available, so it’s not necessary to secure long-term lease before visiting the city. The standard of housing varies a lot. My biggest complaint is that most of the flats have very poor isolation, so it can get cold during the winter. Also the central heating and double glazed windows are not that common.
What’s the cost of living compared to home?
The cost of living in Spain has increased over the years, but the average Spanish salaries have not, this formula makes life a bit tricky here. Therefore I’d say that the cost of living is higher here than back home.
Was it easy meeting people and making friends?
Yes, it’s very easy to meet people here and make friends. Barcelona is a very active city and there is always something happening. It’s easy to find an activity where you can connect with like-minded people.
What’s the economic climate like in the city, is there plenty of work? And how does the work culture differ from home?
Spain and Barcelona have been hit hard by the economic crisis, and the Spanish unemployment rate is sky-high. Though there are many multinationals and foreign businesses and huge tourism industry which still offer many job opportunities, especially those who speak many languages. Every company is different, but in general, I think that the Finnish culture values more a healthy work/life balance. Also the time management seems to be more flexible here than back home.
Is there any other advice you would like to offer new expat arrivals?
Give yourself time to adapt to the culture. Learn Spanish and/or Catalan. Take things as a positive learning experience and bring a big bag of patience with you. Some things will work here smoothly and some things will require patience and persistence before they will be solved. It’s also good to connect with other expats as they can give you useful tips.
I must also warn you that Barcelona has its unique charm; many people plan to stay here only for a month or two and end up living here for years.