Part 1 - Shopping
In this series of articles, I will outline the different aspects of our survey trip; things we looked into about living in Barcelona. Keep in mind that this is just practical information from the viewpoint of a wife and not from the logistical or spiritual side of things.
1. I looked up local recipes and made a meal plan each week. I tried to choose recipes that were local because I figured those ingredients would either be cheaper or easier to find. I also included foods that we considered staples: Sweet potatoes, broccoli, ice cream. You know, the essential things in life.
2. We then took the list to the local supermarket around the corner. I marked the price next to each item as I scratched it off. At the end of the month, I went on Walmart.com and wrote down all the prices for the things I had bought. Then, I converted the Spanish prices to American Dollars. Basically, I had three columns: Spanish price in euros, Spanish price converted into dollars, and American price.
I took the total we spent on groceries and rounded up for a basic estimate of how much groceries would cost per month. I also noted the difference of cost in particular things. For example, I noticed the cuts of meat that we are used to eating in the States are anywhere from a euro to three euros more. Cuts of meat like chicken breasts, thighs, legs (boneless or bone-in) and beef were all very expensive.
I think a real way to compare the cost of living that you are used to and the field you’re headed to would be the price of milk and eggs. Those two are usually staples and will give you a good idea of the exchange rate and average cost of things.
Every country will be different. On our survey trip, I tried to think of everyday items we’d need and find where the locals would buy it. I’m glad I familiarized myself with the shops because now I know what to expect. Honestly, in the beginning, it was very frustrating not being able to find a place to buy paper and pens.
In Barcelona, I did my shopping like so:
Lidil – The local market store for basic and essential food products. Some things like detergent are available but they did not have a lot of variety for things other than food.
Carrefour- It is a French supermarket chain. This was more like a Walmart in the sense that it sold a little bit of everything. Batteries, deodorant, shampoo, foreign foods. And the brands we saw were brands we were used to. Brands like Sensodyne toothpaste, mission tortillas, etc. However, the one drawback is that this store was in the tourist area and not as common as the Lidil.
Little Asian Stores – Pictured below. I’m told places like these are common in NY. This is where we were told to go for different things such small office supply items (rubber bands, paper clips), school supplies, matches, candles, etc. You name it they probably have it somewhere in their store. I would say it is probably the equivalent to a Dollar Tree store that offers more than just dollar items. So, when looking for items that you would normally go to Walmart for think outside the box and try the knickknack store on the corner.
*UPDATE* I feel so foolish that in a month of living in Barcelona I thought that supermarkets were not very common here. There are supermarkets here in Spain just like there are in the states. It's just a matter of knowing where to look and having someone to help point you in the right direction. I'm still learning, I probably always will be, but upon reviewing this article and after moving to Spain, I will say, try not to think you have things figured out after only a month.
Ikea- This was the best place we found for bigger items such as furniture.
Second Hand Stores- While I didn’t find any in Barcelona I did see some in Mallorca and they seemed to have some pretty decent deals and items.
If you have small children or plan to have small children I would look into the readability of Diapers, wipes, formula, and any other products you may need. In Spain places like Lidl and Dia (Local stop and shop’s) sold diapers and wipes. They didn’t have a whole lot of variety and the ones they had were in Russian packaging so I couldn’t understand them. As far as cribs, sheets, toys, highchairs, etc., Ikea has a wonderful selection. But if you’re going to a third world country, I would look into all these things.
In my experience, clothing is expensive in Spain. You may want to look into the cost of clothing, so you know what to expect.
To my knowledge, second-hand clothing stores are not a thing there in Barcelona, but I honestly don’t know.