After a long hiatus, the comunidad of Castilla la Mancha is finally rejoining the language assistants program. This little-known area of Spain has great wines, hanging houses and rolling plains, making it budget friendly for its inhabitants. Before moving to Burgos and later to Almería, Missouri native Bryn was an auxiliar in Ciudad Real for two years.
Name: Bryn Edmondston
City and Comunidad: Ciudad Real
School: An IES, which is a high school.
Your living situation? Shared flat with three other girls (2 American, one French) then second year with two other girls in a 4-bedroom flat. Total for 4 bedroom flat-450 euros one year and 480 euros following year.
How did you find your flat? I found people to live with on the auxiliares Facebook page post, then my roommate found the flat, I’m sure on websites or magazine announcements.
Rent: 150-160 euros plus utilities, depending on the year.
What did you spend on utilities? I can’t really remember, but I don’t remember it being excessive. I remember internet being over 40 euro a month split between us (with Movistar and later Jazztel).
You cell phone company and plan? At first I had a yoigo pay as you go plan (wasn’t a smart phone), and then I got a smart phone and switched to a contract with Vodafone. I paid more on the pay-as-you-go plan. The contract was about 25 euros a month.
What do you pay for internet? I paid over 40 euros a month but split between three people.
What did you spend on groceries? I really don’t know. I know I don’t hold back when it comes to groceries and I have just started making a budget for it because its easy to get away from you. I have noticed that Mercadona’s prices have gone up because of the tax increase—my total there is always much higher than its ever been. I would say maybe 20-30 euros a week?
Did you have any other sources of income? Yes, for those two years I did 10 hours a week and 14 hours a week, respectively per year. The first year I charged 10 euros an hour and the second I charged 14 euros an hour. So I was making, first year, 100E/week additional and second year, 196E/week additional.
Were you able to save any money? Yes, I have always saved up money. I think the first year I came out with about 1,000 euros more than I started with and the second year about 2,000.
Your favorite tapas bar? Doña Croqueta, there is no doubt. In Ciudad Real tapas are free and AMAZING. One caña costs 1.20 with a free tapa. I have never seen another place that beats this in Spain.
Your breakfast and coffee bars suggestions: I loved La Deliciosa in Plaza Mayor in CR. Coffee-1.20-1.30 and a baked good runs about 1-2 euros. The cappuccino are amazing and that was like 2.50-3 euro.
Nightlife in Ciudad Real: In CR there are so many bars in the area called the Torreon on Calle Torreon de Alcazar. They are so cheap—no entrance fee, lots of flyers being passed out for discounts. The copas are pretty much standard, around 5-6 euros.
How did you get around? I never took a bus, but I did buy a bike. Some of my classes were a 30 minute walk away, so the bike was really convenient.
What you loved about living in Ciudad Real? Small town feel, amazing people, free tapas, cheap living and it was so convenient to get to Madrid.
And your dislikes? Nothing.
How easy was it to travel around Spain and Europe from Granada? Because of the high-speed train connection, you could be in Madrid in 50 minutes, so it’s easy to get anywhere.
Your guilty pleasure purchases: I love shopping and CR has all the major stores for being a small city. Shopping at Zara, H&M, and Dayaday pretty much were my guilty spending pleasures. Free guilty pleasure was people-watching every night in the Plaza Mayor around 8-9 pm.
What are the top attractions in Ciudad Real? CR has no real attractions besides the Puerta de Toledo (the old wall surrounding the city has been knocked down and all that stands are two gates at either end of the city) but what I most loved about CR were the walking and running trails. You could leave your house and in five minutes walk were in the middle of the campo. It was ideal for a runner or anyone active.
Something you wish someone had told you before moving to Spain: Wow, this is a tough question. I think I liked finding some things out for myself but I was clueless when I moved there. I think I wish someone had told me not to worry when my paperwork wasn’t getting done fast enough and deadlines approach and just to remember that everything in Spain is flexible and changeable. Even if you miss a deadline, in the end you look back and realize that nothing really happened.
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