Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Part Time Work in Barcelona

I don't know if it's like this in other countries, but finding part time work in Barcelona is probably harder than landing a full time gig. Part of this has to do with the current economic environment, but mostly it's because the concept of flexible, part time jobs based on hourly wages, doesn't really exist here.

Sure, companies offer part time contracts, but they're usually for twenty-five hours a week, the choice of afternoon or evening shifts being your only option. You will be expected to work these set hours regardless of work load and sometimes more because there's no time sheet to monitor when you arrive and leave, and thus no overtime. To avoid paying summer vacation, employers will often only offer these contracts for periods of less than a year, say from September to June, so you'll be responsible for saving money from your 500-600 euro-a-month paycheck for a summer, winter vacations.

One of the problems I've had working on contracts, whether part time or full time, is that employers will often fiddle with the tax percentage, especially if you're hired during the year. This is often done without your knowledge and during the year it seems you're earning more, until April rolls around and you get a bill from the hacienda (tax department) saying you owe. Also switching jobs or going from part to full time or vice-versa will almost surely see you pay. It's almost enough to make a person decide never to file taxes ever again.

But if you're only planning on staying a short time, part time contracts do offer the chance of a steady income that will leave you free in the mornings or evenings. Most of the part time job market requires Spanish and is concentrated on sales, promotions. If you don't have knowledge of the language, there are call centers and English schools that offer part time work. The best place to find out if a place is hiring is through the Metropolitan Magazine available in many English pubs or on Loquo.

As I wrote in an earlier post, becoming an autónomo is also an option because it allows you to earn a decent hourly wage. But going through the process and paying the taxes really isn't worth it if you don't plan on staying for the long term.  So what to do if you just want to earn enough to pay for your Barcelona adventure?

Personally, I think the best option is to go black. I mean economically speaking, not in the choice of your clothes' color. I think I read somewhere the underground economy constitutes a fifth of the Spanish GDP and there's a reason; it's the only way to make a decent living for many people.

Vast and covering almost every service sector, if you're fresh to the city and don't speak the language, there's the option of passing out fliers for one of the hundreds of bars competing for customers. I'm not sure how payment works, but people seem to get by and if often leads to other under the table promotional, bar work. Some restaurants might take you on and pay cash during peak months, as will smaller English schools but if all depends on how legal they are. If you like working with your hands, there is always boat work at the marina.

But in all honesty, I still think your best option for working part time is to discover you inner entrepreneur and do you own thing.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Catalunya's Beaches & Barcelona Festival List

The arrival of June has already seen the temperatures rise and the humidity start.  With air-conditioning in short supply here, the best way to escape the heat is to pack the sunscreen and towel and head to the beach. In Barcelona there are three main places to layout and bake before hitting a chiringuito.  Starting with Barceloneta near the port, you can walk north to la playa Icaria by the Hotel Arts and Manfre buildings.  Just beyond it is la playa Marbella, where you'll find the only nudist beach in the city.  Not natural beaches, they were created as part of the Olympic games to offer those staying in the city easy access to the water, and on summer days they are often packed to capacity, so get there early.  Also remember to be careful with your belongings.

If you're looking for something more relaxing, thirty minutes north are las playas de Maresme.  You can get there by train from Plaça Catalunya and the fares aren't that expensive.  In fact up to Montgat Nord, you can use a standard metro pass.  They'll still be crowded on a hot summer's day, but less so than the ones in the city, and you can be a little less paranoid about your belongings.  Of these I particularly enjoy Cabrera de Mar and Caldes d'Estrac for a quick day trip, while Santa Susanna is a quaint little beach town that's perfect for a weekend out of the city.

Further north is La Costa Brava.  To get to there, you'll need to catch the bus from the Arc de Triomf metro station, and it'll run you about an hour or two, depending on where you're heading.   The first of these beaches are Lloret and Tossa del Mar, which are particularly popular with the British so be warned, while further north are Palafruguell, L'Estartit and Roses.  As you can see, the water is crystal blue and the settings awe-inspiring, but there is little in the way of space to sunbath due to the rocky nature of the coast.  Still, it's well-worth a visit and a great place to snorkel or scuba-dive, especially las Islas Medas.

South of Barcelona also offers some fantastic places to layout and enjoy the sun.  Different than the rocky coast of la Costa Brava, they tend to offer lots of space and sand.  The most famous of these is Sitges, which is just under two hours away.  A typical Spanish beach town with white houses and tiny streets, its wide sandy beachs and the shallow water are perfect for those of you with small children.  Further south are las Playas of Tarragona, with the most popular being Salou, which personally reminds me of Benidorm.  To get to either of these, you'll again catch the train, while all along the coast are more natural and wild beaches such as La Playa Waikiki or Altafulla that'll require renting a car.

To stay in any of the aforementioned places, you can either stay in a hotel, rent a flat or semi-rough it at a camping ground. Also as requested, here's a list with all the festivals taking place in Barcelona including the neighborhood fiestas